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Effective Toolbox Talks to Improve Jobsite Safety

Posted by David Ross on Wed, Jul 17, 2024

Improve safety to save on Contractor Insurance in Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Erie, Scranton, York, Harrisburg, State College, and throughout PA.We’ve said it before, but it bears repeating: If you want to lower Contractor Insurance costs, create safer job sites. One simple way to create safer job sites is to supplement formal training with regular toolbox talks.

According to Harvard, a toolbox talk is “an informal group discussion among employees of an individual department that focuses on a particular safety issue.” Although toolbox talks should never be used as a substitute for formal on-site and compliance training, they are a great way to refresh workers’ safety knowledge and to keep safety at the top of their minds since more formal training is typically held once a year or less.

And guess what; toolbox talks work! According to the Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC), companies that conduct daily toolbox talks reduce their total recordable incident rate (TRIR) by 78% and their days away, restricted, or transferred (DART) rates by 76% when compared to companies that hold them monthly.

However, to be effective, toolbox talks can’t be stale or boring. They need to be relevant and engage workers.

15 Tips for Effective Toolbox Talks

  1. A senior or experienced member of the team should lead toolbox talks.
  2. Toolbox talks are best held at the beginning of the workday, so the day starts off with a focus on safety.
  3. Toolbox talks should be held frequently – daily or weekly - to maximize effectiveness.
  4. Toolbox talks should be short – typically 10 to 15 minutes or 30 minutes max.
  5. Topics should be on a single health or safety topic.
  6. Topics should be relevant. For example, if it’s a frigid day, you may want to cover winter safety tips.
  7. Try to keep the conversation positive and focus on being proactive and preventing injuries rather than reacting to a past incident. Workers are more likely to listen to the information if they don’t feel like they are being lectured or reprimanded.
  8. Prepare your talk. You only have a few minutes to deliver critical information, so you need to understand the topic and know how you will pass the information on to workers.
  9. Before presenting the toolbox talk, think about how to make it more compelling and memorable, such as a video, a surprising statistic, an interesting fact, or a demonstration.
  10. Keep it simple. Don’t use big words or industry jargon.
  11. Connect with participants by making eye contact and speaking loud enough so everyone can hear you.
  12. Engage your workers by asking questions such as “Has anybody noticed this problem?” or “Has anyone faced this challenge in the past?”
  13. Ensure that everyone understands. Ask questions about what you just covered, or ask someone to summarize what they’ve heard.
  14. Use videos, PDFs, and handouts when appropriate.
  15. Keep records of toolbox talks. Although it isn’t legally required, recording the topic and who was there can help track what you have and haven’t covered.

Toolbox Topic Examples

The possibility for toolbox topics is endless; just make sure the topic can be covered sufficiently in the time allotted and that it is relevant to your workers. Here are a few examples:

  1. Rooftop Safety
  2. Preventing Struck-By Accidents
  3. Respiratory Protection
  4. Dangers of Benzene
  5. Mental Health
  6. Circular Saw Safety
  7. Using the Right Tool for the Job
  8. Heavy Equipment Safety
  9. Safe Lifting
  10. Common Construction Site Hazards
  11. Minimizing the Risk of Sprains and Strains
  12. Hand and Power Tool Safety
  13. Proper PPE
  14. Construction Worksite First Aid
  15. Avoiding Traumatic Brain Injuries

How to Save Even More on Contractor Insurance

Unlike many agencies that sell only one insurance brand, as a Trusted Choice independent insurance agency, agents at the American Insuring Group compare the cost of your insurance coverage with several brands to ensure you’re getting the best deal.

We do exhaustive research for you, so you can rest assured that you will get a great value for your insurance dollar! Call us today at (800) 947-1270 or (610) 775-3848, or connect with us online.

Tags: Construction Insurance, Contractor Insurance, Contractor Safety Management

Toolbox Talks and Contractor Insurance

Posted by David Ross on Thu, Jul 04, 2024

Contact us to save on Contractor Insurance in Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Erie, Lancaster, Reading, and throughout Pennsylvania.What would you say if we told you that a task that typically takes ten to fifteen minutes at a minimal cost to you could reduce the number of worksite injuries, improve employee morale, and lower the cost of Contractor Insurance? You might still say something like, "Sign me up!" Or, you may think that sounds too good to be true; however, toolbox talks (AKA safety talks, tailgate briefings, safety moments, etc.) can lower the cost of contractor insurance and so much more.

The Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) Safety Performance Report found an interesting correlation between toolbox talks and total recordable incident rates (TRIR). Companies that hold daily toolbox talks reduced their TRIR by 85% compared to companies that have monthly toolbox talks. Increasing toolbox talks from weekly to daily decreased TRIR by 73%.

What are Toolbox Talks?

"A Toolbox Talk is an informal group discussion that focuses on a particular safety issue. Use these Toolbox Talks to spark discussion and action at the beginning of the shift," the Washington State Department of Labor & Industries explains. "Toolbox Talks guide workers and teams through preventing many hazards on the job."

They are "useful conversations about effective ways to prevent hazards at work and protect employees from injuries on the job." They are typically held monthly, weekly, or daily at the beginning of a shift and can last from ten to thirty minutes.

Topics can vary depending on current job site hazards, recent citations or injuries, etc. Here are a few examples:

What are the Benefits of Toolbox Talks?

While toolbox talks require time to prepare and take a few minutes out of the workday, the benefits far outweigh the cost by…

  • Reducing the total recordable incident rates
  • Helping keep your workers safe
  • Helping foster a culture of safety
  • Increasing retention of safety concepts
  • Improving general safety awareness
  • Providing an opportunity for open communication
  • Upholding OSHA's requirement to "provide a workplace free from serious recognized hazards"
  • Keeping everyone focused on the job
  • Quickly getting workers up to speed on safety issues
  • Putting a regular focus on health and safety
  • Allowing for discussions of recent incidents
  • Highlighting management's commitment to keeping their workers safe
  • Lowering the number of injuries
  • Lowering the cost of Contractors Insurance and other administrative costs

Tips for Holding Effective Toolbox Talks

  • Before determining a topic, conduct a job hazard analysis to determine relevant topics
  • Prepare for the discussion
  • Hold them at the beginning of a shift
  • Conduct them on the job site
  • Keep them brief – 10-15 minutes
  • Begin with a brief overview of the topic and end with a summary of key takeaways
  • Encourage employee participation
  • Encourage feedback
  • Include all workers the talk is relevant to
  • Document toolbox talks – topics, participants, action items, etc.
  • Stick to specific topics that can be covered in the allowed time
  • Keep to topics that are relevant to the current work environment and activities
  • Hold toolbox talks as frequently and consistently as possible, ideally daily
  • Use interactive tools, such as visual aids and demonstrations

Don't Overpay For Contractor Insurance!

Another way to lower Contractor Insurance costs is to work with the American Insuring Group because we do more than provide you with affordable contractor insurance. We perform an in-depth review of your business, including your history and the risks inherent in your operation.

Then, we compare the costs and types of liability insurance for contractors among many competing carriers, providing you with multiple contractor insurance quotes and our recommendation on the best choice for your business. The result? You'll get the precise coverage needed at the best possible price.

Call us today at (800) 947-1270 or (610) 775-3848, or connect with us online.

Tags: Construction Insurance, Contractor Insurance, Contractor Safety Management

Rooftop Safety to Lower Contractor Insurance Costs

Posted by David Ross on Fri, May 31, 2024

Contact us for ways to save on contractor insurance in Philadelphia, Lancaster, Pittsburgh, Erie, Allentown, Reading, Harrisburg, and throughout PA.The construction industry is filled with hazards that can result in injuries or death and increase Contractor Insurance costs. According to the Texas Department of Insurance, 20% of fatal work injuries in the U.S. in 2021 occurred in the construction industry, and 37% of construction deaths in 2021 were caused by falls.

OSHA also found that roofing falls are the leading cause of roofing injuries and fatalities, accounting for about one-third of all fatal falls in construction between 1992 and 2005. Therefore, if you own a roofing company or ever work on roofs, understanding its unique hazards and taking steps to mitigate them can help lower your Contractor Insurance and other administrative costs.

10 Top Rooftop Hazards

Before starting any job, you should assess the situation and identify potential hazards. Here are the top ten rooftop hazards.

  1. Roof Stability
    Unstable roofs that aren’t strong enough to support the weight of people and equipment needed for the job can cause accidents.

  2. Ladder Security and Placement
    Unstable or improperly secured ladders can lead to injury.

  3. Weather Conditions
    Snow, rain, and ice can make roofs slippery. Wind and extreme temperatures can also be hazardous to rooftop workers.

  4. Roof Hole
    Skylights and poorly covered holes can result in falls.

  5. Edge Awareness
    Some workers become so focused on their work that they forget where the roof edge is.

  6. Improper Training
    Workers can’t avoid accidents if they don’t know how to identify, prevent, and avoid hazards.

  7. Improper Use of Fall Protection
    Fall protection must be used properly for it to work. Poorly anchored railings, too-long lanyards, or weak tie-off points will give workers a false sense of security and will not protect them if they slip or fall.

  8. Poor Line of Sight
    Ridge vents, shingle bundles, chimneys, etc., can block egress on a roof.

  9. Pitch
    The steeper the roof, the harder it is to work on and the more hazardous the conditions.

  10. Split-Level Roofs & Fall Heights
    Workers on low-slope and split-level roofs with unprotected sides and edges can be hazardous.

Electricity, power tools, and hazardous substances are additional rooftop hazards to watch for.

9 Tips to Mitigate Rooftop Hazards

  1. Provide Fall Protection
    Depending on the situation, fall protection may include personal fall arrest systems (PFAS), fall restraint systems, safety net systems, and/or guardrail systems.

  2. Provide Safety Training
    Proper safety training, which should be regular and ongoing, will help workers identify and avoid hazards.

  3. Follow OSHA Regulations
    OSHA regulations are designed to keep workers safe and avoid injuries and death. In 2013, the most frequently cited OSHA standards during roofing contractor inspections included the duty to have fall protection, ladder safety, fall protection training requirements, eye and face protection, and general scaffold requirements.

  4. Provide Appropriate PPE
    Depending on the situation, proper personal protective equipment for roofers may include safety glasses, high-visible clothing, hard hats, non-slip footwear, respiratory protection, earplugs, fall protection, and/or gloves.

  5. Use Signage to Identify Potential Hazards
    Proper signage can alert workers to potential hazards and is required by OSHA.

  6. Pay Attention to the Weather
    Pay attention to weather forecasts, and if bad weather threatens workers, delay work on roofs,

  7. Ensure That Ladders are Stable
    Ladders should be regularly inspected for visible defects, workers should be trained on ladder safety, ladders should only be used on stable and level surfaces or secured to prevent accidental displacement, ladders should be placed away from traffic, and the areas at the top and bottom of the ladder should be kept clear.

  8. Inspect Roof Before and After Work
    Look for potential hazards like holes and loose debris before and after work.

  9. Have an Emergency Action Plan in Place—Creating a written emergency action plan and ensuring workers, especially managers, are familiar with it is the best way to ensure that calm prevails and proper steps are taken if disaster hits your work site.

Lower Contractor Insurance Premiums the Easy Way!

The right insurance helps protect your workers and your business, but you don’t want to pay more than you need to for that protection. As a Trusted Choice independent insurance agency, the experienced agents at American Insuring Group compare the cost of your coverage with many competing insurance brands to ensure you pay the lowest premium.

Ready to save? Call us today at (800) 947-1270 or (610) 775-3848, or connect with us online.

Tags: Construction Insurance, Construction Risk Insurance, Contractor Insurance, Contractor Safety Management

What Construction Defects Are You Liable For

Posted by David Ross on Sat, Apr 27, 2024

Avoid construction defects so you can save on contractor insurance in Philadelphia, Reading, Lancaster, Erie, Pittsburgh, Harrisburg, Allentown, Lebanon, and throughout Pennsylvania.In a perfect world, every construction or renovation project would go exactly as planned with the expected results. Unfortunately, that rarely happens. Sometimes, design plans are flawed, work is done incorrectly, or materials are defective, resulting in construction defects that you, as a contractor or subcontractor, may be held liable for.

Contractor insurance helps protect you and your business from lawsuits, including those caused by construction defects.

What are Construction Defects?

A construction defect is when part or all of a construction project fails to comply with and deliver everything laid out in a contract. It's when a construction project doesn't look or perform as the buyer expected and the contractor promised. Examples of construction defects include water intrusion, foundation cracks, plumbing leaks, and mechanical problems.

Construction defects can be caused by poor design, lack of planning or supervision, lack of inspections, defective materials, etc. These defects can lead to structural deficiencies that reduce a building's value and create harmful conditions for the occupants.

5 Construction Defect Causes:

  1. Design Flaw
    This type of defect is typically created by an engineer or architect. Examples of design flaws include roof designs that cause water to leak into the house or inadequate structural support that can or does cause a collapse. A contractor is typically not held liable for following an architect's or engineer's flawed design unless they are aware or should be aware there is a defect. It is often difficult to determine the cause of this type of defect.

  2. Construction Defects
    Poor quality workmanship during installation can cause many issues and is considered a construction defect. Construction defects can cause water intrusion, cracks in the foundation, dry rot in lumber, electrical and mechanical problems, and plumbing leaks.

  3. Defective Material
    "Using inferior building materials can cause significant problems, such as windows that leak or inferior concrete that cracks under pressure. Inferior products can fail to perform and function adequately, even when properly installed," FindLaw explains. "Common manufacturer problems with building materials can include deteriorating flashing, building paper or waterproofing membranes that are not up to code, inferior asphalt roofing shingles, or using inferior drywall that is not approved for use in wet or damp areas, such as bathrooms and laundry rooms."

  4. Lack of Maintenance
    Construction defects can result from poor maintenance over time, which is why regular quality checks are crucial.

  5. Normal Wear and Tear As structures age, they will wear down, which can lead to construction defects.

2 Construction Defect Categories:

Obvious or Patent An obvious defect is something immediately apparent. For example, a worker accidentally punches a hole in a wall and doesn't fix it.

Latent This is an issue that is not immediately obvious. For example, a support beam that looks good but gives way over time because it is not strong enough or a newly installed roof that leaks after the first heavy rainfall. It's often difficult to determine how this type of failure occurred.

Who Can Be Held Liable for Construction Defects?

Depending on the defect and its circumstances, anyone involved in the construction project, including the contractor, subcontractors, builder or engineer, architect, or manufacturer of materials used, can be held liable for construction defects. Sometimes, the property owner can even be found liable.

Insurance to Protect Your Business

There are many types of Contractors Insurance to help protect you and your business from construction defects and other liability issues. Here are just a few:

  • Professional Liability Insurance
    Professional Liability Insurance (aka Errors and Omissions and E&O Insurance) helps protect your business from claims of errors, omissions, negligence, violation of good faith and fair dealing, misrepresentation, and inaccurate advice.

  • 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.

  • 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. 

  • Builders Risk Insurance 
    Builders Risk Insurance helps replace materials, tools, and lost, damaged, or stolen equipment.

  • Cyber Insurance
    Cyber Insurance helps cover your business's liability for data breaches that involve sensitive information, such as credit card numbers, driver's license numbers, and health records.

Start Saving on Contractors Insurance Today!

If you want to ensure that you have the right insurance at the lowest cost, the agents at American Insuring Group can help. We specialize in Contractors' Insurance, and as independent agents, we compare the quality and cost of your coverage with those of multiple competing insurance companies to find you the right policy at the right price!

Don't Delay - start saving today by calling us at (800) 947-1270 or (610) 775-3848, or connect with us online.

Tags: Construction Insurance, Contractor Insurance, Professional Liability Insurance, Construction Defect

20 Tips to Prevent Struck-By Accidents and Lower Contractor Insurance

Posted by David Ross on Sat, Mar 23, 2024

Avoid Struck-by Accidents to save on Contractor Insurance in Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Erie, Allentown, Lancaster, Reading, Harrisburg, State College, and throughout PA.If you want to lower the cost of Contractors' Insurance and other costs, lower the number of accidents and resulting insurance claims by creating a safer work environment. This is particularly true in the construction industry, filled with hazards – moving vehicles, sharp tools, working at great heights, etc. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, in 2021, nearly one in five workplace deaths occurred in the construction industry. 

OSHA's Fatal Four – falls, struck-by, caught-in/between, and electrocutions - are the top four causes of construction fatalities. Being struck by vehicles, heavy equipment, and other objects was the top cause of injuries and the second-highest cause of fatal accidents in construction in 2009, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

What is a Struck-By Injury?

"Struck-by injuries occur from violent contact or impact between an object or piece of equipment and a person," according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). "Struck-by injuries can be fatal, and even when a worker is not seriously injured, can result in days off work to recover." Injuries can result from being struck by flying, falling, swinging, or rolling objects.

Examples of struck-by injuries include a worker being struck by…

  • a vehicle or piece of heavy equipment
  • a tool or material dropped from a higher level
  • falling materials that were improperly stacked or loaded
  • flying particles
  • an improperly braced structure that collapses
  • compressed air

According to OSHA, approximately 75% of struck-by fatalities involve heavy equipment.

Tips to Prevent Struck-By Injuries

Many struck-by injuries are preventable, and there are many steps you can take to ensure worker safety and minimize the risk of struck-by and other injuries. Start by following all OSHA standards and training requirements and these twenty tips:

  1. Provide safety training to help workers identify and avoid common struck-by hazards
  2. Ensure workers are adequately trained on tools and equipment
  3. Enforce the use of hardhats at work sites
  4. Provide and require appropriate PPE, such as eye and face protection, foot and hand protection, etc.
  5. Ensure workers are visible with high-visibility apparel
  6. Inspect vehicles, tools, and equipment to ensure they're in proper working order
  7. Limit access to work areas
  8. Require workers to wear seat belts
  9. Do not drive heavy equipment backward without an audible reverse alarm and/or another worker with a clear view confirming it's safe
  10. Lower or block end-loader buckets, bulldozer and scraper blades, etc., when not in use
  11. Set parking brakes when vehicles and equipment are parked
  12. Do not exceed the rated load or lift capacity
  13. Use barricades and warning signs where appropriate
  14. Properly stack materials to prevent sliding or collapse
  15. Avoid working under loads being used
  16. Use toe boards, screens, or guardrails on scaffolds to prevent falling objects
  17. Use debris nets, catch platforms, etc., to catch falling objects
  18. Reduce compressed air and use with appropriate guarding and PPE
  19. Only drive vehicles and equipment on roads and grades that are safely constructed and maintained
  20. Ensure there is a cab shield or canopy on all haulage vehicles loaded by power shovels, loaders, cranes, etc.

Here's How to Lower Your Contractor Insurance Costs

Minimizing injuries and the resulting claims is just one step you can take to lower Contractor Insurance costs.

The experienced agents at American Insuring Group perform an in-depth review of your business. Then, we compare the costs and types of liability insurance for contractors among many competing carriers, providing you with multiple contractor insurance quotes and our recommendation on the best choice for your business. The result? You'll get the precise coverage needed at the best possible price.

Call us today at (800) 947-1270 or (610) 775-3848, or connect with us online.

Tags: Construction Insurance, Contractor Insurance, Contractor Safety Management

What Contractors Need to Know About Certificates of Insurance

Posted by David Ross on Sat, Feb 24, 2024

Contact us to learn more about certificates of contractor insurance in Philadelphia, Lancaster, Erie, Pittsburgh, Allentown, Reading, Harrisburg, State College, and elsewhere in Pennsylvania.Contractor Insurance is crucial to protect your business financially, provide credibility to your business, and put the minds of the individuals you're working with - such as owners and general contractors - at ease.

Construction sites are riddled with hazards – sharp objects, moving vehicles, etc. - that can cause damage or injury. Insurance helps for damage or injuries that occur. Owners, general contractors, and others want to protect themselves from being held liable for injuries and damages that are not their fault, so they want to ensure that anyone they work with also has adequate insurance.

For example, suppose a general contractor hires a plumber, and the plumber installs a leaky faucet that causes damage. In that case, the subcontractor's insurance should help pay for the damages caused by their work.

This is why a certificate of insurance (COI) is essential to any construction business.

What is a Certificate of Insurance?

"A certificate of insurance (COI) is a document issued by an insurance company or broker. The COI verifies the existence of an insurance policy and summarizes the key aspects and conditions of the policy," Investopedia explains. "Small business owners and contractors typically require a COI that grants protection against liability for workplace accidents or injuries to conduct business."

The following information is typically included on a COI:

  • Name of the insurer or insurers providing the coverage
  • Insurance agent or broker's contact info
  • Name and address of the insured party
  • Name and contact info of the certificate holder
  • Name of any additional insured parties
  • Policy number
  • Type of coverage
  • Amount of coverage
  • Coverage description
  • Policy's expiration date

What's the Difference Between an Insurance Policy and a Certificate of Insurance?

A COI is a brief summary of the main details of an insurance policy used to show proof of insurance or to show that a third party is named as an additional insured. An insurance policy is a detailed contract that is much more detailed than a COI. It includes information about the terms and conditions of the policy, covered perils, exclusions, etc. If you have any questions or need to file a claim, the insurance policy will provide most of the information you need.

Who Will Ask for a COI?

COIs may be requested by the following:

  • General contractors
  • Property Owners
  • Clients
  • Suppliers
  • Government agencies, when you bid on a job with them
  • Businesses you're leasing equipment from
  • Banks and lenders

When Should You Request a COI?

Whenever you're working with a third party, and there is a chance of damage or injury that is not your fault – a faulty product or shoddy workmanship from a specialty contractor - you should request a COI to help ensure that you are not held liable for the damage or injury. For example, if you're a general contractor hiring a subcontractor (electrician, plumber, etc.), you should request a COI. Both general contractors and subcontractors should also ask for COIs from any vendors they work with.

Notes About COIs:

  • When you receive a COI, you must review all the information to ensure accuracy.
  • The certificate holder is the party receiving the COI from the party insured. Being listed as a certificate holder does not provide any protection under the policy. Only the policyholder and additional insured parties listed receive protection under the policy listed on the COI.
  • A COI shows that a policy is in effect on the date and time it was issued. Unscrupulous businesses may cancel the policy after the COI is issued. Therefore, verifying with the insurer or insurers that the party still has insurance with appropriate policy limits is always a good idea.
  • You should organize and retain all COIs indefinitely.

Don't Overpay For Contractor Insurance!

American Insuring Group will perform an in-depth review of your business to determine your specific insurance coverage needs and then compare the cost of that coverage with multiple insurance companies to ensure that you get the best price on quality Contractor Insurance.

Call us today at (800) 947-1270 or (610) 775-3848, or connect with us online.

Tags: Construction Insurance, Construction Risk Insurance, Contractor Insurance, Contractual Risk Transfer

Respiratory Protection for Contractors

Posted by David Ross on Sat, Jan 27, 2024

Use Respiratory Protection to help save on Contractor Insurance in Philadelphia, Reading, Lancaster, Pittsburgh, Harrisburg, Erie, and all across Pennsylvania.Complying with OSHA’s Respiratory Protection Standard will help keep workers safe, help you avoid fines, and lower Contractor Insurance costs. Construction workers can be exposed to harmful airborne contaminants, such as dust, smoke, gases, fumes, solvent vapors, and mists. These contaminants can cause respiratory issues, cancers, disease, or death.

This is why NIOSH sets Recommended Exposure Limits (RELs) for airborne contaminants, and OSHA sets legally enforceable Permissible Exposure Limits (PELs) that employers must comply with.

Employer Responsibility

Employers are responsible for ensuring these airborne contaminants are eliminated, that engineering controls are in place, and/or that appropriate respiratory protection is provided. Employees need to be trained on the proper use, fit, maintenance, and storage of respirators.

OSHA requires employers to do the following:

  • Ensure that only NIOSH-certified respirators, “with the proper design for the application,” are used

  • Ensure that respirators are used and maintained properly

  • Ensure that workers are not exposed to contaminants that the respirator is not designed to protect them from

  • Keep track of respirators

Types of Respiratory Protection

“There are two main types of respiratory protection—air-purifying respirators (APRs) and atmosphere-supplying respirators (ASRs). Each respirator type provides a different level of protection based on its design.

Therefore, choosing the right type of respirator for the specific exposure is important. To do that, you must identify all respiratory hazards in your environment and the amount of exposure,” the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) explains. “Additionally, each type of respirator has an assigned protection factor (APF). This indicates the level of protection you can expect to receive from that respirator.”

Air-Purifying Respirators

“APRs use filters, cartridges, or canisters to remove gases, vapors, aerosols, or a combination of contaminants from the air,” according to the CDC. They do not supply an additional source of oxygen.

Types of APRs include the following:

  • Filtering Facepiece Respirator (FFR) – the most commonly used respirator

  • Elastomeric half mask respirator (EHMR)

  • Elastomeric full facepiece respirator

  • Powered air-purifying respirator (PAPR) 

Atmosphere-Supplying Respirators

“Atmosphere-supplying respirators provide clean breathing air from a source independent of the work area. These respirators will protect wearers from many types of airborne contaminants (particles, gases, and vapors) and, in certain cases, oxygen-deficient atmospheres,” the CDC explains.

Types of ASRs include the following:

  • Supplied-air respirators (SARs)

  • Self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBAs)

  • Combination SARs/SCBAs

Silica Dust – The Most Prevalent Contaminant in Construction

In construction, silica dust, AKA respirable crystalline silica, is one of the most prevalent airborne contaminants. According to OSHA, approximately 2.3 million American workers are exposed to silica dust - a common mineral found in the earth and materials such as sand, concrete, stone, mortar, and stone. It is used to make glass, bricks, artificial stone, and more.

“Respirable crystalline silica – very small particles at least 100 times smaller than ordinary sand you might find on beaches and playgrounds – is created when cutting, sawing, grinding, drilling, and crushing stone, rock, concrete, brick, block, and mortar,” OSHA explains. ”Activities such as abrasive blasting with sand; sawing brick or concrete; sanding or drilling into concrete walls; grinding mortar; manufacturing brick, concrete blocks, stone countertops, or ceramic products; and cutting or crushing stone result in worker exposure to respirable crystalline silica dust.”

Concrete workers, masons, tile workers, road construction workers, site preparation workers, and drywall workers are most likely to be exposed to silica dust and, therefore, need to be protected from it.

“NIOSH recommends the use of half-facepiece particulate respirators with N95 or better filters for airborne exposures to crystalline silica at concentrations less than or equal to 0.5 mg/m3,” according to the CDC. “The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) also specifies the use of at least a 95-rated filter efficiency [29 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) 1910.134].”

Protect Your Workers and Your Business With the Right Contractor Insurance

The right insurance helps protect your workers and your business, but you don’t want to pay more than you need to. American Insuring Group is a Trusted Choice independent insurance agency. That means we can check the cost of your coverage with many competing insurance brands to ensure you pay the lowest premium.

Ready to save? Call us today at (800) 947-1270 or (610) 775-3848, or connect with us online.

Tags: Construction Insurance, Construction Risk Insurance, Contractor Insurance, Contractor Safety Management

Toolbox Talk: Dangers of Benzene

Posted by David Ross on Sat, Dec 23, 2023

Avoid benzene dangers and save on Contractor's Insurance in Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Reading, Erie, Allentown, Lancaster, Lebanon, York, and throughout Pennsylvania.To lower Contractor's Insurance costs, you need to lower the risk of exposure to hazards such as benzene. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), "Human exposure to benzene has been associated with a range of acute and long-term adverse health effects and diseases, including cancer and hematological effects. Exposure can occur occupationally, in the general environment, and in the home as a result of the ubiquitous use of benzene-containing petroleum products, including motor fuels and solvents."   

What is Benzene?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) describes benzene as "a chemical that is a colorless or light yellow liquid at room temperature. It has a sweet odor and is highly flammable." It is formed naturally – in volcanoes and forest fires – and created through human activities. It is found in oil, gasoline, and cigarette smoke and evaporates into the air quickly.

Benzene is widely used in the U.S. and is ranked in the top twenty chemicals for production volume. It is used to make glues, paints, synthetic fibers, detergents, pesticides, and more. Most exposure to benzene occurs through inhalation, but it can also be consumed in water or food. Exposure to tobacco smoke (either smoking yourself or from secondhand smoke) accounts for about half of all exposure to benzene in the U.S.

What are the Dangers of Benzene?

"Benzene works by causing cells not to work correctly. For example, it can cause bone marrow not to produce enough red blood cells, which can lead to anemia," the CDC explains. "Also, it can damage the immune system by changing blood levels of antibodies and causing the loss of white blood cells."

According to the American Cancer Society, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has classified benzene as "carcinogenic to humans." The U.S. National Toxicology Program (NTP) has classified benzene as "known to be a human carcinogen," and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has classified benzene as "a known human carcinogen."

Carcinogens are substances capable of causing cancer. Research has linked benzene exposure to acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL), chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL), multiple myeloma, and non-Hodgkin lymphoma.

Exposure to benzene in your eyes, skin, or lungs can cause irritation and tissue injury.

What are the Symptoms of Benzene Exposure?

Someone who has inhaled high levels of benzene may experience one or more of the following symptoms:

  • Drowsiness
  • Dizziness
  • Confusion
  • Unconsciousness
  • Tremors
  • Rapid or irregular heartbeat
  • Headaches
  • Death

Someone who has eaten foods or drank beverages with high levels of benzene may experience the following symptoms:

  • Dizziness
  • Sleepiness
  • Irritation of the stomach
  • Vomiting
  • Convulsions
  • Rapid or irregular heartbeat
  • Death

If exposed to airborne benzene, leave the area, remove your clothing, wash with soap and water, and get medical care immediately. If you swallow benzene, don' drink fluids or try to induce vomiting. Also, CPR should not be performed as it may cause you to vomit, which can be sucked into and damage your lungs. 

How Can I Minimize Exposure to Benzine?

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) limits airborne exposure. "The maximum time-weighted average (TWA) exposure limit is 1 part of benzene vapor per million parts of air (1 ppm) for an 8-hour workday, and the maximum short-term exposure limit (STEL) is five ppm for any 15-minute period."

Here are steps to minimize your exposure to Benzine:

  • Don't breathe in gasoline vapors
  • Use a well-ventilated area to fuel vehicles and equipment
  • Avoid areas with excessive auto exhaust
  • Don't smoke or be in places where you can be exposed to secondhand smoke
  • Regularly wash your hands
  • Use engineering controls to limit exposure to benzene
  • Wear a respirator if needed

Don't Overpay For Contractor Insurance!

At American Insuring Group, we do more than provide you with affordable contractor insurance. We perform an in-depth review of your business, compare the costs and types of liability insurance with many competing carriers, provide you with multiple contractor insurance quotes, and share our recommendations on the best choice for your business.

Call us today at (800) 947-1270 or (610) 775-3848, or connect with us online.

Tags: Construction Insurance, Contractor Insurance, Contractor Safety Management, Safety Programs

Construction Worksite First Aid

Posted by David Ross on Sat, Nov 25, 2023

Create a first aid program and save on Contractor and Construction Insurance in Philadelphia, Allentown, Pittsburgh, Erie, Lancaster, Reading, Lebanon, York, and across the state of Pennsylvania. Creating a safer worksite is every employer's responsibility and one of the best ways to save on Contractor Insurance. At a minimum, you should follow all Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) safety standards to avoid penalties and minimize the risk of injury. However, construction worksites are hazardous by nature, and injuries are always possible.

One of OSHA's safety standards is medical and first aid to help ensure that injured employees receive the best medical care as quickly as possible. "First aid refers to medical attention that is usually administered immediately after the injury occurs and at the location where it occurred. It often consists of a one-time, short-term treatment and requires little technology or training to administer," OSHA states. "First aid can include cleaning minor cuts, scrapes, or scratches; treating a minor burn; applying bandages and dressings; the use of non-prescription medicine; draining blisters; removing debris from the eyes; massage; and drinking fluids to relieve heat stress."

First Aid Assessment

Every job site is different; therefore, every site should be assessed to ensure proper first aid is available. First, identify and mitigate potential hazards. At the same time, identify the types of injuries possible and the first aid that may be required for those injuries. Develop your first aid program based on that assessment and OSHA's standards and regulations. Continue to reassess throughout the project as job sites, conditions, hazards, and first aid needs can change.

First Aid Training

OSHA states. "In the absence of an infirmary, clinic, hospital, or physician that is reasonably accessible in terms of time and distance to the worksite, which is available for the treatment of injured employees, a person who has a valid certificate in first-aid training from the U.S. Bureau of Mines, the American Red Cross, or equivalent training that can be verified by documentary evidence, shall be available at the worksite to render first aid."

But what is considered "reasonably accessible in terms of time and distance to worksite"? "Medical literature establishes that, for serious injuries such as those involving stopped breathing, cardiac arrest, or uncontrolled bleeding, first aid treatment must be provided within the first few minutes to avoid permanent medical impairment or death," OSHA states. "Accordingly, in workplaces where serious accidents such as those involving falls, suffocation, electrocution, or amputation are possible, emergency medical services must be available within 3-4 minutes…"

One way to ensure that you follow OSHA's standards and provide prompt medical attention for injured employees is to have at least one employee trained in first aid on each worksite (regardless of the location of the closest medical facility). That training should include basic first aid, CPR, and the use of an automated external defibrillator (AED). Additional training may be required depending on your assessment of potential injuries on the worksite. And don't forget to have those individuals recertified as needed.

In addition to at least one worker trained in first aid, all workers should understand their role in worksite first aid. They should understand the hazards and potential injuries. They should also know the protocol if someone is injured and requires first aid, including who to contact, where to find that person, how to explain their location, and where first aid kits and emergency equipment are located. And finally, they should know not to administer first aid themselves unless they are trained because they could cause more harm than good.

First Aid Kits

What good is someone trained in first aid if they don't have the tools and supplies they need to treat an injured worker? One or more first aid kits should be readily available on every worksite. The contents of that first aid kit should be based on the first aid assessment and the worksite size. OSHA's recommendation for "the minimally acceptable number and type of first-aid supplies for first-aid kits" for a small worksite of two or three workers includes the following:

  • Gauze pads (at least 4 x 4 inches).
  • Two large gauze pads (at least 8 x 10 inches).
  • Box adhesive bandages (band-aids).
  • One package gauze roller bandage at least 2 inches wide.
  • Two triangular bandages.
  • Wound cleaning agent such as sealed moistened towelettes.
  • Scissors.
  • At least one blanket.
  • Tweezers.
  • Adhesive tape.
  • Latex gloves.
  • Resuscitation equipment such as a resuscitation bag, airway, or pocket mask.
  • Two elastic wraps.
  • Splint.
  • Directions for requesting emergency assistance.

Lower Your Contractor Insurance Bill the Easy Way

Keeping workers as safe as possible and ensuring proper medical treatment is available is a smart business move.

So is working with the experienced independent agents at American Insuring Group. We will perform an in-depth review of your business to ensure you have the right contractor or construction insurance and compare the cost of that insurance among many competing carriers to ensure you get the best price for the right coverage!

Call us today at (800) 947-1270 or (610) 775-3848, or connect with us online.

Tags: Construction Insurance, Construction Risk Insurance, Contractor Insurance, Contractor Safety Management

Lower Contractors Insurance Costs With These Winter Safety Tips

Posted by David Ross on Sat, Oct 28, 2023

Follow these winter safety tips to save on Contractor and Construction Insurance in Philadelphia, Reading, Lancaster, Pittsburgh, Erie, State College, Harrisburg, Allentown, and across the state of PA.The right Contractors Insurance helps protect you, your business, and your employees; however, minimizing the risk of injuries, litigations, property damage, etc., helps keep your insurance and other administrative costs down. We all know construction sites are filled with safety hazards and risks, such as working at heights, falling objects, excessive noise, electrical hazards, etc.

“In 2020, construction laborers saw their highest annual fatal injury count (308) in the last 5 years,” according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). “Construction laborers accounted for almost a third of all fatal injuries in construction and extraction occupations in 2020, the highest proportion since 2016.”

Winter weather - such as extreme cold, frigid winds, snow, and ice - adds to the year-round hazards. We were lucky to have a mild winter here in the northeast last year, but experts predict lots of rain/sleet and snowstorms this winter. Therefore, it would be wise to hope for the best but prepare for the worst when keeping your worksites safe this winter.

Construction Site Winter Hazards

To properly mitigate any risk, you need first to consider potential hazards:

  • Extreme cold
  • High winds
  • Icy roads and surfaces
  • Snow and ice on scaffolding, equipment, etc.
  • Frozen pipes
  • Downed powerlines

Along with the potential result of those hazards:

  • Slipping and falling
  • Loss of dexterity
  • Loss of alertness
  • Cold stress (cold-related illnesses and injuries)

Winter Safety Tips for Contractors

Watch Weather Forecasts. There are plenty of weather apps today, so you can keep an eye on the weather forecast to ensure you don’t send your workers out in dangerous conditions, such as a blizzard.

Remove Snow and Ice From the Worksite. Before work begins, a supervisor should survey the worksite to determine any potential hazards. Snow should be removed from the worksite to prevent slips and falls, and salt or sand should be applied to melt ice.

Require Proper Clothing and Gear. The right clothing can help protect your workers. Wearing layers is always a good idea so workers can adjust what they’re wearing as the weather changes. The “layering system” consists of three layers – the base layer to regulate your body temperature and wick away moisture from the skin, the mid-layer to provide insulation, and the outer layer to protect you from the wind and snow.

Based on weather conditions, workers should also wear heavy-duty work boots with good traction, appropriate coats, warm socks, gloves, hard hat liners, and eye protection.

Provide Heated Breaks When temperatures are particularly frigid, workers must limit their exposure to the elements. Provide a heated area, such as a heated trailer or a tent with a portable heater, where they can take breaks and escape the elements.

Avoid Caffeine According to BC First Aid, to prevent frostbite and hypothermia, you should “avoid caffeine and alcohol, which hinder the body´s heat-producing mechanisms and will actually cause the body´s core temperature to drop.”

Recognize the Symptoms of Cold Stress. Anyone who has to work in a cold environment may be at risk of cold stress. Cold stress occurs by driving down the skin temperature, and eventually the internal body temperature,” according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). “When the body is unable to warm itself, serious cold-related illnesses and injuries may occur, and permanent tissue damage and death may result.” Cold-related injuries include hypothermia, frostbite, chilblains, and trench foot.

OSHA reports the risk factors for cold stress include the following:

  • Wetness/dampness, dressing improperly, and exhaustion
  • Predisposing health conditions such as hypertension, hypothyroidism, and diabetes
  • Poor physical conditioning

OSHA provides this “Cold Stress Guide,” which lists the symptoms of the different types of cold stress and what to do if any of your workers experience them.

Lower Your Contractor Insurance Bill the Easy Way!

At American Insuring Group, we do more than provide you with affordable contractor and construction insurance. We perform an in-depth review of your business. Then, we compare the costs and types of liability insurance for contractors among many competing carriers, providing you with multiple contractor insurance quotes and our recommendation on the best choice for your business. 

Call us today at (800) 947-1270 or (610) 775-3848, or connect with us online.

Tags: Construction Insurance, Contractor Insurance, Contractor Safety Management, Safety Programs