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What do Ototoxic Chemicals, Hearing Loss and Insurance Have in Common?

Posted by David Ross on Tue, Dec 10, 2019

chemical_hearing_loss_insuranceKeeping workers safe helps businesses save money with lower Commercial Insurance costs, higher productivity, higher employee morale, and more. There is one hazard in many workplaces that is easily overlooked – Ototoxicant chemicals.

Exposure to Ototoxicant chemicals can cause hearing loss or balance issues, even if workers are not exposed to loud noises. The risk of hearing loss increases when workers are exposed to both ototoxicant chemicals and elevated levels of noise. One study found that “exposure to organic solvents along with exposure to loud noise on the job, and smoking each increased a worker’s risk of hearing loss by 15-20%.”

Depending on the dose of the chemical, the length of exposure, and the noise level, the hearing loss can be temporary or permanent. According to the CDC, chemicals tend to affect the more central portions of the auditory system, which not only make the sound less loud but also distort words, making word-recognition more challenging.

Plus, any health and safety professionals are concerned that hearing losses caused by ototoxicants can go undetected because many hearing tests don’t indicate the cause of hearing losses.

Hearing loss can cause accidents, increasing the number of workers’ compensation claims, which could have a direct result on how much you pay. Plus, employees can file a complaint with OSHA if they believe their working conditions are “unsafe or unhealthful,” and you could be held liable for an employee’s hearing loss.

Who is at Risk?

Ototoxic chemicals can be found in pesticides, solvents, metals, and pharmaceuticals. Hearing loss can occur through inhalation, ingestion, or skin absorption of the chemical. 

According to the CDC, workers in manufacturing, mining, utilities, construction, and agriculture are more likely to be exposed to ototoxic chemicals. Activities that often add a high level of noise exposure along with the exposure to ototoxicant may include:

  • Printing
  • Painting
  • Construction
  • Manufacturing occupations in subsectors such as machinery, petroleum, fabricated metal, and more
  • Firefighting
  • Weapons firing
  • Pesticide Spraying

Prevention of Hearing Loss Due to Ototoxic Exposure

Your first step should be to identify if there are ototoxicants in your workplace. Ototoxicants include toluene, styrene, carbon monoxide, acrylonitrile, and lead. Review Safety Data Sheets for ototoxic substances.

“When specific ototoxicity information is not available, information on the chemical's general toxicity, nephrotoxicity, and neurotoxicity may provide clues about the potential ototoxicity,” the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) states. “Most chemicals that are known to affect the auditory system are also neurotoxic and/or nephrotoxic. Information on whether a chemical produces reactive free radicals could also give some clues about the agent's potential ototoxicity.”

If you can replace the hazardous chemical with a less toxic chemical, that can reduce your workers’ exposure to ototoxicants. If that is not possible, use engineering controls to limit exposure. Controls can include enclosures and isolation to both ototoxicants and noise. Good ventilation also helps control exposure to hazardous chemicals like ototoxicants.

You should also provide appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) to employees who are at risk of exposure. Avoid absorption into the skin with chemical-protective gloves, aprons, arm sleeves, etc. Also, provide hearing protection if workers are exposed to high levels of noise.

OSHA also requires that employers provide health and safety information along with training for employees who are exposed to oxotoxic and other hazardous materials.

More Ways to Lower Your Commercial Insurance Costs

Creating a safer work environment will help you save on Commercial Insurance costs, such as Workers’ Compensation Insurance and Liability Insurance. Finding the right insurance agent can also help you save on Commercial Insurance costs.

American Insuring Group specializes in Commercial Insurance, and as independent agents will check with several companies to ensure that you get the best price on all your Commercial Insurance needs.  Give us a call at (800) 947-1270 or (610) 775-3848 or connect with us online to see if we can help lower your Commercial Insurance Costs.

Tags: Workers Compensation Insurance, Construction Insurance, workers comp costs, Commercial Insurance, Contractor Safety Management

Do You Have the Right Restaurant Insurance Coverage?

Posted by David Ross on Sun, Nov 24, 2019

AIG Cook with questionmarksWhether you are a new restaurant owner or have been in business for decades, Restaurant Insurance can be complicated. You probably have lots of questions, such as what insurance do I really need to protect my business and what insurance can I do without.

There aren’t any cookie-cutter answers to these questions because every restaurant has different types and levels of risks, and every restaurant owner has different levels of risk they are comfortable with.

Here are 7 Tips to Help You Get the Right Insurance for Your Restaurant:  

Understand What Factors Affect Your Insurance Rates:

Many factors go into the cost of your restaurant insurance. Some you have control over and some you do not. Understanding which factors can affect the cost of your insurance allows you to make informed business decisions.

For example, if you’re thinking about serving alcohol at your restaurant, you can go to your insurance provider to determine just how much that decision would increase your premiums. Maybe you determine that the increased revenue will be worth the increase in your insurance premiums, or maybe you determine that it is not. The bottom line is that you made a sound business decision because you had the facts.  

Here are ten factors that can affect the cost of your insurance premiums:

  1. Years in business
  2. Location
  3. The volume of your sales, payroll, and square feet
  4. Type of property
  5. Lease requirements
  6. Loss history
  7. Activities
  8. Hours of operation
  9. The sale of alcohol
  10. Level of coverage

Make Sure Your Restaurant is Properly Classified

Your restaurant’s classification will affect both your Workers’ Comp Insurance as well as your General Liability Insurance costs. If you own a diner that is only open from 6 am to 2 pm, you want to make sure that you are not given the classification of a bar that stays open until 2 am. There are more risks for a bar staying open until 2 am, and you will pay a higher premium due to those risks.

It’s in your best interest to be honest with your insurance agent about the type of restaurant you own. For example, if you neglect to tell him or her that you serve alcohol, and someone who was served alcohol at your restaurant causes an accident, you may not be covered. One nasty lawsuit against your restaurant could easily put you out of business without the proper protection.

Ask About Pay as You Go Workers’ Compensation Insurance

Most businesses in Pennsylvania are required to carry Workers’ Compensation Insurance for their employees. Most insurance carriers require a 25% estimated premium upfront. If you have a lot of employees, that could do some serious damage to your cash flow.

Pay as you go Workers’ Compensation Insurance allows you to pay your premium each month based on your actual payroll rather than an estimate. Pay as you go is particularly helpful for new restaurants that don’t yet know how much their payrolls will be. Pay as you go WC Insurance also eliminates the need for audits.

Don’t Assume That You Do Not Need Commercial Auto Insurance

If you have a vehicle that either you or your employees use for your restaurant, you will need commercial insurance coverage. Even if your employees use their vehicle to run errands like making bank deposits, you may still be held liable if they are in an accident. A non-owned auto policy can help cover your restaurant in that situation.

Consider Cyber Liability Insurance

Just because you are a small business doesn’t mean that you are not at risk for a data breach. In fact, according to Small Biz Trends, 43% of cyber attacks still target small businesses. According to IBM, the average total cost of a data breach in the US is $3.92 million. Of course, this number is skewed due to the really big data breaches like Target experienced, but even having a few of your customers falling victim to a data breach could cost your business thousands of dollars, along with your reputation.

Ask About a Business Owner’s Package (BOP)

A BOP bundles your insurance policies together. Most insurance companies like to bundle your policies because it means more business for them, and bundling policies usually means a discount for you as well.

Bundling with one company also helps ensure that there are no gaps in your coverage, and it could speed up the processing of any claims you have to file.

Understand the Difference Between a Captive Agent and an Independent Agent

A captive agent only represents one company. The agents at the American Insuring Group are all independent agents, which means they can compare the cost of your coverage with several different companies. Often, this means lower premium payments for you.

How to Save Even More on Restaurant Insurance

Perhaps the best way to save on Restaurant Insurance and still ensure that you have enough coverage to protect your restaurant is to work with an insurance agent who is familiar with your industry and its risks, like the independent insurance agents American Insuring Group.

We specialize in Restaurant Insurance and will compare pricing and coverage among lots of insurance companies to find you the very best deal. Don't delay - call us at (800) 947-1270 or (610) 775-3848 or connect with us online.

Tags: Workers Compensation Insurance, Commercial Vehicle Insurance, Restaurant Insurance, Restaurant Insurance Costs

4 Types of Insurance Every Subcontractor Should Consider

Posted by David Ross on Sun, Nov 17, 2019

AIG 2 construction workersIf you get hired as a subcontractor, don’t assume that the general contractor’s Contractors Insurance covers you. As a subcontractor, you are NOT considered an employee of that contractor, and Contractor’s Insurance rarely covers subcontractors. Often, injury or damage caused by a subcontractor is specifically excluded from contractors' insurance policies.

And we don’t have to tell you how dangerous your occupation is. The chances of you or one of your employees injuring themselves or causing damage or injury to something or someone else is not out of the range of possibility.

In fact, according to Safety + Health magazine, a construction worker has a 75% likelihood of experiencing a disabling injury and a 1-in-200 chance of being fatally injured on the job. And don’t think because you own a small company that you’re immune to these statistics. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “Nearly half of all deaths on construction sites occur in companies with ten or fewer employees or among those who are self-employed.”

While there are no laws that require you to purchase insurance as a subcontractor, you can see why it’s the smart thing to do. Plus, many contractors will require that you have certain types of insurance to work with them.

4 Types of Insurance Every Subcontractor Should Consider:

Commercial General Liability (CGL) Insurance

CGL is one of the most important insurance products for any business. CGL protects your business if you are liable for property damage. It covers the cost of medical and legal expenses and damages if you are found liable. One serious lawsuit can put you out of business if you don’t have the right protection.

Here are three examples of situations where CGL can help:

  • Someone visiting your job site trips and falls over materials and is injured.
  • An employee leaves the water running in the sink of a customer’s home and causes damage to the home.
  • Someone walking by your job site is hit by flying debris and dies.

As a subcontractor, you have two options: you can ask the general contractor to add you as an “additional insured” to their CGL policy, or you can purchase CGL on your own. Most general contractors will require that you purchase your own CGL policy and will very likely include this requirement in your contract and ask you to provide proof of insurance. When you talk to your insurance agent, make it clear that you are purchasing CGL is a subcontractor, not a general contractor.

Workers’ Compensation Insurance

If you are a sole proprietor and are injured on the job, would you have enough money to cover medical expenses? As s a sole proprietor would you be able to continue to provide for your family if you were unable to work for a month or two due to a worksite injury? Workers’ Compensation Insurance will help pay your medical expenses and even lost wages until you are back on your feet.

If you have employees, most states required (with a few exceptions) that you have Workers Comp for each of your employees. WC covers medical expenses, lost wages, and rehabilitation costs if an employee is injured or killed on the job.

Another benefit of workers’ comp insurance is that it covers legal costs if the injured employee were to sue your business.

Commercial Automobile Insurance

If you use a vehicle (which, of course, most in the construction industry do) to conduct business such as transporting materials, equipment, or employees, you should have commercial automobile insurance to help protect you in the event of an accident that causes bodily injury, loss of life, or property damage. 

A personal auto policy may not be enough as certain types of vehicles can be excluded from those policies, and it may not offer high enough limits.

Builders Risk Insurance

Builders Risk Insurance (Aka Course of Construction or Inland Marine Coverage) covers a building under construction along with materials related to the project. It typically provides coverage for damage caused by fire, wind, theft, lightning, hail, explosion, and vandalism. Standard exclusions include events such as an earthquake or employee theft.

We'll Help You Find the Contractor Insurance That's Right for You!

An insurance agent (like those at American Insuring Group) who specializes in Contractors Insurance can help ensure that you have the right insurance to protect your business. The independent agents at American Insuring Group will compare the cost of that coverage with several insurance companies to ensure that you get the best price on the protection you need! Give us a call at (800) 947-1270 or (610) 775-3848 or connect with us online.

Tags: Commercial Vehicle Insurance, Builders Insurance, Construction Insurance, Contractor Insurance, Commercial Liability Insurance

5 Ways to Lower Your Workers Compensation Costs

Posted by David Ross on Sun, Nov 10, 2019

AIG business man pushing cost buttonWorkers' compensation coverage is mandatory for most employers in Pennsylvania, and according to the PA Department of Labor & Industry, “Employers who do not have workers' compensation coverage may be subject to lawsuits by employees and to criminal prosecution by the commonwealth.”

Although it may be a necessity, there are ways to lower the cost of your Worker’s Comp Insurance premiums. To lower your WC costs, you need to understand how your premium is calculated.

How is Your Worker’s Compensation Premium Calculate?

A simple formula is used to calculate your Workers Comp premium for each employee:

RATE x (PAYROLL/100) x EXPERIENCE MODIFIER = PREMIUM

RATE:

The rate is determined by an employee’s classification code, which is based on how likely that worker is to be injured on the job. The same classification code is given to employees in the same industry who perform similar functions. It’s no surprise that pilots, drivers, and construction workers – considered among the most dangerous jobs – have a higher rating than an office worker.

PAYROLL:

This number is derived from a projection of your payroll for the current period of your Workers’ Compensation policy.

EXPERIENCE MODIFIER:

Your modifier is based on your company’s loss history – how many WC insurance claims you have submitted - compared to the average loss history in your industry. A company is issued an experience modifier of one if their loss history is average. If your company’s loss history is better than average, you will receive a lower modifier. If your company’s loss history is worse than average, you will receive a higher modifier. The lower your modifier, the lower your insurance premiums.

5 Tips to Lower Your Workers’ Compensation Costs

Review Your Classifications

A classification error can cost you a lot of money. For instance, if your administrative assistant has accidentally been assigned the classification of a roofer, you’re going to pay a higher WC premium for that employee than you need. A roofer is more likely to be seriously injured on the job; therefore, the classification code of a roofer will be significantly higher than that of an administrative assistant.

To make sure you aren’t making any costly classification mistakes, it’s a good idea to have your insurance agent review any classification codes you aren’t sure of.

Create a Safer Work Environment

Fewer insurance claims result in a lower experience modifier, which results in lower WC premiums. How can you make fewer claims? Create a safer work environment. Your business should have a documented safety program that is enforced and embraced by all of your employees.

A small reduction in your experience modifier can result in a significant reduction in your WC premiums.

Plus, in Pennsylvania, employers can receive a 5% Workers' Compensation premium discount by forming and maintaining a workplace safety committee that meets state-established requirements for certification.

Maintain a Substance-Free Workplace

An employee who uses drugs or alcohol while on the job can cause injuries to both themselves and their co-workers. Make it clear from the time you interview a potential employee that you have a zero-tolerance for substance abuse.

One way to do that is requiring a pre-employment drug test, and depending on how dangerous a work environment is, random drug testing for all employees.

Establish a Return-to-Work Program

The longer a claim remains open, and an injured employee is off the job, the more it costs the employer. A return-to-work program gets employees back to work once they are medically ready. That could mean reduced hours or reduced duties that are approved by the injured worker’s physician.

Find Out If You Can Join a Group

In some states, employers that have been in business for a while and have a better-than-average safety history can get a group rating by joining a recognized group, which results in lower WC premiums.

How to Save EVEN MORE on Your Workers’ Compensation Insurance!

American Insuring Group specializes in Workers Compensation Insurance, so we can guide you through the process and provide suggestions for additional ways to save on your Workers’ Comp Insurance. As independent agents, we have the advantage of working with lots of insurance companies, giving you more ways to compare and save! Give us a call at (800) 947-1270 or (610) 775-3848 or connect with us online.

 

Tags: Workers Compensation Insurance, workers comp costs, Return-To-Work Programs, WC Insurance, Safety Programs

A Clean Kitchen Can Reduce Restaurant Insurance Costs

Posted by David Ross on Mon, Nov 04, 2019

AIG man cleaning kitchen counterIf you are a restaurant owner or manager, you already understand how vital a clean kitchen is to the safety of your customers. But have you ever considered how a clean kitchen can save you money, such as lowering your restaurant insurance and litigation costs?

Unfortunately, with so many other responsibilities, keeping a restaurant kitchen clean can be a real challenge. Having a cleaning and sanitizing process in place (and strictly enforced) can help make the process much easier.

First, we’re going to remind you why a clean kitchen is key to any restaurant's success and then provide some tips to help you create a cleaning and sanitizing process for your restaurant.

4 Reasons to Maintain a Clean Restaurant:

Keep Your Customers Safe

The obvious reason to keep restaurants – from kitchens to dining tables - impeccably clean is to avoid cross-contamination and food-borne pathogens that can make your customers sick. Also, a buildup of grease that is not properly cleaned can cause a fire putting employees, customers, and your bottom line at risk.

Pass Restaurant Health Inspections

Health inspections are real and can occur at any time – typically one to four times a year. Having a process in place to keep your restaurant clean helps ensure that your restaurant passes health inspections and helps you avoid fines (or closure) if you don’t pass inspection.

Two of the most common health code violations are poor kitchen sanitation and cross-contamination that can lead to food illness; therefore, maintaining a clean restaurant at all times should be your goal.

Maintain a Good Reputation

Having a clean restaurant – both front-of-house areas and behind the scenes - is imperative to your restaurant’s reputation. People will not dine at a visibly dirty restaurant (at least not more than once), and having your restaurant shut down because of a health violation doesn’t exactly instill confidence in your customers.

Keep Restaurant Costs Down

A clean restaurant can help minimize the cost of legal fees and medical costs; thereby, helping to lower your restaurant insurance costs. Plus, a sanitized and clean kitchen helps cut down on food waste.

How to Maintain a Clean Restaurant?

One of the biggest challenges when it comes to sanitation and food safety is the control of bacteria, parasites, viruses, toxins, chemicals, and pathogens like Norovirus and Listeria, which can result in food-borne illness.

On average, one in ten people will become ill, and 420,000 will die every year after eating contaminated food, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

Food contamination can occur at any time during food production, distribution, and preparation. Any surface that touches food must be regularly cleaned and sanitized – including countertops, cutting boards, dishes, utensils, flatware, tables, microwaves, and even high chairs.

Having a cleaning and sanitizing process in writing, training all employees on that process, and enforcing that process are key to a clean restaurant. Here are some tips for developing that process in your restaurants.

Basic Steps to Clean All Surfaces:

  1. Remove debris from the item by scraping or rinsing it.
  2. Remove soil by washing the object in detergent.
  3. Rinse with hot water.
  4. Sanitize with a chemical sanitizer or hot water (180F) to reduce pathogens. Sanitization reduces 99.999% of pathogenic microorganisms.
  5. Air dry. Do not rinse or use a towel to dry it after it has been sanitized.

What Should Be Cleaned and When?

While preparing food, cooks should practice basic food safety procedures, such as switching cutting boards and brushing grills between cooking fish, poultry, and red meat.

Tasks performed after each shift should include tasks such as cleaning cooking equipment; washing utensils, plates, and glassware; and sweeping and mopping the floors.

Daily tasks include cleaning out grease traps and running hood filters through the dishwasher.

Weekly tasks should include emptying, washing, and sanitizing reach-in coolers; cleaning coffee machines; and using drain cleaners on floor drains.

Monthly tasks should include things like cleaning freezers, emptying and sanitizing ice machines, washing walls and ceilings, and wiping down storage areas.

There are also annual tasks (that aren’t exactly cleaning but are important), some of which may require a professional, such as checking the fire suppression system, fire extinguishers, the hoods, and pilot lights on gas equipment.

The Webstaurantstore offers a printable checklist that you can start with, but creating checklists specific to your restaurant ensures that everything is covered.

Want to Save Even More on Your Restaurant Insurance?

American Insuring Group specializes in restaurant insurance and offers an extensive blog that provides information about how you can save on restaurant insurance. Plus, as independent agents, we can compare costs with several companies to ensure that you get the best price.  Give us a call at (800) 947-1270 or (610) 775-3848 or connect with us online.

Tags: Restaurant Insurance, Small Business Insurance, Commercial Insurance, Restaurant Safety

Lower Workers Comp Cost by Addressing Asbestos Safety

Posted by David Ross on Sun, Nov 03, 2019

Asbestos-and-Contractors-Insurance-300A safe work environment translates to lower Workers Compensation and Contractors insurance costs. We talk a lot about the obvious hazards that can create unsafe construction worksites such as OSHA’s “fatal four” - falls, struck by an object, electrocution, and caught-in or between hazards.

But there is a less obvious risk at many construction sites - harmful exposures to asbestos. While most manufacturers have eliminated the use of products containing asbestos, the deadly substance still exists at many construction job sites, especially older structures.

The Mesothelioma Center reports that at least 1.3 million construction workers are still at risk for occupational asbestos exposure, and asbestos causes fifty percent of all work-related cancer deaths in the U.S. Demolition workers face the highest risk.

What is Asbestos?

Asbestos is a heat and flame-resistant mineral that was used in thousands of construction and manufacturing products (estimates are as high as 4,000) at one time and is still present in countless buildings today – especially structures (both homes and commercial properties) built before the 1970s.

Here are some of the products where asbestos was used:

  • Drywall and related products
  • Insulation products
  • Vermiculite products
  • Pipes and duct tape
  • Joint packing
  • Construction felts
  • Siding panels
  • Insulting cements
  • Textured paints
  • Roof shingles
  • Ceiling and floor tiles

Breathing airborne asbestos can result in many serious and fatal lung diseases such as mesothelioma, lung cancer, and pleural plaques. The 2018 International Journal of Epidemiology found that former construction workers are at least five times more likely to develop mesothelioma than the general population.

Most asbestos materials only become dangerous when they are disturbed by cutting, drilling, sanding, etc. Tiny fibers are then released into the air and can cause serious health issues for anyone who inhales or swallows them.

How to Identify Asbestos

If a structure was built between 1930 and 1977, there’s a chance it contains asbestos. From 1930 to 1950, asbestos insulation was very common, and from 1920 to 1990, insulation called vermiculite, which contains asbestos, was frequently used.

There were a few products that were marked as containing asbestos, but very few.  It’s nearly impossible to identify asbestos just by looking at it. The only way to confirm the presence of asbestos is to send samples to a lab to test.

If you suspect the presence of asbestos in a structure that you are about to work on, your best course of action is to limit access to the area and contact a trained and accredited asbestos professional.

If you discover asbestos in a structure, you are required to follow federal, state, and local regulations for the safe removal, collection, transportation, and disposal of Asbestos-Containing Materials (ACM), and failure to do so can result in criminal charges or daily civil penalties as high as $25,000 for each violation.

Removal and Disposal of Asbestos

OSHA provides many resources about asbestos to help ensure that it is removed safely and that regulations are followed. In Pennsylvania, anyone handling or removing ACM must be certified, and certain federal, state, and local government agencies must be notified before starting an abatement project.

Typical removal procedures include the following:

  • Constructing a barrier to limit exposure of materials
  • Applying water to reduce dust
  • Using proper PPE
  • Providing a place for workers to wet down
  • Placing materials removed in two layers of labeled, rip-proof bags

Asbestos can be disposed of in several ways:

  • In specialized landfills that deals with toxic and hazardous materials
  • Incineration
  • A chemical bath

There are plenty of apparent hazards on job sites; don’t miss the not-so-obvious danger of asbestos. If your construction company renovates properties built before the 2000s, it’s in the best interest of your employees and your bottom-line to have someone who is certified in asbestos abatement test and remove any ACM that is present.

Want to Save More on your Contractor Insurance and Workers Comp Insurance?

As independent agents, the American Insuring Group team will check with several companies to make sure you get the best price on all of your commercial insurance needs. Give us a call at (800) 947-1270 or (610) 775-3848 or connect with us online.

Tags: Workers Compensation Insurance, Contractor Insurance, workers comp costs, Contractor Safety Management, Safety Programs

Understand Electrical Hazards to Lower Contractor Insurance Costs

Posted by David Ross on Sun, Oct 27, 2019

Electrical_Safety_Lower_Insurance_300Construction sites are among the most dangerous work sites in the U.S., which is why Contractor Insurance costs – Workers’ Comp Insurance, Commercial Liability Insurance, etc. - tend to be higher than other industries. The good news is that creating safer work sites and reducing injuries can lower your insurance costs.

Electrocution is one of OSHA’s Fatal Four – the four types of accidents that were responsible for more than half of the construction workers’ deaths in 2017. Working with or around electricity can kill you, and construction work sites present many electrical hazards.

Most electricians are aware of the dangers electricity can pose and how to avoid injury from those dangers, but anyone on a construction site can be exposed to electrical hazards and should understand how to recognize those hazards and how to avoid them.

All construction employees should be thoroughly trained on proper electrical safety.

Here Are Five Common Electrical Hazards at Construction Worksites:

Power Tools

Here are a few Power Safety Tool Tips from OSHA:

  • Don’t carry tools by the cord
  • don’t yank on the cord to disconnect it from the receptacle
  • Keep cords away from heat, oil, and sharp edges
  • Disconnect tools when you aren’t using them, when changing accessories, and before servicing or cleaning them
  • Maintain your tools
  • Follow the Users’ manual

Power Lines

Every year, workers sustain injuries and lose their lives due to electrocutions caused by overhead and underground power lines. Look up for power lines on any job site, especially any time you are framing a building, constructing scaffolding, or painting.

OSHA requires that all objects remain at least ten feet away from any lines operating at 50 kV or less, 15 feet for 200 kV, 20 feet for 350 kV, 25 feet for 500 kV, 30 feet for 650 kV, and 35 feet for 800 kV. If you have no choice but to work closer than ten feet, have the power company de-energize or move the power line.

Buried power lines can be just as dangerous, but unlike overhead power lines, buried power lines aren’t easily identified. Don’t take a chance; call 811 before digging.

Improper Grounding

Improper grounding (Aka earthing) of equipment and circuitry is the most common OSHA electrical violation. Grounding helps stabilize voltage and protect workers (and their equipment) from power surges.

Wet Conditions

Water is an excellent conductor of electricity and increases the risk of electrocution. If a worker touches water that is touching electricity, they can become the electricity’s path to the ground.  Workers should never operate electrical equipment in wet conditions.

Exposed Electrical Parts

There are usually plenty of exposed electrical parts on a construction job site such as electrical cords, temporary lighting, open power distribution units, and detached insulation parts. Contact with any of these can cause injury or even death.

These are just five of the most common electrical hazards on a job site. There are many other hazards that all construction workers should be trained on if you want to keep your workers safe, avoid OSHA fines, and keep your insurance costs down.

Additional Precautions

  • Only certified electricians should install or work on electrical systems such as receptacles, outlets, switches, etc.
  • Proper protective gear should be supplied to workers including insulated and approved head protection when working around overhead wires, face and eye protection to minimize injuries from arc blasts, and hand protection.
  • Training is key to a safe work environment.

What Other Steps Can You Take to Lower Your Contractors Insurance?

If you want to keep your Contractors Insurance rates as low as possible, find an independent agent who specializes in Contractors Insurance to ensure you get the right coverage and is willing to check with several insurance companies to ensure that you get the best price. That’s what you’ll find at American Insuring Group!  Give us a call at (800) 947-1270 or (610) 775-3848 or connect with us online.

Tags: Workers Compensation Insurance, Contractor Insurance, workers comp, Contractor Safety Management, Safety Programs

Valet Service Impacts Restaurant Insurance Costs

Posted by David Ross on Sun, Oct 20, 2019

Restaurant_Insurance_Valet_Parking_300If you’re trying to set your restaurant apart, you may consider offering valet service. This service could make sense if you have limited parking at your restaurant or just want to offer a service that goes above and beyond what is expected.

If you decide that valet service is something that you want to offer your customers, do a little research first to understand your risks and how to protect your restaurant from those risks.

Parking lots and garages may seem like safe places, but it’s that false sense of security that contributes to the fact that one out of every five motor vehicle accidents takes place in a parking lot. Tens of thousands of accidents occur in parking lots and garages every year, resulting in hundreds of deaths and thousands of injuries, along with property damage to vehicles and structures, according to the National Safety Council.

The good news is that the right Restaurant Insurance coverage can help protect your restaurant from liability, injuries, and damage these accidents cause.

Valet Service Options and the Risks

If you decide to hire your own drivers, they become your employees, which means your restaurant is held liable for their actions. Therefore, you would want to make sure that your Commercial Liability Insurance for your restaurant covers any incidents.

The advantage of hiring your own drivers is that you have control over who is hired to drive your customers’ vehicles and how they are trained.

Here Are Three Save Driving Tips to Share With Your Drivers:

  1. Slow down – Don’t drive any faster than 5-10 mph unless there are posted speed limits.

  2. Pay Attention – Pay attention to pavement markings and traffic signs. Use extra caution while backing out of a space. Every year, about 300 deaths and 18,000 injuries are caused by drivers backing out of parking spaces and driveways. Watch for pedestrians and other cars, and take advantage of backup cameras available in most cars today.

  3. Don’t Get Distracted – Don’t text while driving or walking in a parking lot or garage.

The second option is hiring a third-party company, which significantly lowers your risk but does take away your control of the hiring and training of drivers. You would still need insurance to protect your property if a driver causes damage.

Restaurant Insurance Options for Valet Service

Here are some types of insurance you may want to consider if you decide to add valet services for your restaurant:

  • Commercial General Liability (CGL)– CGL should cover damage to customers’ cars caused by your driver.
  • Workers Compensation – State laws require most businesses that have employees to have WC Insurance. It pays medical expenses and lost wages incurred if an employee is injured on the job along with legal costs if an employee sues you over the injury.
  • Employee Dishonesty – This insurance covers lost or stolen items in a customers’ vehicle, which is not covered by CGL.
  • Garage Liability Insurance – This is a type of umbrella policy that adds a layer of protection to your General Liability Insurance and helps protect your business from property damage and bodily injury
  • Garage Keepers Coverage – This insurance covers damage to your customers’ vehicles.

As with any insurance policy, there are exclusions and limitations to these types of insurance. For example, if your driver parks and locks the vehicle properly and it is vandalized, broken into, or receives weather-related damage, your insurance would NOT cover it. The vehicle owner’s insurance should cover in that situation.

A Good Insurance Agent Can Help You With All Your Commercial Insurance Needs

The independent agents at American Insuring Group specialize in commercial insurance, including Restaurant Insurance. Plus, as independent agents, we check with multiple insurance companies to ensure that you get the right coverage at the best price.  Give us a call at (800) 947-1270 or (610) 775-3848 or connect with us online.

Tags: Restaurant Insurance, Commercial Insurance, Restaurant Insurance Costs

4 Steps to a Speedy Workers’ Comp Insurance Claim

Posted by David Ross on Sun, Oct 13, 2019

workplace_safety_lower_insurance_300Despite all of your best efforts to create a safe work environment, accidents do happen on worksites – whether it’s a restaurant or a construction site or even an office, and you should be prepared.

Knowing what to do when someone injures themselves in the workplace can help ensure that the injured employee gets immediate medical attention and that any Workers’ Comp insurance claims are processed quickly and accurately. You should have a process in place, and all managers and supervisors should be trained in that process.

Here Are Four Steps That Should Be Included in the Process:

Take Care of the Injured Employee

Your employee’s welfare should be your first priority. As soon as an injury occurs, determine the appropriate medical treatment. If it’s a serious injury, call 911 immediately. If it isn’t a serious injury, take the injured employee to a medical care facility.

Some insurance carriers offer a 24/7 injured employee hotline that has registered nurses who can provide medical guidance. If your Workers’ Comp insurance carrier has a hotline, all managers and supervisors should be aware of that number.

Survey the Scene of the Accident

Once the injured employee has received appropriate medical care, survey the scene. If it’s a severe injury, any equipment involved in the incident should be secured, and the area where the incident occurred should be cordoned off with cones or tape until the local police and/or the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) are finished with their formal investigation.

Even with minor injuries, surveying the scene could reveal what caused the injury. For example, if an employee falls because of a wet floor, that area can be cleaned up to avoid further accidents.

The purpose of an investigation isn’t to lay blame but to determine the root cause of the accident, so it doesn’t happen again. In that same example, if a faulty refrigerator caused that wet floor, the appliance can be fixed to avoid any additional injuries.

Collect Information

A manager or supervisor should then gather details about the incident. Write down the details of the accident – where it happened, how it happened, etc. – and any medical treatment the injured employee received. Also, talk to anyone who witnessed the incident and document what they share and their contact information. 

Complete the Incident Report

Before the details of the injury fade from memory, the incident report should be completed. OSHA requires employers to maintain records of all work-related injuries using its Injury & Illness Record-keeping Forms and to notify OSHA if the injured employee needs to be hospitalized.

Any Workers’ Compensation claims should be filed within 24 hours of the incident. 

If the injury is fairly minor but still prohibits the injured employee from performing his or her regular tasks, you may also need to consider if a transitional or modified job may be appropriate. The longer an employee is out of work, the harder it is to go back and the more it costs you. A return-to-work program can help keep injured employees off of long-term disability and save you money.

You may also want to take a look at your safety program. Did an employee not receive proper training? Was a safety procedure ignored? What can you do to help ensure this type of accident doesn’t happen again?

Want to Save on All Kinds of Commercial Insurance?

The agents at American Insuring Group specialize in commercial insurance, including Workers’ Compensation. We can help ensure that you have the right coverage and – as independent agents who can compare costs with several companies – that you get it at the best price!  Give us a call at (800) 947-1270 or (610) 775-3848 or connect with us online.

Tags: Workers Compensation Insurance, workers comp, workers comp insurance, workers comp costs, Return-To-Work Programs

Should Your Company Initiate a Workplace Safety Program?

Posted by David Ross on Sun, Oct 06, 2019

Save_Workers_Comp_Insurance_300We often discuss safety and how it can help businesses save on Workers’ Compensation Insurance, but the only way that can happen is with a company-wide culture of safety. Too often, employees ignore the importance of safety and members of upper management don’t understand the benefits of developing a safe work environment.

It takes more than lip-service or a few signs on the wall to develop an effective workplace safety program that results in fewer workplace injuries, fewer WC claims, and lower Workers Comp costs. It takes a plan, commitment, enforcement, and company-wide buy-in, but the effort is worth the results.

Benefits of a Workplace Safety Program

As an insurance company, we focus on the reduced Workers’ Compensation Insurance costs that a safe work environment can bring to a company, but developing, implementing, and enforcing a workplace safety program provides plenty of other advantages and makes good business sense.

According to OSHA, a study of small businesses that registered with the Workers' Compensation Board of British Columbia found a statistical correlation between workplace safety and health and the survival of a small business. The report found that businesses that failed within one to two years of start-up had an average injury rate of 9.71 while businesses that survived more than five years had an average injury rate of 3.89 in their first year of business.

Here Are a Few of the Other Benefits of a Workplace Safety Program:

  • Lower medical expenses
  • Reduced paid time off
  • Reduced litigation
  • Reduced disaster mitigation
  • Compliance with regulations, laws, and standards
  • Reduced training costs
  • Reduced recruitment and hiring costs
  • Increased productivity
  • Improved financial performance
  • Positive public image
  • Higher employee satisfaction

Do you need more proof that a safety program is a smart business move? OSHA’s Safety Pays program allows you to assess the impact of occupational injuries and illnesses on your profitability. The program uses your profit margin, the average costs of an injury or illness, and an indirect cost multiplier to project the amount of sales you would need to cover those costs.

How to Develop a Workplace Safety Plan

According to the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), there are six critical elements of an effective safety management program:

  1. Management Commitment– From the CEO to the mailroom clerk, everyone within the company needs to understand the importance and benefits of a safe work environment and be willing to do what is needed to create that safe environment.
  2. Employee Involvement – Examples of employee participation include participating in joint labor-management committees, developing safety rules, and reporting hazards.
  3. Worksite Analysis – One of your first steps to creating a safe work environment is to identify potential hazards.
  4. Hazard prevention and control – This means correcting all current and potential hazards, ensuring that all parties understand and follow safe work practices, that appropriate personal protective equipment is provided, and that administrative controls are followed.
  5. Training – All employees and managers should be trained on safety procedures, including potential hazards and how to avoid them, individual responsibilities, OSHA’s requirements, what to do when an injury does occur, etc.
  6. Communication – Consistently communicating with all interested stakeholders is vital to a successful safety program. That communication should be in the form of safety meetings, informal discussions between supervisors and employees, posters and bulletins, newsletters, and a safety suggestion box.

Want to Learn More About Safety in the Workplace?

Check out American Insuring Group’s informative blog. From electrical safety to fire safety and everything in between, you’ll find plenty of resources to help you create a safer workplace. Then give one of our independent Workers’ Compensation Insurance experts a call to save big! Call us at (800) 947-1270 or (610) 775-3848 or connect with us online

Tags: Workers Compensation Insurance, workers comp, PA Workers Compensation Insurance, workers comp costs, Safety Programs