Home Depot has implemented Spring Black Fridays, a weekend of regional price discounts in preparation for spring, which the company said is its biggest selling season. During March and April, prices on hundreds of the most sought after spring products will be significantly reduced.
Spring Black Friday discounts will be implemented on a market-by-market basis based on geography climate. Discounts in warmer southern and western states started March 18 and will begin in colder northern states at a later date. Products include a variety of live goods and lawn care, outdoor power, eco-friendly gardening products, patio items and grills.
March 18 discounts included Buy One, Get One Free deals for 6-pack annuals, seed packets and 2 cu. ft. bags of cypress mulch along with a free gallon of Roundup herbicide with the purchase of a Roundup Pump ‘n Go applicator. Prices may vary across the country.
“Spring is our Christmas,” said Craig Menear, exec. v.p. of merchandising. “Traffic in our stores is at its highest during the spring season as customers look to take on outdoor projects to improve the appearance of their homes and we want to give them the best deals possible to meet all of their outdoor needs.”
Home Depot research found the top home improvement spring projects are lawn-and-garden maintenance care, which includes plant fertilizing, cutting and trimming, followed by planting or maintaining annuals.
NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- The sweeping health-care bill passed by the House of Representatives Sunday, and now headed for President Obama's desk, promises a sea change in the way that small business owners purchase and provide health insurance for themselves and their employees.
- By no later than 2014, states will have to set up Small Business Health Options Programs, or "SHOP Exchanges," where small businesses will be able to pool together to buy insurance. ("Small businesses" are defined as those with no more than 100 employees, though states have the option of limiting pools to companies with 50 or fewer employees through 2016; companies that grow beyond the size limit will also be grandfathered in.)
The Congressional Budget Office has estimated that the exchanges would ease small business insurance costs, albeit only marginally: premiums in the small-group market are forecast to fall between 1% and 4% under the exchanges, while the amount of coverage would rise by up to 3%.
- For the next four years, until the SHOP Exchanges are set up, businesses with 10 or fewer full-time-equivalent employees earning less than $25,000 a year on average will be eligible for a tax credit of 35% of health insurance costs. (Companies with between 11 and 25 workers and an average wage of up to $50,000 are eligible for partial credits.)
- Insurers will no longer be able to set rates or exclude coverage based on pre-existing conditions, and can vary premiums only by geographic location, age, and tobacco use.
- Starting in 2014, businesses with more than 50 employees will be required to either offer healthcare coverage or pay a penalty of $750 a year per full-time worker. The coverage offered will also have to meet minimum benefits -- covering both a specific set of services and 60% of employee health costs overall -- or else employers will face additional penalties.
- So-called "Cadillac" plans costing more than $10,200 a year for individuals or $27,500 for family coverage (not counting dental and vision plans) will be subject to a 40% tax on the portion of the cost that exceeds the limit. Though the tax would actually be paid by insurers, it's expected that it would be passed along to plan holders in the form of higher premiums.
- Part-time employees would be counted toward the 50-employee minimum on pro-rated basis based on hours worked, bringing more small businesses into the group required to provide coverage.
- The $750-per-employee penalty for not providing insurance would rise to $2,000.
- The Cadillac tax would be delayed until 2018 and apply only to the most expensive plans, making it more of a "Maserati" tax, in the words of Kaiser Health News.
- Individuals earning more than $200,000 a year, or couples earning $250,000 or more, would be hit with a 3.8% surcharge on investment income to help pay for the bill.
Read the full story at CNN Money.
The Hartford offers tools and tips business owners can use to protect their business and avoid costly accidents.
A significant expense for almost any wholesaler-distributor is the cost of commercial automobile insurance. One way of maintaining or lowering this expense is to prevent or minimize motor vehicle accidents. Here are tools and tips you can use to protect your business and avoid costly accidents.
Management and fleet supervisors should establish standards for defensive driving in any type of fleet safety program. The overall performance of the drivers should be evaluated fairly and on a consistent basis. When an accident occurs, the events leading up to the accident, the causes and responsible conditions, the collision and the post accident events leading up to the accident events must be carefully evaluated. Driver errors are one of the factors that should be considered. The standard, which should be applied, is the concept of accident preventability.
What is a Preventable Collision?
The National Safety Council (www.nsc.org) (NSC), defines a preventable collision as one in which the driver failed to do everything that they reasonably could have done to avoid it. The American Trucking
Association, (www.truckline.com) (ATA), uses the following rule to determine the preventability of a collision: “Was the vehicle driven in such a way to make due allowance for the conditions of the road, weather, and traffic and to also assure that the mistakes of other drivers did not involve the driver in a collision?”
In both definitions the issue is one that relates to defensive driving, not to legal culpability. The fact that a driver, who becomes involved in a vehicle collision, is not legally charged doesn’t mean that the driver couldn’t have avoided it. When a fleet operation moves from reviewing only collisions where the driver has been charged to reviewing collisions for preventability, a significant step forward has been made in controlling its overall vehicle accident frequency.
Defensive Driving: Reviewing collisions for preventability promotes defensive driving. Defensive driving can be defined as driving to prevent accidents in spite of the incorrect actions of others and adverse driving conditions, such as light, weather, road, traffic, vehicle condition and your physical and mental state. With this as the standard, it is normally true that when a driver makes an error or fails to act reasonably as a result of the errors or other drivers, the accident is considered preventable.
Legal Liability: When judging accidents for preventability or non-preventability, it is important to remember the even when there is no legal liability, an accident may have been prevented. Drivers sometimes have difficulty in understanding why their accident was preventable when the other party was deemed at fault and cited with a traffic violation. The concept of defensive driving must be explained in detail to newly hired drivers, and all professional drivers need to be reminded that they are expected to make defensive driving a priority when they operate their vehicle.
Preventability is a common practice in many motor vehicle fleets, and along with driver accountability helps in reducing vehicle accident frequency. It may also be used as the basis for Safe Driver Award programs, safety incentives and other accident prevention programs.
Fair and Honest Decision: Preventability involves making a fair and honest decision. A fair decision may only be reached when all the facts are uncovered and complete details of the collision are obtained. The decision of preventability should be made on the basis on what the driver did or did not reasonably do to prevent or avoid the collision. An indication of preventability occurs when there is a citation issued or evidence of a violation of the law. However if there is no violation or citation, it does not make the collision non-preventable. After all the information and reports have been obtained and assembled, the collision must be determined to be preventable or non-preventable. How this is done is and who makes the decision varies from fleet to fleet.
In some companies the fleet safety director, safety director or a supervisor determines if the accident is preventable. In other cases an Accident Review Board makes the decision. To fairly hold drivers accountable they should be trained in the concepts of preventability and in defensive driving. Drivers will not understand the process unless they understand why and how they are held accountable. It must be explained that most collisions result from driver error. The key to the definition of preventability is the word “reasonable” because the driver could have stayed home, but a professional driver’s job is to drive, so the concept of “reasonable” is applied.
There is often a relationship between preventability and defensive driving.
A Defensive Driver’s Profile is:
Commits NO driving errors.
Makes due allowance for lack of skill or improper driving practices of others.
Adjust driving to compensate for unusual weather, road and traffic conditions.
Not tricked into a collision by unsafe actions of pedestrians or other drivers.
Alert to collision inducing situations.
Recognizes the need for preventative action in advance.
Takes necessary action to prevent a collision.
Accident Review Board: If management and the drivers want a more formal process for determining preventability, an Accident Review Board or Committee should be developed. The board is especially effective in deciding borderline cases. Consider the following make-up of the committee:
Fleet Safety Supervisor or Safety Director (Serve as chairman and is fully trained in accident prevention, preventability, defensive driving).
Operations or Transportation Supervisor (Familiar with the operating rules such as schedules, routes, hours of work, speed limits and related subjects).
Maintenance Department Employee (Familiar with the mechanical abilities of the school bus).
The Fleet Safety Supervisor or Safety Director should present the accident report information to the members and direct the Board or Committee discussions. Advice should be given on preventative measures, but they should not enter into the discussions or decision of preventability other than to clarify the facts of the collision or the case.
Despite the fact that each accident must be judged individually, experience over the years in fleet safety has shown certain types of accidents are preventable on the part of the driver. A listing of preventable accidents may be obtained from the National Safety Council or from The Hartford’s “Guide for Determining
Preventability of Motor Vehicle Accidents” (S332.720). The listings are intended as a general guideline; they cannot address every collision or accident that may occur.
Non-Preventable Collisions: Some non-preventable collisions include the following circumstances:
• Struck in rear by other vehicle
These are Non-Preventable if the collision occurs:
– While proceeding in proper lane of traffic at a safe and legal speed
– While waiting to make a turn from a proper lane
– While stopped in traffic due to existing conditions or in compliance with a traffic sign, signal or officer
• Struck while legally and properly parked
Materials available from The Hartford Loss Control Department: To assist in developing information as a result of a vehicle accident, The Hartford Loss Control Department has the following materials for background
• The Vehicle Accident Review (S331.715), which is to be completed by the driver, supervisor and accident review board.
• The Supervisory Investigation Form (SRE-354), which is to be completed by the driver’s supervisor.
• Driver Improvement CD available that includes an approximate 45-60 minute driver fleet safety conference on “Preventability”.
WASHINGTON - Debug the Myths, a consumer education program sponsored by RISE (Responsible Industry for a Sound Environment), is hitting the road to help people understand the benefits of pesticide and fertilizer products. The Debug the Myths branded RV will be making stops all along the East coast, starting in Tampa, Fla. and ending in Buffalo, NY, featuring interactive opportunities for both kids and adults to engage in.
Participants at the road show stops will experience the following:
• The chance to star in their own Honey, I Shrunk the Kids moment by taking a picture in front of a green screen and choosing a "pest's eye view" background to add to the image.
• Learn what invasive pest matches their personality by taking the What Pest Are You?
• Help with a community clean-up to demonstrate how pest management and plant health products protect and beautify green areas.
• Discover where pests might be hiding in their home by taking a virtual house tour to uncover unexpected house guests.
The Debug the Myths RV can be tracked on the Debug the Myths Web site (www.DebugtheMyths.com). Photos, videos and response from tour participants will be posted on the site throughout the tour. The tour will include the following stops:
• Tampa (March 17-21): Debug the Myths will sponsor a Toronto Blue Jays spring training game and swarm Florida’s Largest Home & Garden Show. DeBug the Myths also is teaming up to clean up by working with the Boys and Girls Club of Tampa to makeover the green space adjacent to their facility.
• White Plains, New York (March 26-28): Homeowners in Westchester County are known for beautiful homes and landscaping. Debug the Myths is partnering with the White Plains Parks and Recreation Department on Saturday, March 27, for a Family Fun Day at Delfino Park.
Future stops and activities will be announced in the coming weeks on www.DebugTheMyths.com.
Florida Dept. of Agriculture and Consumer Services, Div. of Plant Industry, has issued a pest alert for giant palm weevils.
The agency considers the weevils of the genus Rhynchophorus Herbst among the worst palm pests in the world.
One species, Rhynchophorus cruentatus, is native to Florida and the southeastern U.S. Two other species, Rhynchophorus ferrugineus and Rhynchophorus palmarum, are found in the New World and are considered to be threats to Florida palms. Adult palm weevils are the largest weevils in North America, ranging from about 1 to 1.8 inches.
Of particular concern is R. ferrugineus, known as the red palm weevil. It is a pest of coconut and other palms in its native range. Over the past 30 years, its range has expanded into the Middle East, North Africa and Mediterranean Europe. It attacks many palm species, but is especially devastating on date palms. It recently became established in Curaçao in the Caribbean, moving it closer to Florida. It is suspected that the weevils travelled with imported palms.
In January 2010, the federal government prohibited the importation into the U.S. of live palms belonging to 17 genera.