USCIS publishes new Form I-9
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) issued a new Form I-9 to be used by employers to verify employment eligibility for all new hires. The new Form I-9 took effect March 8 and expires March 31, 2016. USCIS will accept previous forms through May 7. After May 7, employers must use the new Form I-9.
The new Form I-9 includes six pages of instructions, which answer employers' frequently asked questions regarding previous versions of Form I-9. For example, the new instructions explain that identifying a Social Security number for Section 1 purposes remains voluntary unless the employer is enrolled in E-verify.
The instructions also explain the "receipt rule," which allows an employee to comply with Section 2 requirements by producing a receipt for a replacement document. The instructions also clarify reverification does not apply to List B documents.
Additionally, the new Form I-9 consists of two pages. The first page is devoted to Section 1 and the Prepare and/or Translator Certification, and the second page consists of Sections 2 and 3. Section 1 includes space for employees to provide all other names used by the employee, including a maiden name. It also now has space for employees to voluntarily include their e-mail addresses and telephone numbers.
OSHA promotes fall-prevention campaign
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has partnered with Maryland's Montgomery County Worker Health and Safety Commission to raise awareness about preventing falls in construction, which are the leading cause of death in the construction industry.
New posters are on display in Montgomery County's public bus system, where riders can learn about OSHA's nationwide Campaign to Prevent Fatal Falls in Construction. The campaign is raising awareness about the hazards of working from heights in construction and the necessary steps to keep workers safe, such as using harnesses and lines for roofing work. The posters direct riders to call (800) 321-OSHA (6742) or visit OSHA's website to learn more about the campaign, which includes educational materials, training resources, local events and more.
Posters were placed March 1 inside more than 200 buses across the county and will remain on display for several months. Montgomery County's public bus system has a ridership of 30 million people every year. For more information about the campaign and to view the posters, go to www.osha.gov/stopfalls.
Court rules on hazard exposure case
On Dec. 5, 2012, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit ruled an employee does not actually need to be exposed to a hazard before an employer can be found in violation of an Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) standard.
In All Erection & Crane Rental Corp. v. Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission, the court upheld an OSHA citation alleging an employer failed to properly barricade the swing radius of the rear of a crane's rotating superstructure.
To establish an obvious violation of an OSHA standard, the secretary of labor must show the following by a preponderance of the evidence:
All Erection & Crane Rental did not dispute the first two elements, but it did argue employees did not have access to a hazardous condition and it did not know of the condition's existence. The company contended the administrative law judge erred in finding employees were exposed to a hazard based on the fact only the right rear of the crane exposed employees to a hazard and that area was blocked with pallets.
However, the court held the fact that an employee could have been exposed to a hazard is enough reason to find an employer in violation of an OSHA standard.
The court stated: "The Secretary need only prove that employees had access to the violative condition. The Secretary need not prove that employees were actually exposed to the condition, but only that it was reasonably predictable that employees would be within the zone of danger. Furthermore, the Secretary need not prove that the violative condition was actually hazardous, since under a standard such as this, the existence of a hazard is presumed."
To read the full case, go to docs.justia.com and enter "All Erection & Crane Rental Corp. v. Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission" in the search box.
Product innovation challenge announced
Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute, a nonprofit organization that works with manufacturers to design safe and healthy products, has introduced the Product Innovation Challenge in partnership with Make It Right, which builds healthy homes, buildings and communities for people in need.
The challenge asks manufacturers to design goods for the affordable housing market that are safe for human and environmental health and designed for reuse.
The Product Innovation Challenge is open to manufacturers with production capabilities and companies with a verified path to production through partnership or other arrangements, and the products submitted must be able to be produced.
Three winners will be announced Nov. 15. The first-place winner will receive $125,000; the second-place winner will receive $75,000; and the third-place winner will receive $50,000. The winners also will receive the support of a dwell magazine media partnership and will be announced at the 2013 Greenbuild® International Conference and Expo, which will be held Nov. 20-22 in Philadelphia. Up to 20 runners-up will receive distinction at the 2013 Greenbuild International Conference and Expo and benefit from a marketing and public relations campaign supporting their work.
Applications for the contest are due June 30. For more information, go to www.c2ccertified.org/challenge or view Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute's prerecorded webinar, "Applying for the $250,000 Cradle to Cradle Product Innovation Challenge," available on the company's YouTube page, www.youtube.com/c2ccertifiedproducts.
IRS releases list of scams
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has issued its Dirty Dozen list of tax scams reminding taxpayers to use caution during tax season to protect themselves against a variety of schemes ranging from identity theft to return preparer fraud.
The Dirty Dozen list, compiled by the IRS each year, lists common scams taxpayers can encounter at any point during the year, but many of the schemes peak during filing season as people prepare their tax returns.
The Dirty Dozen tax scams for 2013 include identity theft, phishing, return preparer fraud, hiding income offshore, "free money" from the IRS and tax scams involving Social Security, impersonation of charitable organizations, false or inflated income and expenses, false Form 1099 refund claims, frivolous arguments, falsely claiming zero wages, disguised corporate ownership and misuse of trusts.
Illegal scams can lead to significant penalties and interest and possible criminal prosecution. IRS Criminal Investigation works closely with the Department of Justice to shut down scams and prosecute the criminals behind them.
For more information and to view the list, go to the News & Events section of www.irs.gov and click on "IRS Releases the Dirty Dozen Tax Scams for 2013."