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Materials And Waste Management: Prevention Pays

Dec 14

Infraestructura-para-el-manejo-de-deshechos-470x260 - SmallEach year around 1,000 trips or slips on construction sites result in fractured bones or dislocated joints, often leading to permanent disability, harming workplace morale, reducing productivity, and raising insurance premiums. Many of these accidents are due to negligence in dealing with building materials or waste.

Safe site operation requires co-ordination between the client, contractor(s), and suppliers. Before beginning a project, agree with the client on arrangements for handling materials and waste. Larger projects should include this agreement in the construction phase plan.

To reduce the risk of mishaps in storing materials, experts recommend that you:

  • designate storage areas for materials, waste, and flammable or hazardous substances
  • don’t allow storage to ‘spread’ on walkways or store materials where they might obstruct access or interfere with emergency escape routes
  • store flammable materials separately and protect them from accidental ignition
  • install guard rails if materials are stored in high places
  • keep all storage areas tidy
  • plan deliveries to keep the amount of materials on site to a minimum

In dealing with waste, decide how to manage waste streams produced during construction and assign responsibility for collecting and disposing of these materials on site.

Waste risk reduction guidelines include:

  • Have all flammable waste materials (such as packaging and lumber) cleared away regularly to reduce the risk of fire
  • Make clearing waste a priority for all workers, and be sure that everyone is on the same page
  • Include enough space for waste bins and containers in accessible locations, and set a schedule for collection
  • Provide carts or chutes for safe removal of waste from the building safely

Our construction insurance professionals stand ready to advise you on keeping your workplace safe.

PPE: Mistakes Workers Make

Oct 12

 

If your employees slip up in using personal protective equipment, the results can be dangerous, if not deadly.

Among many health and safety professionals, PPE comes in last place—behind engineering controls and work practice or administrative controls – because it only addresses hazards indirectly and has the most potential failure points.

One of these potential points involves interaction between the worker and equipment, when employees make critical mistakes in the care, use, and replacement of PPE.

  • Mistake No. 1: Improper care. For example, a worker takes her foam earplugs out to consult with another worker about a problem, and then rolls the earplugs again with dirty hands before reinserting them. At the end of the day, she leaves the earplugs inside her hard hat and re-uses them the next workday.
  • Mistake No. 2: Misuse. A worker wearing a fall protection harness leaves the harness loose, but pulls the lanyard tight. Another worker who uses a respirator at work decides to grow a beard.
  • Mistake Number 3: Failure to replace PPE as needed. Let’s say that a supervisor whose workers are supposed to use a new pair of chemical protective gloves each day, decides he will save his department money by telling workers to use each pair of gloves for a week before replacing them. After all, they still look fine after a week. Equipment should be changed 1)after each shift, it it’s disposable (gloves protective clothing, etc.).  2) whenever it shows signs of wear and tear or damage.  3)on schedule, if it’s reusable and must be replaced before exceeding its useful life.  and 4) after a save, for single-use PPE, such as hardhats, fall protection harnesses and lanyards.

A word to the wise …

 

Think Twice Before You Turn Down Workers Compensation

Jun 15

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Most states allow company owners and executives to opt out of (or not opt in to) Workers Compensation insurance. But did you know that if you choose this option your Health insurance policy might well not pick up work-related medical claims?

If you carry Health coverage through your company Group plan, you can usually arrange to be covered for work-related injuries under this policy – which then becomes “24-hour” coverage for you. However, many small business owners and managers are insured under the Health Plan of their spouse or parents – which almost always exclude work-related injuries.

Let’s say that you exempt yourself from Workers Compensation and have coverage under your spouse’s Health insurance – and you suffer a serious injury in a work-related, at-fault auto accident. Once you have exhausted the Medical Payments coverage under the company’s Commercial Auto policy, the chances are that you’ll have to pick up the tab for the rest of your medical bills. You might even have to choose between limiting your treatment options or going bankrupt (unpaid medical bills are the nation’s leading cause of bankruptcy).

Even if you have “24-hour” insurance under your own Health policy, this coverage will not reimburse you for income lost during your convalescence.

So, what’s the solution? You might consider buying a Disability income policy – or decide to cover yourself under Workers Compensation, after all.

As always, our agency stands ready to offer our professional advice. Just give us a call.

 

Injured Employees: what are your duties under workers compensation?

Sep 23

An employee is injured on the job while carelessly texting their buddy. What are your duties under the workers’ compensation law?

First, you must provide for immediate medical care, including first aid, and/or emergency services. Stop the bleeding, get them breathing. If necessary, call 911 or transport the employee to your pre-arranged medical facility, or directly to the hospital emergency room, whichever is appropriate.

Second, begin an initial investigation by gathering the injured party contact information along with witness contact information, and a brief description of the accident. Forward this information to your insurance carrier.

Upon any receipt of legal papers, lawsuits, or information regarding the loss, forward originals immediately to the insurance company. Keep copies for your records.

Cooperate with your insurance company investigation, settlement, court proceedings, or payments. This coverage is no-fault, don’t create procedural issues which can remove that status.

Do not interfere with the insurance company right to recover from third parties. The insurance company will seek subrogation from at-fault drivers, products manufacturers, or others. Allow them to do their jobs. They deal with these situations everyday.

Do not make payments or assume liability unless doing so at your own cost. Remember: this coverage is no fault. Demonstrating obligation creates confusion over statutory benefits.

Okay, so essentially your obligation is:

  1. Get medical help quickly and to triage the level of medical services needed for the injury.
  2. Report to the company information necessary to initiate a claim and forward legal correspondence.
  3. Get out of the way.

Getting back to the texting issue. Not relevant to the claims procedure for this injury, but think about your rules involving employee cell phone use and texting. Employees need to focus on their tasks to stay safe.

 

Four Common Mistakes Employers Make Regarding Workers Compensation

Sep 17

Raley, Watts, & O'Neill, MD, Workers CompensationMost employers look at Workers Compensation as just another necessary evil and unavoidable cost of doing business. It’s usually one of those out of sight, out of mind things when rates are low. It’s not until an employer is hit with a rate hike that they really start to give some thought to their Workers Compensation rates.

Employers need to constantly look at Workers Compensation as a tool to improve their business’s bottom line, and they certainly need to make an effort to keep their low rates over the long term so that they can take advantage of some significant savings.

Here are four common mistakes made by employers that frequently deter their Workers Compensation savings:

1. Assuming that lower rates equate to lower costs.

Don’t make the faulty assumption that your cost will go down automatically just because your rates have been reduced. RWO Insurance uses an experience modification factor to examine the actual losses incurred by the insured company and establish cost. The actual losses are compared with other companies in similar industries.

2. Believing that employers have little control when it comes to the expense of  Workers Compensation. 

Employers know they’ve got to have Workers Compensation insurance. However, this acknowledgment shouldn’t lead to an employer thinking they’ve got to pay excessively for it; employers don’t and shouldn’t. Cost reduction starts at the hiring process. Initiate effective interview techniques and background checks to help ensure the right people are hired for the right jobs. That said, there’s no way to eliminate the possibility of injuries in a workplace completely. Therefore, it’s equally important to have an effective return-to-work program in place to assist injured workers return to work as soon as possible and reduce the cost of their claims.

3. Neglecting or de-emphasizing cost containment and injury management during low rate periods. 

Safety should be an unyielding focus at all times. This will not only help a company reduce their claim numbers, but also keep their rates low over the long term. Employers need to keep an eye on the issues that frequently impact the costs of claims, such as medical care costs and lost wages. Also, remember that open claims mean escalating costs and negative impacts to the company’s modification factor. Of course, this causes an increased cost for coverage.

4. Not making the association between cost containment and worker retention. 

Studies have shown that fewer accidents occur among skilled workforces, but even skilled workers can have an accident. A large part of whether or not an injured skilled employee returns to work is based on how their employer responds to them during and after recovery. An important part of an employer’s response will be in having a return-to-work program that includes maintaining constant contact with all injured workers and their health care providers to monitor how they’re recovering and when and how they can get back to work as soon as possible. Skilled employees that are kept in the loop with a return to work program’s periodic phone calls about what workplace changes are occurring in their absence are more likely to return. On the other hand, skilled employees that feel forgotten, undervalued, and disconnected aren’t very likely to return.

For more information on Workers Compensation–contact Raley, Watts, & O’Neill today.

Never cut corners when it comes to safety in the workplace

Aug 13

Raley, Watts, & O'Neill, MD, Workers' CompensationSome employees are happy to take chances when it comes to safety. They take needless risks in an effort to save time or cut their work load. In reality, all they’re doing is subjecting themselves and others to hazards that could cause a serious injury.

Workers form bad habits when they repeatedly perform their jobs in an unsafe way and don’t get injured. They become convinced that because of their skills they are incapable of being hurt. It’s this attitude that usually ends up doing them in, because they take even more chances until eventually a serious accident does occur. Unfortunately, that one accident can turn out to be fatal.

Most of a chance-taker’s careless acts can be broken down into one of the following categories:

  • Failing to follow proper job procedure
  • Cleaning, oiling, adjusting, or repairing equipment that is moving, electrically energized, or pressurized
  • Failing to use available personal protective equipment such as gloves, goggles, and hard hats
  • Failing to wear safe personal attire
  • Failing to secure or warn about hazards
  • Using equipment improperly
  • Making safety devices inoperable
  • Operating or working at unsafe speeds
  • Taking an unsafe position or posture
  • Placing, mixing, or combining tools and materials unsafely
  • Using tools or equipment known to be unsafe
  • Engaging in horseplay

Although OSHA does not cite employees for safety violations, each employee is obliged to comply with all applicable OSHA standards, rules, regulations, and orders. Employee responsibilities and rights in states with their own occupational safety and health programs are generally the same as for workers in states covered by Federal OSHA.

Employees should follow these guidelines:

  • Read OSHA notices at the jobsite
  • Comply with all applicable OSHA standards
  • Follow all lawful employer health and safety rules and regulations, and wear or use prescribed protective equipment while working
  • Report hazardous conditions to a supervisor
  • Report any job-related injury or illness to the employer, and seek treatment promptly
  • Exercise these rights in a responsible manner

If you are working with a risk-taker, ask him to stop and consider what jeopardy he is putting himself and others in. Then buddy up with him to find a safer way to perform the task. Remember, unsafe actions don’t result in saving time if a worker gets injured in the process.

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