As a business owner, you have more than your fair share of responsibilities. Your primary goal, of course, is to provide your customers with quality service so that you can reach your full potential and offer your services to more customers. In order to continue operating and providing your customers with top-notch service, though, you need to take steps to ensure that your business is complying with a wide range of standards and regulations.
These standards can vary depending on your industry and your location, but one thing is always true: a business cannot function if it is not compliant. Failure to remain compliant can result in legal action and penalties, and can even lead to the temporary or permanent suspension of your business. To protect your business and ensure that you are able to continue doing what you’re best at, it’s important to familiarize yourself with the compliance regulations that apply to your business and take steps to ensure that your business practices are keeping with those regulations.
Employee Safety Compliance
When it comes to staying compliant with regulations intended to protect the health and safety of your workers, the United States Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is the primary organization you will need to abide by. Created alongside the Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) Act of 1970, OSHA is responsible for establishing and enforcing standards for training, outreach, and workplace practices intended to protect employees in a wide range of fields.
OSHA and the OSH Act of 1970 cover most private sector employees and workers, as well as many public sector employees and workers in the United States and its territories. Many states operate under federal OSHA jurisdiction, while others operate under OSHA-approved state plans. These state plans may apply to both private sector workers and state and local government employees, or they may only apply to state and local government employees while leaving private sector workers under OSHA’s federal jurisdiction; be sure to check which plans apply to the states you work in on OSHA’s website.
In addition to state and federal employee safety standards, OSHA also establishes standards that apply to individual industries. These guidelines are generally determined to coincide with the risks associated with particular environments, materials, equipment, or practices used in a given trade. Among these industries are many that WorkWave works with frequently, including cleaning, lawn care, tree care, transportation, trucking, and warehousing. A full list of industry-specific resources can be found here.
OSHA also provides requirements that may apply to all workplaces where particular risks are present. These qualifying conditions include workplaces where employees are around heavy machinery, forklifts, equipment capable of spontaneously starting or releasing energy, electrical hazards, excessive noise, confined spaces, or the potential for exposure to blood or other bodily fluids. These conditions may require you to provide specialized training, personal protective equipment (PPE), or respirators for your employees. Additionally, your business may be held to specific standards related to these conditions, and will be expected to perform assessments of your operations to determine the best course of action for your employees’ health and safety.
To stay compliant with all relevant OSHA guidelines, it is highly recommended that you familiarize yourself with all federal and state plans that apply to your industry and workplace. You can also find a cooperative program to work with in order to ensure that your workplace is operating safely, effectively, and compliantly.
Background Check Compliance
You rely on your employees to act professionally and to represent your business to your customers, which is why you choose top caliber talent when hiring for new or vacant positions. It’s only logical that you might choose to run a background check to learn more about a potential employee’s past. In doing so, however, you need to tread carefully to ensure that you remain compliant with laws and restrictions that apply to running background checks, as well as the way in which you proceed with any decisions made based on information obtained during a background check.
At WorkWave, we partner with Pest Background Checks to help our pest control clients remain compliant while hiring quality candidates. Their team has over 25 years of experience and tells us that the regulations that come into play most often are those outlined in the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). The FCRA dictates how information can be used by reporting agencies and, along with various other state and local legislation, is intended to protect employees against unfair hiring practices.
If you currently conduct background checks on applicants, or if you are considering doing so, it is essential that you protect your business by adhering to these regulations. Job candidates must be informed of—and consent to—any potential background check before it is carried out. Additionally, they must be informed if information obtained in a report is used in the decision making process, and they can request that the information received be shared with them, among other things.
Infractions, such as failing to send proper background check notifications to candidates in keeping with FCRA regulations, can be costly for your business. In addition to statutory damages of $1,000 per infraction, the court may also see fit to hold you accountable for punitive damages and the candidate’s legal fees.
To avoid such penalties, it is important to have a written procedure in place prior to carrying out background checks on any potential candidates. Your written policy should include steps for informing candidates that a background check will be carried out, getting their written authorization, and informing them that the results may be used in making final employment decisions. This can be done with a pre-adverse action notice, which informs the candidate that they may potentially be denied a position based on the information obtained in their report.
In the case that a background check does play into your decision, an adverse action notice must be sent informing them as such. Additionally, you must provide them with a copy of the report, a copy of “A Summary of Your Rights Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act,” and information including a reasonable period of time in which the candidate can dispute the completeness or the accuracy of the information included in their report.
With such penalties in place, staying compliant with background check regulations is of the utmost importance. Laws and regulations are always changing, though, which can make the process a difficult one to navigate. If you’re concerned with ensuring your business is keeping up with best practices, considering partnering with an experienced company that specializes in the process, like Pest Background Checks. An experienced partner can help you to navigate each step of the hiring process to ensure you remain compliant and avoid potential legal complications.
In the pest control industry, the bulk of compliance regulations are tied to the use of various pesticides. The type of pesticides you use, along with where you carry out your work, will play a key role in the standards which apply to you.
The primary governing body behind establishing pesticide regulations is the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The EPA establishes many of the compliance guidelines that dictate which pesticides you can use, how much you can use, and where they can be applied. This includes the National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants (NESHAP). Of course, many of these regulations are also monitored on a state-by-state level and require the submission of various state forms.
Some pesticides, for instance, are more rigidly controlled in environments where they may impact endangered or otherwise protected species, in keeping with the EPA’s Endangered Species Protection Program; these pesticides are therefore more regulated in states where these species reside.
Other unique circumstances may include treating areas where particular industries are active. Pesticide use in food production plants and restaurants, for instance, is subject to different tolerances in accordance with food safety laws.
To remain compliant with these standards, pest control operators must use pesticides in accordance with their EPA-approved labeling and must track usage via the appropriate state forms. Tracking usage is also key to inventory management, which should already be part of daily operations for any pest control company. Software like WorkWave PestPac is made specifically for the pest control industry and allows technicians in the field to access state-specific forms in real-time, allowing them to track material usage while the appropriate information is fresh, ensuring that everything is reported appropriately.
No matter what materials you are using for pest control, it is crucial to remain aware of the EPA’s standards for storage and disposal of potentially dangerous materials. The storage of pesticides is regulated under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA), while the disposal of pesticides is regulated under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA).
Lawn Care & Landscaping
As noted above, industries like landscaping, horticultural services, and tree care are subject to their own unique OSHA regulations. Most of these adhere to the same common sense job site safety standards as OSHA’s general guidelines, but it is key that lawn care companies take the time to familiarize themselves with the specific stipulations that apply to their line of work.
Additionally, lawn care is subject to EPA requirements similar to those that apply to pest control under NESHAP. This applies to commonly used materials like fertilizers, which typically require the use of state-specific tracking forms in the same way as pesticides. These will vary widely based on the origin of the fertilizer, as many are made from biosolids and waste products. While the EPA generally takes a supportive stance on recycling and repurposing waste materials in this way, it should be noted that even natural fertilizers are subject to regulations intended to avoid contamination of surface water and groundwater in keeping with the Clean Water Act.
It’s also worth noting that lawn care companies that address concerns like grubs, ornamental pests, or whiteflies using pesticides must also comply with the pesticide compliance issues outlined above.
HVAC, Plumbing, Electrical
When working in HVAC, plumbing, electrical, or other areas that overlap with building construction and maintenance, you’re sure to hear the phrase “up to code” frequently. This can apply to compliance regarding a wide range of codes, standards, and legal restrictions that pertain to your industry, so it’s important to stay informed on which restrictions apply to your business.
For most small projects, like maintenance and repairs, you likely don’t need to take zoning into effect. You or your customer may need to secure a variety of permits from the local governing bodies before beginning larger jobs or system overhauls, though, and chances are that your customers will rely on your experience and expertise in this department.
Many industry standards aren’t legally enforced, but it’s still in your best interest to adhere to accepted industry standards in the work that you perform. Also note that some municipalities may adopt standards into local ordinances, in which case you must adopt the code without exception.
Much of what you need to consider in terms of compliance applies to the materials and components that you install when servicing an existing system. If codes have changed since the original components have been installed, new components may be held to updated standards. This can be tricky when working on older properties, as some may be eligible for contemporary components under historic preservation legislation or laws. In most cases, though, you’ll be required to use currently approved materials for jobs. In many cases, particularly when it comes to items like air conditioners and water heaters, work may be required to adhere to current energy efficiency standards.
In any industry, getting paid is a crucial part of each business transaction—but it isn’t always as simple as it seems. In an increasingly digital world, simply receiving a check or cash is rapidly fading into the rearview. Accepting card payments is great for everyone involved, as it enables more convenience for your customers and faster receipt of funds for your business. Enabling this fast and convenient cycle time, though, relies on your payment facilitator.
As demand for electronic payment options has continued to increase, a wide range of legislation has been enacted to ensure that payment facilitators are taking the proper steps to ensure that funds are processed properly and that money isn’t being laundered or diverted along the way. To this end, you can expect to submit documentation that proves your business’ legitimacy to your payment facilitator. This includes Know Your Customer (KYC) and Anti-Money Laundering/Counter-Terrorism Financing (AML/CTF) compliance, and ensures that payment facilitators take the proper steps to ensure their customers are valid businesses and that funds are being obtained and dispersed appropriately.
In addition to these measures intended to protect public security, payment facilitators must also comply with Payment Card Industry Data Security Standards (PCI-DSS), more commonly called PCI compliance. These measures dictate strict security standards for storing account payment information and other sensitive data, and apply to any organization that accepts, transmits, or stores cardholder data regardless of the organization’s size or the number of transactions they’re involved in.
Working with a PCI-compliant payment facilitator also has one direct impact on your business and your customers: it enables you to store card information for recurring payments. This simplifies the process of taking payments for both your employees and your customers, enabling a smoother interaction that’s better for both parties.
By taking the time to become familiar with the compliance regulations that apply to your industry, you can take a proactive role and ensure that your team has the appropriate training and resources to stay compliant. This ensures that you have the ability to do what you do best and provide your customers with outstanding service. For more information on tools and partners that can help you to keep compliance simple, contact the WorkWave team and learn more today.