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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

Lower Workers Comp Cost by Addressing Asbestos Safety

Posted by David Ross on Sun, Nov 03, 2019

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

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

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

What is Asbestos?

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

Here are some of the products where asbestos was used:

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

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

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

How to Identify Asbestos

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

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

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

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

Removal and Disposal of Asbestos

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

Typical removal procedures include the following:

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

Asbestos can be disposed of in several ways:

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

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

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

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

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

Understand Electrical Hazards to Lower Contractor Insurance Costs

Posted by David Ross on Sun, Oct 27, 2019

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

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

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

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

Here Are Five Common Electrical Hazards at Construction Worksites:

Power Tools

Here are a few Power Safety Tool Tips from OSHA:

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

Power Lines

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

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

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

Improper Grounding

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

Wet Conditions

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

Exposed Electrical Parts

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

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

Additional Precautions

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

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

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

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

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