Passing of Hollis Isbell

It is with profound sadness that we mark the passing of a true leader in the cotton industry. Hollis Isbell of Tuscumbia, AL was one of those true southern gentlemen and leader for the cotton industry in our region. Mr. “H” as many people knew him, held just about every position in the leadership of Southern Cotton Growers and was instrumental in the shepherding of Southern Southeastern as we transitioned in the mid-90’s to the organization we are today.

Mr. Isbell was involved in policy development and work with all aspects of cotton farming up to his retirement several years ago turning the operation over to his sons. Hollis Isbell passed on April 10. He was 92.

On a personal note, Hollis was President of Southern Cotton Growers when I was hired. The Presidents of both Southern Cotton Growers and Southeastern Cotton Ginners were involved in my selection. I will be forever in Mr. H’s debt for giving me a chance. He will be missed. Our sincerest condolences to the Isbell family.

Arrangements are below:
https://www.morrisonfuneralhomes.com/obituaries/Hollis-Isbell-2/#!/Obituary

First Aid and CPR Classes

The last two years Southeastern Cotton Ginners Association has held train the trainer programs for members. To change things up a little, the idea of a first aid / CPR training was discussed at the mid-year board meeting. Interest for such a course was high so we will be having 4 classes this spring and summer spread across our member states.

The idea of first aid / cpr training came about due to 3 main reasons. The first being multiple incidents at gins this past year involving severe lacerations as well as medical events. In these cases, immediate first aid was not required and first responders arrived quickly to handle the situation. One cannot help but to think what if immediate first aid was needed, is there anyone on staff at your facility that could provide first aid or cpr until first responders arrive. The second reason to have a certified first aid / cpr trained individual on staff would be location and timing. Not all of our gins are located close to town and there may be long response times for first responders. An employee on staff certified to perform first aid or cpr in an emergency situation could save someone’s life or reduce the severity of injuries. The third reason is that first aid / cpr training is a requirement of the NCGA Certified Ginner program. We have many members that participate in the certified ginner program, and it is important to stay up on the training requirements. First aid/cpr training should be renewed every two years.

This is an American Heart Saver First Aid and CPR certification course. Course topics will include :

First aid basics

Medical and injury emergencies

Preventing illness and injury

Adult CPE and AED use

This course is for anyone with little to no medical training. Upon completion, students will receive a course completion certification card, valid for two years.

The first two of these classes will be held in Alabama and Georgia. The South Carolina and North Carolina/Virginia classes will be held sometime in late June. Class Size is Limited. Pre-Registration is required. Check-in will begin at 8:00am with class running from 8:30am-2:30pm and boxed lunches will be provided. Trainers ask that attendees be able to speak, understand and comprehend English. There will be a $100 fee associated with the AHA first aid/cpr certification. Please see registration links below and call the association if you have any question.

Alabama First Aid/CPR Training Class

Prattville Fire Department

201 Gin Shop Road

Prattville, AL. 36067

May, 14th 2024

Georgia First Aid/CPR Training Class

ABAC’s Georgia Museum of Agriculture

Peanut Museum

1392 Whiddon Mill Road

Tifton, GA. 31794

May, 15th 2024

Electronic Submission of OSHA 300A Information

As we approach the end of February, I would like to remind our members of the approaching deadline to electronically submit injury and illness data for the 2023 calendar year. The OSHA Record Keeping Rule requires employers keep records of all work related injuries and illnesses. This includes the OSHA 300, 300A and 301 forms that employers must have on file. In addition to the forms list above, there is an additional requirement to electronically submit injury and illness data on OSHA’s ITA website.

Any employer with 20 or more employees at any time during the calendar year is required to enter this data electronically, in addition to posting a hard copy of the OSHA 300A. The data entered electronically is essentially the same data contained in the OSHA 300A form. The deadline for electronic submission is March 2, 2024. Please do this prior to the deadline.

To access the electronic submission portal simply click this link OSHA Electronic Submission Page . Once you have accessed the OSHA ITA web portal via the above link, there will be a tab on the left side “Login.gov” that will bring up the page to log into your account. In 2023, OSHA transitioned its login procedure to the public’s one account access to government applications, Login.gov. You must have both an ITA account and a Login.gov account with the same email address to access ITA. Once logged in you will be prompted to enter data from the 2023 calendar year. Even if you had no entries on your OSHA 300A form you must still electronically submit this data on the OSHA ITA website.

If this is your first time using this electronic submission application or you just need help, this link will take you to many how-to articles . There is also a blue tab on the right side “FAQs” that provides step by step guidance. Feel free to contact the association as well if we can be of assistance.

Hopefully, this article will serve as a reminder of what must be reported and posted to be in compliance with OSHA’s Recordkeeping Standard. If OSHA comes to your facility, they will ask to see these forms going back for a period of 5 years. It is important to have the files and data on hand and easily accessible. More information regarding OSHA Recordkeeping can be accessed through OSHA Recordkeeping Rule as well as the 2020 Southeastern Cotton Ginners Safety Reference Manual.

OSHA 300A Form Posting Deadline Approaching

 

As we approach the end of January, I would like to remind our members that the OSHA 300A Form posting deadline is approaching. The OSHA Record Keeping Rule requires employers keep records of all work related injuries and illnesses. This includes the OSHA 300, 300A and 301 forms that employers must have on file. If you do not already have a copy of these forms, they can be accessed through this link OSHA Recordkeeping Forms and Instructions. The 300A Summary of Injuries and Illnesses is the only form that must be posted from Feb. 1 to April 30 of each year. The 300A must be posted in a common area where notices to employees would normally be posted. Be sure to post this form containing work related injury and illness data from calendar year 2023 beginning on February 1, 2024.

It is very important that the OSHA 300A Summary be filled out completely and correctly. In the case that there were no work-related accidents to report, the form must be filled out with zeros in each blank. Often the establishment information is also overlooked and or just not signed. One area of the establishment information that creates some confusion is the area asking about average number of employees and total hours worked. The average number of employees is simply the total number of paychecks written divided by the number of pay periods. This should include all full-time, part-time, temporary, migrant, salaried, and hourly employees.

The other form found at the link above is the OSHA 300 Log of Work-Related Injuries and Illnesses. This is a log containing information about every work-related death and almost every work-related injury or illness that involves loss of consciousness, restricted work activity or job transfer, days away from work, and/or medical treatment beyond first aid. You must consider an injury or illness to be work-related if an event or exposure in the work environment either caused or contributed to the resulting condition or significantly aggravated a pre-existing injury or illness. It is also important to completely fill out the OSHA 300 form. All columns must be totaled even if you had no accident to reports there must be a zero for a total. The information from the OSHA 300 form is used to complete the OSHA 300A form.

This is also a good time to enter your 2023 injury and illness data on the OSHA Web Portal. Any employer with 20 or more employees at any time during the calendar year is required to enter this data electronically. The data entered electronically is essentially the same data contained in the OSHA 300A form. The deadline for electronic submission is March 2, 2024. To access the electronic submission portal simply click this link OSHA Electronic Submission Page

Hopefully, this article will serve as a reminder of what must be reported and posted to be in compliance with OSHA’s Recordkeeping Standard. If OSHA comes to your facility, they will ask to see these forms going back for a period of 5 years. It is important to have the files and data on hand and easily accessible. More information regarding OSHA Recordkeeping can be accessed through OSHA Recordkeeping Rule as well as the 2020 Southeastern Cotton Ginners Safety Reference Manual.

AK

New AEWR Published in Federal Register Today

The new Adverse Effect Wage Rate (AEWR) was officially published today. You can find the Federal Register notice Here. The AEWR is the minimum that H-2A workers can get paid on a per hour basis. In effect it’s the minimum wage for H-2A workers.

The AEWR that was published is exactly as expected from the Farm Labor Survey. Please refer to my previous Blog post below. Alabama, Georgia and South Carolina will be $14.68. Florida is $14.77 and North Carolina and Virginia are going to be $15.81. Although these are outrageous wages and increases over the current rates, the southeast has some of the lowest AEWR’s in the country. For example the NW is 19.25. Colorado is $16.50, the Northeast US is $17.80 and Michigan is $18.50.

These rates apply to the “Big 6” job classifications for non-range or herders. Those jobs are:

  • 45-2041 – Graders and Sorters, Agricultural Products.  
  • 45-2091 – Agricultural Equipment Operators.  
  • 45-2092 – Farmworkers and Laborers, Crop, Nursery, and Greenhouse.  
  • 45-2093 – Farmworkers, Farm, Ranch, and Aquacultural Animals.  
  • 53-7064 – Packers and Packagers, Hand.  
  • 45-2099 – Agricultural Workers, All Other. 
    (jobs in a cotton gin generally fall under 45-2019 – Ag Equipment Operators)

These rates will begin on January 1, 2024. If you have any H-2A workers on or after January 1, 2024 you need to begin paying them the higher rate that day…regardless of the contract terms. Any applications made for work in 2024 will also need to be at the higher rate. The rates for any occupations outside of the “Big 6” such as heavy truck drivers will change in July when the new OES is released.

As discussed in the previous article, the Farm labor Survey is used to develop the AEWR. It was never intended for that purpose. The National Council of Ag Employers has filed another petition to change the formulation of the AEWR.

Give us a call if you have any questions.

New Farm Labor Survey Released – H-2A Wages will increase in January

The Department of Labor uses the USDA NASS Farm Labor survey to develop the Adverse Effect Wage Rate (AEWR) for H-2A purposes. For many years the average wage in the FLS has become the AEWR for the following calendar year. The reason for the AEWR is that in the law that established the H-2A program, it says that the importation of workers shall not have an ‘adverse effect’ on local wages. The agency uses this survey to make sure the wages will not be impacted by bringing foreign workers in and displacing local workers with ‘cheaper’ foreign workers.

The FLS is conducted over the course of a year by the National Ag Statistics Service (NASS). NASS has been collecting this data for many decades. It is not collected for the purpose of use by the DoL and DoL has no influence on how the survey is conducted. It is more targeted (more surveys done) than the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) Occupational Employment Wage Survey (OEWS) in the agricultural community and is ‘thought’ to be a better representation of the ag community as a whole.

The Survey shows an increase in most Southeastern states of about a dollar per hour (See Table). The new wages will kick in when the DoL publishes them in the Federal Register. This will likely be right at the end of the year. Watch your inbox or keep up with your agent or contractor for exactly when the higher wages are due.

20232024
Alabama13.6714.68
Florida14.3314.77
Georgia13.6714.68
North Carolina14.9115.81
South Carolina13.6714.68
Virginia14.9115.81

We have a lot of problems with just using the FLS as the only means to determine the AEWR. The Farm Labor Survey, as mentioned before was not designed as a survey for AEWR purposes. NASS does not discriminate between H-2A users and non-users. Workers in corresponding employment or neighbors can be influenced by the H-2A wage locally. More H-2A workers are being employed today than ever before. Additionally, the FLS does not take into account any of the other expenses that go a long with the program such as inbound and outbound transportation, housing, meals (in some instances) and in the case of more and more states, overtime for farm workers. While the FLS may capture more workers in ag than the OEWS and may be a better statistical representation of pure wage it does NOT take into account the expense to the employer (effective wage on the employer).

We will have more information as it comes out.

DSF