A Cloud of Silence Marks 82% Increase in OSHA Penalty Fees

A Cloud of Silence Marks 82% Increase in OSHA Penalty Fees

The two year budget agreement that president Obama signed on November 2nd in closed door, surprisingly included a provision that authorized Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to raise penalties by as much as 50% to a new historic high level of 82%. This is the first time OSHA penalties are being raised in 15 years. The last time this happened was during Bush Senior’s tenure in office. However, what many await to see is whether OSHA will increase the “catch-up” fee, strictly as stipulated in the new bill.


OSHAs Penalty Fees

Observers and crafters of the budget agreement both agree that the OSHA portion of the bill is designed to compensate for two decades of lull, which has seen no increase in penalties. Despite the shocking increase, statistics indicate that OSHA fines are still relatively low compared to those charged by other regulatory agencies such as EPA. It is also important to note that this increment, will under no circumstances exceed the inflation rate for the fiscal years under review, which is from 1990 to 2015. The increase must be in line with the US government Consumer Price Index (CPI).

What the increase means

Once the increase is implemented, OSHA will move to increase the maximum penalties based on the previous year’s inflation rate, on a yearly basis. The increase means organizations or individuals caught for Repeat and Willful violations will be fined a staggering sum of $125,438; this is up from the current rate of $70,000. The current maximum fine of $7,000 that is charged for serious violations will also increase to $12,744.


maximum penalties

Sentiments coming from the leaders of OSHA and the U.S. Department of Labor indicate that OSHA will most likely implement majority of the recommendations, even as the organizations comes into terms with the full impact of the bill. What is more surprising, is the fact the changes have been approved without public debate. Interestingly, many organizations have sought to have OSHA penalties increased over the years, but to no avail.

There is a silver lining

On the bright side, it is every business executive’s desire to keep workers safe and free from accidents. However, the punitive measures that are being enacted will act as a wake-up call to organizations to stay on top of safety issues. It is rather unfortunate that most businesses treat safety issues as a cost factor that should be dealt with by professionals and not part of a wider business plan to ensure business success. The changes being implemented by OSHA is expected to change how business is run.


implementation process

The implementation process

The recommendations advanced by the budget committee regarding OSHA penalties are also likely to attract the ire of political scrutiny. This scrutiny may lead to the lowering of the maximum allowable fines, but we all a wait to see how the rule-making course will pan out. In the meantime, the Office of Management and Budget is expected to issue guidelines for implementing the provisions included in the bills by January 31, 2016. OSHA, on its part, is expected to publish an interim final rule regarding the bill by July 1, 2016.

The publication will be crucial, because it will allow the bill to come into effect by August 1, 2016. Once the bill comes into action, employers will be forced to respond to 250 or more National Labor Relations Board decisions that will nullify the existing employee handbooks and policies. The areas that will be affected include scrutiny of temps, Blacklist executive order and franchise operations among other areas of focus.

As an aside, thanks for reading this employment law article. It was written to inform and protect small businesses from compliance headaches. With employees, you need quality labor law coverage. If you’re operating from Los Angeles, try these labor compliance posters for full compliance. Their state and federal labor law posters are reviewed and approved by expert legal staff prior to being available to employers.



Losers in the new bill

First, it is also important to point out that following OSHA standards and safety guidelines is not necessarily the same thing, even though there is some correlation. The disparity is glaring, if you consider the fact that having few injuries at the workplace doesn’t always mean, that your organizations is in compliance with OSHA guidelines. Secondly, a hazardous work environment can impact your employees negatively. Case in point, an employer can be cited for a number of violations including blocked exits and having poorly positioned fire extinguishers, among other safety concerns that may put workers safety at risk.

The employers that are more likely to be impacted by the penalties, include those who operate in multiple locations, where safety is not a priority. These workplaces, typically have high turnovers and weak or inadequate supervision. The companies in this equation mostly include manufacturing concerns and other industries that demand high lock-out procedures, frequent safety training and around the clock guarding.

Word of caution

Since the enforcement of the new guidelines is already in the offing, it is incumbent for employers and employees to take safety matters seriously because repeat violations mean more punitive penalties.



Article provided by NECHES FCU, an Equal Employment Opportunity Employer.

Neches FCU is a texas credit union and has an awesome team of professionals ready to provide services to our members. When their doors open at any of the nine service outlets, our goal of “Ultimate Member Satisfaction” becomes the sole focus for every staff member. They are well-known for a personal, dynamic and fast-paced work environment, providing a memorable service experience, and where clients are known by their name.

Neches Federal Credit Union has approx. $438 Million in assets with over 45,000 members. Neches FCU is recognized by members and the business community as one of the best credit unions in texas and an actively involved partner, helping our Family, Friends and Community!

Mom-Friendly Tips for Dealing with an Angry Child

Dealing With an Angry Child

When our children lash out at us it brings out different kinds of emotions on our part. At times we might feel fatigued and overwhelmed. How we deal with it also matters. It can leave us questioning what we did, if it was right and if this got out of hand. If we don’t show our children how to deal with this emotion it can lead to other grave emotions like bitterness. Below is how we can teach our children to manage their anger.

1. Take in a deep breath

You will not be helping if you get angry yourself. When you are calm, it will help you child calm down and will also help with emotional regulation. This helps the child become more aware of their feelings. Teaching your children to take a minute to think over the situation is also important. By calming yourself down, you will be in a position to choose the best response.

Relax and Breathe

Relax and Breathe


2. Tantrums are normal

Their brains are developing. This means that they have not yet fully developed control over what they do or say. By offering empathy one will be helping develop those pathways. Through empathizing you will also become more trusting. We also need to teach them that anger is good for identifying problems but it is bad for solving them.

3. Anger is a defense mechanism

Anger is a form of defense once children feel threatened. Loses and disappointments can feel as the end of the world. But children need to learn that they can handle such kind of emotions. If their anger is met with compassion then the anger will melt away.

Acknowledge a child's feelings

Acknowledge a child’s feelings


4. Don’t try to teach, reason or explain

When children throw tantrums they need to be comforted of their safety. This is not a time to try and reason with them or try to give them lessons. Don’t try to explain why things are not working out the way they want them to but instead acknowledge how upset they are.

5. Set limits on actions

As much as you are being compassionate, it is important to set out limits that will ensure ever that will ensure everybody’s safety. Don’t engage your child in power struggle or yell at them. Stay calm and help them with the emotions they are experiencing. Don’t get physical with them.

Emotional limits

Emotional limits


6. Don’t set limits on emotions

You don’t have to agree or argue. Simply acknowledge what is making him angry and be sympathetic. Instead let them experience their emotions. This will help them learn that such kinds of emotions are natural and with time they will learn how to handle them on their own.

7. Safety first

In most case kids will want to hit you or push against you. If they hurts us they will end up feeling scarred and guilty. It is important to let them know that you are not comfortable with that. Encourage them to talk about what they are feeling without getting physical.

Stay close to a child

Stay close to a child


8. Stay as close as you can

Your child needs someone to be there for them. When they are angry, is not time to send them in their rooms and lock them there. Try to show them that you are there when they need you.

9. Don’t evaluate the emotions

Children accumulate emotions and at times it might not be what they are ranting about that made them angry. At times they might be fighting emotions over things that we actually don’t notice. What they need is to cry and let the emotions run their course. This will help in calming them down.

A Fearful Child

A Fearful Child


10. Acknowledgement will help in coming down

If you are compassionate towards your child it will help them calm down. It is important to acknowledge what made them angry to begin with.

11. Talk

Once they have calmed down, it is time to talk about the feelings they experienced. Now is the time to reason with them and tell them what they did was wrong and help them to deal this such kinds of emotions. You can do this in form of telling a story. If they don’t want to talk about it immediately then you can leave it till your child is ready for closure.

Teach your child to deal with Anger

Teach your child to deal with Anger


12. Teach

This is another best way in dealing with an angry child. By helping the child understand the emotions they just had, you are strengthening the bond between you two. And next time they will know how to handle their emotions better.

Teaching children to accept emotions is a step towards resilience. With time they will learn to deal with disappointments and learn that they cannot always get what they want but that is not the end of the world. They will also learn to talk about their feelings even when they are furious. Through teaching your child how to manage his ANGER YOU also will have strengthened the bond.

Author Profile:

Jessie Head is a single Mom who loves to blog about all things Mommy-like and adventures with her kids. She spends her free time blogging and scouring the web for great content for her readers. Her perfect day starts with grabbing her two boys, their baby jogger city select stroller, and heading out for an unplanned outdoor adventure. Whether they end up at the park, the beach, or just exploring a neighborhood art show, farmer’s market or garage sale, they always have a ball.

Jessie welcomes your comments on her social pages. Visit her website at HootBabyDesigns.com to offer your critiques or support.

Practice Smarter Employee Hiring with These 10 Steps

Smarter Employee Hiring in 10 Common Sense Steps


Employee frustration

Employee frustration

Hiring employees doesn’t have to be frustrating. Believe it or not, there really are people out there who will be loyally dedicated to your company and work hard for your business. When you can’t find them, don’t just settle. Instead, use these 10 steps to help you find workers worth hiring.

Have a plan

Have a plan

Step #1: Have a Plan

A lot of companies wait until their potential employee arrives to start the interview process, but preparation should begin long before your candidate walks through the door. If you’re not ready, you’ll miss out on a lot of key bits of information that could cause you to blunder in your hiring choices. To get ready, write down questions that cover the spectrum from experience to character to long-term plans.



Step #2: A Rough Idea Isn’t Enough

Knowing the kind of person you want for a particular job opening is great, but unless you have specific ideas, you’ll miss the mark every time. There are people who are just plain wonderful, but they’re a poor fit for the job you’re filling. The way to avoid this problem is to think through the position you’re hiring for and then write it all out in a detailed job description so you can match the skill set of candidates accurately.



Step #3: Determine Full- or Part-time

It can be a good idea to determine if you’re able to fill the position on a part-time basis before hiring someone full-time. This can help you in a couple of ways. First, it obviously costs less to pay a part-time employee. More importantly, you can gauge the fit of the person and bring him or her on full-time if it turns out you need to.

Ask around

Ask around

Step #4: Ask Around

Referrals are one of the most missed opportunities for finding a great employee. Oftentimes there’s a fear that hiring someone you have connections with can bring in all kinds of problems. That may be true, but it has an even greater possibility of connecting you with a person who comes highly recommended and will stick around. Ask everyone you know if they have any referrals that might fit the position you’re looking to fill.

Step #5: Check Your Own Circle

It’s a good idea to avoid posting your position to online job boards until after you’ve looked within your own sphere. You can let people know you’re looking to fill a position by spending time at networking gatherings or even on your business network via social media. You’re much more likely to find someone who at least has an acquaintance with your brand, as opposed to someone completely unfamiliar.



Step #6: Work with a Head Hunter

Another great option is to work with a recruiting agency or an in-house recruiter. Generally speaking, head hunters have connections with a wide range of professionals, and they’re aware of which ones may be a good fit for your opening. It’s a worthwhile endeavor because this relieves you of the stress of finding a qualified candidate. In addition, most hires via recruiter come with a certain level of guarantee, just in case things don’t work out like you hoped.

Step #7: Train New Hires

It’s incredibly important to make sure your new hire is properly trained from the word “go.” You may need your new employee to function at top speed now, but if you don’t take the time to teach him or her the ropes, you’ll end up frustrated and facing extra work later.

Hire an apprentice

Hire an apprentice

Step #8: Watch the Newbies

Check up on your new employees within a couple of weeks and assure them that you’re available if they have questions or concerns. This helps avoid panic and keeps them focused on doing a great job.

Step #9: Tell it Like it Is

Be honest with all job requirements, even if that scares some candidates away. You don’t want someone to start and then become upset because he or she didn’t know things. For example, if there’s mandatory overtime or occasional weekends, tell employees up front.

Make adjustments

Make adjustments

Step #10: Keep Adjusting

If you do lose an employee, make the most of it by finding out why he or she left. If the cause is something that could have been avoided, change your approach for the next time to cut out future loss. Stop by our other WordPress page, and post your comments or resource links to debate this matter further.

This small business growth content was written for our blog by Tracksmart.com.

Pause for a moment and consider how you deal with the issue of managing your staff’s time off requests. What’s your go to tool? Is using time and attendance tracking software? Have you been using paper products over the years and prefer to stick with that? What about desktop applications in your office? Is there someone you’ve outsourced your HR management to? With the day to day complexities of running a business, savvy owners are shifting to using employee attendance software to simplify much of the tedious chores involved in dealing with staff in a labor law compliant manner. Leave a comment below to let us know please.

Smart Tips for Charitable Givers This Season

9 Tips for The Smart Charitable Giver This Season


The holiday season is also the high season for charitable giving. As people make donations to their favorite organizations, those who wish to report their contributions at tax time should first familiarize themselves with the following nine helpful rules of charitable giving.

1. Verify the Charitable Organization’s Legitimacy

Perhaps the most important rule taxpayers should know about charitable giving is that the recipient must be a legitimate 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. Therefore, individuals must verify the organization’s legitimacy prior to making a donation. The IRS also recognizes donations to churches, synagogues, mosques, and temples. Taxpayers may use the IRS Select Check tool to determine whether the organization to which they would like to donate qualifies.

Legitimate charity for taxable donations

Legitimate charity for taxable donations

2. Request a Receipt and Save It

Taxpayers should retain proof of their charitable donations. Most organizations will provide a receipt. However, in some cases, a cancelled check or credit card statement may be sufficient documentation. If a donation exceeds $250, the taxpayer is required to request and retain a written acknowledgement from the organization.

3. Know the Deadline

Many taxpayers are relieved to know that the deadline for charitable donations for the present year is December 31st. Those who wish to receive the tax break for their donation, but would like to have more time to pay may choose to use a credit card to donate by December 31st and pay their balance in the new year. Donors should note, however, that organizations often charge a processing fee for credit card donations. Therefore, slightly less of the donation amount may be used for its intended charitable purpose if a credit card is used.


charitable tax deadlines

charitable tax deadlines


4. Donor-Advised Funds

Those who are unsure of exactly how they would like their charitable donation to be allocated may consider a donor-advised fund. The taxpayer would simply need to open an account in the fund and deposit cash, securities, or other financial instruments. The donor surrenders ownership over deposits that are made into the account; however, he or she will maintain administrative control. The advantage of a donor-advised fund is that the donor may deduct the entire amount contributed to the account in 2014; however, he or she may wait until a later date to decide how the funds will be distributed. A donor-advised fund may be opened with as little as $5,000.

5. Taxpayers Must Itemize Deductions

Those who wish to claim the standard deduction, instead of itemizing their deductions, may not claim a deduction for a charitable contribution. For some people, simply claiming the standard deduction is advantageous over itemizing; therefore, it is better that they forego attempting to deduct their charitable contributions. Individuals who are blind or over the age of 65 will generally have a higher standard deduction. Conversely, there are also taxpayers who are precluded from claiming the standard deduction. Married taxpayers who file separately, and one spouse has already decided to itemize are included in this category. These individuals should claim a deduction for their charitable contributions as they are required to itemize by default.

tax deductions

tax deductions


6. It is Possible to Qualify for Two Tax Breaks

In addition to a tax deduction, taxpayers may reap a second tax benefit when they donate highly appreciated stocks, bonds, or mutual funds. While capital gains are typically taxable, the taxpayer will not owe capital gains taxes in this case. Furthermore, he or she may deduct the full market value of the investment as a charitable gift.

7. Consider the Value of Donated Items

Donors should avoid attempting to claim a deduction for donating items that would be considered junk. When donating clothes and household items, the taxpayer may deduct the fair market value if the items are in good condition. When donating items that are of high value, the donor should take photo for documentation as it is the taxpayers responsibility to prove the value of the item. The Salvation Army and Goodwill have published guides to help donors determine the value of items they wish to donate. The “ItsDeductible” app may also be helpful.


Taxable Donation of Used Cars

Taxable Donation of Used Cars


8. Donating a Car

Car owners who wish to donate a vehicle should be aware that the Kelly Blue Book value does not necessarily determine the amount of their tax deduction. Generally, taxpayers may deduct no more than the amount the non-profit organization is able to receive when selling the car. When donating cars and other property that is worth more than $500, IRS Form 8283 must also be filed.

9. Get Money for Miles Driven

Those who donate their time may be delighted to know that the IRS also allows deductions for miles driven in the course of performing charitable work. Taxpayers may deduct 14 cents per mile. Similar to other charitable donations, it is important to document mileage for the purpose of record-keeping.

While it is the spirit of generosity that matters most when giving, following tax guidelines closely can help charitable contributors save money at tax time. In the end, the IRS has the final say in whether a deduction is legitimate. Therefore, it pays to consult a qualified tax professional or review IRS publications prior to making a sizable donation.

Hopefully, this article provided some quality insights.  As a side note, when it comes to your tax filing efforts to take advantage of these ideas for yourself and/or clients, consider e-filing this season.  When looking for a solution to file 1099 forms online, I suggest you look at an industry leader like eFile4Biz.com.

They will efile 1099 tax forms for you, along with printing and delivering your forms to recipients as well.  That alone will save you countless hours of prepping envelopes, forms and postage, including running around to drop off the mail.  Check out their video above to learn more.  Visit our LiveJournal page and let us know what you though about this post.


The Purpose Of The HCFA CMS 1500 Form

Filling out medical forms can get complicated.

Insurance covered procedures require a CMS 1500 filing.

Insurance covered procedures require a CMS 1500 filing.


There are numerous forms that you need to fill out when working within a medical billing office. Confusion can often result from the variety of choices. Survey any number of medical offices, and you’ll find the hcfa cms claim form 1500 is used the most. Here’s the basics:

  • The form was previously known as the HCFA 1500 but has since been named the cms 1500 version 02/12 claim form.
  • The name was derived from the centers for medicare services.
  • Several Medicaid State Agencies require this form to process billing.

Mostly used by non-hospital providers and suppliers in the medical industry.

By law, the filled in form must be submitted within 365 days to receive reimbursement for services rendered. Some people try to use copies of the form, but quickly realize that it’s produced with a special ink, making it hard to re-use. Due to a specific scanning technology called OCR, the red ink used is meant to facilitate that process of reading the information on the form. The scan reads what has been added to the form making it extremely important you have the exact form.


Almost 100% of the time, poor quality ink on the form results in errors.

Two keys to ensuring your submissions are as follows. First use only the most current form. And make sure the ink is exactly what is required. If you don’t send in the correct form, or send in a form without the correct ink, your forms will not be processed. Any delays in re-submitting the corrected form and information could result in no payment at all.

The bottom line is you need forms that are trustworthy. And as such, you need to find a quality provider.