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Archive for October, 2011

Refurbishment Firm Fined After Exposing Public to Asbestos

Shengxuan Company Limited, a refurbishment firm based in Wolverhampton, has been fined £4,000 by injury lawyers and was ordered to pay costs of £2,100 at Loughborough Magistrates’ Court, after pleading guilty to breaching Regulations 11(1)(a) and 16 of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2006.

Regulation 11(1)(a) requires all employers to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that workers are not exposed to asbestos. Regulation 16 states: “Every employer shall prevent or, where this is not reasonably practicable, reduce to the lowest level reasonably practicable, the spread of asbestos from any place where work under his control is carried out.”  The company was fined after workers and members of the public were found to have been exposed to asbestos, as work was being carried out on a building in Leicestershire.

On the 16th June 2010, workers for Shengxuan Company Limited were tasked with converting a shop into a restaurant on a village street in Castle Donington. The project involved turning a garage into a storeroom. However, in converting the garage, workers unknowingly disturbed materials containing asbestos. The asbestos materials were then dumped in a nearby skip.

The unsafe practice was exposed when a member of the public who worked in the asbestos industry walked past the building and noticed that asbestos was being dumped in the skip. Reporting the incident to the Health and Safety Executive, the person also saw what appeared to be asbestos material lying on the floor of the garage.

A Health and Safety Executive investigation revealed the presence of asbestos and found that workers were not sufficiently aware of the material’s risk to human health. Work was halted on the site until the asbestos was properly removed in accordance with the law.  Medical negligence claims involving asbestos exposure are common in the UK, with asbestos and mesothelioma claiming numerous lives each year.

Speaking after the court hearing, Health and Safety Executive inspector, Sam Russell, said: “The company had a duty to protect its employees and the public from exposure to asbestos, yet failed in that duty. Before starting work the company should have carried out a survey to ascertain if asbestos was present and then arranged for it to be removed safely by a licensed company. By failing to do that, they put people’s health at risk by contaminating a public area with asbestos.

“The latest health and safety statistics show that more people are dying as a result of asbestos related diseases, than are killed in accidents at work. This situation will not change unless organisations take their duty to manage asbestos seriously.”

This post is brought to you from First4Lawyers.com

CFM comments:  It is important when having work done and hiring a contractor that you do your homeworkDo not hire uninsured and unlicensed contractors to do any serious construction or remodeling work lest you or your company be held liable.

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Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by Cash Flow Mantra - October 31, 2011 at 1:04 pm

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Investing in the Dogs of the Dow

As you know, I have been in Honduras and have limited ability to communicate.  This is only the second time that I have been on the internet in almost one week so I wrote this post offline and was able to upload it during one of the rare times I had access.  It helps make me realize how fortunate I am to live in the United States where I can have clean, hot water at any time and wireless access in my home.  The restaurants and hotels in the US are not under armed guard which is also very nice.  Anyway, on to the post.

The Dogs of the Dow

There is an investing technique that attempts to take advantage of the highest yielding dividend stocks in the Dow as a means of buying low and selling high.  It was popular in the 1990’s but I hadn’t heard much about it recently although in the current environment, I am wondering if it is worth a look.

The idea is that as a dividend paying stock decreases in price, the yield on that stock will increase.  Thus, the higher yielding stocks in the Dow would be selling for a low price relative to the market and their historical value while those that have low yields would be at higher prices or may not even be paying dividends at all.

Since the history of stock market returns has been that the dividends paid by stocks represents roughly half of the overall return of the market, it is important to be holding dividend paying stocks as part of an investment portfolio.

Since the Dow is composed of large companies which have been included in the index based upon their importance to the overall economy, theoretically the companies should be relatively safe investments.

I know that wasn’t the case with General Motors recently, so it will be worthwhile to pay some attention to overall trends to make sure that the company can continue to pay those dividends.

Creating a Dogs of the Dow Portfolio

The process for investing in the Dogs of the Dow is relatively simple.  Take the 30 stocks that compose the index and list them in order of yield from the highest to the lowest.  There is even a website, DogsoftheDow.com, that will do this for you.

Invest equal amounts of money in each of the ten highest yielding stocks and rebalance once per year.  You can even wait for one year and one day to take advantage of the lower tax rate on long term capital gains.

There are a few variations that can be done.  One can invest in the five lowest priced stocks out of the original ten Dogs.  This technique is called the Small Dogs.

You should take some time to look over the website that I mentioned, look at the historical returns, and see if this technique of stock selection and investing for dividend yield might be right for you.

Please take some time to offer your comments below.  I will be back in the United States in about 48 hours so I can begin to discuss again.

10 comments - What do you think?  Posted by Cash Flow Mantra - October 28, 2011 at 9:34 am

Categories: Investing   Tags: , , , , ,

My Love-Hate Relationship with Discover Card

Note:  I am in Honduras on a mission trip until October 30th with limited ability to communicate with the outside world.  Don’t be offended when I don’t answer your comments until I return.

I have a love-hate relationship with Discover Card.  They love my wife and hate me.  I in turn hate them back.  Let me explain.

The Discover Card was our first credit card after getting married following college.  We both had applied using our respective incomes.  My wife had a job making a little bit of money, and I had a job making about 3 times what she did.  Neither of us had any debt following college.  I made it through debt-free and we paid off hers very quickly.  We were leasing a car at the time and living in an apartment.

When the applications were reviewed, she was accepted for a Discover Card, and I was rejected.  I was incredibly offended.  In fact, I was pretty ticked off.  OK, I was very ticked off and harbor a grudge to this day.  As I stated, I really hate the Discover Card.  I don’t really care about the cash back or anything like that.  They rejected my application for credit despite the fact that I made 75% of our household income which ended up being reflected on the applications.

I ended up getting a card, but only on my wife’s account when she requested 2 cards and added me.  As a result of my hatred, I have done everything in my power to not use the card.  We did have to use it at various points in our life, but for years I had it paid off and would not allow them the satisfaction of earning any interest from me.

Life Happens

Unfortunately, circumstances in life occur and we are currently carrying a balance.  Well, given the wonderful consumer protection laws designed to help us by reducing fees simply caused the credit card companies to increase the interest rates that they charge.  Discover Card recently increased my interest rate and now it is over 23%!  Did I mention how much I love to hate Discover Card?  Some consumer protection!

Anyway, I think that I have finally gotten to the point that my anger will be used for productive purposes.  I am angry at my debt and angry at myself and angry at Discover Card for charging me 23%.  I am going to teach them and make a vow that over the next 9 months, I will have that Discover Card paid off even if I have to sell a kidney.

Of course, the recent puppy fiasco didn’t help much, but I am determine to get it done.  I will periodically post my progress here so I am hoping that you all will be keeping me accountable.  I have lots of other debts that I would like to pay off as well, but this is the one with the highest interest rate and the one that most annoys me due to our history together.  Maybe once I get it paid off, I can start taking advantage of the cash back opportunities and begin to use the credit responsibly, but that is another post for another day.

Right now, I am mad.

Readers:  Ever get angry at your debt or a particular company.  Share your stories.


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12 comments - What do you think?  Posted by Cash Flow Mantra - October 24, 2011 at 6:00 am

Categories: Credit/Debt   Tags: , , ,

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