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Coal Miner Risks a Catastrophe

Despite two bituminous coal mining certifications, a former Pennsylvania coal miner was charged with one count of risking a catastrophe, one count of recklessly endangering another person, and one count of unlawful conduct. The charges stem from an incident in which co-workers allege that Donald Adams Jr. was smoking a cigarette in an underground bituminous coal mine in which they worked. Co-workers complained of the odor of heavy cigarette smoke and located a plastic bottle and burned cigarette near doors of the coal mine. Once the workers exited the air lock doors in the mine, they found Adams near the area and smelled cigarette smoke. This activity was even more dangerous because nearly 117 other miners were working and methane gas was present in the mine at the time of the incident. Criminal violations of the Commonwealth’s mining laws are outlined in the Environmental Crimes Section and are actively pursued when the safety and health of mine workers are thought to be at risk. The Department ...

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Top Five Considerations for Employer-Sponsored Health Plans in 2013

Mercer health benefit consultants have created a brief list of the things employer health plan sponsors need to take into consideration as they move forward in 2013: Make preparations for 2014 requirements under health care reform: Next year, employers will be instructed to give the option of qualified health coverage to all employees who work more than 30 hours per week. In 2013, employers must decide which employees and what plans qualify. Employers must also inform employees about the new state exchanges.  Take a close look at the level of benefits provided: As employers are required to cover more employees, they are revising the level of benefits they provide and how much they contribute to the cost of the plan. One approach to gaining momentum includes giving employees a plan that costs less as the main benefit and giving them options to pay a higher rate for more coverage.  Look into whether private health exchanges could be beneficial in health benefit strategies: Althou ...

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Experts Say Getting Rid of Defensive Medicine Could Save Trillions

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, is leaving companies and states trying to understand how to manage the costs that will be associated with the new federal health care reform law. Many states are not happy with provisions included like state-created marketplaces (also known as exchanges) for low income workers to buy health insurance or broaden the number of people who qualify for Medicaid. Other states, such as Florida and Georgia are making efforts to find ways to help reduce healthcare costs all around.  Lawmakers in Florida and Georgia are taking a look at legislation that would get rid the practice of defensive medicine—which is a major cause of high health care costs. Experts say this would happen by overhauling state’s medical tort system—so that no hospital, medical provider or doctor would be sued again. Defensive medicine happens when in order to avoid a lawsuit—doctors order more procedures, medications or tests than are medically ...

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Guns at work – how to understand your company’s risk management liabilities

The right to own guns has been a persistent issue in the news lately. For business owners, and HR leadership, the gun issue at the workplace produces its own set of concerns and legal exposure. Knowingly allowing guns in the workplace sets a company precedent, yet establishing a policy forbidding them may encroach on Constitutional individual rights. The legal exposures for your company are many: If a company establishes no gun policy, is it living up to its obligation to try to prevent violence in the workplace? Is your company liable for all incidents in the workplace? Are you open to wrongful termination lawsuits for firing someone who brought a firearm to the workplace? Does an employee’s accidental gun discharge open you up to worker’s compensation lawsuits? As an HR executive, these kinds of questions should be considered with the advice of legal help. There may be factors specific to your company, or its history, that makes these decisions different from other companies in the area. ...

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Five Ongoing Compensation Trends Employers Should Review

The state of the economy stalled or lowered salaries over the past three years. As conditions start to improve, companies are realizing their competitive edge in the market might have suffered. Many companies are starting to look at their existing salaries and the salary structures by beginning market studies to see where they stand. These five steps outline relevant compensation trends given today’s economy. Because some employees might be eager to seek alternative employment as the labor market becomes obtainable, it is important to understand market positioning in case compensation is one of the main forces for seeking another opportunity, particularly among recent graduates.  Employees only know of what they’re getting in terms of cash compensation, professional development and benefits if their employers tell them. Total reward statements are an effective means to deliver that information. In conjunction with economic improvements is the fact that companies are restructu ...

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