Month: January 2009

Memoirs of a Half Moon

by National Peo National Peo No Comments

As a Human Resources Consultant, I get a lot of calls from our clients that are downright serious!  Sometimes I can predict the moon phases by the types of calls I get.  A discrimination call means it’s a full moon.  In contrast, a half moon can be predicted on the days I get calls about dress code violations and such!

Call me crazy, but didn’t we all grow up watching our parents, grandparents or some authority figure go off to work each morning dressed for work?  Maybe your parent worked in a factory and if so, he or she probably wore some kind of uniform.  Maybe your parent worked in an office, in which case, he or she was likely dressed in a suit.  I remember my dad going off to work in a nice suit and tie every day.  There were not casual Fridays, and certainly there was never a day when he said, “You know? I think I’ll wear shorts because it’s just too hot for this suit.”  That was never the case; not one single time.  And this is the primary person who taught me about dressing for work.  Well, really he didn’t teach me about dressing for work, but this is what I was exposed to and this is what formed my opinion of what one wears to work – something WORK APPROPRIATE!!  And I bet they didn’t even have a dress code!

So these days I come to work and on half moon days, I get calls from my clients about the dress code violators.  On one hand, I have to chuckle a bit to myself…it all seems so silly!  On one particular half moon/dress code violation day, I received an extra special call.  A client of mine had a new employee.  This employee worked in the public eye.  This employee wore a uniform–type top and the rest of the outfit was to be bottoms and shoes in good repair, this all according to the dress code policy in place.  This particular client had strategically written the dress code to include verbiage about tattoos, peircings, unusual make up and hair, and even included body scent.  So, they thought of everything, right?  Well, not the case on half moon day.  The client had heard from some employees that a particular employee was coming to work without wearing a bra!  The employees who reported this did not know this piece of information because they had witnessed something…nothing like that.  The employee, it seems, was obviously not wearing a bra.  So, my client decided to ask the employee to come into the office for a confidential meeting.  The client proceeded to ask the employee to please begin wearing bras to work and even went out and bought bras for the violator.  Well, the violator, she did not deny that she was not wearing a bra, nor was she offended by being asked to wear the bras that were bought for her, but can you guess what she did do?  She asked for the bra receipt and returned the merchandise for the cash and promptly quit her job!  This violator was not going to work for a company that wanted her to wear undergarments and after all, the dress code did not say that she had to!

So I ask you, what is wrong with people?  Why is it so hard to understand that we have to dress work appropriate for work?  I am occasionally baffled by these things.  What happened between the days when my dad went to work and now?  I just don’t get it.

More Expensive OSHA Penalties Could Cost You Dearly

by National Peo National Peo No Comments

In 2008 Federal OSHA revised the standards CFR 1910.132 on the employers responsibility in providing Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for employees. Apparently there was some confusion among some employers on this revision and in December of 2008 Federal OSHA issued a Trade News Release to clarify the importance of providing PPE and the appropriate training to employees.


“The rule revises OSHA standards to clarify that, for employers to be in compliance, the must provide PPE equipment and hazards training for each employee covered by the standard”


“Each employee not protected may be considered a separate violation and penalties assessed accordingly. This revised language is consistent with language in other standards for which per-employee citations have been upheld”.


Let’s say you have 20 employees and you have a safety program and policy. You give all employees safety glasses and tell them to wear them but do not form eye safety training. An OSHA compliance officer walks in to conduct a compliance inspection and observes 6 employees not wearing safety glasses and they are performing jobs where safety glasses are required.  Prior to December 2008 the company would get one citation and one penalty for the 6 employees. Now the company would be cited for each employee not wearing safety glasses and receiving hazard training along with the safety glasses. Also, since the remaining employees did not receive hazard training and they were wearing safety glasses, the employer would probably be cited for failure to train each employee on eye safety and hazards to eye sign. If the employees who were wearing safety glasses and were trained there would by no additional citations, it would only apply to those not trained and wearing safety glasses.


Actual Case:


The case goes back over 16 years to a GM plant in Oklahoma City. A conveyor was activated by an employee who was not aware that the unit was being worked on. This resulted in another employee being killed instantly when the conveyor caught him by the head.


The OSHA inspection revealed that the power to the conveyor had not been locked out for the maintenance resulting in several lockout/tag out violations. Further investigation also revealed that all employees had not been trained in lockout/tag out. Under the per employee basis for training in lockout/tag out, OSHA calculated the penalty for each employee in the facility coming up with a penalty of $2.78 million dollars. The key was in the language of the standard “instruct each employee” triggers the per employee penalty. GM appealed and had the penalty reduced to $692,000, but the point of the matter is the accident was preventable through training and enforcement.


Now that this calculation for penalties has received legal sanction, expect OSHA to use it more.


Train all of your employees.


Sources: OSHA and SCA