New rules allow for safety-watch system
The Washington State Department of Labor & Industries has consolidated fall-protection requirements in WAC 296-155, "Safety Standards for Construction Work," into one set of requirements and added new rules that went into effect April 1, including a provision for a safety-watch system.
A safety-watch system is a "fall protection system as described in WAC 296-155-24615(6), in which a competent person monitors one worker who is engaged in repair work or servicing equipment on low pitch roofs only." The rule states when one employee is conducting any repair work or servicing equipment on a roof with a slope no greater than 4:12 (18 degrees), employers are allowed to use a safety-watch system.
A safety-watch system requires only two employees be on the roof while the safety-watch system is being used—one employee acting as the safety watch and one employee performing repair work or servicing equipment. The employee performing the task must comply with fall-hazard warnings from the safety watch.
The requirement also states mechanical equipment cannot be used with a safety-watch system. Mechanical equipment means all motor or human-propelled wheeled equipment except for wheelbarrows, mop carts, robotic welders or robotic crimpers. In addition, a safety-watch system must not be used when weather conditions create additional hazards.
The employee acting as the safety watch must be a competent person as defined in WAC 296-155-24603; have full control over the work as it relates to fall protection; have a clear, unobstructed view of the worker; be able to maintain normal voice communication; and must not perform other duties while acting as the safety watch.
More information is available at www.lni.wa.gov.
OSHA reminds employers to post injury and illness form
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has reminded employers to post OSHA Form 300A until April 30. The form lists a summary of the total number of job-related injuries and illnesses that occurred during 2012.
The summary must include the total number of job-related injuries and illnesses that occurred during 2012 and were logged on OSHA Form 300, "Log of Work-Related Injuries and Illnesses." To assist with calculating incidence rates, information about the annual average number of employees and total hours worked during the calendar year also is required. If a company recorded no injuries or illnesses during 2012, the employer must enter "zero" on the total line. The form must be signed and certified by a company executive. Form 300A should be displayed in a common area where notices to employees usually are posted.
More information regarding record-keeping requirements is available on OSHA's Injury and Illness Recordkeeping and Reporting Requirements Web page, www.osha.gov/recordkeeping. Copies of OSHA Forms 300 and 300A are available at www.osha.gov/recordkeeping/RKforms.html.
IRS expands employee classification program
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has expanded its Voluntary Classification Settlement Program (VCSP), which will allow more taxpayers to achieve certainty under the law by reclassifying their workers as employees for future tax periods.
The VCSP provides partial relief from federal payroll taxes for eligible employers who treat their workers or a class or group of workers as independent contractors or other nonemployees and now want to treat them as employees. Businesses, tax-exempt organizations and government entities may qualify.
Under the expanded program, employers under IRS audit, other than an employment tax audit, can qualify for the VCSP. Employers accepted into the program no longer will be subject to a special six-year statute of limitations; a three-year statute of limitations typically is applied to payroll taxes.
Also, until June 30, the IRS is waiving the VCSP ban on employers who fail to file required Forms 1099 with respect to workers they seek to reclassify for the past three years.
U.S. Air Force will use regional contract model
The Enterprise Sourcing Group (ESG) at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, is changing the way the U.S. Air Force purchases its roof repair and replacement needs. The Air Force now will use a regional contract model representing about $325 million in total roofing requirements during five years.
As part of an ongoing effort to more efficiently procure roofing for the Air Force, ESG will solicit five multiple-award, regional indefinite delivery and indefinite quantity-type contracts covering Air Force bases located in the contiguous U.S. This change from base-specific contracts to a more strategic approach is designed to address ongoing budget and manpower challenges. Preliminary roofing requirements were released in a draft request for proposal (RFP) in mid-March, and first contract awards are expected in early 2014.
Additionally, ESG will host a preproposal conference at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base April 17. The event will communicate the preliminary contract requirements, obtain input from interested roofing contractors and provide prospective bidders with a better understanding of Air Force needs, as well as suggestions for creating winning proposals.
For those who are unable to travel to Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, the conference also will be conducted online through a web conferencing service. There is no conference fee to participate. Proposed discussion topics for the event include an overview of strategic sourcing, the role of small business and optimal teaming arrangements, an overview of the Air Force's roofing strategy and objectives, and a review of the draft RFP and suggestions for successful proposals. More information about the conference is available at www.fbo.gov.
To be eligible for the VCSP, an employer must currently be treating the workers as nonemployees; consistently have treated the workers in the past as nonemployees, including having filed any required Forms 1099; and not currently be under audit regarding payroll tax issues by the IRS. Also, the employer cannot currently be under audit by the Department of Labor or a state agency regarding the classification of these workers or contesting the classification of the workers in court.
Interested employers can apply for the VCSP by filing Form 8952, "Application for Voluntary Classification Settlement Program," at least 60 days before they want to begin treating the workers as employees.
More information is available by entering VCSP in the search box at www.irs.gov.