July 10, 2012
Here is another issue of “This & That” Tuesday. I hope you find it to be informative and useful.
An Interesting Wellness Initiative
Standard Textile encourages its employees and their spouses to take a comprehensive, annual, fasting, full blood panel screening. This test when combined with a comprehensive medical history allows for a very detailed analysis. Employees are first incentivized to take the test and then further incentivized to show year over year improvements on their “test” scores. Incentives can reach $2300 annually. This may seem like a lot of money but over 3 years Standard Textile has seen a 27% improvement for employees with high blood pressure and a 37% improvement for employees with high cholesterol. They have also seen an overall decrease in employee BMI (body mass index).
Company to Pay $40,000 to Settle Disability Discrimination Suit
Product Fabricators, Inc., a manufacturer, will pay $40,000 to settle a disability discrimination suit. In its lawsuit, filed in 2009, the EEOC charged that Product Fabricators fired long-time a employee because he was taking a low-dosage, prescribed narcotic medication for back pain. The EEOC said that such action was taken because Product Fabricators perceived Anderson as being disabled solely because he was taking the medication, and failed to consider his ability to perform the job.
The EEOC also said that the Product Fabricators required all employees to report whether they were taking any prescription or over-the-counter medication. The EEOC said that this policy is a violation of the ADA because it is not related to the ability of employees to do their jobs, and is therefore unlawful because employees complying with the policy were likely to unwillingly disclose information about any disabilities or impairments they may have. Such alleged conduct violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which protects employees and applicants from discrimination based on perceived disabilities.
The settlement will require the company to submit to ongoing training, reporting and monitoring by the EEOC. In addition to paying $40,000 to the employee, Product Fabricators must also drop its intrusive and unlawful policy of requiring employees to report all prescription or over-the-counter medication to their supervisors.
“Requiring all employees to report their legal use of prescription drugs – and even over-the-counter medication – amounts to an unreasonable invasion of privacy, whether an employee is disabled or not,” the EEOC representative stated. “The purpose of the ADA is to extinguish the prejudices and biases that prevent people from obtaining or maintaining employment. Compulsory but irrelevant inquiries, like the drug policy Product Fabricators maintained, serve no legitimate employer purpose but provide fertile ground for the development of unfounded stereotypes and irrational assumptions about an employee’s ability.”
OSHA New HazCom Standard
Effective as of May 25th, the Hazard Communication Standard (HCS) is aligned with the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals (GHS). This update to the Hazard Communication Standard (HCS) will provide a common and coherent approach to classifying chemicals and communicating hazard information on labels and safety data sheets.
Once fully implemented, the revised standard will improve the quality and consistency of hazard information in the workplace, making it safer for workers by providing easily understandable information on appropriate handling and safe use of hazardous chemicals.
Major changes that you will see include:
- Hazard classification: Provides specific criteria for classification of health and physical hazards, as well as classification of mixtures.
- Labels: Chemical manufacturers and importers will be required to provide a label that includes a harmonized signal word, pictogram, and hazard statement for each hazard class and category. Precautionary statements must also be provided.
- Safety Data Sheets: Will now have a specified 16-section format.
- Information and training: Employers are required to train workers by December 1, 2013 on the new labels elements and safety data sheets format to facilitate recognition and understanding.
If your employees work with hazardous materials you should already have a hazardous material communication policy in place. The new standard will require updating that policy as well as obtaining new Material Data Safety Sheets for all your hazardous materials.
The most important factors (Towers Watson survey) for attracting employees younger than 40:
- Job security
- Base pay
- Health care benefits
Some health factoids
- A healthy 35 year old has a 21%-24% chance of become disabled for 3 months or longer. The chance that the disability will last 5 years or longer is 38%. Maybe we should all be thinking more about disability and long term care insurance.
- A 65 year old couple retiring in 2012 will need $240,000 to cover their medical expenses even with Medicare. This is a 4% increase from last year.
- Spending on prescription drugs increased 2.7% in 2011, the lowest increase in 18 years.
- 45% of adults have one or more of the top three conditions treated with medication (diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure/heart disease)