Most of us have heard of cold-related illnesses such as frostbite, hypothermia, chilblains, and trench foot. All are illnesses related to cold stress. But the cold is insidious and works its way deep into the body where it indirectly causes cold-related problems.
Workers with chronic diseases such as asthma or arthritis are more likely to suffer flare-ups in cold weather.
Cold stress also decreases the worker’s dexterity, coordination, mental skills, and causes an overall decline in performance that negatively affects worker safety. Workers are more prone to accidents.
Also, working in the cold increases the likelihood of employee sprains and strains. This turns up as a health issue such as a low back strain. However, all muscles and tendons have less resistance to harm when exposed to cold weather.
What is Cold Stress?
Cold stress is the way your body responds cold temperatures stemming from heat escaping from part of your body, such as hands, limbs, feet, and/or head. When the body has prolonged contact with cold, lengthy exposure is a physical and mental challenge to your body.
Humans lose heat four ways:
The best way to avoid cold weather stress leading to cold weather illness or injury involves changing work habits and wearing the right clothing.
Changing Work Habits
How long an employee works in cold weather depends on wind and air temperature. The colder the temperature and the stronger the wind, the shorter work periods are. The following table, adopted by the American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists (ACGIH) as Threshold Limit Values (TLVs) for cold stress is an excellent guide for management in establishing the length of a work period.
As an owner of a nonprofit, you spend most of your time trying to help others and make your community better. Your employees and volunteers help make your vision a reality, but they also need your protection. Depending on the goals of your nonprofit, your employees and volunteers could be exposed to some big risks. No one intends to get hurt, but when they do, it’s best to ensure you have the right coverage to help. Nonprofit workers compensation will help cover expenses for lawsuits and medical bills in the event an employee or volunteer has a work-related injury.
Having an adequate workers compensation policy for your nonprofit organization isn’t the only way to help protect your employees and volunteers. Below you will find some tips on additional ways you can protect them:
- Provide training and materials on your safety for your industry.
- First Aid Training
- Proper Lifting Techniques
- Invest in safety equipment and proper ergonomic furniture.
- Repetitive motion and improper posture from poor furniture is a large cause for injuries in the office
- Ensure your employees have access to proper protective equipment for their duties
Understanding who needs to be covered and what kind of coverage you need, depends on your nonprofit and your state laws. Contact us today to discuss workers compensation options available for your nonprofit.
Workers Compensation fraud is a widespread and serious problem that’s not only illegal, but leads to higher insurance premiums for all businesses – including yours.
According to industry experts, Comp-related scams often involve one or more of these “red flags.” Although no one sign should necessarily be cause for alarm by itself, two or more should raise suspicions and could trigger an investigation of the claim:
- Monday morning report of injury. The alleged injury occurs first thing on Monday, or late Friday afternoon, but is not reported until Monday.
- Change in employment status. The reported accident occurs immediately before or after a strike, job termination, layoff, end of a major project, or the conclusion of seasonal work.
- Suspicious providers. The claimant’s medical provider or legal consultant has a history of handling dubious claims.
- Lack of witnesses. No one else saw the accident and the employee’s description does not support the cause of the injury.
- Conflicting descriptions. The employee’s account of the accident doesn’t match with the medical history or injury report.
- History of claims. The employee has filed a number of questionable or litigated claims.
- Refusal of treatment. The claimant declines a diagnostic procedure to confirm the nature or extent of the injury.
- Late reporting. The employee delays reporting the incident without a reasonable explanation.
- Elusiveness. The allegedly disabled employee is hard to reach.
- Instability. The claimant changes physicians, addresses, or jobs frequently
If one of your workers files a claim that has some of these warning signs, be sure to let us know. We’ll work with you and your Workers Comp carrier to check it out.
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 …
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.
Most 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.
Some 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.
Content provided by Transformer Marketing.