Dan Hilton 0000-00-00 00:00:00
Tone of Uncertainty Continues in Washington The dog days of summer may be ending, but things continue to heat up here in the nation’s capital. Millions of Americans watched with frustration while Congress worked to strike an 11thhour deal to avoid defaulting on our country’s financial obligations.Seeing the dangers in defaulting on our commitments, ASA joined other industry leaders in urging Congress to lift the debt ceiling. The results of that deal include reduced spending by $1.2 trillion over the course of 10 years, and appointing a so-called “super-committee” of the House and Senate to find an additional $1.5 trillion over 10 years or risk automatic cuts in both security and non-security spending. In order to avoid painful cuts to programs as politically vital as defense and Medicare, the committee is required to draft legislation identifying its own spending programs where cuts can be made.1 The committee has until Nov. 23, 2011, to report on legislation and until Dec. 23 of this year to pass the cuts into law, or the automatic cuts enacted in this summer’s debt deal are set to take hold. Inside the Beltway, there are mixed feelings about the success of this super-committee. While the existing law prescribes that such cuts be made, it is more than a period of 10 years, which means future Congresses can overturn any of the cuts currently in law. In addition to the threat imposed by a future Congress or Administration, the super-committee should also be expected to face a number of jurisdictional or turf battles. It is important to keep in mind that it isn’t always the worst performing programs that get cut; it is the programs with the weakest constituencies. The members of the super-committee can expect to be inundated by special interests from across the spectrum articulating their programs’ value to the taxpayer. ASA will assuredly be taking part in this process by educating members of the merits of LIFO and WaterSense. Aside from Congress’ activity, or lack thereof, the Obama Administration has been working hard to implement a number of high-profile laws, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) being most prominent. Within this law are two areas the ASA is working to undo, in particular, the Employer Mandate and the Health Insurance Tax (HIT). As part of the Employer Mandate Working Group, we are advocating a repeal of this one-size-fits all, onerous mandate that punishes small businesses that don’t offer governmentprescribed health insurance. If a business does not provide insurance, and if one or more employees receive subsidies to take part in the yet-to-be-created insurance exchange, the business will pay $2,000 per employee. If a business does provide insurance, like most ASA members do, and if one or more employees decide they would rather get their insurance through the exchange, they will pay $3,000 per subsidized employee. The Health Insurance Tax is expected to be levied not on business owners directly, but on their insurance carrier. Health insurance companies will pay an aggregate annual fee of $8.0 billion in calendar year 2014. This will increase to $11.3 billion in 2015 and 2016, and eventually reach $14.3 billion by 2018. As it is widely assumed that health insurance costs will not be going down, and in fact will be rising, ASA is working with others to repeal this costly tax on small businesses. It is actions such as these that continue to set the tone of uncertainty that is stifling business and slowing our recovery. For more information on ASA’s advocacy efforts and what you can do to promote positive change in Washington, please contact ASA Director of Government Affairs Dan Hilton at 703.328.5234 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. ASA/OSHA Alliance Offers Quarterly Safety Webinars Through the ASA and OSHA Alliance, originally signed September 16, 2008, the ASA offers safety professionals in the PHCP and PVF industry a series of Webinars on a variety of topics. Webinars are FREE of charge and are held on a quarterly basis. Webinar topics, which are chosen by the ASA Safety Committee during monthly conference calls, are based on requests from industry professionals. The following topics have been covered since the Alliance’s inception: • Loading Dock & Door Safety • Ergonomics and Back Safety for Material Handling • OSHA Hazard Awareness Advisor Software • Reducing Hand Injuries and Managing PPE Costs While Maintaining OSHA Compliance • Protection vs. Prevention – Why Safety Knives? • Cardiac Safety – AEDs • Machine Safeguarding Basics • Hearing Conservation Programs Typically, Webinars are promoted to the industry and to the ASA membership through email blasts, the weekly electronic ASA Insights newsletter and through the OSHA Alliance. Webinars are normally one hour in length and have an average attendance in the 100-participant range. “Our Webinars have been excellent communication tools not only for ASA members, but also for the industry as a whole. Participants have had the opportunity to learn from experts on a variety of different topics,” said Rick Bryant, ASA safety committee chairman and corporate compliance manager at NIBCO Inc. in Elkhart, IN. Audio/video replay and slide presentations of Webinars are posted on ASA’s website upon completion. Please visit the Safety Resources section of www.asa.net for further details. ASA Welcomes New Members The following companies joined ASA and will enjoy all the networking, benchmarking, advocacy and educational programs that make ASA membership an unmatchable value to distributors and vendors in the PHCP and PVF industry. Insulation Solutions, Inc. East Peoria, IL www.insulationsolutions.com Scranton Products Scranton, PA www.scrantonproducts.com Northwest Hydra-Line Auburn, WA www.northwesthydraline.com For more information on how your company can become a member of ASA, please contact Chris Murin, ASA’s executive director, at email@example.com or 312.464.0090, ext. 204. Industrial Piping Division Elects New Vice Chair The members of ASA’s Industrial Piping Division elected Jay Bazemore, vice president of Jabo Supply Corp. (headquartered in Huntington, WV), as the Division’s new vice chairman. The announcement was made at the Weldbend IPD Breakfast held during NetworkASA 2011 in Las Vegas. Jay has 17 years experience working in the PVF industry and continues to be active in ASA’s Young Executive (Y.E.) Division. “I’m really excited that Jay agreed to step up and has been elected,” said Pat Adams, the IPD Chairman from MKS Pipe & Valve Co. “Jay has served on the IPD Executive Council since 2009, and his business acumen and stewardship exemplify the bright talent and energy that the next generation of leaders represents for the future of our industry.” Also, newly elected to serve on the IPD Executive Council are Dale Hurd from All-Tex Pipe & Supply, Stephen Letko from Weldbend Corp. and Wally Walstrom from Chicago Tube & Iron Co. Larry Dildine from The Phoenix Forge Group was presented with honors in recognition of his longstanding service to the association and the industry, including nine years on the Council. Protecting Your Hearing On the Job and At Home The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that noiseinduced hearing loss is listed as one of the most prevalent occupational health concerns in the United States. Each year, 30 million workers are exposed to hazardous noise in the workplace resulting in 125,000 cases of significant, permanent hearing loss having been reported since 2004. In fact, exposure to loud potentially damaging noise has not only been recognized as an occupational hazard, it has permeated our personal lives, as well as at home and at play. In 1983, OSHA responded to concerns about workplace noise exposure by adopting the Hearing Conservation Amendment to the Noise Standard — thus, setting in place specific guidelines on protecting the hearing of America’s workforce whenever noise exposure reached the critical level of 85 dBA or greater over an eight-hour time-weighted average. It is equally important for each individual worker to embrace these same guidelines when exposed to loud noise off the job. At the end of the day, the potential damage to hearing is no different from noise exposure in our personal lives than it is at work. The OSHA Hearing Conservation Amendment (29 CFR 1910.95) outlines specific important steps for the employer and employee to undertake to prevent hearing loss from loud workplace noise. These same steps should be embraced and shared with family members at home for exposure to power tools, lawn mowers, snow blowers, recreational shooting and amplified ear-level music to mention just a few noisy personal activities.The key components of an effective workplace hearing conservation program are as follows: 1. Monitor the Noise Levels 2. Hearing Conservation Training 3. Personal Hearing Protective Devices (HPD’s) 4. Annual Audiometric Testing Remember, your ears do not care whether the source of damaging noise comes from the machinery on your job or your personal music player — the resulting hearing loss is always permanent and irreversible — but it is also preventable. Be smart and always use proper hearing protection when exposed to loud sound while at work and when necessary, at home. Please visit the Safety Resources section of www.asa. net for more articles and Toolbox Talks on a variety of safety-related topics.
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