Insurance Savings and News You Can Use
Join the Conversation!

Alcohol and Workers' Compensation Insurance

Posted by David Ross on Sat, Jun 11, 2022

Alcohol use can affect workers comp insurance coverage in Philadelphia, Harrisburg, Pittsburgh, Lancaster, Allentown, Reading and throughout Pennsylvania.In Pennsylvania, Workers' Compensation Insurance (WC) is based on a no-fault liability premise, which means a workplace injury is covered by Workers Comp regardless of who is at fault. However, there are a few exceptions, such as the "intoxication defense."

"This is a relatively new defense. The Workers' Compensation Act, when originally drafted and enacted, had no intoxication defense," Rothman Gordon Attorneys states. "It was not until 1993 that the Intoxication Defense was added as a part of a nationwide trend of cracking down on drugs and alcohol in the workplace.

A string of drunk driving offenses established that because a blood alcohol content (BAC) over the legal limit (currently .08) established a presumption of intoxication, employers argued they could establish the same presumption in the workplace."

Furthermore, "Pennsylvania is the only state that does not oblige the employer to prove intoxication was the proximate cause (a material contributing factor) of the accident."

Today, the Pennsylvania Workers' Compensation Act states, "In cases where the injury or death is caused by intoxication, no compensation shall be paid if the injury or death would not have occurred but for the employee's intoxication." However, it is important to note that the burden of proof is with the employer.

Over time, alcohol can affect job performance and threaten the health and safety of all employees and the security of your equipment and facilities. So, what can an employer do to protect itself and its employees regarding the use of alcohol? 

Create a Policy

Set a clear, legal, and enforceable written policy regarding the use of alcohol that includes enforcement, punishments, and drug and alcohol testing policies. Ensure that you have written confirmation that each employee understands the policy. 

Pay Attention to Employees

Pay attention to how your employees are acting. The U.S. Office of Personnel Management states, "Even though you must not try to diagnose the problem, there are many signs that may indicate a problem with alcohol…" Those signs include the following:

  • Unexplained or unauthorized absences from work
  • Frequent tardiness
  • Excessive use of sick leave
  • Patterns of absence such as the day after payday or frequent Monday or Friday absences
  • Frequent unplanned absences due to "emergencies" (e.g., household repairs, car trouble, family emergencies, legal problems)
  • Missed deadlines
  • Careless or sloppy work or incomplete assignments
  • Production quotas not met
  • Many excuses for incomplete assignments or missed deadlines
  • Faulty analysis
  • Relationships with co-workers may become strained
  • The employee may be belligerent, argumentative, or short-tempered, especially in the mornings or after weekends or holidays
  • The employee may become a "loner"
  • The smell of alcohol
  • Staggering or an unsteady gait
  • Bloodshot eyes
  • The smell of alcohol on the breath
  • Mood and behavior changes such as excessive laughter and inappropriate loud talk
  • Excessive use of mouthwash or breath mints
  • Avoidance of supervisory contact, especially after lunch
  • Tremors
  • Sleeping on duty

Document Reasonable Suspicion

SHRM states, "Concerns that an employee is under the influence often come from co-workers or even clients or vendors before a supervisor or manager notices." If you receive a complaint or suspect an employee is under the influence of alcohol (or drugs) at work, you need to document it properly. SHRM suggests the following steps:

  1. Receive complaints
  2. Observe the Employee
  3. Remove the Employee from Safety-Sensitive Areas
  4. Document Observations
  5. Assess the Situation
  6. Meet With Employee
  7. Prepare Transportation
  8. Send the Employee for Testing
  9. Wait for Test Results
  10. Respond to Employee's Refusal to Take the Test
  11. Respond to Negative Test Results
  12. Respond to a Positive Test Result

Workers' Compensation Benefits

If you suspect the use of alcohol caused a workplace injury, you can fight the claim; however, the burden of proof is on you as the employer. Policies regarding alcohol must be established and enforced, everything must be well documented, and a thorough investigation with evidence is crucial for successful denial of claims.

Here's How to Save on Workers' Compensation Costs!

The independent agents at American Insuring Group specialize in WC Insurance and are dedicated to helping you save on WC and other insurance costs. As independent agents, we shop the market, comparing rates and coverages among competing insurers. We shop so you can save!

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

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

What Truck Drivers and Fleet Owners Need to Know About WC Insurance

Posted by David Ross on Mon, May 09, 2022

Workers Compensation Insurance Tips for Truck Drivers and Truck Fleet Owners in Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Erie, Harrisburg, Reading, Lancaster and throughout PACommercial Truck Insurance – including Workers’ Comp Insurance - is designed to help protect your business financially in the event of an accident. This is good because we all know that trucking can be a dangerous and expensive industry. 

According to the National Safety Council, in 2020, 4,842 large trucks were involved in fatal crashes, and 107,000 large trucks were involved in crashes resulting in an injury. Furthermore, the Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) reports, “The estimated cost of police-reported crashes involving trucks with a gross weight rating of more than 10,000 pounds averaged $91,112 (in 2005 dollars).” 

Am I Required to Purchase Workers’ Compensation Insurance?

In Pennsylvania and many other states, every employer (with very few exceptions) is required to carry Workers’ Compensation (WC) Insurance. WC covers medical expenses, disability payments, death benefits, and lost wages in a work-related injury or illness. Therefore, if you employ drivers – whether it’s delivering food locally or cargo across the country – you are required by law to carry Workers’ Comp for those drivers. 

The requirement for owner/operator drivers is a bit grayer. According to the Department of Labor and Industry, “If an insured utilizes owner/operators and is part of a trucking operation, proof of workers’ compensation insurance coverage may be required.” If you aren’t sure if you are required to carry Workers’ Comp insurance, speak with the WC experts at American Insuring Group or check on the Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation website. 

However, even if you find that you are not required to carry WC insurance, you may want to consider purchasing it. “Insurance experts and many attorneys, in fact, say that allowing owner-operators to opt-out of coverage is simply asking for trouble,” Layover.com states. “Owner-operators who run without some type of medical coverage risk financial devastation if they are injured on the job.” 

Consider this:

  • If you’re on your spouse’s medical insurance, work-related illnesses and injuries may not be covered.
  • Even if they are covered, if you’re injured and can’t work, you’re looking at lost income, which is something WC insurance covers but medical insurance typically does not.
  • If you are killed in a work-related accident, WC pays death benefits to provide financial support to your family.

 How Do I Purchase Workers’ Compensation?

Fortunately, purchasing Workers’ Compensation insurance doesn’t have to be complicated. The experienced agents at American Insuring Group can help. Here are typical questions we may ask when you’re requesting a quote:

  • What is your company’s name and type of business entity?
  • What is your FEIN or SSN?
  • How many employees do you have?
  • How many owners does your company have?
  • What are your liability limits?
  • Do you have a DOT number?
  • What type of vehicle(s) do you need to be insured?
  • What is the driving radius of your trucker(s)?
  • Is the driver hauling their own goods?
  • Does your operator(s) do loading and unloading?

 How Can I Lower Workers’ Compensation Insurance Costs?

There are many steps you can take to lower your WC and other insurance costs:

  • Hire the most qualified drivers
  • Provide safety training
  • Develop a positive culture of safety

Don't Miss Out on the Easiest Way to Save on Commercial Truck Insurance!

Another way to lower all your Commercial Truck Insurance costs is to work with an independent agent at American Insuring Group. We will carefully compare truck insurance coverages and costs among many competing carriers to ensure you receive the right coverage at the lowest cost.

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

Tags: Workers Compensation Insurance, truck insurance, PA Workers Compensation Insurance, Trucking Insurance

How Contractor Insurance Can Protect Your Business

Posted by David Ross on Sat, Apr 30, 2022

Contractor Insurance Tips to Protect Your Business in Philadelphia and throughout PAPeople often refer to Contractor Insurance as a safety net, but I ask you to stop and think about this accurate but often-overused analogy. In a circus, a safety net is used below performers who are walking across a tight rope or acrobats flying through the air high above. If they fall, the safety net could save their lives. Likewise, the right Insurance can protect the life of your business.

Risks in Contractor Industry

Every business is open to risk, and the construction industry is more so than many other industries. According to a report published by the Center for Construction Research Training, in 2019, 79,660 nonfatal injuries were reported in the construction industry. Furthermore, "… it was consistently higher than all industries combined… Construction injuries were also more severe, as they typically caused more missed workdays than injuries in all industries."

And these injuries were not confined to larger construction companies. That same report states, "the injury rate among construction establishments with 11 to 49 employees was five times the rate for establishments with 1,000 or more employees."

These injuries are costing companies billions of dollars every year. The National Safety Council (NSC) reports, "The total cost of work injuries in 2019 was $171.0 billion. This figure includes wage and productivity losses of $53.9 billion, medical expenses of $35.5 billion, and administrative expenses of $59.7 billion." Individually, that translates to $1,100 per worker, $1.2 million per death, and $42,000 per medically consulted injury. Do you have enough money to cover those kinds of costs without jeopardizing your business? Probably not!

Another risk all businesses face is lawsuits. According to a Small Business Administration (SBA) study, 36 to 53% of small businesses were involved in lawsuits, and when a case goes to trial, it costs companies $3,000 to $150,000 to resolve. So how would a lawsuit affect your bottom line?

Then there is theft. Construction equipment theft results in $300 million to $1 billion in losses each year (and that's an old statistic). Studies show that construction equipment is an easy target for thieves because:

  • Equipment is often left at unsecured sites when not in use
  • Many sites are located in remote locations
  • Equipment is easily accessible
  • There are no standardized PINs or serial numbers, making equipment challenging to track.

Could you easily replace a $75,000 bulldozer without affecting your business? Probably not!

Here is a brief description of various types of insurance that can help protect your employees, your assets, and your business.

How Insurance Protects Your Employees

Without employees, you could not get the job done, so it's a good idea to take care of your employees and consider them an asset. In Pennsylvania (and most other states), all employers are required to carry Workers' Compensation Insurance, which covers lost wages, medical expenses, disability expenses, and funeral costs for employees who are injured on the job.

Failure to carry Workers' Compensation coverage for your employees can lead to a $2,500 fine and up to one year in imprisonment for each day the employer fails to maintain WC coverage. Felony convictions can result in a $15,000 fine and up to seven years imprisonment for each day the employer intentionally violated this requirement. Furthermore, you may be responsible for paying all benefits awarded by a Workers' Compensation judge.

How Insurance Protects Your Assets

  • Inland Marine Insurance helps cover damages that occur while a building is under construction.
  • Commercial Property Insurance protects your physical assets from fire, storms, theft, etc.
  • Commercial Vehicle Insurance protects against bodily injuries and property damage if one of your vehicles is involved in an accident.
  • Builders Risk Insurance helps replace materials, tools, and lost, damaged, or stolen equipment.

How Insurance Protects Your Business

  • General Liability Insurance protects your business from liabilities, such as bodily injury and property damage claims.
  • Professional Liability Insurance protects your business if a client sues you for design errors or omissions.
  • Pollution Liability Insurance protects your business if you're held liable for a pollution incident on a worksite.
  • Cyber Insurance helps protect your business from data breaches.

How to Get the Right Contractors Insurance for Your Business

The best way to get the right Insurance for your business is to work with one of the independent agents at American Insuring Group who specialize in Contractors Insurance. They understand your unique risks and know the right questions to ask.

Plus, as independent agents, they will compare the cost of your coverage among competing insurance companies to ensure you pay the lowest price on your premiums. So give us a call at (800) 947-1270 or (610) 775-3848, or connect with us online.

Tags: Construction Insurance, Contractor Insurance, Construction Equipment Insurance, Professional Liability Insurance, PA Workers Compensation Insurance

10 Tips to Lower Workers' Compensation Costs

Posted by David Ross on Sat, Apr 23, 2022

10-tips-to-lower-Workers-Comp-Insurance-costs

Workers' Compensation (WC) Insurance is mandated by Pennsylvania (and most other states) for all employees. WC was designed to protect employees injured on the job by providing lost wages, medical expenses, disability expenses, and funeral costs. As a no-fault benefit, WC also helps protect your business from direct lawsuits by employees injured on the job. Failure to comply can lead to misdemeanor or felony charges and fines.

However, just because it is mandatory doesn't mean that there aren't steps you can take to lower your WC costs.

10 Tips to Save on Workers' Compensation Insurance Costs

  1. Vet Employees – Employees can be your greatest asset or your biggest liability. Every employer hopes they hire an honest worker, but did you know that 95% of businesses encounter problems with employee theft. When hiring a new employee, conduct background investigations and reference checks. Also, if you're hiring a driver, check their driving record. You may also want to include a pre-employment drug testing policy.

  2. Develop a Safety Program - Providing a safe and healthy workplace benefits employers with lower Workers' Compensation Insurance costs, reduced absenteeism, increased productivity, and better employee morale. A workplace safety program can lower expenses, reduce paid time off and litigation, provide higher employee satisfaction and a positive public image, and much more. According to OSHA, a study of small businesses found a statistical correlation between workplace safety and the health and survival of a small business. The study found that companies that failed within one to two years of start-up had an average injury rate of 9.71, while businesses that survived more than five years had an average injury rate of 3.89 in their first year of business.

  3. Provide Appropriate Training - OSHA states, "Training in the safe way for workers to do their jobs well is an investment that will pay back over and over again in fewer injuries and illnesses, better morale, lower insurance premiums and more."

  4. Use the Right Job Classification Code – Every employee in Pennsylvania is assigned a PCRB classification code to help determine WC rates. These codes are based on the level of risk each employee faces. For example, if an office worker is assigned the code for a construction worker, they will be considered more of a risk, and you will pay higher WC premiums for that employee. Ensuring all of your employees are correctly classified can help save you on WC costs.

  5. Work With Your Medical Team – PA Workers' Comp laws allow employers to create a list of designated health care providers. When the list is properly posted, injured workers must seek treatment for the work injury or illness with one of the designated providers for 90 days from the date of the first visit. By carefully researching the physicians you include on that list, you can help ensure your employees get the best treatment and that you don't pay more than you have to for WC premiums. In addition, building a relationship with those physicians can further expedite WC claims.

  6. Develop a Return-to-Work Program - The longer an injured employee is out of work, the less likely they'll return to work and the more it costs the employer. Return-to-work programs reduce the length of claims and help injured employees recover more quickly. Return-to-work programs save employers' medical costs, lost time days, and workers' compensation insurance costs.

  7. Design an Injury Response Protocol – If an employee is injured, the quicker they get treatment, the better chance they have of making a speedy recovery. Therefore, you should have an injury response protocol in place that employees understand.

  8. Manage Claims – Properly managing WC claims helps you avoid liability and fraudulent claims, resolve claims more quickly, and lower WC costs. WC claim management includes an injury reporting process, investigations, ongoing communication, etc.

  9. Investigate Injuries - Every workers' compensation insurance claim should be investigated because it's imperative to make accurate and legal assessments related to primary liability.

  10. Review Your Loss Run Report – A Loss Run Report lists the date of all of your business's losses and claims, a brief description of each claim, the amount paid to the insured, and whether or not the claim is closed. You can think of it as a credit report or report card for insurance companies. They use the information in the report to determine how risky a business is to insure, which can affect the premium you pay for insurance or even if an insurance company will issue a policy or renew a policy for your business. Conversely, you can use the information to lower your insurance costs and improve other business areas.

BONUS Workers' Comp Savings Tip

Work With a Trusted Independent Insurance Agent – The independent agents at American Insuring Group specialize in Workers' Compensation Insurance. We can answer all of your WC questions, help you control loss, and lower your premiums!

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

Tags: Workers Compensation Insurance, PA Workers Compensation Insurance, workers comp costs, Workers Compensation Insurance Fraud

Reduce WC Costs with Designated Health Care Providers

Posted by David Ross on Sat, Oct 09, 2021

Reduce Workers Comp Costs with Designated Health Care ProvidersOne way to reduce the cost of Workers’ Compensation Insurance is by managing medical expenses. One way Pennsylvania employers can manage medical costs is by providing a list of designated health care providers.

The PA Workers’ Compensation Act allows employers to establish a list of designated health care providers and states that injured employees “must seek treatment for the work injury or illness with one of the designated providers for 90 days from the date of the first visit.” Without this list, injured employees can seek medical treatment from any provider.

Creating a list of good health care providers for your injured employees not only helps you manage health care costs and lower WC insurance; it also helps ensure that your injured employees receive the best care possible. First, however, there are guidelines providers must follow.


      • The list must be posted in an area where employees will see it.
      • There must be at least six providers on the list.
      • Three of the providers must be physicians.
      • A maximum of four providers can be coordinated care organizations.
      • The list must include the providers’ name, address, telephone number, and area of medical specialty.
      • Providers must be geographically accessible.
      • Providers’ specialties must be appropriate for anticipated work-related injuries and illness of employees.
      • If a particular specialty is not on the list and the specialty care is reasonable and necessary for treatment of the work injury, injured employees are permitted to choose their own health care provider.
      • Employers must state if any of the providers are employed, owned, or controlled by the employer or its WC insurance provider.
      • Employers must provide a clearly written notice to all newly hired employees regarding their rights and responsibilities, which every employee reads, signs, and returns to the employer.
      • When an injury occurs, the injured employee should read and sign another acknowledgment of their rights and responsibilities.
      • Employers can’t direct injured employees to any specific provider on the list and must allow employees to switch from one provider to another provider on the list.
      • In an emergency situation, the injured employee is not required to seek medical treatment from a provider on the list. But once the emergency is over, they must use a provider on the list.
      • Injured employees are permitted to change physicians after 90 days, but they must give notice of the change to the employer and the insurance carrier within five days of the first treatment.

Additional Tips to Save on Workers’ Compensation Costs

WC Insurance covers the cost of medical treatment and lost wages for employees who are injured on the job and helps protect businesses against lawsuits filed by injured workers. In Pennsylvania, Workers’ Compensation Insurance is mandatory for almost every employer, whether an employee is full-time or part-time or even family.

However, there are steps - besides creating a designated health care provider list – businesses can take to lower their WC costs. Here are just a few.

    1. Institute a Documented Safety Program – Several studies have found that every dollar invested in preventing workplace injuries can yield a $2 to $6 return on investment.

    2. Have a Return-to-Work (RTW) Program – Not only can RTW Programs lower costs related to employee injuries, but they can also help keep injured employees engaged, lower the risk of litigation claims, reduce employee turnover, and increase productivity.

    3. Work with an Experienced Workers’ Compensation Insurance AgentThe agents at American Insuring Group have many years of experience in Workers Comp Insurance and can help guide you through the process. Plus, as independent agents, we check with several insurance companies to make sure you pay the lowest rate for all of your insurance needs.

→ Start saving on WC and other insurance costs by giving American Insuring Group a call today at (800) 947-1270 or (610) 775-3848, or connect with us online.

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

4 Tips to Lower the Risk of Workers' Comp Litigation

Posted by David Ross on Sat, Sep 25, 2021

4 Tips to Lower the Risk of Workers Comp LitigationIn Pennsylvania, almost all employers are required to carry Workers' Compensation Insurance (WC) for their employees. WC covers medical costs and lost wages for an employee that is injured on the job. WC also protects employers from negligence lawsuits. 

However, that doesn't make employers impervious to WC litigation. Under Pennsylvania law, if a workers' comp claim is denied, the injured employee has up to three years to file an appeal. And statistics show that litigated workers' compensation claims cost businesses more money, making minimizing the risk of litigation a smart move. 

Here are four tips to Lower the Risk of Workers' Compensation Litigation. 

Minimize the Risk of Injury

The best way to minimize the risk of WC litigation is to reduce the risk of injury with a workplace safety program.

 According to the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), every workplace safety program should include the following elements:

  • Commitment from management
  • Employee Involvement
  • A workplace analysis
  • Hazard prevention and control
  • Employee training
  • Communication

Creating a safer work environment does more than lower the risk of litigation. It also helps improve your bottom line. Discover the impact of workplace injuries on your profitability with OSHA's "$afety Pays" program. 

Understand Why Injured Employees Seek Litigation

A Workers Compensation Research Institute (WCRI) study in 2014 took a look at why employees will hire an attorney. Here are the three primary reasons:

  • Fear of getting fired just because they were injured on the job
  • A belief that their supervisors don't believe it's a legitimate injury
  • Concerns that the claim will be denied 

Once you know what can trigger an injured employee to seek litigation, you can take steps to prevent those triggers from happening. 

Communicate With Injured Employees

One of those steps is to communicate with injured employees. In that study, WCRI found that 33% of all the injured workers they surveyed were afraid that they were going to be fired. Regular communication with an injured employee can help eliminate that and many other uncertainties (which is often why people seek litigation). 

As soon as possible, someone from your company should reach out to the injured employee to ask how they're doing. But, first, you need to determine the best person to keep in touch with the injured employee. That person could be the employee's immediate supervisor, someone from human resources, etc. 

Then, you should have weekly face-to-face meetings with injured employees to show them that you value them, get updates on their medical condition, and discuss a potential transitional duty job. During these regular meetings, you can also gauge the attitude of the injured employee more quickly. 

During these conversations, you should listen to and address their concerns, assure them that their job is safe, and encourage them to focus on recovery. 

Have a Return to Work program

A return to work (RTW) program helps bring injured employees back to work more quickly. That could mean modified duties for the employee until they can medically return to their original job. In addition, an RTW helps an employee feel more productive and more connected to their workplace, which means they will be less likely to seek litigation.

The PA Department of Labor & Industry states, "Return-to-Work programs benefit all partners in the compensation system."

  • Injured workers maintain employment security, seniority, and benefits and receive personalized and effective treatment;
  • Employers retain experienced employees while reducing accident and workplace costs;
  • Health care providers are supported in their decisions and treatment strategies;
  • Unions maintain the employment rights of their members; and
  • The workers' compensation system can manage rising health care costs and provide high levels of benefits to injured workers and their dependents. 

And, of course, RTW programs help minimize the potential for an injured employee to seek litigation.

Save on Workers' Compensation Insurance

The experienced agents at American Insuring Group specialize in WC insurance and ensure you have 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: Workers Compensation Insurance, workers comp insurance, PA Workers Compensation Insurance, workers comp costs

Lower Workers Compensation Costs With Proper PPE

Posted by David Ross on Sat, Jun 12, 2021

Lower Workers Compensation Insurance Costs With Proper PPE in Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Erie, Harrisburg, Allentown, Lancaster, York and throughout PennsylvaniaMinimizing injuries in the workplace benefits everyone – from a better quality of life for employees to higher productivity and lower Workers Compensation Insurance costs for employers. Therefore, keeping employees safe should be a top priority for any employer. One way to keep employees safe is with proper personal protective equipment (PPE). 

What is Personal Protective Equipment?

PPE is equipment employees wear to minimize exposure to hazards that can cause injuries and illnesses in the workplace. PPE is designed to protect employees from chemical, electrical, physical, and other workplace hazards. Examples of PPE include gloves, hard hats, safety glasses, earplugs, facemasks, etc. 

To be effective, PPE must be safely designed and constructed, and properly maintained. PPE must fit workers properly, or it can create a hazard. And employees must be trained on how to use PPE correctly, including the following:

  • When PPE is necessary
  • What type of PPE is needed
  • How to wear PPE correctly
  • How to properly maintain PPE
  • The limitations of PPE 

OSHA Employer Obligations

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) states, “…when engineering, work practice, and administrative controls are not feasible or do not provide sufficient protection, employers must provide personal protective equipment (PPE) to you and ensure its use.” 

Employers cannot require employees to provide their own PPE, and – with very few exceptions - employers must pay for PPE that is needed to comply with OSHA standards. 

Types of PPE Protection

Determining the type of hazard is the first step in choosing what types of PPE are required to keep employees safe. OSHA recognizes six types of hazards that may require PPE: 

Eye and Face

OSHA requires eye and face protection when employees are exposed to hazards such as flying particles, molten metal, liquid chemicals, acids or caustic liquids, chemical gases or vapors, potentially infected material, or potentially harmful light radiation. The following are common types of eye and face protection:

  • Protective eyeglasses
  • Goggles
  • Welding Shields
  • Laser Safety Goggles
  • Face Shields

Head

A head injury can be fatal or affect an employee for life. Employees must wear head protection – such as hard hats or helmets - if any of the following apply:

  • Objects could fall from above and strike an employee on the head
  • An employee could bump their head on fixed objects, such as exposed beams or pipes
  • There is any chance the employee could accidentally have head contact with any electrical hazards. 

OSHA identifies three industrial classes of hard hats:

  • Class A hard hats provide impact and penetration resistance along with limited voltage protection (up to 2,200 volts).
  • Class B hard hats provide the highest level of protection against electrical hazards, with high-voltage shock and burn protection (up to 20,000 volts). They also offer protection from impact and penetration hazards by flying/falling objects.
  • Class C hard hats provide lightweight comfort and impact protection but offer no protection from electrical hazards. 

Foot and Leg

Employees may require foot and leg protection if a hazard assessment reveals possible exposure to the following:

  • hot, corrosive, or poisonous materials
  • Falling or rolling objects
  • Electrical hazards 

Examples of foot and leg PPE include the following:

  • Leggings
  • Metatarsal Guards
  • Toe Guards
  • Combination Foot and Shin Guards
  • Safety Shoes can include electrically conductive shoes, safety-toe shoes, non-slip shoes, etc. 

Hand and Arm

If there is any possibility that an employee could experience injury to their hands and arms that cannot be eliminated through engineering and work practice controls, PPE – in the form of the correct type of gloves – should be worn. 

To be effective, suitable gloves must be used based on the hazard. Types of gloves may include the following:

  • Leather
  • Aluminized
  • Aramid Fiber
  • Synthetic
  • Fabric
  • Coated Fabric
  • Butyl
  • Natural Rubber
  • Neoprene
  • Nitrile 

Body

Hazards that can cause bodily injury should first be eliminated by engineering and work practice whenever possible. When those hazards - such as extreme temperatures, impact from tools, machinery, and materials, hazardous chemicals, or hot splashes from molten metals and other hot liquids – are present, appropriate protective clothing must be worn. Depending on the hazard, body protection may include lab coats, vests, aprons, coveralls, vests, full body suits, etc. 

Hearing

Employees exposed to excessive noise that can affect their hearing should be issued hearing protection, such as single-use earplugs, pre-formed or molded earplugs, or earmuffs. When assessing hearing hazards, OSHA recommends considering the following factors:

  • The loudness of the noise as measured in decibels (dB).
  • The duration of each employee’s exposure to the noise.
  • Whether employees move between work areas with different noise levels.
  • Whether noise is generated from one or multiple sources. 

How to Save More on Workers Compensation Insurance

Creating a safe work environment is your first line of defense against high WC costs. Working with an experienced agent who understands the complexities of WC insurance – such as the independent agents at American Insuring Group - should be your second line of defense. Give us a call today at (800) 947-1270 or (610) 775-3848 or connect with us online.

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

Transitional Duty Helps Businesses Save on Workers' Compensation Costs

Posted by David Ross on Sat, May 15, 2021

Lower Your Workers Comp Insurance Costs with a Transitional Program in Philadelphia or elsewhere in PAA Return-to-Work (RTW) Program can help lower Workers' Compensation costs. Injured employees who can return to work – even if they're on modified or transitional duty – recover more quickly and feel more productive and connected with their workplace. Employers benefit by reducing the likelihood of litigation and – of course – controlling Workers' Compensation claim costs. 

What are Modified and Transitional Duty?

Sometimes injured employees can come back to work for what is called modified duty. Modified duty allows injured employees to perform their original duties with some modifications. With modified duty, the PA Department of Labor & Industry states, "Every effort will be made to place the employee in the most productive assignment available." Modified duty may include a shorter workday or providing a chair for the injured employee, so they can sit while working. 

However, sometimes restrictions imposed by the treating physician are too much to allow an injured employee to return to their regular duties, which is where transitional duty comes into play. With transitional duty, an employer is looking for something within the company that the injured employee can perform and still meet the physician's restrictions. 

For example, you may move a factory worker into the office to help – maybe scanning documents or answering phones. The idea is that the injured employee is gradually transitioned back to their original duties. 

The Key to Successful Transitional Duty

The key to successfully transitioning an injured employee back to their regular job is communication, so weekly meetings are essential. Those meetings should be held by a transitional duty coordinator or the supervisor handling the injured worker's RTW. Here are the benefits of weekly meetings. 

  1. Weekly Meetings Keep Injured Employees Connected

Humans are a social species, so it's essential that employees performing transitional duties feel connected to their supervisors and co-workers. Weekly meetings boost morale, enhance self-worth, and make injured employees feel like valued members of the team. 

  1. Weekly Meetings Help Transition Injured Employees More Quickly

Weekly meetings allow the employer and injured employee to work together so the employee can transition into other duties and move closer to their regular responsibilities more quickly. 

Injured employees should bring any changes in their medical condition, such as medications, work restrictions, and physician's recommendations to the weekly meetings. This allows the employer to determine if an injured employee is building strength or capabilities. 

The employee can discuss concerns they have or any obstacles they foresee in transitioning into new duties. Together, the employee and employer can address those needs and discuss options. Sometimes a simple change – such as an ergonomic chair – can allow an injured employee to transition into a duty closer to their regular work. 

The Weekly Meetings

During the weekly meetings, make sure that the injured employee feels like a valuable part of the team. Allow them to be a part of the conversation that will allow them to return to their regular duties. 

Here are a few tips:

  • Send a letter to the injured employee's home address informing them of the meeting's time and date. If possible, send an email reminder of the meeting.
  • If the injured employee is unable to drive due to the injury, provide transportation to the meetings.
  • Make sure you follow all state and federal regulations, such as ADA, FMLA, and COBRA.
  • Allow for an open dialogue so the employee feels comfortable expressing his or her concerns.
  • Ensure that the employee is fit to perform new transitional duties safely. 

Save on Workers' Compensation Insurance

Another way to save on Workers' Compensation Insurance costs is to work with an agent who has experience with WC. American Insuring Group has specialized in WC for many years and can help your company save on Workers' Compensation costs. Give us a call today at (800) 947-1270 or (610) 775-3848 or connect with us online.

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

Reduce Workers’ Comp Costs With Exoskeleton Technology

Posted by David Ross on Sat, Mar 06, 2021

Lower Your Workers’ Comp Insurance Costs in Philadelphia, Erie, Pittsburgh, Lancaster, Allentown, PA and Elsewhere With Exoskeleton Technology .Would you be surprised to discover that technology used in sci-fi movies, such as Iron Man, could actually help reduce your Workers’ Compensation Insurance costs? In the film, Tony Stark builds an armored suit that allows him to save the world – more than once. The armored suit is a souped-up version of exoskeleton technology, which some businesses are now using to avoid workplace injuries and help injured employees return to work faster.

What is Exoskeleton Technology?

Exoskeleton technology is not a new concept. It has been in development since the late 1800s. Exoskeletons are “wearable devices that work in tandem with the user.” They are placed on a person and “act as amplifiers that augment, reinforce or restore human performance.” 

Using pneumatics, levers, hydraulics, and electric motors, exoskeletons can help employees move heavier objects and work longer hours, reduce injuries, avoid repetitive trauma injuries, and get employees back to work more quickly after an injury. While exoskeleton technology is most commonly employed in military applications, businesses are quickly discovering many benefits of the technology. 

How Can Exoskeleton Technology Reduce Workers’ Compensation Costs?

Lower workplace injuries and the number of claims, and you lower your WC costs. Get injured employees back to work as quickly and safely possible, and you lower WC costs. Exoskeleton Technology has shown to do both. 

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), one of the most common and costly types of workplace injuries is repetitive strain injuries. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics states that nearly two-thirds of all occupational illnesses reported were caused by exposure to repeated trauma to workers’ upper body. 

According to Ford Motor Company, its assembly line workers lift their arms during overhead work tasks approximately 4,600 times per day or about one million times a year and concludes, “At this rate, the possibility of fatigue or injury on the body increases significantly.” 

In 2005, Ford began using an EksoVest on many of its production lines to help lessen worker fatigue and injuries. The EksoVest is wearable technology that “elevates and supports a worker’s arms while performing overhead tasks. It can be fitted to support workers ranging from 5 feet tall to 6 feet 4 inches tall and provides adjustable lift assistance of five pounds to 15 pounds per arm. It’s comfortable to wear because it’s lightweight, it isn’t bulky, and it allows workers to move their arms freely.” 

Ford reports, “Between 2005 and 2016, the most recent full year of data, the company saw an 83 percent decrease in the number of incidents that resulted in days away, work restrictions or job transfers – to an all-time low of 1.55 incidents per 100 full-time North American employees.” 

While there is an upfront cost to exoskeleton technology, more companies are finding it’s worth the price. The technology helps reduce the number and severity of workplace injuries; thereby, minimizing the costs associated with workplace injuries, such as lost production, lower employee morale, etc. Plus, they’re getting injured employees back to work more quickly. All of this is leading to lower Workers’ Compensation costs. 

Exoskeleton technology is no longer limited to science fiction movies but has practical applications in today’s workplace that can help lower Workers’ Compensation costs. 

Learn More on How to Save on Workers’ Compensation Insurance!

As Workers’ Comp Insurance experts, the American Insuring Group agents can help you save big on  Workers’ Compensation and other business insurance needs. Give us a call at (800) 947-1270 or (610) 775-3848 or connect with us online for a free workers comp insurance quote today!

Tags: Workers Compensation Insurance, workers comp insurance, PA Workers Compensation Insurance, workers comp costs

How Pre-Employment Tests Can Lower WC Insurance Costs

Posted by David Ross on Sat, Jan 16, 2021

How to Use Pre-Employment Tests to Lower WC Costs in Reading, Philadelphia, Lancaster, Allentown, Pittsburgh and throughout Pennsylvania and elsewhere.Workers’ Compensation Insurance (WC) is designed to protect employers and employees from financial loss when an employee is injured on the job or becomes ill from a work-related cause.

It bears repeating that WC is meant for WORK-RELATED illnesses and injuries.

But consider this, according to AARP, more than 19 million working Americans between the ages of 21 and 64 have some physical limitation that could affect their ability to perform certain tasks. According to the CDC, the most common type of disability (one in seven adults) affects mobility, and with age, disabilities become more common.

That means there’s about a 10% chance that a potential new-hire could have a pre-existing impairment – knowingly or unknowingly - that could put them at risk for an injury.

While that person should still be able to get whatever benefits they are entitled to, his or her employer should not be responsible for paying for an injury caused by a condition the employee had before they were hired. But how would you know if a potential hire has a pre-existing impairment? A pre-employment human performance evaluation (HPE)!

The Americans with Disabilities Act allows employers to physically and medically evaluate their workers at all stages of their employment. After an individual is offered a job, the employer can make the job contingent on several things, such as a background check, drug test, and pre-employment testing.

Keep in mind that The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) cautions, “Pre-employment tests need to be selected and monitored with care; employers run the risk of litigation if a selection decision is challenged and determined to be discriminatory or in violation of state or federal regulations. Tests used in the selection process must be legal, reliable, valid, and equitable, and HR professionals need to stay aware of any developing trends.”

What is a Pre-Employment Human Performance Evaluation?

The pre-employment HPE (also called a pre-placement test) is a standardized test often conducted in a physical therapy or occupational medical clinic. It helps companies get an overview of the prospective employee’s overall health status and make better choices when hiring new candidates.

An HPE can do the following:

  1. Assure employers that the prospective employee is physically able to perform a job safely
  2. Protect employers from WC injury claims that are not work-related, but the result of a pre-existing impairment
  3. Protect employees from injuries while performing jobs they should not be doing due to a pre-existing impairment
  4. Protect the employees’ co-workers

According to Concentra, a national health care company, information commonly collected during this test includes:

  • A review of the workers’ medical and occupational history
  • A medical exam
  • An evaluation of functional tasks such as lifting, carrying, pushing, and pulling

The test can also be used to establish a baseline so an employer can monitor any changes in the employee’s health over time and use it for future reference in the event of an injury. This information often shows that only part of an employee’s injury is caused by his or her current work.

For example, an HPE may reveal that a worker has a 5% impairment in his or her shoulder. If that employee is injured and is determined to have a 7% impairment, the employer would only be responsible for the additional 2% impairment under Workers’ Compensation insurance.

Employers don’t want to pay for injuries or illnesses that were not caused on the job, and a pre-employment HPE – that follows all legal requirements – can help minimize that risk.

Lower Your Workers’ Compensation Insurance Costs!

Another way to save on WC costs is to work with one of the experienced agents at American Insuring Group. We specialize in WC insurance, and we're independent agents, which frees us to quote lots of competing insurance providers so that you get the right coverage at the best price.

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

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