BOB: OSHA and Small Business: An Introduction

A feeling of dread strikes the hearts of many small business owners whenever OSHA is mentioned. OSHA, which stands for the Occupational Safety & Health Administration, is a federal agency designed to protect workers from injuries due to workplace negligence. Abiding by OSHA regulations is required.

The feeling of dread comes from the fact that failure to comply with OSHA standards results in substantial fines and penalties. To ensure compliance, OSHA conducts surprise inspections. The agency also fields and investigates employee and consumer complaints. Because of the vast range of business types OSHA oversees, small business owners face the daunting task of wading through a staggering number of rules and regulations to find those that apply to them. Continue reading to learn more about determining the OSHA requirements for your small business.

Safety First
The ultimate goal for both OSHA and the small business owner is to ensure that employees work in an environment that is safe and healthy. An employee who is injured on the job or becomes ill because of the working environment ends up costing a company much more than an employee who works in a healthy, safe atmosphere. Paying worker’s compensation and health care bills along with a loss of employee productivity are just some of the expenses a business incurs by not providing a healthy workplace.

Safety is not just important in industries that deal with complicated machinery or hazardous materials, but in office situations as well. For example, OSHA covers tornado preparedness as well as ergonomic seating. Not all OSHA recommendations are mandatory, but all have one purpose – to keep employees safe.

OSHA and Your Company
Each business must abide by an industry-specific set of rules. Fortunately, resources are readily available. The following is a list of practical ways for small business owners to learn about OSHA regulations, develop a safety plan and effectively execute the plan in the workplace environment:

  1. Obtain training from an authorized OSHA trainer. Most authorized trainers offer individual audits as part of the training program. Training is geared toward your specific industry. Utilizing an OSHA authorized trainer also gives you the advantage of learning about your state and local requirements.
  2. Conduct routine internal inspections. It’s human nature to become lax over time. To combat complacency, small business owners need to remain vigilante. Reminding employees that safety matters emphasizes the importance you place on providing a safe and healthy environment.
  3. Keep the lines of communication open. Encourage employees to voice ideas and suggestions about improving safety in their work area.
  4. Stay up-to-date with OSHA regulations for your industry through your regional OSHA office. One of the frustrating aspects of OSHA compliance is that the rules constantly change. Regional offices provide a wealth of information about changes and updates to the law. Sign up to receive email newsletters and bulletins to stay informed.
  5. Assign a safety officer within your organization. Having a staff member whose primary purpose is to establish a safe environment, monitor changes in the law and manage day-to-day issues as they arise is an excellent way to maintain the highest levels of OSHA compliance.

The Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 was passed to safeguard workers against dangerous and unsafe working conditions. By complying with OSHA regulations, small business owners not only follow the law, but they take an active role in reducing workplace accidents and injuries.

For assistance with your OSHA regulatory requirements, contact the VenSure Loss Control department. Our Loss Control Specialists are knowledgeable in federal OSHA and state requirements. In addition, the VenSure Loss Control Specialists are authorized by OSHA to conduct outreach training in General Industry and Construction.

TRAX Software

ACA News Update

Dear Vensure Client:

The Affordable Care Act has added to your company’s to-do list, with tracking and reporting in 2015 necessary to maintain compliancy. Vensure will provide the tools you need to complete these tasks. As many of you know, we have developed a partnership with TRAX, an ACA compliant software company, to aide in this process.

TRAX will provide assistance for tracking and reporting for 2015

  • Applicable Large Employer (ALE) – 100 or more Full-Time Equivalents (FTEs)Applicable Large Employer (ALE) – 100 or more Full-Time Equivalents (FTEs).The regulations provide that, as a general method, each ALE may satisfy the requirement to file a section 6056 return by filing a Form 1094-C and, for each FT EE, a Form 1095-C. An ALE that maintains a self-insured plan (Essential StaffCARE) also uses a Form 1095-C to satisfy the reporting requirements under section 6055. The Form 1095-C will have separate sections to allow ALE members that sponsor self-insured group health plans to combine reporting to satisfy both the section 6055 and 6056 reporting requirements, as applicable, on a single return.
  • Companies with 50 – 99 (FTEs)
  • These ERs are not required to offer coverage(Minimum Essential Coverage or Minimum Value) because they fall under the 100 FTE line, in 2015. However, these ERs are required to complete IRS reporting in January 2016 mentioned above for plan year 2015. Additionally, this group of ERs may be considered an ALE at the end of 2015, when the law changes to add employers with 50+ full-time equivalents to the group of ALEs. This means the group of smaller employers will need to comply with the ALE regulations for the first time on January 1, 2016. It is important for this group of employers to properly prepare for the reporting requirements by tracking employees in 2015.
  • TRAX prepopulates your IRS reports for you!

Vensure Clients and TRAX Software

As a Vensure client, TRAX will be monitored, maintained and administered for you. We will communicate with you twice a month as to what actions need to be taken, if any. An action may be an offer of coverage, addressing an absence, recognizing the end of a measurement period, etc.

Vensure will also be instructing you on the appropriate way to report your new hires. Our goal is to give each client the necessary tools for reporting why an EE was hired (full-time, part time, variable, or seasonal) and in what class each new hire belongs (classes were established previously, when you completed the TRAX STORI form(s)).

This will allow seamless communication between Vensure and TRAX Software, keeping your company compliant along the way.

TRAX Process for Current Clients

To get each company’s TRAX dashboard completed and up to date, we will need help completing a spreadsheet, which will be e-mailed to you on Wednesday, February 11, 2015 or Thursday, February 12, 2015. We will be calling you to answer any questions you may have and complete a portion with you. Please review the directions in the e-mail and review the spreadsheet as quickly as possible. We will need the completed spreadsheet back by February 19, 2015. The implementation process for your company will be completed by February 27, 2015.

Not yet a TRAX client?

What is TRAX?
TRAX is the leading provider in the emerging market of ACA compliance. TRAX is an innovative cloudbased business tool and has proven to be crucial for business risk management and IRS reporting requirements.

  • TRAX is EASY to use.
  • TRAX prepopulates your reports for the IRS.
  • TRAX monitors all possible conditions through a convenient and SIMPLE to use Dashboard.

TRAX will expose hidden risks and alert you to potential adverse conditions, allowing you to correct the issue before information is reported and a penalty is assessed. TRAX will also advise you on the best next steps. Properly implemented, TRAX can virtually eliminate your potential liability.

TRAX is offered at a rate of $2.00 per active employee per month through Vensure.

If you are considering the use of TRAX, or would like more information, please contact us to schedule a demo. You can also visit the website at https://traxaca.com/.

UPCOMING TOPICS

  • How PCORI/TRF fees are billed.

CONTACTS

  • Ryan Scott – ryan.scott@vensure.com
  • Anna Hoebing – anna.hoebing@vensure.com

FUN FACTS

We know that ACA is not the most interesting of subjects. So, with that being said, we thought we would end with a few facts that we DO find interesting!

  • You are about 1 centimeter taller in the morning than in the evening.
  • During your lifetime, you’ll eat about 60,000 pounds of food – that’s the weight of about 6 elephants.

Best regards,
Vensure

Premium Billing Options

ACA News Update

Dear Vensure Client:

With your ESC Open Enrollment period currently happening or just around the corner, we would like to take this opportunity to explain the billing method for you and the employees (EEs). As you read the varying points offered under each plan, we hope that you will better understand your payment options.

PREMIUM BILLING OPTIONS

The ESC Fixed Medical Indemnity rates are calculated to match the employer’s payroll cycle(weekly, bi-weekly, or semi-monthly). Many of you currently have EEs enrolled in the Indemnity product, so you already understand how this works. This product is separate from the MEC and MV plans, but can be coupled with either of these products.

ESC FIXED MEDICAL INDEMNITY Weekly Payroll Deduction Files (via Verisource)

  • Employer only deducts on weeks when the employee worked.
  • Pre and post-tax.
  • Missed premium model allows employees to skip deductions and not repay (claims are not paid if incurred during periods of missed deductions).
  • Employee may make direct payment to provider for missed deductions, but it is not required.
  • Weekly/Bi-Weekly/Semi-Monthly coverage, as determined by your current payroll frequency.

MINIMUM ESSENTIAL COVERAGE (MEC) Direct Pay (via Verisource)

  • Payments are accepted monthly via credit card, paycard or debit card.
  • Not available on a Section 125 plan.
  • Monthly coverage.

MINIMUM VALUE PLAN (MVP) Direct Pay

  • Payments are accepted monthly via credit card, paycard or debit card.
  • Not available on a Section 125 plan
  • Pre-determined contribution levels have been established and provided to each of you
  • Employer contributions drafted via ACH each month.
  • Credit given for any employees who do not have an authorized credit card payment.
  • Monthly coverage.

Monthly List Bill

  • Employer pays bill in full and deducts as needed from employees.
  • Pre or post tax.
  • Monthly coverage.

DIRECT PAY PROCESS FOR MEC OR MVP

  • Employee completes enrollment form.
  • Application is processed, including matching demographic data from the group eligibility file with a hire date or first paycheck date.
  • PAI mails employee a Confirmation of Coverage(COC) letter, along with ID cards.
  • Employee goes to the PAI website to submit credit card information or calls PAI call center.
  • Employee must supply information in order to access the payment form, such as credit card information and email address.
  • Forms of payment include Visa, MasterCard, debit or prepaid card, so long as there is sufficient credit/funds available.
  • Card information is not stored with PAI.
  • On the 15th of each month, PAI submits a file with MEC or MVP enrollees for processing.
  • Failed transactions (invalid cards or insufficient credit) generate an email to the employee, instructing them to contact PAI customer service to make payment arrangements
  • Employees have until the last day of the following month to make payment or the policy is cancelled and they are not eligible to re-enroll until the next annual Open Enrollment period.
  • Employer contributions on the MVP will be drafted via ACH on the 15th.
  • PAI’s premium database will combine the employee direct pay with the employer contribution to match the total cost.
  • If either the employee or employer amounts do not come in on the 15th, the records will go to an error file for PAI to reconcile.
  • Employers will receive credit on the following month for any contributions made for employees who failed to make their direct payment.
  • MEC Only: Employees wishing to start coverage immediately, but miss the 15th cutoff for their first direct payment, can call PAI customer service to have a one-time payment taken over the phone.
  • Direct pay does not include individual employee payments by personal check.Coupon books are not an option for the MEC or MVP.

UPCOMING TOPICS

  • How PCORI/TRF fees are billed.
  • TRAX ACA compliance software for employers.

CONTACTS

  • Ryan Scott – ryan.scott@vensure.com
  • Anna Hoebing – anna.hoebing@vensure.com

FUN FACTS

  • A cough releases an explosive charge of air that moves at speeds up to 60mph. A sneeze can exceed speeds of 100mph. Take cover!
  • Laughing lowers levels of stress hormones and strengthens the immune system.