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UK Poised to Expand Workplace PPE Obligations

UK Poised to Expand Workplace PPE Obligations

​Employers in the United Kingdom that require personal protective equipment (PPE) on the jobsite will need to supply the health and safety gear to a broader worker population under proposed changes to the country’s 1992 law governing PPE in the workplace. The change may affect small and medium-sized employers more than large employers, legal experts predict.Companies providing PPE such as safety helmets, boots, goggles, gloves and face masks to employees will have to broaden PPE distribution to contractors.Under the Personal Protective Equipment at Work 1992 Regulations, employers have had to provide PPE only to their employees. The proposed amendments would extend the obligation to “limb (b) workers,” a U.K. worker category describing self-employed “dependent contractors” who personally provide services to other businesses. In describing a limb (b) worker, the government used the example of “Penny,” a private-hire driver working casually for “Acme Driver.” Penny can refuse work if she wants and must perform it herself if she decides to drive a customer; passengers pay Acme rather than Penny. In the U.K., individuals classified as workers generally enjoy certain rights and benefits not available to independent contractors, although fewer than full employees. The U.K.’s Health and Safety Executive in July launched a four-week public consultation on the amendments after the High Court, in a case brought by the Independent Works Union of Great Britain, ruled in 2020 that the government had long failed to properly incorporate certain relevant European Union directives into U.K. law. The amendments will cover England, Scotland and Wales.The regulations define PPE as equipment, including clothing, meant to protect a person at work against risks to their health and safety.”For most employers, the changes to the PPE at Work regulations will involve very little change, as most organizations will likely have already been providing PPE based on the nature of the role itself rather than the status of the person doing it,” said Mark Hamilton, an attorney with Dentons in Edinburgh.”Perhaps in the case of employers who largely rely on workers—for example, food delivery companies—it will be a significant logistical and financial commitment having to now provide safety equipment such as helmets to all their workers, where previously they would just have made it a condition of work that one was worn, with the worker having to supply their own,” he said.Potentially Costly ChangesMost large employers already are expected to provide tools, including PPE, to keep people safe, said Tim Hill, an attorney with Eversheds Sutherland in Newcastle, England. Apart from the PPE workplace regulation, U.K. laws for decades have required businesses to look after the health and safety of everyone on their worksites, not only employees, he added.Even before the proposed PPE legal changes, all people working on jobsites should have been provided with the necessary PPE and employers faced legal risk by not supplying it, based on the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974, Section 3, he said. That law requires businesses to protect anyone on a worksite from health and safety risks.Gig economy …

Newsom Signs Bill Expanding Cal/OSHA’s Enforcement Power

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Newsom Signs Bill Expanding Cal/OSHA’s Enforcement Power

​On Sept. 27, Gov. Gavin Newsom signed into law SB 606, which expands enforcement power for the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health (which is known as Cal/OSHA). We’ve gathered articles on the news from SHRM Online and other outlets.Substantial ChangesThe new law, which is expected to take effect on Jan. 1, 2022, creates a rebuttable presumption that employers with multiple worksites have made enterprise-wide workplace safety violations in certain circumstances. An employer with a violation at one worksite may be presumed to have similar violations at other worksites. The law also will allow Cal/OSHA to issue a citation to an “egregious” employer for each willful violation. SB 606 will “require each instance of an employee exposed to that violation to be considered a separate violation for purposes of the issuance of fines and penalties,” according to the bill. The bill will also provide Cal/OSHA with additional subpoena power during investigations. (SHRM Online)Labor Union Supports ChangesSen. Lena Gonzalez, D-Long Beach, sponsored the bill. “The least we can do for our frontline heroes is commit to safe workplaces, which are both critical to the health of essential workers and our state’s recovery,” she said. The United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Western States Council supports the legislation. “Enforcement is essential to ensure worker safety,” said Amber Baur, executive director of UFCW Western States Council. “SB 606 will help protect workers and the communities where they live by giving Cal/OSHA the resources they need to do the enforcement work that is essential to keep workers safe on the job and a fine structure that encourages employers to comply.”(UFCW Western States Council)CalChamber Opposes the LegislationThe California Chamber of Commerce (CalChamber) opposes SB 606. The law significantly expands Cal/OSHA’s authority by creating a new “egregious employer” category in the California Labor Code, and it creates a new category of “enterprise-wide” citations “that face higher citation amounts based on, at times, evidence at only one location,” CalChamber said. The business advocacy group initially tagged the bill as a “job killer” but removed the designation in March when amendments were made that limited “certain overbroad provisions,” CalChamber said. But the organization “remains opposed due to structural changes to Cal/OSHA enforcement.”(CalChamber)Impact on EmployersThe new provision on “enterprise-wide” citations “is expected to affect construction industry employers with multiple worksites and big-box retailers with multiple sites throughout California, as well as large manufacturers that may have multiple establishments or locations in the state,” according to law firm Ogletree Deakins. The law “create[s] a provision that presumes that a violation in one location is evidence of a violation at another location, and it would shift the burden to the employer to prove otherwise.”(Ogletree Deakins)Complying with California Safety StandardsAll private-sector employers operating in California are responsible for complying with the state’s applicable workplace safety and health laws, which are overseen and enforced by Cal/OSHA. Businesses that fail to adhere to California’s myriad safety standards and orders can face significant penalties for noncompliance. Log in or join SHRM to view this resource.(SHRM Online) …

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How to Recognize and Respond to Insider Threats from Employees

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How to Recognize and Respond to Insider Threats from Employees

SHRM has partnered with Security Management Magazine to bring you relevant articles on key workplace topics and strategies. Transportation is a critical component of modern life, and the ability to get people and goods from one location to another is essential. The Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (VTA) provides bus, light rail and paratransit services for a region of Northern California that is home to Silicon Valley. Its more than 2,000 employees continued to report to work throughout the unprecedented challenges of 2020, helping customers get to where they needed to be and providing essential services to transit-dependent and disabled individuals who rely on the system for groceries, access to doctor’s appointments and more.And then tragedy struck at work. Samuel Cassidy, 57, went to an early morning union meeting at one of the system’s light-rail maintenance yards on May 27 and opened fire. He killed eight of his coworkers before dying by suicide as police arrived on the scene. A later investigation would find that Cassidy was unhappy with his work and held numerous grievances toward his employer and colleagues.Evelynn Tran, interim VTA general manager and general counsel, wrote in a statement that she was struck by the courage that VTA employees had shown throughout the pandemic and in the immediate aftermath of the shooting but said that more must be done to support them. That included making VTA employees the top priority by shutting down the light rail system.”At this point, it is impossible to estimate when service can be restored,” she wrote. “There are many factors involved in restoring service, most importantly the human factor.”The incident was the third workplace shooting in less than two months in 2021 in the U.S., a higher number than previous years based on analysis by the Associated Press, USA Today and Northeastern University. Their analysis found that the U.S. averages roughly one workplace mass shooting per year. Mass shootings are defined as shootings where four or more people were killed. These incidents represent some of the most catastrophic damage that an insider can do to his or her organization. Other incidents can range from assaults to intellectual property theft to disclosure of corporate secrets, leaving physical, reputational and emotional damage in their wake.Insider threat incidents are more common than one might think. A recent assessment by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) found that more than 2 million people report some type of workplace violence each year, with approximately 25 percent of workplace violence going unreported.Additionally, 90 percent of cybersecurity professionals believe their organizations are vulnerable to insider threats, which cost a median of $4.45 million to recover from and take 314 days to identify and contain, according to CISA. And the reasons why an insider might be compelled to lash out at work have been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.”This has been a unique risk environment, and it’s continuing,” says Rebecca Morgan, deputy director of the National Insider Threat Task Force at the National Counterintelligence …

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CSX Railway must pay $667K, reinstate workers after whistleblower retaliation

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CSX Railway must pay $667K, reinstate workers after whistleblower retaliation

ATLANTA – In November 2017, two CSX railroad workers at a rail yard in Waycross, Georgia, encountered and reported a blue flag that signaled their train could not move safely. For their actions, CSX Transportation Inc. pulled them from the job and later fired them, both actions found to be illegal in a U.S. Department […]

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