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Safely serving alcohol at company parties


Q. I’m an HR director and I’m planning our company’s holiday party. What is our liability as the host if we serve alcohol?

HR pros, take note: Doing your job isn’t ‘Protected activity’


Employees whose jobs involve telling their employers that they may be violating laws aren’t necessarily protected from retaliation under North Carolina law or under the federal Title VII—if the reporting concerns areas covered by the Civil Rights Act or the Fair Labor Standards Act …

Survey says half of refineries as dangerous as BP Texas City


According to a recent survey, the same kinds of conditions that preceded a deadly March 2005 accident at BP Products North America’s Texas City refinery are pervasive in refineries across the nation. The survey polled union leaders at 51 refineries, representing 49% of the U.S. refining capacity …

Ohio Supreme Court limits ‘Voluntary abandonment’ doctrine


The Ohio Supreme Court has substantially limited the “voluntary abandonment” doctrine in claims for temporary total disability compensation under the Ohio Workers’ Compensation Act. That means employers may have to pay temporary total disability payments to employees even if they were injured while breaking safety rules

Heart attack at work? Be prepared to prove stress wasn’t the cause


The New York workers’ compensation system was set up as a no-fault system to compensate employees injured while working. There’s a powerful presumption under the system that any death that occurs during working hours is covered, at least if there’s an arguable claim that it was work-related. That’s why employees who have fatal heart attacks at work may sometimes be covered …

Applying for Special Disability Fund? Make sure you fill out forms correctly


Employers and workers’ compensation carriers can sometimes be partially reimbursed for workers’ comp payments if prior injuries contributed to an employee’s inability to work. But applying to the Special Disability Fund requires careful completion of the application forms—the agency that handles such requests is often a stickler for details, and courts usually uphold the agency’s decisions …

Workplace injuries and illnesses fall to lowest level on record


Good news for your organization, employees and workers’ comp costs: U.S. workplace injury/illness rates have fallen to their lowest point since the Bureau of Labor Statistics began tracking those numbers in 1972 …

Must you pay for employees’ work boots and other personal safety gear?


For years, employers have wondered what kind of personal protective equipment they must furnish and what employees must pay for themselves. After eight years, OSHA has issued a final rule that spells it out. There’s good news for employers.

Recommendation to drop charges in Ag-Mart pesticide case


Administrative Law Judge Joe Webster has recommended that the state drop all but 17 of the 369 charges of pesticide application violations against Florida-based Ag-Mart, reducing the company’s fines to $6,000 from nearly $185,000.  Ag-Mart was cited in 2005 for a slew of worker safety violations …

Houston firm to pay millions to settle criminal charges


A subsidiary of a Houston-based energy firm has agreed to pay $15 million to resolve charges stemming from a 2004 pipeline explosion in Walnut Creek, CA, that killed five workers …