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Masonry Contractors: How to lower Contractor and WC Costs

Posted by David Ross on Sun, Sep 01, 2019

masonry-construction-insurance-300Construction is one of the most hazardous occupations today, and masonry contractors are no exception. According to Masonry Magazine, masonry construction is one of the high-risk specialty trades with a nonfatal injury rate of 191.5 per 10,000 equivalent full-time workers.

Creating a safer work environment for those tradespeople helps you avoid OSHA fines, increase employee morale, keep workers on the job, and lower your Contractor Insurance and WC costs.

About the Work

Masonry is a physically demanding job, and masons often work in fast-paced environments. Lifting heavy materials and standing, kneeling, and bending for long periods of time can be strenuous on workers. Plus, masons often work outside where it can be muddy, dirty, and dusty.

Common hazards for masonry contractors include the Occupation Health and Safety’s (OSHA) top four causes of construction fatalities  – falls, struck by, caught in/between, and electrocutions, along with cuts, heat exhaustion, exposure to noxious chemical, lifting and moving heavy objects, and overexposure to dust.

Here are four of the most common hazards masonry contractors face and ways to minimize those hazards:

Slips, Trips, and Falls

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 26% of nonfatal work injuries that result in days away from work are the result of slips, trips, and falls. Construction workers are at risk for fatal falls from height by more than seven times the rate of other industries, according to the National Safety Council.

Masons are often required to use ladders and scaffolding to complete their work, which adds to the risk of falling and injury or death. 

Here are five ladder safety tips to avoid falls:

  • Inspect ladders for defects before using
  • Place the ladder on a stable and level surface
  • Use three points of contact at all times (one hand and two feet/two hands and one foot)
  • Don’t lean, stretch, or make sudden moves while on a ladder
  • The proper angle for setting up a ladder is to place its base a quarter of the working length of the ladder from the wall or other vertical surface

Here are five scaffolding safety tips to avoid falls:

  • Scaffolding should be erected by someone who is properly trained and qualified
  • Inspect scaffolding before using
  • Use proper fall protection
  • Fully plank the equipment
  • Use guardrails

Electrocution

The CDC reports that there were 82 electrocutions or 0.8 electrocution fatalities per 100,000 full-time workers in 2015. To avoid electrocution, know the location of overhead and underground power lines to avoid accidental contact, inspect all tools including extension and power cords for damage before using, ensure that all electrical equipment is properly grounded or double insulated, and protect cords from foot traffic, forklifts, and other equipment.

Lifting Injuries

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, lifting heavy items is one of the leading causes of injury in the workplace, and this type of injury often takes a long time to heal. The main causes of these injuries are the weight of objects, awkward postures, high frequency and long-duration lifting, inadequate handholds, and environmental factors.

Here are five lifting safety tips:

  • Use mechanical means to move heavy materials such as forklifts whenever possible
  • When manually lifting a heavy object, place it close to your body at the “power zone” height – mid-thigh to mid chest
  • Bend at the knees, not the waist
  • Turn by moving the feet rather than twisting at the waist
  • Take regular breaks

Heat Illness

Masonry contractors can become ill or even die while working in extreme heat or humid conditions regardless of their age or physical condition.  To help prevent heat illness, OSHA recommends that employers provide workers with water, rest, and shade and monitor workers for signs of illness.

Implementing a culture of safety from the top to the bottom of your organization, providing safety training, enforcing safety processes, and providing proper equipment and PPE can help reduce the number of injuries on your worksite and improve your bottom line. 

Is Your Contractors Insurance Too High?

If you think your Contractors Insurance is too high, contact one of the experienced agents at the American Insuring Group at (800) 947-1270 or (610) 775-3848 or connect with us online. We specialize in both Contractors and WC insurance and will compare your insurance costs with several companies to ensure that you get the best price.

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

5 Situations When Contractor’s Workers’ Comp Claims May be Denied

Posted by David Ross on Sun, Aug 25, 2019

save-contractors-insurance-300Since the passing of the Pennsylvania Workmen’s Compensation Act in 1915, most contractors with employees are required to have Workers’ Compensation Insurance by law. The purpose of Workers’ Compensation insurance is to protect both employee and employer when an employee is injured on the job - regardless of who is at fault.

Workers’ Comp covers medical costs, disability payments, death benefits, and lost wages to the injured employee and protects employers from direct lawsuits by injured employees. Failure to have Workers’ Comp Insurance can lead to lawsuits by employees and criminal prosecution.  

While Workers’ Compensation Insurance is meant to cover work-related injuries and illnesses that prevent an employee from doing their job, there are some things Workers’ Compensation Insurance will not cover.

Here are Five Situations When Workers’ Compensation Insurance Benefits Could be Denied:

Off-Site Work Injuries

The primary purpose of Workers’ Compensation is to protect employees who are injured on the job; therefore, any injuries that are not work-related and occur off a job site are not covered, but you would be surprised how blurry the line between on and off job site can become.

If an employee is injured on their lunch-break and they are not on a job site, the injury is typically not covered under Workers’ Comp. However, if the employee is injured while picking up lunch for their boss or while in an employee lunchroom, it usually is.

Typically, Workers Comp also covers employees who are injured at events such as parties or picnics hosted by the employer.

Workers’ Comp generally does not cover employees who are injured while driving to or from work unless they are driving a company car, doing errands for the employer, traveling on business, or regularly travels for work.

Company Rule Violations

If an employee is injured while violating a company safety rule or any other act the employer has prohibited, they may be ineligible for Workers’ Compensation depending on the level of misconduct. Sometimes that employee’s medical costs and lost wages are covered under WC, but does not allow the employee to sue the employer.

Breaking the Law

If an employee is injured while breaking the law, any Workers’ Compensation claims may be denied.

Under the Influence

If an employee is injured while under the influence of alcohol or illicit drugs, which impairs their motor skills, any Workers’ Comp claim could be denied – regardless of what the company policy is. When an injured employee goes to the doctor for a work-related injury, employers have the right to ask for a drug and alcohol test.

Self-Inflicted Injuries

The majority of Workers’ Compensation claims are legitimate, but as with anything else, there are dishonest employees who may purposely cause their own injury to collect on a claim. Although Workers’ Comp usually does not take fault into account, a claim based on a self-inflicted injury may be denied.

Security cameras throughout a job site can often help determine whether or not Workers’ Compensation insurance should cover an injury.   

Are You Paying Too Much for Workers’ Compensation?

The agents at American Insuring Group specialize in Workers’ Compensation Insurance. They will work hard to ensure that you get quality Workers’ Comp Insurance at the best rates by comparing your costs with companies who are competing for your business.

Let us help you save money while still protecting your employees and your business by giving us a call at (800) 947-1270 or (610) 775-3848 or connect with us online.

Tags: Workers Compensation Insurance, Contractor Insurance, PA Workers Compensation Insurance, Contractor Safety Management

Builder’s Risk Insurance: What Every Contractor Should Know About It

Posted by David Ross on Sun, Jul 21, 2019

save-on-builders-risk-insurance-300Insurance is a way to protect the things you have of value – vehicles, employees, buildings, etc. But what if you’re in the process of building or remodeling a structure? Does it have any value? Of course, it does, and it is susceptible to damage just like anything else, which is where Builder’s Risk Insurance comes into play. 


According to the National Fire Protection Association, between 2010 and 2014, fires in structures under construction resulted in $172 million in property damage every year, and fires in structures undergoing major renovation resulted in $108 million in direct property damage each year. And that’s just fires. Structures can also be damaged by vandalism, theft, severe storms, and more.

Therefore, it’s imperative that you protect these project just as you would anything else of value. Here’s what you need to know about Builder’s Risk Insurance. 

What Is Builder’s Risk Insurance?

Builder’s Risk Insurance (Aka Course of Construction) is temporary coverage for damage or loss to a structure that is being constructed or renovated.

If your existing property insurance doesn’t cover renovations or additions, Builder’s Risk Insurance can fill that gap. Most owners and lenders, along with most local, county, and state building and code enforcement agencies will require a contractor to have builder’s risk insurance.

Property owners, builders, financial institutions, contractors, or development/investment companies typically purchase Builder’s Risk Insurance, and additional parties may also be protected under an additional named insured clause.

Builder’s Risk Insurance is usually purchased before or on the date of construction when the contract is signed. If purchased after construction begins, the percentage of the work is completed will be considered.

These policies can be written in three, six, or twelve months terms, and can typically be extended (one time) if a project is not done on time.

What Does Builder’s Risk Cover (and Not Cover)?


Builder’s Risk insurance may just cover the structure, or it may also include materials and/or equipment used in the project. Each policy is different, so it’s essential to understand what a policy covers and doesn’t cover.

Typically, Builder’s Risk Insurance covers damage from the following:

  • fire
  • wind
  • theft
  • lighting
  • hail
  • vandalism
  • vehicles/aircraft
  • explosions

Typically, Builder’s Risk Insurance does not cover damage resulting from faulty design, planning, workmanship, and materials. Professional Liability insurance usually covers that type of damage.

Plus, Builder’s Risk Insurance usually doesn’t cover workplace injuries or liability. Other standard exclusions include the following:

  • employee theft
  • water damage
  • weather damage to property in the open
  • earthquake
  • war
  • government action
  • mechanical breakdown

What Is the Cost of Builder’s Risk Insurance?

The limit of the policy should reflect the total completed value of the project – including materials, labor, and overhead but excluding land cost. You can also insure a percentage of the building profit.

Typically, the best way to determine the best amount of coverage is to look at the construction budget. If changes result in an increase in the value of the structure, you should contact your insurance provider, so the policy can be endorsed to reflect the new value.

The cost generally runs between one and four percent of total construction costs.

How Do You Purchase Builder’s Risk Insurance?

Every construction project has a lot of moving parts, and each project is different. Your first step should be to find an agent with experience in contractor’s insurance like the agents at American Insuring Group.

Here is the basic information you should be ready to provide your agent:

  • Insured name and mailing address
  • Builder information – name, years of experience, number of structures built or remodeled in the last year and the projected number of projects for the next year, and loss history
  • Property information – address, square footage, number of stories, total completed value, type of construction material, and fire protection class

Here’s How to Get the Best Price on Builder’s Insurance

If you want to ensure the proper coverage, limits, and policy type are in place for your next project, give American Insuring Group a call at (800) 947-1270 or (610) 775-3848 or connect with us online. Not only do we specialize in contractors insurance, but we are also independent agents, which means we thoroughly check e and compare pricing and coverage with multiple companies to ensure that you get the best price and quality protection!

Tags: Builders Insurance, Construction Insurance, Construction Risk Insurance, Contractor Insurance

The Cost of Hearing Loss in Construction Workers

Posted by David Ross on Sun, Jun 23, 2019

construction-hearing-loss-cost-300Work-related hearing loss is costing construction companies millions of dollars in contractors’ insurance costs every year. 

If you own a construction company, the chances are good that your employees are exposed to a lot of noise – heavy equipment, jackhammers, etc., which can lead to hearing loss and have an impact on your contractors’ insurance costs. 

Hearing loss is the most common work-related injury. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that about 22 million workers in the U.S. are exposed to hazardous levels of noise every year. A 10-year-study of more than one million construction workers in the U.S. found the construction industry has the second highest number of employees affected by hearing loss. 

Work-related hearing loss is costing businesses an estimated $242 million in workers’ comp claims every year. Training your employees about hearing loss and ways to avoid it and enforcing safety measures can help not only lower your contractors’ insurance costs but also save your employees from permanent hearing loss. 

The Science Behind Hearing Loss

Hearing loss can occur as a result of exposure to loud noises, exposure to metals or solvents, or a result of physical trauma like a blow to the head. 

Studies show that regular exposure to sounds 85-90 decibels (dB) can cause hearing loss. A truck or motorcycle that is five yards away can emit sound at 90 dB, and a jackhammer that is three feet away can emit 120 dB. 

Approximately 9% of workers who were NOT subjected to noise levels above 90 decibels experience noise-induced hearing loss by age 50, but 60% of construction workers who were repeatedly exposed to noise at 120 dB did experience hearing loss by the age of 50. 

The National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) recommends that all worker exposures to noise should be controlled below a level equivalent to 85 dBA for eight hours to minimize occupational noise-induced hearing loss. 

As an employer, you are required to take proper measures to protect your employees from hearing loss when workplace noises exceed those levels. 

Tips to Avoid Hearing Loss

Once an employee experiences noise-related hearing loss, it is usually permanent. The good news is that like most workplace accidents and diseases, hearing loss is preventable. 

If you want to save your employees’ hearing and reduce your WC costs, share the following tips with your employees:

  • Avoid Excessive Noise both on and off worksites
  • Wear industrial-grade hearing protection any time you are working at a noisy construction site.
  • Take regular breaks away from noisy areas
  • Work as far away from loud equipment as possible
  • Using headphones to listen to loud music to drown out a noisy work environment can do more harm than good. A better option is to use noise-canceling headphones, which can reduce your exposure to harmful noise levels both on and off the job.
  • Quit smoking because smoking suffocates the cells in your body, including those in your ears, which can increase your chance of experiencing hearing loss.
  • High blood sugar levels can damage cells in your body; thereby, causing hearing loss, so watch your blood sugar levels.
  • Never put anything including cotton swaps directly into your ears because you can injure your eardrum.
  • Schedule regular hearing tests 

Younger workers often feel impervious to workplace injuries including hearing loss, so it’s your responsibility as an employer to make your employees understand the prevalence of hearing loss among construction workers, what causes it, and how to avoid it, and you should require hearing loss protection protocol.  Eventually, they will thank you, and you will see immediate benefits in lower WC costs. 

Want to Learn More About Saving on Your Contractors’ Insurance?

Give one of the experienced agents at American Insuring Group a call at (800) 947-1270 or (610) 775-3848 or connect with us online.

As independent agents and specialists in contractors’ insurance, we will compare the cost of your insurance with several companies to help ensure that you get the right coverage at the best price!

Tags: Construction Insurance, Contractor Insurance, workers comp costs, Contractor Safety Management

Opioid Addiction Dangers for Construction Workers

Posted by David Ross on Sun, May 19, 2019

Opioid addiction dangers for the construction industry and impact on workers comp insurance costsIt’s difficult to pick up a newspaper these days and not see an article about the opioid epidemic plaguing Americans.

It is a serious issue that is costing businesses millions of dollars every year.

According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), more than 700,000 people died from a drug overdose from 1999 to 2017, and about 68% of the deaths that occurred in 2017 involved an opioid. The number of deaths caused by opioid overdose – both prescription and illegal – was six times higher than in 1999.

Impact on the Construction Industry 

The construction industry is not immune to this epidemic – in fact, it is hit harder than most. The very nature of the industry makes construction workers more vulnerable to opioid abuse than workers in other occupations. In 2016, 73% of injured construction workerswere prescribed a narcotic painkiller. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, construction workers suffer from substance use disorders at nearly twice the rate of the general population.

7 x More Likely to Die from Opioids?

One study found that construction workers in Ohio were seven times more likely to die from an overdose of opioids than workers in other professions. Another study found that construction workers in Barnstable County in Massachusetts accounted for 25% of all fatal overdoses from the prescription painkillers heroin and fentanyl.  

Higher Workers Comp Insurance Costs

This creates higher workers compensation (WC) losses, and WC insurance costs for construction employees are more than double the average cost for other occupations, according to the Center for Construction Research and Training. Narcotics such as opioids account for 29 percent of prescription costs in workers compensation, according to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health(NIOSH).

Why is Opioid Addiction Hitting the Construction Industry so Hard?

If you think about it, it is not a surprise that employees in the construction industry have been hit hard by the opioid epidemic. Here’s why:

  • Construction is a dangerous job prone to injuries like sprains, ligament tears, and pulled muscles, which leads to pain and the prescription of opioids to ease the pain.

  • The average age of construction workers in the U.S. is 41. In Pennsylvania, it’s 44. As we age, our bodies don’t heal as quickly as they did when we were in our 20’s.

  • Most construction workers don’t get paid if they don’t work, so many are willing to do what they need to work through the pain.

  • People in their late 30s and early 40s often have families to support, which means they need to work – whether they’re in pain or not. Medication can help ease the pain and allow them to continue to work and to support their families.

  • NIOSH found that adults over the age of 40 are more likely to use prescription opioids than adults 20 to 39.

  • Repeated opioid usage creates a cycle of abuse. In other words, when an employee is injured he or she may change their gait or how they carry materials, which can lead to a second injury. Research shows that a worker who has pain in three or more areas is more likely to become addicted to painkillers.

  • Prescription opioids are often readily available on construction worksites and shared among workers.

  • The stigma around addiction makes it difficult for workers to admit there is a problem

What Can You do as an Employer?

You can help minimize opioid addiction among your workers: 

  • Improve worksite safety to minimize injuries and the need for opioids.

  • Pay attention to your workers’ compensation medical provider network. Some networks limit opioid refills or prohibit physicians from dispensing narcotics leaving that to pharmacists. Some networks control how prescription drugs are reduced.

  • Educate your employees about how opioids work, their potency, drug interactions, and how they can become addictive.

  • Recognize the signs of addiction such as multiple injuries, doctor shopping, or physicians dispensing medications.

  • Provide a strong return-to-work program for injured employees, so they can return to work without provoking another injury.

  • Provide emotional support to injured employees.

  • Let your employees know treatment options such as counseling and pharmaceutical treatment.

The Human Toll

The human cost of this epidemic is astounding, but the financial loss to construction companies is also a concern. In an industry where workers’ compensation costs are already higher than average, adding in the problems associated with opioid addiction can put a real strain on your bottom line.

 

Cut Your Workers Comp and Contractor Insurance Cost – Contact Us Today!

Want to learn more about saving on your insurance costs? Give American Insuring Group a call at (800) 947-1270 or (610) 775-3848 or contact us online.

We specialize in construction and contractor insurance and are aware of the unique challenges you face, including the cost of workers compensation insurance. We'll help you save a bundle while obtaining the quality coverage you need to be well protected!

Tags: Workers Compensation Insurance, Construction Insurance, Contractor Insurance, Opioid Epidemic

3 Heavy Equipment Safety Tips (for Lower Insurance Costs)

Posted by David Ross on Sun, Apr 14, 2019
Heavy Equipment Contractor Insurance Safety TipsImagine trying to complete a major construction project without the use of heavy equipment like cranes and backhoes. You probably can’t. Almost every construction site includes at least a few pieces of heavy equipment to help complete the job.

Heavy equipment is one of the biggest hazards for construction workers and it causes hundreds of injuries and deaths every year, thereby increasing contractor insurance costs and affecting employee productivity and morale.

A Leading Cause of Fatalities

According to the Work Safe Center, “machine-related injuries ranked second after motor vehicle-related injuries among the leading causes of occupational injury fatalities.” Construction workers and heavy equipment operators accounted for 63% of heavy equipment and truck-related deaths. Half the deaths involved backhoes and trucks.

Rollovers accounted for the most deaths for heavy equipment operators. The most significant cause of death for workers on foot and maintenance workers is being struck by heavy equipment or trucks. Being caught in or between was also a common cause of injuries for people working on or near heavy equipment.

3 Tips to Help You Focus on Safety

A focus on worksite safety can help protect your employees, your business, and your bottom line. Here are three heavy equipment safety tips to decrease injuries and deaths and decrease insurance costs.

1 - Training

OSHA requires that anyone operating heavy equipment be thoroughly trained on how to properly and safely operate heavy equipment. This training should be a combination of hands-on and classroom instruction and should include how to identify hazards, safety features on the equipment, load capacity, how to get in and out of equipment safely, and how to safely maneuver the equipment.

And training should be ongoing.

2 - Awareness

Unfortunately, the very prevalence of heavy equipment on job sites often causes workers to become complacent, but it’s crucial that anyone operating or working around heavy equipment be mindful of what is going on around them. That includes overhead power lines (which should be deenergized if possible) and underground sewer, water, gas, and electric.

Heavy equipment operators should be aware of the swing radius of the equipment they’re operating to avoid hitting people and other equipment, especially when working in tight spaces.

Whenever possible, the area where heavy equipment is being used should be cordoned off, and workers should always try to stay away from areas where heavy equipment is being operated. If that isn’t possible, use a spotter and a radio to keep blind spots clear.

3 - Use Equipment Properly

Before operating any heavy equipment, workers should visually inspect the equipment to make sure it is in good operating condition including tires and tracks, fluid levels, hydraulic hoses, buckets, booms, and any attachments. Make sure lights, gauges, horns, and alarms are working, and that arms, buckets, shovels, etc. can fully extend. If the cab rotates, make sure it does so correctly in all directions. Workers should never use equipment that doesn’t operate correctly or appears to be damaged.

Equipment should only be used for the task it was designed for, and operators should be aware of the payload and lift capacity of the equipment and not overwork it.

Workers should know how to enter and exit equipment. Similar to climbing a ladder, operators should not carry anything as they climb onto equipment and should maintain three points of contact. Before entering or exiting equipment, make sure it is completely shut off, the parking brake is engaged, and pressure is released from hydraulic controls. Workers should never enter or exit equipment while it is in operation or while it is moving.

And finally, there is a reason the equipment is equipped with a seatbelt. If a piece of heavy equipment tips or rolls over, the seatbelt could save a life. One of the worst things a worker can do if the equipment begins to tip or rollover is to jump out of it even though that may be their first instinct. Staying inside with your seatbelt on is your safest option.

The Right Insurance – Your Last Line of Defense

Save on PA Contractors Insurance in Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Berks County and more.Preventing workplace injuries and deaths should always be your first line of defense. Unfortunately, sometimes despite all of your efforts, accidents do happen. That’s where the right insurance can help protect you and your employees!

Give American Insuring Group a call at (800) 947-1270 or (610) 775-3848 or find us online.

We’re experts in contractor insurance. We know the risks you face and offer affordable rates on contractor insurance by analyzing the plans and comparing insurance costs from many competing insurance carriers!

The result? You get quality contactor insurance at the best rate possible. Contact us today to learn more!

Tags: Construction Insurance, Contractor Insurance, Commercial Insurance

Contractors: “Mind the Gaps” in Your Insurance Coverage!

Posted by David Ross on Sun, Mar 17, 2019

Tips to avoid gaps in insurance for contractors and construction companies in PA, MD, DE, NJ and elsewhereWhen you ride the Tube (aka the subway) in London, you’ll probably hear “mind the gap!” as you board your train.

“Mind the gap” is a warning to rail passengers to be careful when crossing the gap between the station platform and the train door. If you don’t “mind the gap,” you could fall between the train and the platform and cause serious injury.

“Mind the gap” is also good advice when discussing insurance for contractors! There are lots of moving parts with every construction project – from multiple subcontractors to heavy equipment and power tools. Each of those parts pose different types of risk, and if you don’t have the right insurance to protect you from those risks, you’ll have gaps in coverage that could cause serious injury to your bottom line.

Here are 3 coverages that often create insurance gaps for uninformed contractors:

#1 - Aggregate Coverage

There are two types of aggregate endorsements a contractor can purchase: a per policy and a per project aggregate. A per policy aggregate sets the total amount an insurer will pay for all of your claims during your policy’s term whether you have ten projects or 100 projects during that time.

A per project aggregate ensures that you have equal coverage on a per project or per location basis, which could significantly increase the amount the policy could pay.

Some insurance companies automatically add a per project endorsement to a contractors’ commercial liability policy, but some don’t. If you don’t clarify this from the start, you may not be comparing apples to apples thinking one insurance quote is a real deal when in fact it could leave you with a gap in your insurance. 

#2 - Professional Liability Coverage

There are two basic types of liability coverage contractors may need- general liability and professional liability. Commercial General Liability (CGL) insurance usually covers liability claims for property damage and bodily injury. It helps cover legal fees in the event of a lawsuit against your company and is required by most banks and clients.

However, not every insurance claim is the result of an accident or injury. As projects continue to get more complicated and the line between the design firm and contractor become more blurred, contractors may find unexpected gaps in their liability coverage. A contractor who finds himself in a lawsuit claiming negligence, misrepresentation, defective materials, or faulty recommendations may not be covered by CGL.

Professional liability coverage (aka errors and omissions) goes beyond standard liability and covers liability for professional services such as engineering, design, and construction management operations.

#3 - Subcontractor Coverage

Many contractors work with subcontractors. If you’re one of them, you need to ensure that you have two documents from every subcontractor you work with upfront to protect your business from damage caused by those third parties: a certificate of insurance that lists you as an “additional insured” and a signed “hold harmless” agreement.

You will need to list all subcontractors that you work with and document third-party certificates with your insurance carrier, and if that carrier finds a subcontractor that is not insured, you could end up paying a much higher rate, open you up to workers’ compensation costs, and force you to take responsibility for claims that aren’t your fault.

 

Avoid the Gaps – Get the Right Construction and Contractor Insurance!

Call us for affordable PA insurance for contractors and construction companies in Philadelphia, Berks County, Allentown, Pittsburgh, Erie, Harrisburg and beyond.An insurance company that specializes in contractor and construction insurance– like American Insuring Group –we’ll work to eliminate the gaps in your coverage. We know what questions to ask you and what gaps “to mind.” 

So, give us a call at (800) 947-1270 or (610) 775-3848 or check us out online. Our experienced independent agents will not only help you mind the gaps but also help ensure you get the best prices because we search, compare and analyze policies and pricing among many competing providers.

Call or click today to start saving!

Tags: Construction Insurance, Contractor Insurance, Commercial Insurance

Prevent Struck-By Hazards and Save on Contractor Insurance

Posted by David Ross on Sun, Feb 17, 2019

Save on Contractor Insurance by preventing these struck-by hazardsA few weeks ago we began discussing the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) Fatal Four. These are four safety hazards that account for the majority of all construction worker deaths.

Understanding how to recognize and prevent these hazards can save lives, improve employee morale, and help reduce your contractor insurance costs 

Again, the Fatal Four include the following hazards (statistics are from 2016).

  • Falls accounted for 38.7% of deaths
  • Being struck by an object accounted for 9.4%
  • Electrocutions accounted for 8.3%
  • Caught-in/between accounted for 7.3%

We covered caught-in/between hazardsand electrical hazardsin previous blogs. Today our focus is on the second highest cause of fatalities (9.4%) among construction workers – struck-by hazards.

What are Struck-By Hazards?

There are a lot of moving parts at a construction site and many hazards that can cause struck-by injuries. When a worker comes into forcible contact with an object that is flying, falling, swinging, or rolling, a struck-by injury can occur.

The four most common causes of struck-by hazards in the construction industry are flying objects, falling objects, swinging objects, and rolling objects.

Prevention:

Your first line of defense against this type of injury is being aware of your surroundings and using hard hats and personal protective equipment (PPE).

Hard hats should be worn on job sites at all times. They should be properly adjusted to sit firmly and securely on the head, and they should be inspected regularly for cracks, gouges, dents, and other damage. Exposure to sunlight and cleaning solvents can damage or weaken a hard hat, so they should be cleaned with mild soap and stored out of direct sunlight. 

If a hard hat is damaged or worn out, replace it immediately. It’s much cheaper to replace a hard hat than it is an employee.

Employees should also be equipped with additional PPE where appropriate. PPE that can protect against struck-by injuries may include safety glasses, face shields, and steel-toed boots. All PPE should meet American National Standards Institute standardsand all should be inspected regularly and replaced when damaged or worn out.

Here are preventative measures for each of the most common types of struck-by hazards.

Stuck-by Hazard 1: Flying Objects

Nail gun discharge accidents are the most common cause of flying-object injuries. However, thrown debris or tools, a tip flying off a saw blade, or any other object that is flying around the work site can also cause injuries.

Prevention:

Employees should stay clear of the line of sight when a nail gun is being used. And because nail guns create enough force to penetrate plywood and sheetrock, employees should also be aware if a nail gun is being used in an adjacent room. Check out “Nail gun Safety and Workers Compensation” for more information about nail gun safety.

Additional safety measures include regular inspection of all power tools, the use of protective guards, and wearing safety glasses, face shields, or goggles when working with power tools.

Stuck-by Hazard 2: Falling Objects

This type of injury can be caused by falling tools or materials falling off edges or suspended from a crane.

Prevention:

Areas, where work is being performed overhead, should be cordoned off, so employees avoid those areas. Employees who are working overhead should use toeboards, screens, debris nets, and catch platforms to keep tools and materials from falling 

Employees should also be aware of suspended loads and never walk or position themselves under those loads.

Stuck-by Hazard 3: Swinging Objects

Sometimes materials that are being mechanically lifted can begin to sway and can strike a nearby worker.

Prevention:

Employees should be aware when a load is being moved and avoid the swing radius of that load. Workers should also make sure they aren’t in a blind-spot of the heavy equipment operator.

Stuck-by Hazard 4: Rolling Objects

Moving vehicles or heavy equipment usually causes this type of injury, but it can also be caused by objects that roll, move, or slide into an employee.

Prevention:     

First, heavy equipment operators should be adequately trained in how to operate the machinery safely. Second, other employees should be aware of where heavy equipment is being operated and understand where the operators have limited or no visibility.

Contact Us and Get Ready to Save on Contractor Insurance!

These preventative measures can significantly reduce worksite injuries and death, which can lead to lower contractors’ insurance premiums. Another way to lower your contractor insurance costs is to contact American Insuring Group at (800) 947-1270 or (610) 775-3848 or connect with us online. 

As independent agents, we always compare the cost of your construction insurance among competing insurance companies to make sure that you’re getting the right coverage at the very best price!

Tags: Workers Compensation Insurance, Construction Insurance, Contractor Insurance, Commercial Insurance

Contractor Insurance and the Main Cause of Construction Injuries

Posted by David Ross on Sun, Jan 20, 2019

How to avoid the main cause of injury in construction, and lower your contractor insurance costThis is the final blog post addressing what OSHA has labeled the “fatal four.” The fatal four are four hazards that are responsible for 63.7% of all construction worker deaths.

Recognizing and preventing these hazards will save lives, improve employee morale, and help reduce insurance costs.

The Fatal Four include the following hazards (statistics are from 2016):

1- Falls accounted for 38.7% of deaths
2- Being struck by an object accounted for 9.4%
3- Electrocutions accounted for 8.3%
4 -Caught-in/between accounted for 7.3%

Today, we’ll be addressing the most common cause of construction site injuries and the leading cause of construction worker deaths – falls.

 

4 Leading Causes of Falls and How to Prevent Them

 

1 - Unprotected edges, wall openings, and floor holes

Falling from a higher level can result in sprains, breaks, concussions, and death. Unprotected edges, wall openings, and floor holes can cause workers to fall from great heights. OSHA requires the use of guardrail systems, safety net systems, and/or fall arrest systems when workers are exposed to a fall hazard of six feet or more above a lower level.

Guardrails – the only solution that prevents falls from happening - must be 39 – 45 inches in height from the surface, the top rail must be able to withstand a minimum of 200 pounds and the middle rail 150 pounds.

Safety nets must be placed less than 30 feet below the work area and must extend at least eight feet out from the worksite. Border ropes must have a minimum strength of 5,000 pounds.

Fall arrest systems consist of the anchorage, connecting device, and full-body harness. Arrest systems should be inspected before each use.

Other safety precautions to avoid this type of fall include the following:

  • Before cutting a hole, barricade the work area if possible.
  • Holes should be covered or guarded immediately, and the covers should be able to support two times the weight of employees, materials, and equipment.
  • Clearly mark where there is a hole.

2 - Improper Scaffolding Construction

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), accidents involving scaffolding account for approximately 4,500 injuries and 50 deaths in the U.S. every year.  The BLS found that 72% of scaffolding injuries are caused by the planking or support giving way, the lack of guardrails and/or fall protection, and objects falling from overhead.  OSHA requires that employees on scaffolding that is higher than ten feet above a lower level must be protected.

Safety precautions to avoid falling from scaffolding include the following:

  • Construct scaffolding according to manufacturer’s specifications
  • Install guardrails
  • Brace or tie scaffolding to the building if height or width of scaffolding calls for it.
  • Use metal walk boards instead of wood if possible
  • Ensure safe access to and from the platform
  • Follow the load capacity guidelines
  • Wear hard hats and other PPE (Personal Protective Equipment)

3 - Unguarded Protruding Steel Rebars

The chance for injury from a fall from an elevated position increases significantly if protruding steel rebars are left unguarded, and even the simple trip or fall can cause serious injury when steel rebars are left unguarded. Unguarded rebars can cause cuts, abrasions, impalement, and other injuries.

Assess the site for rebar-related hazards. Cap any protruding steel rebars with steel-reinforced rebar caps or wooden troughs or bend the rebar at the very least. Make sure that all employees wear appropriate PPE and those working above rebars wear fall protection.

4 - Misuse of Portable Ladders

Falls from ladders are an all-too-common cause of injury at construction sites. Improperly placed ladders can shift or fall, and workers can slip or lose their balance when working on ladders. To avoid injuries, the proper ladder should always be used for the job, it should be safely positioned on a solid surface, and workers should take their time when working on ladders.

Most accidents with ladders are caused by the following:

  • Incorrect ladder choice
  • Improperly secured ladders
  • Trying to carry tools and equipment while climbing a ladder
  • Lack of attention
  • The condition of the ladder
  • Ladder placement
  • Not taking your time

Safety precautions when using a ladder include the following:

  • Place ladders so the side rails extend at least three feet above the landing
  • Attach the top and bottom of the ladder to something secure to keep it from slipping or falling
  • Use the correct size ladder so that it can be placed at a stable angle
  • Maintain three points of contact when going up or down a ladder
  • Stay near the middle of the ladder
  • Face the ladder when climbing up or down 

Imagine if you could eliminate (or at least significantly reduce) falls at your worksites. Nearly 40% of accidents would be eliminated, and you’d be left with happier, safer, and more productive employees and lower insurance costs.

The Quickest Way to Lower Your Contractor Insurance Cost

Contact us to save on Contractor Insurance in Philadelphia, Berks County, Lehigh Valley, Lancaster, Pittsburgh, Erie, PA and beyond!Another way to save on construction and contractors insurance is to work with the independent agents at American Insuring Group.

We work with multiple insurance companies to ensure that you get the very best price on all your Contractor Insurance needs. 

Get started by calling us today at (800) 947-1270 or (610) 775-3848 or contact us online.

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

Contractor Insurance & Electrical Safety on Construction Sites

Posted by David Ross on Sun, Dec 02, 2018

Use these safety tips to reduce the risk of electrocution on construction sites!A few weeks ago we introduced you to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) Fatal Four – four safety hazards that account for the majority of all construction worker deaths (click here for our post).

Understanding how to recognize and prevent these hazards can save lives, improve employee morale, and help reduce contractor insurance costs.

The Fatal Four include the following hazards (statistics are from 2016).

  • Falls accounted for 38.7% of deaths
  • Being struck by an object accounted for 9.4%
  • Electrocutions accounted for 8.3%
  • Caught-in/between accounted for 7.3%

We covered caught-in/between hazards in our prior post, and will now turn our attention to electrocution hazards. 

 

Electrocution – Death by Electrical Shock

Exposure to lethal amounts of electrical energy causes electrocution, which is death by electric shock. The human body acts as a conductor when it comes in contact with an electrical current and electricity flows through conductors to create complete a circuit.

Exposure to as little as 50-100 mill amperes of current can cause death by electrocution. Most 120 Volt circuits carry 15-20 amperes of current, which is 300 times what is needed to kill someone by electrocution.

Electrical hazards can cause electric shock, electrocution, burns, arc flash or blast, fires, and explosions, which can lead to severe injuries or death. Common causes for electric-related injuries include getting too close to overhead and underground power wires, damaged equipment, faulty wiring, improper cord use, lack of GCFIs, and wet or cramped conditions.

According to the Electronic Library of Construction Occupational Safety & Health, the major causes of electrocutions in electrical workers and other construction workers in the U.S. between 1992 and 2003 included the following:

  • Electrical wiring and equipment (accounted for the majority of deaths among electrical workers)
  • Overhead power lines (accounted for the majority of the deaths among non-electrical construction workers)
  • Machinery, appliances

Unaware of the Risks

Many construction workers are not aware of potential electrical hazards, which makes them more vulnerable, and it is your responsibility to make your employees aware. OSHAstates, "The employer shall instruct each employee in the recognition and avoidance of unsafe conditions and the regulations applicable to his work environment to control or eliminate any hazards or other exposure to illness or injury."

According to OSHA, these the most frequently cited electrical standards involving electrical hazards in construction: 

  • General requirements for electrical conductors and equipment
  • Wiring design and protection
  • Wiring methods, components, and equipment for general use
  • General requirements for protection of employees

 

Electrical Safety Measures That Can Lead to Lower Contractor Insurance Costs 

1 - Overhead Power Lines

Both overhead and underground power lines carry a high voltage. Injuries with power lines are often caused by contact with heavy equipment, ladders, lifts, etc.

The best way to avoid this hazard is to be aware of the location of power lines and maintain a safe distance. OSHA’s minimum clearance distance from overhead power lines is 2 feet for less than 300 volts, 10 feet for 300-50,000 volts, and 10 feet plus 4 inches for every 10,000 volts over 5,000 volts. This area should be cordoned off. If you have no choice but to work around power lines, contact the utility company to have the lines de-energized.

Other precautions include using nonconductive tools and equipment and avoiding the storage material directly underneath power lines. 

2 - Ground-Fault Protection 

According to OSHA, all 120-volt single-phase, 15- and 20-ampere receptacle outlets that are not part of the permanent wiring of the structure that employees use must have ground-fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs). A GFCI is a fast-acting circuit breaker that shuts of electricity when it senses small imbalances in the circuit. GFCIs only protect against the ground fault, but that is the most common form of electric shock hazard. It also protects against fires, overheating, and destruction of insulation on wiring.

3 - Lockout/Tagout Procedures

This procedure requires that a designated individual be assigned to make sure that all machinery and equipment are turned off and disconnected before performing service or maintenance. That individual will also lock or tag the energy-isolating device(s) to prevent the release of hazardous energy and take steps to verify that the energy has been isolated effectively.

Following this procedure helps safeguard employees from the unexpected energization of hazardous energy during service or maintenance. A qualified person should also be on hand when the locks and tags are removed, and the equipment is re-energized. 

4 - Maintain Cords

There are a lot of portable tools that make life much easier at a construction site, and most of these tools come with flexible cords. These cords can be damaged by staples, rubbing against other objects, or by age. If the electrical conductors become exposed, those cords can become a hazard causing shocks, burns, or even fire. It’s important to regularly inspect all equipment and extension cords for cuts, frays, or exposed bare wires.  

5 – Other Safety Measures

Other safety measures to reduce injuries associated with electrical work include the use of insulation, guarding, electrical protective devices, and compliance with OSHA’s regulations on electrical safety. OSHAoffers many resources to help ensure the safety of your workers.

The safer your employees, the lower your insurance costs. It’s a win-win!

 

Don't Miss This Easy Way to Save on Contractor / Construction Insurance!

Save on contractor insurance in Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Erie, Lancaster, Lehigh Valley, Lebanon, Harrisburg, and more.A great way to lower your contractor insurance costs is to simply contact American Insuring Group at (800) 947-1270 or (610) 775-3848 or connect with us online.

Our independent agents will compare the cost of your construction insurance options among several reliable insurance companies to make sure that you’re getting the right coverage at the best price!

Call today to get started.

Tags: Construction Insurance, Contractor Insurance, Business Insurance