September 5, 2015

OSHA fines Omaha moving company in worker’s heat-related death

osha_logo[1]Federal officials propose an Omaha moving company be fined $12,000 in wake of the death of a veteran employee in early June.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has issued one serious, and one other-than-serious safety violation against Select Van and Storage, doing business as Mayflower/United.

On June 9th, a 49-year-old worker packing and loading boxes inside a truck suffered heat stroke and died. The heat index that day hit 112 degrees. The employee had been with the company for eight years.

OSHA issued a serious violation for exposing workers to excessive heat. It issued an other-than-serious violation for failing to report the death within eight hours as required by federal law.

“You hear a story like this and it just breaks your heart. Heat deaths are so preventable <http://www.osha.gov/heat>. There’s just no reason for a worker to die this way. If you’re working in those extreme triple digits, you’ve got to train your workers to recognize the symptoms of heat stroke <https://www.osha.gov/SLTC/heatillness/3431_wksiteposter_en.pdf> and seek immediate medical attention,” said Darwin Craig, OSHA’s acting area director in Omaha in a written statement issued by OSHA. “Additional breaks, water and shade are important preventive steps.”

OSHA has recommended a penalty of $12,000.

Click here for a link to the citation.

Nebraska small businesses getting help to export (AUDIO)

One Hundred US Dollar Notes, close upA bit more than $300,000 is being made available by the Small Business Administration to small Nebraska businesses trying to make it big in the export market.

The federal money can be used in a number of ways, such as to pay for foreign trade missions, foreign market sales trips, and international marketing campaigns.

SBA Nebraska District Director Leon Milobar says the program has proven its worth.

“The first year that we did this, we had a 20-to-1 return on our money,” Milobar tells Nebraska Radio Network. “For every dollar that we invested, we saw more than $20 being returned in terms of contracts and sales. So, that sounds pretty good to me.”

The federal money flows to the state programs already in existence that work with small businesses to sell overseas. It can be used as a match. Milobar says an example would be giving $2,500 to help with a $10,000 campaign.

“Basically, what we have is a cooperative effort to help you do business internationally,” according to Milobar.

The award for Nebraska is part of a $17.4 million programs providing aid to states across the country to help small businesses enter and compete in the global marketplace. Its formal name is the State Trade and Export Promotion (STEP) program. Nebraska will received $300,570.

The SBA reports export-supported jobs pay 15-18% more than jobs that rely on goods sold only domestically. Less than one percent of all small businesses export. Of those that do, according to the SBA, 58% export to only one country.

Interested businesses can apply with the Nebraska Department of Economic Development.

AUDIO:  Brent Martin reports [:50]

Nebraska Vocational Rehabilitation expands

sprite_logo[1]Nebraska Vocational Rehabilitation has expanded.

Nebraska VR has created a three-member Business Account Managers team helping the disabled find employment in the Omaha, Norfolk, Kearney, and Grand Island areas.

Lindy Foley is the Employment Services Program Director for the Nebraska VR program. She says the Business Account Managers will work to match disabled individuals with employment opportunities.

“And their primary responsibility is to be out in the community meeting with employers to learn about the current business needs,” Foley tells Nebraska Radio Network affiliate KKPR.

Nebraska VR provides services both to the disabled and to businesses at no cost.

Foley says Nebraska VR works to create connections.

“Nebraska VR services are provided at no cost,” Foley says. “We do have VR offices across the state. So, many years we’ve worked to establish partnerships with a variety of businesses and we not only want to maintain these partnerships, but we also want to reach and work with employers who have not yet utilized our services.”

Nebraska VR helps the disabled with job training as well as the job hunt. It also works with businesses to find the right opportunities for the disabled.

Brent Weithorn, KKPR, contributed to this article.

How insurers determine auto premium rates

Just because you are a good driver doesn’t mean you will get a big cut on your auto insurance rate. Ken Davidson is an insurance industry expert and says companies in Nebraska and every other state take many factors into consideration.

Davidson says, “One of the items they use is insurance scoring. It isn’t the same as a credit score but it does look at spending patterns and if you are late on your bills. Some a bit more than others. There are tons and tons of studies that show direct correlation between driving habits, claims and frequency that correlate with insurance scores.”

Davidson says they also take into consideration your zip code and whether you live in a rural or urban area. They also look at age and the type of vehicle owned.

Davidson says one of your best bets is to find an independent agent that represents several insurance companies and will hunt for your best deal. He says individual companies typically have one set rate and that is what you will pay.

Congressman Fortenberry says trade important for Nebraska

Congressman Jeff Fortenberry

Congressman Jeff Fortenberry

Congressman Jeff Fortenberry defends Congressional action to make it easier for the president to negotiate trade deals with other countries.

Fortenberry says he understands why some people are suspicious about the measure.

“Look, trade is a mixed bag for America. Let’s be honest. It’s very important in Nebraska. It is very helpful to our agricultural sector. It is one of the main economic multipliers that we have in Nebraska. It’s one of the reasons we have one of the lowest unemployment rates in the country,” Fortenberry tells Kevin Thomas, host of Drive Time Lincoln on Nebraska Radio Network affiliate KLIN. “But, in other places, such as in the middle of the industrial Rust Belt you’ve seen the decline of American manufacturing and in other sectors as well. Other countries cheat. They subsidize their currency. They don’t have the same type of labor and environmental laws and protections that we have.”

Fortenberry says Congress simply set up the guidelines for a president to negotiate trade agreements that it then will consider.

In late June, Congress approved Trade Promotion Authority, commonly referred to as fast-track trade legislation. It gives the president broad authority to negotiate a trade bill and submit it to Congress for an up-or-down vote. It cannot be amended. The Senate cannot filibuster the deal.

Fortenberry says he’s well aware trade with other countries often isn’t conducted on a level playing field.

“That is why the Congress actually worked very hard to set up the parameters by which the president can then go negotiate a trade agreement,” according to Fortenberry. “We didn’t vote for a trade agreement. We gave him the authority to do so based upon what we wanted to see. That agreement’s not done. We just simply gave him the authority.”

Fortenberry says trade is very important to Nebraska, especially for the state’s agricultural sector.