Wage Increases in Massachusetts Lag National Pace

Posted by Gretchen Harrison on Jan 13, 2020 8:00:00 AM

Massachusetts employers project lower wage and salary increases, a consistent level of recruitment activity, and moderating health-insurance premium increases for 2020 after navigating a solid but volatile economy during 2019.

HR.Practices2The 2020 AIM HR Practices Report published today shows that companies project a 2.77 percent salary increase budget for 2020, consistent with the 2.71 percent actual increase reported for 2019 but down from 2.86 reported in the 2018 HR Practices survey.

Meanwhile, national salary increase projections for 2020 have increased slightly from the prior year to 3.3 percent. Salary increase trends in Massachusetts have tended to lag national numbers in recent years and the gap has begun to widen.

How does a state with a 2.9 percent unemployment rate, a persistent shortage of skilled workers and an impending demographic cliff show slower wage growth than the rest of the nation?

Survey data suggest:

  • Escalating regulatory costs (minimum wage) and non-wage compensation costs (paid family and medical leave; health insurance) are making employers cautious about increasing pay. Companies generally have a set compensation budget, so increases in these ancillary costs may put downward pressure on wages.
  • The Massachusetts Equal Pay Act may be limiting the degree to which employers are able to offer compensation incentives to “superstar” job candidates.

Members of the AIM Board of Economic Advisers offer additional explanations:

  • Wages are already much higher than the national average in Massachusetts, meaning that increases represent a smaller percentage of total wages.
  • Massachusetts is aging fast. Older workers are at a steadier place in their careers and see slower wage growth. As they retire, they are replaced by less expensive younger workers. This is a natural drag on overall wage growth.
  • The higher-skill workers who dominate the Massachusetts economy get a significant portion of their compensation in non-wage forms like bonuses, commissions and stock options. Projected recruitment activity for 2020 is expected to be comparable with actual recruitment experienced in 2019, which saw a significant increase over 2018 volumes.

The wage and salary increase projections come as unemployment in Massachusetts remains at record low levels. And while the state economy contracted by 0.2 percent during the third quarter, analysts say the downturn does not appear to indicate the beginning of a recession, but rather the capacity limits against which the state is bumping.

These include the barriers to labor force growth presented by an aging population as the departure of baby boomers from the regional workforce continues.

Download the HR Practices Report

Topics: Massachusetts economy, Human Resources, wages

Legislature Tightens Access to Criminal Records; Adds Employer Protection

Posted by Brad MacDougall on Apr 4, 2018 4:46:57 PM

The Massachusetts Legislature today passed a criminal-justice reform bill that narrows the ability of employers to research the criminal records of job applicants, but also provides legal protection from negligent-hiring claims to companies that are unable to view a sealed criminal record.

ScalesofJusticeVerySmallThe state Senate and House of Representatives both passed the measure with overwhelming majorities. It now goes to Governor Charlie Baker, who has 10 days to sign or veto it.

Inclusion of the negligent-hiring provision grew out of discussions brokered by AIM last summer between sponsors of the bill and employers who rely upon criminal background checks through the Massachusetts Criminal Offender Records Information (CORI) system.  The provision protects employers that conduct background checks and end up hiring individuals with criminal records that are sealed, expunged, or no longer available to employers. 

Key elements of the reform bill for employers include:

  • Accelerates the ability of offenders to seal records from 10 years to seven years for felonies and from five years to three years for misdemeanors.
  • Raises the threshold that defines felony larceny from $250 to $1200, thus classifying more cases as misdemeanors that can be quickly sealed or expunged.
  • Assures that cases dismissed before arraignment do not appear on criminal records.
  • Assures that youthful offender cases tried in juvenile court are treated as juvenile instead of adult CORI.
  • Allows expungement of non-serious cases up to age 21 (both juveniles and young adults).
  • Prevents employers from inquiring about sealed or expunged cases.

Organizations that serve vulnerable populations, such as school systems or nursing homes, would continue to have broader access to criminal records.

AIM members with questions about the status of the legislation should contact Brad MacDougall at Members with questions about how the measure will affect their companies should call the AIM Employer Hotline at 800-470-6277.

Topics: Employment Law, CORI, Human Resources

Survey Shows Wage Growth Slowing in 2018

Posted by Russ Sullivan on Dec 4, 2017 8:00:00 AM

It seems that Massachusetts employers embody all the ambivalence and contradictions that have marked the longest economic recovery since the Second World War.

Image.jpgOn the one hand, the 205 employers who participated in the 2018 AIM HR Practices Survey predict lower salary increases, less hiring, and higher health-care costs for 2018 than this year.

On the other hand, employer confidence in the state economy stands at a 13-year high, the state economy grew at a brisk 5.9 percent pace in the third quarter and unemployment throughout the commonwealth has dropped to 3.7 percent.

The year 2018 promises to be an interesting one.

Participants in the AIM survey project a 2.66 percent increase in salaries in 2018, down from a 2.75 percent increase in 2017. Non-manufacturing companies are fueling the overall decrease, with an expected increase of just 2.43 percent. Manufacturing companies held steady at 2.70 percent, slightly down from the 2.71percent increase within this sector in 2017.

Survey participants also project a decrease in recruitment activity in 2018. Last year, 44 percent of participants projected that recruitment activity would increase over the previous year. This year, only 33 percent of participants project an increase in recruitment activity.

These lower projections for salary budgets and recruitment activity come at a time of increased confidence in the economy, as measured by AIM’s Business Confidence Index. In October 2017, the index reached 62.7, its highest level in 2017 and an increase of 6.5 points since the October 2016 recording of 56.2.

“The acceleration of the Massachusetts economy in the third quarter provided additional fuel to an already solid sense of confidence among employers as we head for 2018,” said Raymond G. Torto, chair of AIM’s Board of Economic Advisors and a lecturer at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design.

Health-care costs continue to rise for Massachusetts employers. Survey participants report increases in the annual renewal rates for health plans. The average annual premium increase is 7.84 percent, with higher percentage increases reported for HMOs and consumer-driven health plans. Average premium increases in 2016 were 6.1 percent.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services indicate that Massachusetts, at 30 percent above the national average, is the second highest spending state for health care. Per-capita personal health-care spending in Massachusetts increased more than 12 percent in five years—from $9,417 in 2009 to $10,559 in 2014.

In response to the escalation of health-care costs, more employers (42 percent) are limiting the number of health-plan options available to employees to just one.

In addition, more employers are offering high-deductible health plans. For the second year in a row, there has been a 33 percent increase in the number of companies that provide high-deductible health plans as the only health plan option for employees. Although only 16 percent of all survey participants offer a high-deductible health plan as the only plan option, these employers represent 38 percent of participants that offer only one plan.

Massachusetts employers will have an additional health-care cost come 2018. Companies will pay an additional $180 million over two years as part of an assessment designed to close a budget deficit with the state Masshealth program for low-income people. Companies with employees currently using MassHealth will shoulder the bulk of the new assessment.

Meanwhile, the Massachusetts legislature is currently developing legislation that Beacon Hill leaders say will address the overall cost of health care.

Survey participants also commented on their preparations for compliance with the Massachusetts Pay Equity Act. This law, which takes effect on July 1, 2018, creates a potential liability for employers who pay different rates to men and women who perform comparable work. Employers who perform a self-evaluation to identify and remove gender-based pay inequities can maintain an affirmative defense to employee claims under the act. However, successfully performing a self-evaluation requires an investment in time and resources to build a compliant compensation process.

Despite the impending July 1, 2018 deadline for completing a self-evaluation and implementing remedial actions to secure the affirmative defense, only 19 percent of survey respondents state that they have completed the self-evaluation. Even fewer participants (12 percent) state that they have taken remedial actions.

Completing self-evaluations may be further complicated by a lack of pay-equity-compliant job descriptions. Fifty-seven percent of participants state that their job descriptions are either out of date or nonexistent. An additional 8 percent state that while they have updated their job descriptions for pay equity compliance, they do not have job descriptions for all positions.

The act also affects employee recruitment through its prohibition on asking applicants to disclose their current salary or their salary history. While employers acknowledge that this fundamentally changes the recruitment process, 17 percent of participants state that they do not currently have a plan to comply with this requirement, and another 38 percent plan to wait until July to remove requests for salary information from their applications.

Survey participants see a strong 2018 for their companies, with 82 percent rating their business conditions as either excellent or good. Addressing pay equity, employee recruitment, limited salary budgets, and increased health-care costs will stretch the capacity of most HR departments as they try to stay ahead of the economic recovery. Employers are encouraged to integrate their compensation, benefits, and recruitment strategies into a pay-equity-compliant value proposition that establishes them as an employer of choice in 2018 and beyond.

Topics: Compensation, Human Resources, wages

New Overtime Rules Will Challenge Employers

Posted by Tom Jones on May 18, 2016 9:22:09 AM

The U.S. Department of Labor will issue a final rule today that will soon make more than four million workers eligible for overtime. The measure has profound implications for employers.

Fourpeople.jpgThe new rule doubles the salary threshold—from $23,660 to $47,476 per year—at which exempt or managerial workers become eligible for overtime. Non-exempt (hourly) workers are generally guaranteed overtime pay regardless of their earnings level. The rule will take effect on December 1.

The new salary baseline is slightly lower than the initially proposed white-collar exemption threshold of $50,440.

The threshold level will be automatically updated every three years. According to information released by the White House , the updates to the new minimum exemption will be set at the 40th percentile of full-time salaried workers in the lowest income region of the country.  Based on projections of wage growth, the threshold is expected to rise to more than $51,000 with the first update on January 1, 2020.

Employees earning more than the salary cap will still have to pass the “duties test” - showing that they primarily perform executive, administrative or professional tasks - to be classified as exempt from overtime.

The exemption for highly compensated workers will change from $100,000 annually to $134,004. A highly compensated employee must perform office or non-manual work and be paid total annual compensation of $134,004 or more (which must include at least $913 per week paid on a salary or fee basis) and customarily perform at least one of the duties of an exempt executive, administrative or professional employee identified in the standard tests for exemption.

There are no changes to the outside sales provision or the computer professional exemption. To meet the computer professional threshold, the employer must show that the employee is compensated either on a salary or fee basis at a rate not less than $455 per week or, if compensated on an hourly basis, at a rate not less than $27.63 an hour and the employee must be employed as a computer systems analyst, computer programmer, software engineer or other similarly skilled worker in the computer field performing the duties outlined in the regulations.  

Analysts believe the new overtime rules may prompt companies with exempt employees earning less than the proposed threshold of $47,476 per year ($913 per week) to reclassify those people as hourly workers. That change not only presents potential morale issues for employees who may consider the reclassification as a demotion, but also raises a host of issues for employers:

  • Payroll practices education (punch a clock, overtime rules)
  • Individual time management and work stopping at a set  time
  • Educating management on their staff and legal aspects of exempt versus non-exempt status
  • Rewriting job descriptions / salary structures
  • Career path changes
  • Effective workload levels – hiring incremental temps, part-time, full-time
  • Curfew on after-hour emails by non-exempt staff
  • Any benefits/bonus eligibility impact
  • Calculating travel time between locations or when required to report to an alternative location by a certain time
  • Calculating time for required travel on non-work days

Employers can start the process of adjusting to the new rule by asking some of the following questions:

  • Do you have any highly compensated employees under proposed threshold of $134,004?
  • Do your exempt employees affected by this proposal currently work more than 40 hours per week?
  • Do your exempt employees affected by this proposal work remotely all or part of the time? If so, you’ll need to effectively track hours to ensure all hours are accounted for and paid.
  • Have you tracked exempt employee workload within the 40 hour work week? If a conversion to an hourly employee is required, do you have metrics to substantiate a 40 hour workweek?
  • Have you addressed any budget or impact on pricing as it relates to any increased labor costs?
  • Have you initiated planning for automatic increases to the exempt salary threshold beyond 2016?
  • Have you considered the increase in number of hourly versus exempt employees and any union organizing concerns?

Register for the AIM Overtime Seminar

Topics: Employment Law, Human Resources, Fair Labor Standards Act

AIM Executive to Lead Career Center Board

Posted by Christopher Geehern on Mar 30, 2016 4:04:31 PM

Gary MacDonald, Executive Vice President of the Associated Industries of Massachusetts Employers Resource Group, has been elected president of the Board of Directors of FutureWorks Career Center in Springfield, the organization announced today.

MacDonaldSmallVerticle.jpgMacDonald, a veteran human resource executive who has directed AIM’s HR and training operations since 2013, will serve a two-year term. He succeeds MacArthur Starks Jr., an Assistant Vice President at AIM-member MassMutual, who served in the position for four years.

FutureWorks, part of the Massachusetts One-Stop Career Center system, provides job seekers and businesses a range of services such as job postings; workshops on resume writing, interviewing, and salary negotiations; use of computers, FAX machines, phones and copiers; and access to trained professionals to assist members in their job search, career planning and management. 

During Fiscal Year 2015, FutureWorks served 11,740 job seekers who visited the career center 51,160 times. The organization served nearly 600 business during that time with recruiting and staff development.

“I am honored to serve as president of the FutureWorks Board of Directors as the career center celebrates its 20th anniversary,” MacDonald said.

“At a time when employers cite the ability to hire and retain qualified workers as their primary challenge, organizations like FutureWorks are indispensable for their ability to match talented job seekers with the needs of business.”

MacDonald has worked with hundreds of Massachusetts employers on leadership development, organizational effectiveness and HR management. He joined AIM in 2002 after building three decades of business experience with global companies such as Thomson Financial and General Electric, and his expertise ranges from facilitating strategic planning with top management to teaching foundational management skills to brand new supervisors

Also elected as officers at the March 23 meeting of the FutureWorks board of directors were Marylou Fabbo, a Partner with the law firm Skoler Abbott & Presser, vice-president; Josephine Sarnelli, a CPA, treasurer; and George Kohout, Director ABE/ESOL Services and Workforce Development at Springfield Technical Community College, secretary.

Other members of the board of directors include:

  • Joanne Berwald, Vice-President Human Resources, Mestek
  • Brian Connors, Deputy Director Economic Development for the City of Springfield
  • Kermit Dunkelberg, AVP Workforce Development, Holyoke Community College
  • Mike Grandfield, Senior VP Commercial Relationship Manager, Berkshire Bank
  • Ronn Johnson, President CEO, Martin Luther King Jr. Family Services
  • Denise Jordan, Chief of Staff, Mayor of Springfield
  • Paul Judd, Vice-President Human Resources, Baystate Health
  • Vicki Shrewsbury, Director Talent Acquisition, Smith & Wesson

The volunteer board oversees FutureWorks program services and provides financial oversight.


Topics: Associated Industries of Massachusetts, Human Resources, Jobs

AIM Asks Feds to Investigate Scam Calls to Employer

Posted by Tom Jones on Jan 25, 2016 11:56:15 AM

Associated Industries of Massachusetts has asked federal officials to investigate an apparent scam in which a caller claiming to be from the U.S. Department of Labor calls an employer and demands personal information about employees as part of a bogus 401(k) plan audit.

An employer reported to AIM last week that she received a call from someone claiming to be a subcontractor for the Labor Department authorized to perform 401(k) audits. The caller threatened the employer with significant fines (up to $800,000) for failing to cooperate. The caller was seeking a list of all employees covered under the company’s 401k plan, including names and Social Security numbers.

The employer suspected the call was fraudulent and hung up. The employer then searched the phone number and found it was a frequently used scam number based in Nevada. The number was 702-258-9476. A review on the Web found a number of blog discussions about the fraudulent use of the number to sell various unwanted products.

AIM has forwarded the information to the Department of Labor to confirm that the phone call did not come from a DOL employee or contractor. The DOL representative forwarded the information to the Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA) for further investigation.

If you receive a similar phone call, please notify AIM at 800-470-6277 or via email (Tom Jones or Terry Cook so that we may forward it to the DOL for its investigation.   

Topics: Retirement, Human Resources

Top Signs that Your Compensation Plan is Broken

Posted by Russ Sullivan on Oct 5, 2015 1:34:42 PM

The first inkling that your company’s compensation system is out of balance often comes when a key performer suddenly leaves to take more money somewhere else.

FourpeopleI have heard the same story many times in the years I have taught compensation management to experienced HR people as part of AIM’s HR Leve Two certificate series – a valuable performer is recruited to another employer, perhaps even a competitor, because the compensation program at your company has drifted away from the market.

What are the top signs that your pay and benefits are out of balance?

  • The company has no job descriptions or poorly written job descriptions.  Not knowing what the job is makes it impossible to know what to pay the job.
  • Title creep.  Companies often award titles, rather than compensation, so there is a disconnect when the employee compares her or his pay to others with the same title outside the company.
  • Lack of salary ranges. There is no understanding of the minimum or maximum value of a particular job.
  • When they do have salary ranges, companies often forego increasing those ranges when they have had a difficult year financially.  The market still moves ahead and so they find themselves out of sync with the market.
  • Lack of consistency among departments in the way in which employees are compensated.  One department is conservative when it comes to pay while another department looks for every opportunity to give money.
  • Across-the-board increases.  The company compensates high performers and low performers with the same percent of increase, leading to a culture of mediocrity.  High performers start to wonder why they put in superior effort when they receive the same increase as an employee who puts in half effort.
  • Failure to periodically check the internal equity of the pay structure.  Companies sometimes make the mistake of hiring people at or above the salaries of workers doing the same job and who have more experience.  This drives turnover.  It is a little like the bank that gives special rewards and rates to new customers, but existing customers are not eligible.
  • Lack of a well-defined pay philosophy.  How does the company want to pay in comparison to the general market?  Does the company want to be a market leader, pay the same as market or be a market laggard?  Having a plan and managing to the plan makes a company more likely to be in control of their compensation system.
  • Trying to manage compensation with people who don’t have expertise in compensation.  You would not go to a general practitioner if you needed back surgery.  Getting the right help is critical.

Register for HR Level Two Certificate Series

Topics: Compensation, Management, Human Resources

Smart Phones, Remote Work Raise Pay Issues

Posted by Tom Jones on Jun 3, 2015 10:47:21 AM

Smart phones, tablets and wi-fi are blurring the lines between work and non-work time, especially for non-exempt employees.  The question facing employers is whether or not to pay employees for time outside of the normal work day for periods spent on their smart phones, especially if it triggers overtime.

SmartPhoneTabletThere is currently no national standard.  While some federal courts have weighed in, the U.S. Supreme Court has not.

The issue has caught the attention of the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), which has announced plans to collect information on how the use of smartphones impacts hours worked under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). The DOL announced that it will seek input by publishing a request for information in August.

DOL states that there is no formal rulemaking proposed at this stage, but the gathering of information such as this is often the first step toward drafting a rule.

Technology has changed how, where and when work is done.

The FLSA generally mandates that employers pay non-exempt workers for all hours worked, and overtime for all hours worked in excess of 40 hours in a work week. Time spent working outside the office on mobile devices and computers by non-exempt employees complicates working-time determinations made by employers and could ultimately affect overtime determinations.

While some employers already have policies in place regarding off-hours use of electronic devices by overtime-eligible employees, DOL’s decision to open up this door suggests that any one particular policy may be subject to additional scrutiny in the future.

Now is the time to think about your current policy (if you have one) and your current practices regarding electronic devices:

  • Adopt controls to prevent non-exempt employees from accessing your IT network remotely when they are not working; or monitor the activity of those employees who do access the network.
  • Adopt a clear policy about unauthorized work and overtime. Be prepared to enforce it through your disciplinary policy
  • Remind employees of the relevant policies by updating and reissuing them. Require employees acknowledge receipt of the policies. You might also consider providing employees with training on the topic.
  • Educate managers about the issue of non-exempt employees working remotely. Be sure the managers know your company policy with regard to including information on timesheets. They should also be alert to things such as employees responding to work sourced email(s) over the weekend or turning in assignments first thing Monday morning.

If this issue is already a problem, now is the time to address them:

  • Limit or deny the email or remote access privileges of non-exempt employees who violate policies.
  • Suspend telecommuting privileges for those not in compliance with your policy.
  • Revoke any employer-owned devices if they are being used to perform unauthorized work.

If you are concerned enough about this to comment to the DOL during its fact-finding phase, remember that the opportunity is likely to happen this August.

If you have any questions about this or any other HR related matter, please contact the AIM Hotline at 1-800-470-6277.

Topics: Employment Law, Technology, Human Resources

Sick-Time Rules a Mixed Bag for Employers

Posted by John Regan on Apr 27, 2015 8:23:00 AM

The following article was written by AIM staff members Lori Bourgoin, Russ Sullivan and Brad MacDougall.

Draft regulations published late Friday by Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey for the new Earned Sick Time law represent a mixed bag for employers.

FourpeopleThe rules are designed to help employers comply with a law currently scheduled to take effect on July 1. AIM has urged policymakers to postpone the effective date until January 1, 2016 since the state's six planned public hearings on the proposed regulations will leave employers inadequate time to comply with the measure approved by voters in November.

“It is enormously important now for employers to read the proposed regulations and provide comments about what is good and what remains a challenge,” said Brad MacDougall, Vice President of Government Affairs at AIM.

“Employers need to be part of this process since labor unions and other groups will be pushing during the public hearings to make the rules more Draconian.”

AIM has worked since November with employers and with the attorney general to address problems the new law may pose for companies that already provide workers with paid time off.

Most employers will be pleased with the following provisions:

  • The rate of pay for earned sick time for most employees is the employee’s base hourlysalary rate.
  • Employers may choose any consecutive 12-month period as their earned sick time calendar year.
  • Employers may cash out up to 40 hours or earned sick time at the end of the calendar year provided at least 16 hours are left to carry over to the start of the following calendar year.
  • Employers may provide good-attendance rewards and discipline in cases of fraud or abuse of the program.
  • The regulations allow for a transition year in which employers will not be required to provide more than 40 hours of earned paid sick time, and any paid leave given prior to July 1, 2015, will be credited.

Other provisions are disappointing:

  • Earned sick time applies to all employees, including temporary, part time, seasonal employees and interns.
  • Employees with a break in service of less than one year  return to work with full credit for prior service and prior unused accruals.
  • Employees who work in multiple states, but primarily in Massachusetts, will be able to count their non-Massachusetts hours towards their accrual of earned sick time.
  • Employers may not require documentation for earned sick time that is less than 24 consecutive work hours even if the time-off is taken before or after a scheduled holiday.
  • New notices, posters, policies and documentation requirements will need to be established.

The Attorney General’s office will accept comments through June 10 before issuing the final regulations. The six public hearings on earned sick time will be held as follows:

Boston Earned Sick Time Hearing
May 18, 2015 10:30 AM – 1:30 PM
2nd Floor - Conference Rooms C & D
100 Cambridge Street
Boston, MA 02114

MetroWest Earned Sick Time Hearing
May 22, 2015 10:00 AM – 1:00 PM
Ablondi Room Framingham Town Hall Memorial Building
150 Concord Street
Framingham, MA 01702

Springfield Earned Sick Time Hearing
May 29, 2015 10:30 AM – 1:30PM
3rd Floor Community Room
1350 Main Street
Springfield, MA 01103

Berkshire County Earned Sick Time Hearing
May 29, 2015 10:00 AM – 1:00 PM
Pittsfield City Hall Council Chambers
70 Allen Street Pittsfield, MA 01201

South Coast Earned Sick Time Hearing
June 1, 2015 1:30 PM – 4:30 PM Hearing Room
1 Government Center
Fall River, MA 02722

Worcester Earned Sick Time Hearing
June 5, 2015 10:00 AM – 1:00 PM
Main Library Saxe Room
3 Salem Street
Worcester, MA 01608

“We are grateful to the attorney general’s office for producing these draft regulations in such a short period of time. AIM encourages employers to review the proposed rules and to work with our association to ensure they work to everyone’s benefit,” said Richard C. Lord, President and Chief Executive Officer of AIM.

AIM will provide more information on the draft regulations in a webinar on Thursday, April 30 at 10 AM. Members with comments on the regulations should contact MacDougall at

 Register for the Earned Sick-Time Webinar

Topics: Employment Law, Human Resources, Paid Sick Days

Tips for Managing in the Bitter Cold

Posted by Tom Jones on Feb 11, 2015 1:15:34 PM

As Massachusetts digs out from yet another snowstorm, the region is now bracing for the coldest temperatures of the year – below zero in many locations.

ColdThe federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration offers advice to help employers protect employees who work outdoors in cold environments, since prolonged exposure to freezing or cold temperatures may cause serious health problems such as frostbite and hypothermia.

Some tips include:

  • Train workers about cold-induced illnesses and injuries.
  • Encourage workers to wear proper clothing for cold, wet and windy conditions, including layers that can be adjusted to changing conditions.
  • Be sure workers in extreme conditions take a frequent short break in warm dry shelters to allow their bodies to warm up.
  • Try to schedule work for the warmest part of the day.
  • Avoid exhaustion or fatigue because energy is needed to keep muscles warm.
  • Use the buddy system - work in pairs so that one worker can recognize danger signs.
  • Drink warm, sweet beverages (sugar water, sports-type drinks) and avoid drinks with caffeine (coffee, tea, sodas or hot chocolate) or alcohol.
  • Eat warm, high-calorie foods such as hot pasta dishes.
  • Remember, workers face increased risks when they take certain medications, are in poor physical condition or suffer from illnesses such as diabetes, hypertension or cardiovascular disease.

For free copies of OSHA's Cold Stress Card in English or Spanish, go to OSHA's website,, or call 1(800) 321-OSHA.

Good luck and stay as warm and dry as you can.

Topics: OSHA, Human Resources, Weather

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