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Safety

13 Sep

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5 Steps to Reduce Workplace Injuries

September 13, 2016 | By |

Ben Franklin once said, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Workplace injuries accounted to $170 billion (OSHA) of costs paid by small businesses in the US. Direct expenses associated with worker injuries include medical care, lost wages, overtime, and additional training and human resource expenses. Further, indirect costs such as decreased productivity, lower morale, higher workers’ compensation premiums, damage to reputation or brand, and increased turnover quickly add up resulting in lost profits.

However, businesses can take a proactive approach to preventing worker injuries in order to reduce the costs involved with injuries. Here are 5 steps that a business can take today to reduce worker injuries:

Commit to safety and engage employees. Commitment to safety should begin with owners and upper management team members, and should be communicated clearly throughout the organization. Managers promote safety by following safety guidelines themselves and by modeling safe practices at all times, while encouraging employees to do the same.

Responsibility for safety should be assigned to appropriate team members. Safety responsibilities should also be included in employee job descriptions.

Internal meetings further increase awareness of safety initiatives and allow for open discussion on the importance of safety in the workplace. Initially, a meeting should be held to communicate management’s commitment to keeping employees safe on the job.

Analyze current operations and workplace hazards. OSHA offers several resources to assist employers in assessing safety. Self-inspection checklists are provided in OSHA’s Small Business Handbook and OSHA has an on-site confidential consultation program to assist businesses with analyzing workplace safety. Business insurance companies often offer loss control services to help with identifying potential exposures and reducing workplace injuries, and often have credits or discounts available for companies who show a commitment to safety.

Develop and implement an action plan to lower hazards. After safety issues are identified, implement a corrective action plan. Assign responsibility for follow through to appropriate team members, and use action steps and deadlines that can measured. Document hazards that were identified and the steps taken to prevent future injuries.

When an injury occurs, immediately perform an investigation to determine what happened and how the injury may have been prevented. Make appropriate changes to procedures in order to prevent future injuries.

Provide training to employees. It is imperative that employees understand how to perform their jobs safely. Consistent training should be provided that instructs employees on safety policies, safe practices, and actions to take in the event of injury. OSHA offers a large inventory of training resources. Insurance companies also often provide resources for safety training.

Monitor the safety program and adjust as necessary. Inevitably, industries change and procedures need to adjusted. Make it a point to revisit your safety program at least semi-annually and make adjustments as necessary.

By committing to safety and taking steps to protect workers from injury, businesses can reduce the costs associated with workplace injuries. The “ounce of prevention” taken today could result in future profits that are retained and invested rather than spent on worker injury costs.

At Pioneer Business Insurance Agency, we work hard at being accessible, helpful, and result-oriented. Learn more about us at PioneerBusinessInsurance.com. How can we put our expertise to work for you?

05 Jul

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5 Ways to Prepare Your Organization for OSHA Penalty Increases

July 5, 2016 | By |

Significant increases to OSHA fines will take effect on August 1, 2016 due to a new budget law signed by President Obama on November 2, 2015, which permits OSHA to increase citation fines up to 80%. Employers can prepare for the increases by ensuring that appropriate safety initiatives are in place to prevent injuries and OSHA violations.

Under the penalty increases proposed by OSHA, the following new penalty levels will apply to OSHA violations effective August 1, 2016:

Serious, Other than Serious, and Posting Violations-$12,471 per violation

Failure to Abate-$12,471 per day beyond the abatement day

Willful or Repeated Violations-$124,709 per violation

Employers can avoid the financial impact that the increased fines could have on their business by taking action now to ensure that controls and procedures are in place that are compliant with OSHA’s requirements. Here are 5 action steps that your business can take today to avoid future costly penalties:

1. Develop a written safety program with procedures that comply with OSHA regulations. OSHA offers several resources on their website (osha.gov) to ensure that safety programs comply with regulations.

2. Appoint a safety coordinator within your organization to oversee the safety program, engage with employees on safety topics and encourage safety suggestions and feedback from employees.

3. Educate employees by conducting OSHA compliance training. (http://osha.gov/Publications/osha2254.pdf) Check for understanding by requiring employees to demonstrate safety procedures. Additionally, document all training with employee sign-in sheets.

4. Inspect your business premises daily to identify hazards or potential OSHA violations. When hazards are identified, respond by taking appropriate action to ensure safety and OSHA compliance.

5. If your organization has had OSHA violations in the past, review the violations to be sure processes are in place to avoid future penalties.

While the increases to OSHA’s penalties are significant and could dramatically impact an organization’s bottom line, action steps can be taken now to prevent employee injuries and avoid OSHA penalties.

At Pioneer Business Insurance Agency, we work hard at being accessible, helpful, and result-oriented. Learn more about us at PioneerBusinessInsurance.com. How can we put our expertise to work for you?

23 Jun

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Workers’ comp vs. Occ Acc: what’s the difference?

June 23, 2016 | By |

Workers’ compensation is a state-regulated program, and is required of employers who employ three or more employees at any one time, or employ one or more employees for 35+ hours per week for 13 or more weeks by law in most states. It may cover wage-loss benefits, medical treatment, and rehabilitation—related medical expenses—for employees who suffer a work-related injury or illness. Workers’ compensation also includes employer liability coverage, which may provide protection to an employer if an employee sues the employer in indirect relation to a workers’ compensation claim, often covering legal defense costs, up to the policy limits. Workers’ compensation doesn’t eliminate the issues of an unsafe workplace, however, and employers have a responsibility to maintain a safe working environment for their employees.

Occupational accident insurance may provide medical, disability, and accidental death and dismemberment benefits, but it’s not workers’ compensation—it isn’t state-regulated or state statutory. Occupational accident policies may cover wage-loss benefits, medical treatments, and rehabilitation for employees or covered independent contractors, but only up to the policy limits. Employers are allowed to choose their coverage and deductible amounts, based upon the employer’s perceived risk.

While workers’ compensation policies typically involve a higher cost to the employer, they may offer more comprehensive coverage, particularly in terms of employer liability, which is not a component of occupational accident coverage. However, individuals who qualify as independent contractors are not always covered under state workers’ compensation laws; while employee classification is determined by the federal government, workers’ compensation laws are determined by the state government. For these individuals, employers may want to consider occupational accident coverage.

For a useful infographic delineating the differences between workers’ compensation and occupational accident policies, click here. For more information on this and other insurance topics and coverage, please call our office.

08 Nov

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Safety first! Prevention for Cumulative Trauma Disorders

November 8, 2012 | By |

More than half of workplace injuries are caused by musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs), such as cumulative trauma disorders (CTDs).  In fact, $1 of every $3 of workers’ compensation costs are attributed to MSDs. Employers who are aware of risk factors, and take action to minimize these types of injuries ultimately benefit by controlling losses and improving the productivity of their workers.

What are Cumulative Trauma Disorders?

CTDs are injuries of the musculoskeletal and nervous systems attributed to repetitive motion, over-exertion, vibrations, pressure from hard surfaces, and prolonged or awkward positions. Disorders associated with CTDs include carpal tunnel syndrome, tendinitis, low back pain, bursitis, and several others.

Who is at risk?

Employees who perform repetitive motions are especially susceptible to developing CTDs. Office employees who spend extended periods of time working at a computer, and manufacturing employees who perform repetive motions (such as snapping a part in place) are among those most at risk.

What can I do to prevent or minimize CTDs in my company?

First, Employers should increase awareness of CTDs, and the risk factors that contribute to these types of disorders. Designate someone on your staff to handle safety at your workplace, by researching safe practices and ergonomics (the process of adjusting workstations for safety and comfort).Your business insurance agent should also be able to provide you with helpful resources.

Next, talk with your employees about the importance of good posture while sitting or standing for extended periods of time. For example, while sitting at a computer, feet should be flat on the floor or on a foot rest, the head should face forward with a slight tilt downward, wrists should be in a nuetral position, and elbows should be within a 70-135 degree angle. Encourage employees to take short breaks to reduce injuries caused by sustained positions, and to consider deep breathing and stretching when in the same position for an extended period of time.

If you would like to learn more, visit us at PioneerBusinessInsurance.com, or call us at 888-596-7242. At the Pioneer Business Insurance Agency we work hard at being accessible, helpful, and result-oriented. How can we put our expertise to work for you?