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3 Hidden Construction Worksite Hazards

Posted by David Ross on Sat, Sep 26, 2020

Lower your workers comp insurance costs in Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Lancaster, Allentown and beyond by avoiding these hidden worksite hazards.We often discuss improving worksite safety to lower Contractors Insurance costs. A safer worksite means fewer injuries, which means fewer claims and lower insurance premiums. If there is only one thing contractors do to reduce the cost of insurance (along with many other costs), it's to focus on safety.

OSHA reported that 21.1% of all worker fatalities in the private industry in 2018 were in construction – that's one in five worker deaths. We often focus on safety measures to avoid OSHA's Fatal Four - Falls, Struck-By, Caught-In/Between, and Electrocutions. Many hidden worksite hazards are less visible and often get ignored.

Here are three of those "less visible" hazards:

Complacency

Most workers are aware of the obvious in-your-face hazards on work sites – like working around heavy construction equipment or working at great heights – and will be on high alert when working around those hazards. Unfortunately, it's common for workers to let down their guard when they are not working around the obvious hazards.

Also, when a worker performs a task repeatedly over a long period of time, they can become desensitized to the hazards involved in that task. Think back to the first time you drove a car.

You probably paid attention to your every move. What about now – five, ten, twenty years later? Do you even think about putting your turn signal on or stopping at a stop sign? After many years, it becomes easy to operate on auto-pilot. The same can be true when driving a backhoe or bulldozer or any piece of heavy equipment after a few years.

It's also important to remember that supervisors and employees do not live in a vacuum; they have personal lives that can distract them from their job. They may rush to try to get home in time for their daughter's hockey game. They may be distracted by concerns about a sick parent or financial problems. They may be exhausted after staying up all night with a teething baby.

This is why on-going safety training is vital to your employees' safety. They need to be reminded of hazards and how to avoid them, the importance of staying alert at all times, and the potential consequences of not paying attention and following safety procedures.

An Ever-Changing Workforce

As you move from one project to another, your need for employees probably changes, and you end up with high employee turnover. This high turnover, along with tight deadlines, often leads to little time for safety training.

This results in many employers providing the minimum mandatory safety training. The truth is that to protect your employees properly and keep them safe, you need to go beyond the bare minimum OSHA requirements.

Lack of Communication

Communication is the most effective tool when it comes to workplace safety. Managers must regularly remind employees about potential hazards and the importance of workplace safety. Toolbox talks are an easy way for forepersons and supervisors to supplement regular safety training and to keep safety at the forefront of their workers' minds. These talks should be a supplement to regular training, not a replacement.

 

Lower Your Contractors Insurance Costs the Easy Way!

A safe and healthy workplace helps reduce costs in many ways, including lower turnover, production losses, damage to equipment, and, of course, Contractors Insurance costs. Another way to lower insurance costs is to work with one of the independent agents at the American Insuring Group.

Our experienced agents specialize in Contractors Insurance and will compare the cost and coverage of your insurance among many insurance companies to ensure that you get the best price on solid insurance protection. Give us a call at (800) 947-1270 or (610) 775-3848 or connect with us online.

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

8 Tips to Lower Contractors Insurance Costs

Posted by David Ross on Sat, Aug 29, 2020

lower_contractors_insuranceContractors need to carry certain types of Contractors Insurance to protect themselves, their business, and their employees, and many contracts require specific insurance coverages.

But that doesn’t mean you have to pay higher premiums than necessary. There are ways to lower your premium costs without affecting your coverage. Here are eight tips to help you lower your insurance premiums.

Increase Deductibles

If you have financial reserves that would allow you to assume some additional risk, you can increase your deductibles to reduce your premiums. If the difference in the premium is enough to cover the deductibles on one or two claims, it probably makes sense to make the change - IF you have money available to pay the higher deductible in the event of a claim.

Review Your Policy

Over time, things change in your business. You may need to hire an additional employee or let one go. You may purchase a new vehicle or sell an older piece of equipment. Your current insurance should reflect your current circumstances.

Let your insurance know about these changes and review your policy at least once a year to make sure that you have proper coverage AND that you are not paying more than you need to.

Bundle

You probably need more than one type of insurance. For example, Commercial Liability Insurance helps protect you if a third-party sues you (and is a requirement in most contracts); however, Workers’ Compensation protects your employees and your business if an employee is injured on the job (and is required by law). Many insurance carriers will offer a discount if you purchase or combine more than one policy with them.

Lower Your Commercial Auto Insurance

Employees with good driving records who drive your vehicles will help lower your costs. On the other hand, employees with bad driving records will increase your premiums. Before hiring anyone who will be driving any of your commercial vehicles, check their driving record.

Also, consider purchasing less expensive vehicles to lower your Auto Insurance premiums. Sure, a sleek new truck with all the bells and whistles will be fun to drive, but is it worth the additional expense of higher insurance premiums? Maybe it is, but it’s important to factor insurance costs into your buying decisions.

Focus on Safety

Safety should be a priority at any construction site. It’s just good business sense to keep your employees, customers, vendors, etc. safe. Plus, a safer worksite minimizes the number of employees injured on the job, lowering your Workers’ Compensation Insurance. It should also minimize the number of third-party injuries, lowering your Commercial Liability Insurance. Use the safety information, tools, and resources provided by OSHA to help ensure a safer worksite.

Do Good Work

This is another one that makes good business sense but will also help you avoid lawsuits and thereby lower your Contractors Insurance costs.

Pay Attention to the Workers’ Compensation Formula

Your Workers’ Compensation rates are determined by a formula that looks at several factors. Ensure the information being used in that calculation is accurate and that everything is calculated correctly.  

One factor that affects your rate is your employees’ classification codes, which are based on the likelihood of that employee being injured on the job. Make sure that the correct classification codes are given to every employee. For example, an office worker who is less likely to be injured on the job should not have the same classification code as your electrician. If they do, you may be paying more than you need.

Another factor is your business’s loss history, which is reflected in the experience modifier. A modifier of one is average. A lower number will reflect a better than average loss history, and a higher number will reflect a loss history that is worse than the average. A safer worksite should result in fewer claims, thereby lowering your experience modifier and your WC costs.

Go with an Independent Insurance Agent!

An independent agent – like those at American Insuring Group – will compare insurance rates amng several different competing insurance companies to help you get the lowest rate possible. Give us a call at (800) 947-1270 or (610) 775-3848 or connect with us online to discover how we can help you save more on your Contractors Insurance costs!

Tags: Construction Insurance, Contractor Insurance, Small Business Insurance Reading PA, workers comp costs, Contractor Safety Management

5 Outdoor Dangers for Construction Workers and Tips to Avoid Them

Posted by David Ross on Sat, Jul 25, 2020

Lower your risks while working outside and save on contractors insurance in Philadelphia, Lancaster, Allentown, Pittsburgh, Erie, PA and beyond!The construction industry is notorious for being filled with potential hazards that cost construction companies billions of dollars in higher Contractor Insurance premiums.  Common hazards include falling from heights, electric shock, scaffolding collapse, etc., but have you ever considered the hazards of working outside.

On a beautiful spring or fall day, working outside seems like a real blessing – definitely better than being stuck inside an office or manufacturing facility. But working outside does pose additional health risks that can cause everything from mild discomfort to severe injuries and even death.

Understanding these dangers and how to prevent them, are essential if you want to keep your workers safe and your expenses down. Here is a list of outdoor hazards that you should be aware of and train your employees to avoid.

Lyme Disease

Hazard:

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Pennsylvania has had the highest number of Lyme disease cases in the U.S. since 2011.

"Untreated, Lyme disease can spread to other parts of your body for several months to years after infection, causing arthritis and nervous system problems,” according to the Mayo Clinic.  Plus, ticks can transmit other illnesses, such as babesiosis and Colorado tick fever.

Prevention:

Ticks are most active between April and September. During those months, try to avoid wooded and bushy areas, use repellents that contain 20 to 30% DEET, and use products that contain permethrin on clothing.

Sun Exposure

Hazard:

One of the best things about regularly working outside is a killer tan. Unfortunately, the same thing that creates that tan can also cause skin cancer.

According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, “about 86 percent of melanomas can be attributed to exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun,” and “about 90 percent of nonmelanoma skin cancers are associated with exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun.”

Prevention:

Use a broad-spectrum sunscreen with at least a 15 SPF before going outside, even on cloudy or cool days, and reapply regularly, especially if you are sweating. Check the SPF’s expiration date. Wear clothing that covers as much skin as possible as it acts as a barrier against UV rays.

Insect Stings and Bites

Hazard: 

In Pennsylvania, people working outside need to watch out for stings from insects such as bees, wasps, and hornets, and bites from both venomous and non-venomous spiders. While most insect stings and bites only cause mild discomfort, some can result in a severe allergic reaction that requires immediate medical attention and can even cause death.

Prevention:

Try to avoid attracting insects by staying away from strong-smelling products, such as colognes and some soaps, shampoos, and deodorants. Wear clothing that covers as much of the body as possible. Try to ignore and not swat at a single flying insect, but if attacked by several stinging insects, run away from them.

Any workers who know they are prone to severe allergic reactions from insect bites or stings should wear medical ID jewelry and carry an epinephrine pen.

Poisonous Plants

Hazard:

If you come in contact with plants, such as poison ivy, poison oak, and poison sumac, the urushiol oil from those plants can cause an itchy rash, bumps, or blisters. For some, the rash can be relatively minor, but for others, it can cause severe swelling or trouble breathing or swallowing.

Prevention:

Wear clothing that covers as much of the body as possible, learn to identify poisonous plants, clean tools and clothing that may have been exposed to the oil, and immediately wash skin exposed to the oil with soap and water.

Extreme Temperatures

Hazard:

Both heat and cold stress can cause health issues that range from slight discomfort to death. Heat stress disorders include heat exhaustion, heatstroke, heat cramps, heat rash, and fainting.

Several factors contribute to the dangers of cold stress: temperature, wind, dampness, and cold water. Cold stress can occur in mild temperatures that are coupled with rain and/or wind. Cold-related illnesses include hypothermia, frostbite, and trench foot.

Prevention:

Reduce heat exposure by ventilating areas of high heat and use cooling fans and personal cooling devices (cooling vests, heat reflective clothing, etc.). Wear loose-fitting, lightweight clothing, drink plenty of liquids, and try to schedule heavy work during cooler parts of the day.

When working in frigid climates, prevent cold stress by wearing at least three layers of clothing. Wear a hat, insulated boots, and insulated gloves.

Lower Contractors Insurance Costs the Easy Way!

Preventing these outdoor dangers can help lower your Contractors Insurance costs. Another way to lower your insurance premiums is to work with one of the independent agents at the American Insuring Group.

We will compare costs and coverages among many insurance providers, and find the best combination of protection and price to meet your needs.  So call today at (800) 947-1270 or (610) 775-3848 or connect with us online to start saving!

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

Marijuana and Contractors Insurance

Posted by David Ross on Sat, Jun 20, 2020

Marijuana and the impact on contractors insuranceMore than four years after Governor Tom Wolf signed the Pennsylvania Medical Marijuana Act into law, the implications of the law on construction site safety and Contractors Insurance is still unclear. Pennsylvania was the 24th state to legalize medical marijuana, and today, nearly thirty states have similar laws.

The challenge for construction companies is balancing safety with compliance with a variety of conflicting state and federal laws regarding the use of both recreational and medical marijuana.

According to the National Safety Council (NSC), “While medical marijuana-using employees have mounted legal challenges, state statutes usually side with employers who reject potential employees or reprimand workers that test positive for cannabis, even if they have a medical marijuana card. Some states protect employee rights and safeguard against disciplinary action for medical marijuana use, however. Marijuana is still illegal according to federal law, which classifies it as a Schedule I drug with no accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse. Federal law supersedes state law.”

NSC also states that the Americans with Disabilities Acts sides with employers, most states will not pay worker compensation benefits to an employee who is under the influence at the time of the accident, and most state health insurance programs won’t pay for medical marijuana.

Putting legal and ethical issues aside, the bottom line is that marijuana use can impact job safety, and in an industry already fraught with its share of hazards, safety should be a priority for any construction site. Workplace injuries not only increase Workers’ Compensation Insurance costs they also decrease employee productivity and morale.

Marijuana and Job-Site Safety

Marijuana contains tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), a psychoactive compound, which has shown to have adverse effects. It can change a person’s sensory perception, create short-term memory problems, and impair thinking. Physically, marijuana use has been shown to impair motor skills, cause a loss of balance and coordination, and impair depth perception. These effects can prove deadly to someone driving a forklift or working on a roof.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, “employees who tested positive for marijuana on a pre-employment urine drug test had 55% more industrial accidents, 85% more injuries, and 75% greater absenteeism compared with those who tested negative for marijuana use.”

What Can Construction Companies Do?

While much of the Pennsylvania Medical Marijuana Act is unclear – or even conflicting - some sections support employers and workplace safety. For example, if an employee has more than ten nanograms of THC in their blood, they cannot operate or be in physical control of strong chemicals or high voltage electricity and that an employee who is “under the influence of medical marijuana” cannot perform duties in confined spaces or at heights.” It also states that an employer can prohibit an employee from “performing any task which the employer deems life-threatening, to either the employee or any of the employees of the employer.”

If you are working on a federal project, you have no choice but to maintain a drug-free job site, and the use of marijuana on the job should always be prohibited on any job site.

The NSC recommends that construction companies have a drug-testing program and a solid drug policy in place that include the following:

  • A definition of the terms “marijuana,” “cannabis,” or any other derivation
  • Proper management and supervisor training
  • Access to support for employees with drug addictions
  • Clearly defined use and possession parameters
  • Drug testing policies and procedures – Tests should be conducted uniformly for all employees to avoid liability for discrimination claims.
  • Education for employees on clinical issues relating to marijuana, such as how long it remains in the system, the effects it can have, including the potential impact on workplace safety.
  • Established rules for post-accident testing
  • Rules on how to handle employee convictions or arrests
  • A reminder that on-the-job impairment will not be tolerated, including medical marijuana

Include your drug policy in all recruiting and new-hire on-boarding materials. Review your drug policy with a lawyer and update it as laws change.

Here's How to Save on Contractors Insurance!

Creating a safe worksite is just one way to lower Contractors Insurance rates. Working with one of the American Insuring Group independent agents who specialize in Contractors Insurance will ensure that you get the right coverage at the best price. Give us a call at (800) 947-1270 or (610) 775-3848 or connect with us online.

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

3 Safety Tips to Lower Contractors Insurance Costs

Posted by David Ross on Sat, Apr 25, 2020

Save_contractors_insurance-1If you want to lower Contractors Insurance costs – from Commercial General Liability to Workers’ Comp Insurance – create a safer worksite. Safety should be your number one priority simply because it’s the right thing to do.

But if you need more incentive or ammunition to pitch a safety program to management, know that safety will also improve your bottom line. A safer work environment improves morale, keeps projects on schedule and under budget, and helps lower insurance costs.

Here are three tips for creating a safer worksite.

Assess the Job Site

Before you begin any new job, take time to assess the job site, identify potential hazards, and determine preventative measures to minimize injury.  Start with OSHA’s Fatal Four – dangers that are responsible for more than half of the construction worker’s deaths.  The fatal four are falls, object strikes, electrocutions, and caught-in/between. Look at a job site and determine how you can minimize those hazards.

Determine areas that should be blocked off while specific tasks are being performed. Install guardrails, catch platforms, nets, and other safety measures to avoid falls. Ensure that scaffolding is constructed correctly, and make sure you have appropriate PPE available for workers, such as safety harnesses, lifelines, and lanyards.

Consider Scheduling

Did you know that a study by the Associated General Contractors of America found that most construction site fatalities occur from 10 am to 3 pm, peaking at noon and that nearly 75% of deaths happened Monday through Thursday? Use that information and schedule safety meetings around noon early in the week. Also, ensure that you have strong safety measures in place for lunch breaks. 

Another safety issue common to the construction industry is over-scheduling workers to meet deadlines. If workers are too physically or mentally exhausted, the best safety practices in the world won’t eliminate injuries. According to OSHA, working 12 hours per day is associated with a 37% increased risk of injury.

A 2005 study of medical residents found that every extended shift scheduled in a month increased the risk of a motor vehicle crash on their commute home by 16.2 %. Motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of work-related deaths in the U.S.

Fatigue was cited as a contributing factor in several major workplace disasters, including the nuclear accidents at Chernobyl and Three Mile Island, the Challenger space shuttle explosion, and BP’s Deepwater Horizon oil refinery explosion.

Don’t risk your workers’ health and safety or the health of your company by over-working your employees.  Ensure that all your employees and subcontractors take regular breaks and don’t work too many hours.

Develop a Culture of Safety

If you want your workers to follow your company’s safety procedures, you need to develop a culture of safety from top management on down. Your company should have a safety program that includes regular safety training, meetings, and updates (at least once a week).

Those meetings can include brief onsite recaps to formal OSHA training to fun team-building activities.  And your safety program should be practiced and enforced by everyone. Make safety a priority at your company. Don’t just give it lip service or focus on complying with the minimum OSHA standards.

Follow these three tips to let your employees know that their safety is your number one priority, and your business will experience better employee morale, lower employee turnover, lower insurance rates, and so much more.

Want to Save More on Contractor Insurance?

The American Insuring Group has experienced agents who specialize in Contractors Insurance. Plus, as independent agents, we compare the cost of your insurance with several companies to ensure that you get the best rate on the right coverage.

Give us a call today at (800) 947-1270 or (610) 775-3848 or connect with us online.

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

7 Smart Ways to Save on Contractor Insurance

Posted by David Ross on Sun, Mar 22, 2020

Ways to Save on Contractors InsuranceContractor Insurance is required to protect your assets and your business, whether you’re a one-person independent contractor or the owner of a construction company.

But that doesn’t mean you can’t lower the cost of your insurance premiums.

Here are seven smart ways to you can start saving on contractor Insurance:

Increase Deductibles

A deductible is the amount of money that you will need to pay if you make a claim before the insurance company pays anything. In other words, if you have a $500 deductible and make a $2,000 claim that is covered, the insurance company would pay $1,500 only after you have paid the $500.

Increasing the amount of your deductible will lower the cost of your premiums, freeing up funds that could be used to buy new equipment, give raises, or however you think that money could be best used.

However, before you make that decision, make sure that you have enough money in reserve that you could pay that deductible if you made a claim. Otherwise, you could find yourself without a tool or vehicle that you need to conduct business if it is stolen, damaged, or destroyed. If you can’t pay that deductible, you can’t repair or replace that item.

Pay Upfront

Most insurance companies will discount your rate if you can pay your insurance premium upfront, rather than monthly. So, if you have the cash available, pay your insurance premiums annually.

Combine Insurance Policies

Every contractor should have Commercial General Liability (CGL) Insurance, which covers your business for injury or property damage caused by the operation of your business or on your business premises. Chances are good, that isn’t the only insurance you will need to protect your business.

You may need property insurance to protect your buildings and its contents, auto insurance to protect your vehicles, or any number of other types of insurance. Many insurance companies will give you a discount if you purchase more than one type of insurance with them.

Lower Commercial Auto Insurance

If you hire drivers with bad driving records, you will pay more for your commercial auto insurance; it’s that simple. Before hiring anyone who will drive one of your commercial vehicles, check their driving records and only hire those with excellent driving records.

Another way to save on auto insurance is to evaluate new vehicle purchases. The more a vehicle is worth, the more your insurance premiums will be. So, when you are comparing the price of vehicles, don’t forget to factor in the cost of insurance to cover it. You may find a less-expensive model will meet your needs and save you a ton of money in the long run.

Identify and Minimize Your Risks

The fewer claims you make, the lower your premiums will be. Identify any potential hazards and create a plan to prevent those risks, and you should be able to reduce the number of claims.

For example, there is always the risk of your tools or equipment being stolen, so if you can minimize the risk of theft – such as installing security cameras, locks, or tracking devices – you will lower the chances of those items being stolen, which means fewer claims. Fewer claims can reduce the cost of your premiums and minimize any deductibles you have to pay.

Create a Safer Worksite

We would be remiss if we didn’t include this one. A safer worksite means fewer employee injuries, which means lower Workers’ Compensation costs. A safer worksite also means fewer third-party injuries, which could result in expensive lawsuits; thereby, increasing your CGL costs.

OSHA offers a variety of resources to improve worksite safety, and you’ll also find many tips to create a safer worksite on this blog.

Work with an Independent Insurance Agent

Independent Insurance agents – like the experienced agents at American Insuring Group – can compare several different insurance companies to ensure that you get the right coverage and the best price on all your business insurance needs, including contractor insurance. By comparison, a captive (single-company) agent can only sell policies from a single insurance carrier.

Ready to start saving? Give one of our independent agents a call at (800) 947-1270 or (610) 775-3848 or connect with us online.

Tags: Contractor Insurance, workers comp, Commercial Insurance, Contractor Safety Management, Commercial Auto Insurance

7 Tips to Improve Roofer Safety and Lower Contractor Insurance

Posted by David Ross on Sun, Mar 08, 2020

Save on Roofer Contractor Insurance by Improving Roofer SafetyWant to know how to lower your Contractor Insurance costs? It’s simple: reduce the number of claims. You already know the construction industry is filled with its share of potential hazards, and this is particularly true for roofers.

Roofing work was rated the fourth most dangerous job - behind logging workers, fishing workers, and pilots – in 2019. The roofing profession has a 48.6 fatality rate – the number of deaths per 100,000 full-time workers calculated by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, with more than 100 fatalities per year (most a result of a fall).

Here are seven tips to ensure the safety of your roofers and reduce insurance costs:

Plan, Provide, and Train

OSHA recommends that employers plan, provide, and train to help ensure the safety of employees. Plan ahead to get the job done safely. Provide appropriate equipment so that employees can work safely. Train workers to recognize hazards and the proper use of equipment, ladders, scaffolds, and fall protection systems.  

Consider Weather Conditions

Moisture, ice, and wet leaves can make a roof extremely slippery, and a strong gust of wind can cause a worker to lose his or her balance. Avoid working on roofs in bad weather, especially on surfaces such as slate, tile, metal, and some single-ply membranes, which can be particularly slippery when wet.

Use Ladders Properly

Ladders are an essential tool for any roofer. Ladders should be inspected for visible defects regularly and after any occurrence that could have caused damage. Ladders should only be used on stable and level surfaces. If that isn’t possible, secure the ladder to keep it from moving. Areas at the top and bottom of the ladder should be kept clear.

Roofers should be trained to maintain three points of contact (two hands and a foot or two feet and a hand) at all times when going up or down a ladder. Workers should also not carry anything that could cause them to lose their balance.

Check to make sure that ladders are fully open before using them. If using non-self-supporting ladders, such as extension ladders, OSHA recommends setting the ladder “at an angle so the horizontal distance between the top support and the foot of the ladder is approximately one-quarter the working length of the ladder (a 1:4 ratio).”

Provide Fall Protection

It comes as no surprise that falls are the leading cause of work-related injuries and fatalities among roofers. Employees should attend regular training on fall safety.

OSHA requires that employees who are exposed to a fall of six feet or more to a lower level be provided with fall protection. Fall protection can come in many forms, including personal fall arrest systems (PFAS), fall restraint systems, guide-rail systems, warning line systems, safety net systems, safety monitoring systems, and covers.

Provide Safe Scaffolding

Ensure that any scaffolds used are designed and constructed by a qualified person. Employees are most likely to fall when climbing on or off a scaffold, so it’s important to provide safe access. It’s also important that scaffolds are fully planked or decked between the front uprights and guardrail supports.

Consider Electrical Safety

The biggest electrocution risk for roofers is contact with overhead powerlines, but contact with electrical conduit buried in old roofing can also cause electrocution. Workers should be protected from electrocution by de-energizing the circuits, grounding, or guarding it with insulation.

Train Employees on Hazardous Materials

Employees must be trained on how to read and understand safety data sheets, container labeling, and other forms of warning and how to protect themselves from hazards, such as asbestos, lead, silica, and hazardous chemicals.

 

Compare Insurance - Here's How We Can Help You Save!

A Trusted Choice Independent Insurance Agent in Berks County, and serving Philadelphia, Harrisburg, Allentown, Pittsburgh, PA and beyond.Another way to save on Contractor Insurance is to work with an independent agent – like those at American Insuring Group – who will compare the cost and quality of insurance coverage among several different competing insurance companies.

If you want to be confident that you’re getting the best price and coverage on Contractor Insurance, give us a call at (800) 947-1270 or (610) 775-3848 or connect with us online!

Tags: Construction Insurance, Construction Risk Insurance, Contractor Insurance, workers comp insurance, Contractor Safety Management

Top 3 Construction Business Risks and How to Minimize Them

Posted by David Ross on Sun, Jan 19, 2020

Construction Worker on RoofEvery business comes with its share of risk, and a contracting business is no different. If anything, contractors face more than the average risk. Fortunately, there are things you can do to minimize or even eliminate many of those risks. Plus, Contractors Insurance acts as a safety net when, despite your best efforts, something does go wrong.

Your first step is to identify potential risks, so here are three of the top risks that contractors need to be aware of and tips to minimize those risks:

  1. Injuries

Construction worksites are full of potential hazards, making construction one of the most dangerous occupations. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), approximately 20% of private-industry worker fatalities are in construction.

However, it isn’t just workers who pose a risk. Non-employees, such as vendors and clients, are often unfamiliar with safety rules, and can also be injured on construction worksites.

Minimize Risk of Injury

OSHA has identified the four biggest construction hazards – called the Fatal Four - as falls, electrocution, caught-in, and struck-by. These four hazards were the leading causes of death in 90% of all construction fatalities.

To minimize the risk of injury, develop and enforce a safety program, and all employees should receive proper safety training.

  1. Equipment Damage or Loss

Tools and equipment are one of a contractor’s most vital assets. From something as small as a hammer to as big as a backhoe, you need them to get the job done. If a hammer is damaged, lost, or stolen, it can be quickly, easily, and fairly inexpensively replaced with a quick trip to Loews or Home Depot.

Unfortunately, the same can not be said for larger equipment such as excavators, bulldozers, tower cranes, dump trucks, etc. These items are just as vital to get jobs done but not as easy – or inexpensive to replace. If one of these items is damaged or stolen, it can put a serious crimp in your schedule… and your bottom line.

Minimize Risk of Theft

More than 11,000 pieces of heavy equipment were reported stolen in 2016, according to Construction Business Owner. Thankfully, there are things you can do to minimize the risk of theft, such as enforcing a theft-prevention policy, securing your job site with fencing, locking up all of your tools, and securing heavy equipment.

Minimize Risk of Damage

Employees should be well-trained in the proper use of heavy equipment and how to use them safely. It’s also essential that you take the time to read the equipment’s owner’s manual and adhere to factory recommendations. There should be a preventative maintenance program in place, and all equipment should be inspected before use – every time.

  1. Faulty Work

You can be held liable for construction defects in completed projects or those that are not up to code. And a client can seek reimbursement if you have not complied with local, state, and federal building regulations. This not only hurts your bottom line but can also harm your business’s reputation.

Minimize the Risk of Faulty Work

To minimize this risk, review the contract’s terms and policy coverage, implement a quality control program, and understand and comply with building codes and regulations.

Insurance: Your Safety Net

Sometimes, despite your best efforts, a piece of expensive equipment is damaged, or a smart thief gets through your anti-theft measures. Repairing or Replacing that equipment can cost your business tens of thousands of dollars. The right insurance can help cover those costs.

Commercial Property Insurance

Your commercial property policy typically covers tools and equipment that are lost or damaged. It may also cover your lost income if you are unable to continue work without the damaged equipment. However, Commercial Property Insurance typically does not cover equipment that is mobile, in a vehicle, or stored at a job site.

Builders’ Risk Insurance (Aka Inland Marine or Course of Construction coverage)

Builders’ Risk Insurance typically protects structures, materials, and equipment that are in transit, onsite, or in a temporary location. Some policies also cover additional costs such as lost sales if construction is delayed.

License and Permit Bond

A License and Permit Bond guarantees that a business will operate in accordance with local, state, and federal laws and regulations. If there is a mistake, this bond will cover damages your client claims.  However, unlike other insurance policies, you are responsible for paying back anything your provider pays for the claim.

Protect Yourself with the Right Contractors' Insurance

Save on Contractor InsuranceUnderstanding these three risks, minimizing them, and having the right insurance is vital for a healthy bottom line and the success of any contracting business.

Because the American Insuring Group specializes in contractors’ insurance, we can help you with all three. Plus, as independent agents, we can ensure that you get the best price by comparing quotes and coverages from multiple insurance companies. So don't delay. Give us a call at (800) 947-1270 or (610) 775-3848 or connect with us online.

Tags: Construction Insurance, Contractor Insurance, commercial property insurance, Contractor Safety Management, Builders Risk Insurance

Workers Comp Costs, Musculoskeletal Disorders, and Ergonomics

Posted by David Ross on Sun, Dec 15, 2019

Ergonomics_Workers_Comp_CostsWhen it comes to increasing workplace safety and reducing Workers’ Compensation Insurance costs, your mind may immediately go to improving safety among construction workers, drivers, or maybe factory workers. These occupations are notoriously dangerous. We often hear about a worker breaking his or her leg after a fall or sustaining a concussion after being struck by something.

These are legitimate safety concerns. But there is another threat to safety that many employers overlook – workplace ergonomics, which can cause musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) and be just as costly to employers.

MSDs are injuries, pain, stiffness, tingling, burning, cramping, or discomfort in the musculoskeletal system, which includes muscles, nerves, tendons, joints, and ligaments. The disorder can affect your neck, shoulders, arms, legs, feet, hands, and the upper and lower back. Examples of MSDs include muscle sprains, arthritis, carpal tunnel syndrome, and tendinitis.

This disorder can be caused by acute trauma like a car accident, but bad ergonomics, such as repetitious motions, vibrations, and awkward postures, can also cause MSDs.

If your employees work in a relatively safe work environment, such as an office, you may not spend much time thinking about how you can improve safety to lower your Workers’ Comp costs. If the majority of your employees work in environments where other types of injuries are more prevalent, you may dismiss the impact of MSDs on Workers’ Compensation Insurance costs.

You may want to re-think either of those attitudes.

The Cost of Workplace MSDs

An estimated 126.6 million Americans are affected by MSDs, according to Science Daily. That’s one in two adults. The cost of the disorder is estimated at $213 billion every year.

And workplaces are not immune to the impact of the disorder. According to ErgoPlus, MSDs account for almost 400,000 injuries every year, account for one-third of all WC costs and result in 38% more lost time than the average injury or illness.

MSDs often result in chronic pain, disability, and mobility issues. The World Health Organization reports that MSDs are the second largest contributor to disability worldwide. The direct cost of MSDs in the workplace is about $20 billion, but the indirect costs, such as lost productivity, product defects, etc. can be much higher.

Employers and employees can work together to reduce MSD risk factors by understanding ergonomics and taking steps to minimize the risks

What is Ergonomics?

Ergonomics is the science of increasing efficiency and reducing discomfort by helping the job fit the worker instead of trying to fit the worker to the job. It can involve engineering controls, such as improving the design of tools or workspaces or automating certain processes. That could mean providing workers with ergonomically friendly accessories such as adjustable tables or chairs, footrests, or lumbar support.

Administrative controls can include actions such as job rotation, reviewing injury logs, and providing employee education, such as discussions on MSD risk factors, how to be mindful of postures, and how to avoid awkward positions.

Reduce MSDs in the Workplace

The first step to reducing MSDs is to learn how to recognize the risk factors, which include highly repetitive tasks, high-force loads that increase muscle effort, and awkward or sustained awkward postures.

ErgoPlus offers this advice to help reduce the risk of MSDs:

  1. Maintain a Neutral Posture by keeping the body aligned and balanced when sitting or standing.
  2. Work in the Power or Comfort Zone, which means lifting close to the body between the mid-thigh and mid-chest.
  3. Allow for movement or stretching if you’re working for long periods of time in a static position.
  4. Reduce excessive force
  5. Reduce repetitive or excessive motions
  6. Minimize contact stress, which is caused by continuous contact or rubbing between sharp or hard objects and body tissue
  7. Reduce excessive vibration
  8. Provide adequate lighting

Lower Your Workers’ Compensation Insurance Costs

Whether you work in a highly dangerous or a relatively safe industry, your workers can be affected by musculoskeletal disorders, which costs both you and the injured worker big time. Learn to recognize ergonomic risk factors and how to reduce the risk of MSDs to improve the safety of your workplace and the well-being of your employees and lower your Workers’ Compensation costs.

Another way to save on WC costs is to work with an agent who can help you identify potential risks and has experience with Workers’ Compensation Insurance, like the independent agents at American Insuring Group.  Why not give us a call at (800) 947-1270 or (610) 775-3848 or connect with us online?

Tags: Workers Compensation Insurance, Business Insurance Philadelphia Pa, workers comp, Commercial Insurance, Contractor Safety Management

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

Posted by David Ross on Tue, Dec 10, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

Who is at Risk?

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

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

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

Prevention of Hearing Loss Due to Ototoxic Exposure

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

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

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

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

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

More Ways to Lower Your Commercial Insurance Costs

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

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

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