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The Cost of Hearing Loss in Construction Workers

Posted by David Ross on Sun, Jun 23, 2019

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

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

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

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

The Science Behind Hearing Loss

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

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

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

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

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

Tips to Avoid Hearing Loss

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lower Trucking Workers’ Comp Costs With Safety Training

Posted by David Ross on Sun, Jun 09, 2019

save-truck-workers-comp-300If you want to lower workers’ compensation insurance costs in your trucking company, the solution is simple! Provide safety training to lower the number of injuries, cultivate happier and more productive employees, and lower your WC costs. 

When it comes to safety training for truck drivers, it’s natural to think about steps to avoid traffic accidents. After all, the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) reports that crashes are the leading cause of on-the-job deaths for truck drivers in the US. 

But truck drivers also incur injuries getting in and out of their trucks or handling cargo, and these injuries can affect your workers’ comp costs. The good news is that many common workplace injuries in the trucking industry are preventable with the right safety training. 

Here are four areas that should be included in any safety training in the trucking industry if you want to lower your workers’ comp costs

Slips, Trips, and Falls

According to the National Safety Council (NSC), 23,490 transportation and warehousing employees were injured in falls, and 46 died in 2016. The NSC also found that the fall doesn’t have to be from a high level to cause severe and sometimes fatal injuries.

Here are fall safety tips:

  • Ensure proper training on the use of all equipment
  • Never push or carry a load that will block your vision
  • Clean up spills immediately
  • Keep areas where employees will be walking free of clutter
  • Make sure all mats, rugs, and carpets lie flat
  • Wear slip resistant shoes
  • Check all equipment for damage before using 

Three-Point Contact

According to the Infrastructure Health and Safety Association, more than one-quarter of all injuries to equipment operators and truck drivers occur while getting into or out of equipment and trucks. One way to avoid these injuries is to employ the three-point contact rule. 

That means maintaining three points of contact with the truck – two hands and one foot or two feet and one hand - whenever climbing in or out of your vehicle. 

Lifting

Lifting is such an every-day activity that it’s easy to forget how quickly an injury can occur when improperly lifting cargo, but those injuries can significantly affect your workers’ compensation costs. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), lifting heavy objects is one of the leading causes of workplace injuries. Shoulder and back injuries accounted for 36 percent of injuries that resulted in missed work days, and the most significant factors in these injuries were overexertion and cumulative trauma. 

Training your employees on how to lift heavy items correctly can avoid back sprains, wrist and elbow injuries, muscle pulls, spinal injuries, and more. 

OSHA reports that five factors generally contribute to lifting injuries – the weight of the object being lifted, awkward postures, frequent or long-duration lifting, inadequate handholds, and environmental factors. 

Here are some tips from OSHA that address these common factors.

  • Use equipment such as forklifts and duct lifts to lift heavy items
  • Use your legs when lifting objects from a low location
  • Avoid twisting
  • Break down loads into smaller units
  • Rotate tasks, so workers aren’t doing the same activity too long
  • Work in teams
  • Take regular breaks
  • Move materials with inadequate (or no) handholds into containers with good handholds
  • Adjust work schedule to limit exposure to extreme heat or cold temperatures 

Falling Cargo

Loads can shift while in transit, making the simple task of opening a trailer door a potential risk. Improperly secured loads can cause serious injuries and increase your WC costs. 

Here are a few tips to avoid injuries caused by falling cargo:

  • Make sure the load is firmly immobilized or secured on your truck
  • Open one trailer door at a time and stand behind the door as you open it
  • Do not attempt to catch falling cargo 

Training in these four areas and creating a culture where safety is a priority and a work environment where workers feel comfortable reporting injuries will help reduce injuries and lower your workers’ comp insurance costs. 

Save on Workers’ Compensation and Truck Insurance!

To learn additional ways to save on workers compensation and other truck insurance costs, give one of the experienced agents at American Insuring Group a call at (800) 947-1270 or (610) 775-3848 or connect with us online. As independent agents, we're free to compare the cost of insurance among lots of companies to ensure you get the best price on all your commercial insurance needs! 

Tags: Workers Compensation Insurance, truck insurance, workers comp costs, Trucking Insurance

Save on Workers Comp Insurance by Complying with OSHA

Posted by David Ross on Sun, Jun 02, 2019

lower-WC-insurance-costs-300.jpgAlthough it often seems as if the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) has a ridiculous number of rules and regulations for business owners, complying with those rules can help lower your workers compensation insurance premiums. 

OSHA’s intention is to protect employees from workplace injuries; therefore, following OSHA’s rules can help create a safer work environment for your employees, which results in fewer injuries and lower WC costs. Plus, not complying with OSHA’s regulations, can result in hefty fines. 

We’re here to help you better understand OSHA and its rules and regulations and to help your business comply with those rules and save on workers’ comp costs

About OSHA 

OSHA, established in 1971, is a government agency that is part of the US Department of Labor. Its primary purpose is “to assure safe and healthful working conditions for working men and women by setting and enforcing standards and by providing training, outreach, education and assistance.” OSHA’s rules and regulations cover most private sector employers and their workers, along with some public sector workers. 

Since OSHA was established, workplace injuries, illnesses, and deaths have decreased significantly. “Although accurate statistics were not kept at the time, it is estimated that in 1970, around 14,000 workers were killed on the job. That number fell to approximately 4,340 in 2009,” according to OSHA. “At the same time, U.S. employment has almost doubled and now includes over 130 million workers at more than 7.2 million worksites. Since the passage of the OSH Act, the rate of reported serious workplace injuries and illnesses has declined from 11 per 100 workers in 1972 to 3.6 per 100 workers in 2009.” 

Fewer workplace injuries and illnesses not only lower commercial insurance premiums, but they also create healthier workplaces and happier employees. 

OSHA Employer Responsibilities

As an employer, it is your responsibility to provide a safe workplace that is free from OSHA-recognized hazards. Here are three ways to do that:

  • Use color codes, posters, labels, or signs to warn employees of potential hazards.
  • Establish and update operating procedures and safety training, and make sure your employees understand them.
  • Ensure that employees have safe tools and equipment that is properly maintained.

It is also your responsibility to follow OSHA requirements, which include the following:

  • Post the OSHA poster that informs employees of their rights and responsibilities in a prominent location.
  • Report all work-related injuries to the nearest OSHA office within eight hours.
  • Keep records of all work-related injuries and illnesses and ensure that employees and their representatives can easily obtain employee medical records.
  • Post and correct cited OSHA violations.

OSHA also encourages all employers to adopt an Injury and Illness Prevention Program. Click here to learn more about your OSHA responsibilities. 

Honoring your OSHA responsibilities and instituting safety programs will create a safer work environment, minimize injuries, and help lower your WC Insurance. 

Employee Complaints

There are two main types of complaints employees can file with OSHA against your company as his or her employer:

  • Safety and health complaint

    If an employee believes their work environment is unsafe or detrimental to their health, they can file a confidential report with OSHA requesting an inspection of their workplace.
  • Protection from retaliation complaint

    If an employee who submits a complaint to OSHA feels they have been retaliated against, they can file this type of complaint with OSHA. 

Your best defense against both of these complaints is to do your best to create a safe work environment, follow OSHA’s rules and regulations, and keep an open line of communication with your employees. 

OSHA Inspections 

OSHA can inspect your worksite for any number of reasons including a complaint from an employee; after a severe injury or illness; a referral of a hazard from another federal, state, or local agency, or individual; or if you’re in a high-hazard industry or have experienced a high rate of injuries. 

Typically, employers are not notified of an impending inspection in advance; however, understanding the process can take some of the stress out of the experience. 

  • Preparation

    Before conducting an inspection, OSHA compliance officers research the inspection history of the worksite.
  • Opening Conference

    The compliance officer will explain why OSHA selected the workplace for inspection and describe the scope of the review, walkaround procedures, employee representation, and employee interviews. Both the employer and employee can have a representative accompany the officer during the inspection.
  • Walkaround

    The compliance officer and the representatives will then walk through the portions of the workplace covered by the inspection, inspecting for OSHA violations and hazards that could lead to employee injury or illness.
  • Closing Conference

    After the walkaround, the compliance officer holds a closing conference with the employer and the employee representatives to discuss their findings.

Understanding OSHA’s rules and regulations can help keep your employees safer, reduce the chance of an inspection and potential fines, and reduce workers’ comp insurance costs. 

Start Saving on Workers Compensation Insurance Today

To learn how your business can save on workers’ compensation and all other commercial insurance costs, call our experienced independent agents at American Insuring Group a call at (800) 947-1270 or (610) 775-3848 or connect with us online. 

Our independence allows us to compare coverage from competing insurance carriers, so you can be confident of receiving the best deal on the right protection for your business in Philadelphia, Reading, Allentown, and far beyond!

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

How to Prevent Repeated Workers Comp Insurance Claims

Posted by David Ross on Sun, Mar 31, 2019

Prevent repeated workers comp insurance claimsYou often hear horror stories about fraudulent workers compensation insurance claims, but fortunately, most employees that make WC claims are honest, hard-working individuals.

Occasionally, you’ll run across an employee who seems to be a repeat WC claim offender. Some are legitimate claims, and some are not, but repeated WC claims can be annoying, time-consuming, and costly.

Here are steps you can take to determine if workers are trying to take advantage of the system, and ways to stop them from making repeated false claims or from incurring repeated injuries:

 

1 - Don’t Antagonize - Give Injured Employees the Benefit of the Doubt

Your first step is to remember that both you and the injured employee are human, and as humans, we all have emotions and make errors. Injured employees need to be treated with respect, or you may inadvertently antagonize the employee and make matters worse, or you may be dealing with a worker with a legitimate claim.

For example, an employee who is willing to do whatever it takes to get a job done may do things that increase their risk of injury. An employee may be naturally clumsy, or they may not be aware of the right way to get a job done safely.

If you encounter an employee who has multiple WC claims, you need to investigate it, so you know what steps to take to reduce the number of claims. It’s vital that you go into the investigation with an open mind. Start the investigation by giving the injured employee the benefit of the doubt until or unless you find a reason not to.

2 - Investigate the Injury

Investigations are essential with any WC claim but especially with an employee with repeated claims. Gather statements from the employee, supervisor, any witnesses, and the treating physician, so you can understand the extent of the injury and how the injury occurred. If you don’t think the treating physician is being honest or is not providing the best information or treatment, it’s okay to get a second opinion.

You also need to figure out the actual cause of the accident. A cause may seem obvious but upon a more in-depth inspection may prove to be a secondary cause – or not the cause at all. Review studies conducted on similar injuries; look at all potential factors; consider other factors such as previous injuries and comorbid conditions such as obesity, mental health issues, substance abuse, etc.; consider the validity of testimonies; and with all that information, make a conclusion.

3 - Talk to the Injured Worker

As mentioned earlier, injured workers are human and have emotions. Like everyone, some of those emotions are logical, and some are not. Having an open, non-confrontational conversation with the injured employee can reveal things such as personal challenges at home, psychosocial issues, or problems with a supervisor or with your company.

4 - Take Steps to Avoid Future Claims

Once you understand the reasons for the repeated WC claims – whether they’re legitimate or not – you can take steps to avoid future claims. If it turns out they don’t know how to perform their job safely, provide additional training and education. If you determine that they are physically unable to do their job effectively, consider transferring them to another job that they can perform safely.

However, if they’re trying to take advantage of the system, be respectful, but let them know that you will be watching them and will take appropriate action if abuse of the system is found, up to and including termination.

Protecting Your Bottom Line

Repeated workers’ compensation claims affect your bottom line while potentially harming productivity and employee morale.

You know what else affects your bottom line? Paying more than you need to for workers comp insurance!

To get a GREAT deal on your WC insurance, give the independent agents at American Insuring Group a call at (800) 947-1270 or (610) 775-3848 or find us online. As independent agents, we’re free to shop and compare rates among competing insurance carriers to make sure that you are getting the best WC insurance at the best possible price!

Call or click today to get started.

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

Warning Signs of Workers Comp Insurance Fraud

Posted by David Ross on Sun, Mar 10, 2019

Use these warning signs to reduce the risk of workers comp insurance fraud, and then save on WC insurance in Philadelphia, Reading, Allentown, Lancaster, Pittsburgh, Erie, PA and elsewhere.The majority of employees are honest, and the majority of workers compensation insurance claims are legitimate.

Unfortunately, there is a small group of people who commit workers compensation fraud, and they cost companies billions of dollars every year in rising insurance premiums, production delays, and training costs. 


What is EMPLOYEE Workers Comp Insurance Fraud?

Workers Compensation fraud occurs when a WC claim is filed that is not entirely truthful to get money or extended time off. Fraudulent claims include faking or exaggerating an injury, claiming an injury that occurred off the job, or claiming an old injury that didn’t heal.

Workers comp fraud is a serious crime, and one of the fastest growing types of insurance fraud in the U.S. Estimates place the cost of WC fraud to companies at $6 to $7 billion every year.

The good news is that there are steps you can take to minimize WC fraud by both employees and providers.

One of the first steps is to recognize common warning signs.

 

13 Warning Signs of EMPLOYEE Workers Comp Fraud

Protect your business from WC insurance fraud by recognizing the warning signs of fraudulent claims:

  1. No witnesses
  2. An injured employee refusing treatment
  3. Delayed reporting of injury
  4. Conflicting or inconsistent report of the incident
  5. An employee with a history of making WC claims
  6. An employee with a history of frequently changing addresses, jobs, or physicians
  7. Suspicious medical providers or legal consultants
  8. An injury that occurs just before or after a weekend or holiday
  9. An injury that occurs right before or after job termination, layoff, end of seasonal work, a strike, or the end of a project
  10. An injured employee working a side job
  11. An injured employee doing activities that would not be possible with the claimed injury
  12. An injured employee who is difficult to get in touch with
  13. An injured employee who hires an attorney and tries to get a quick settlement

Never accuse an employee of fraud. If you see two or more of these warning signs, notify your insurance company immediately, but remember these are just potential signs that there could be an issue. It doesn’t mean that every workplace injury that occurs with no witnesses is fraudulent or that every injured employee who is hard to get in touch with is lying. They are just indicators that there may be a problem. 

How to Minimize Employee WC Fraud

  • Follow a screening process for all new employees by conducting thorough background checks of all applicants, contacting references, and watching for red flags such as a spotty work record or a criminal record
  • Create clear WC policies and establish a zero-tolerance policy on WC fraud
  • Clearly communicate these policies with new hires and provide WC fraud training
  • Create a culture of safety to reduce opportunities for fraudulent claims
  • Install video surveillance
  • Consider establishing ways that employees can report suspicious or fraudulent claims anonymously
  • If you suspect fraud, notify your insurance carrier immediately and provide supporting documentation.



What is PROVIDER Workers Comp Insurance Fraud?

Unfortunately, it isn’t just employees who commit WC fraud; providers of WC benefits such as medical and legal professionals sometimes take advantage of WC programs with unnecessary billing, fake clinics, kickback schemes, and inflated worker injuries or service costs

8 Warning Signs of Provider WC Fraud

  1. Billing for services never received
  2. Billing for equipment never used
  3. Billing for treatment that was never performed
  4. Duplicate billing
  5. Higher than usual bills for services performed
  6. Billing for procedures that don’t make sense for the reported injury
  7. Increasing visits
  8. Ongoing medical services that don’t improve injury

WC fraud can cause a ripple effect that touches everyone. Fraudulent claims create additional costs for insurance companies, which can turn into higher insurance premiums for employers. Increasing business costs can cause an increase in prices customers pay, a decrease in employee benefits, or even job cuts.

 

How to Get a Great Deal on Workers Comp Insurance

Our Trusted Choice independent workers comp insurance agents will help you save on the best workers comp insurance for your business. Call today.To learn more about preventing and recognizing WC Fraud and ways to save on Workers’ Compensation Insurance, contact the WC specialists at American Insuring Group at (800) 947-1270 or (610) 775-3848 or find us online.

Our Trusted Choice independent agents will work hard to analyze and compare plans from competing WC insurance carriers, so you’ll get the best price on quality protection.

Call or click today to get started!

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

Save on Workers Comp Insurance Without Losing Protection

Posted by David Ross on Sun, Feb 10, 2019

Use these tips to save on PA workers comp insurance without losing valuable protection in Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Allentown, Harrisburg, Reading, Lehigh Valley and more.In Pennsylvania, most employers are required by law to have Workers Compensation (WC) insurance. According to the Department of Labor & Industry, “Employers who do not have workers' compensation coverage may be subject to lawsuits by employees and to criminal prosecution by the Commonwealth.”

Workers compensation insurance is designed to protect both employees and employers. If an employee is injured on the job, WC helps pay for medical costs and lost wages. If an injured employee sues their employer, WC helps pay for legal fees and any resulting financial settlements.

The good news is that there are steps you can take to lower your WC premiums without losing the protection that it provides. 

How is Your Workers Comp Insurance Premium Calculated?

There is a simple formula that determines how much you pay for WC. You can control some things within that formula, and others you can’t, so it’s important to understand the formula before you can understand how to lower your premium costs. Let’s take a look at the formula and break it down.

RATE X (PAYROLL/100) X EXPERIENCE MODIFIER = Premium

RATE

This is one of the parts of the formula that you have little control over. The RATE for each employee is based on his or her classification code. An employee’s WC classification is determined by what duties the employee performs or “the scope of work performed” and how dangerous his or her job is along with what state they work in. There are over 700 different classification codes.

If an employee is a tree trimmer, their classification code is 106 with a rate of $22.91 in Pennsylvania. An employee with a job that isn’t as hazardous and where he is less likely to incur an injury, such as a clerical office employee (classification code 8810) has a rate of $.34 in Pennsylvania. If you plug each of those numbers into the formula, you can see how different your premium rate will be.

The only thing you can do about the classification code is to make sure that every employee is classified correctly, so, for example, make sure that a clerical worker isn’t accidentally given a tree trimmer classification code. On the other hand, if you assign a clerical classification code to a tree trimmer, you could face a sizable additional premium at your year-end audit.

Assigning the correct classification code isn’t as easy as it sounds, and it’s where an experienced insurance agent who specializes in workers compensation is crucial.

PAYROLL

Your payroll is what it is, and there isn’t anything you can do about it in the WC premium calculation except to make sure that the projected payroll used in the formula is accurate. If you think it’s too high, don’t wait for an audit. Ask your insurer to adjust your payroll number.

EXPERIENCE MODIFIER

This is where you can really make a difference in your workers’ compensation insurance premiums. The experience modifier is a score your individual company receives based on your company’s loss history compared to the average for your industry.

A score of 1.00 is assigned if your loss history is average. If you’ve had a lot more injuries and WC claims than your industry average, your experience modifier will be higher than 1.00. If you have fewer injuries and claims, your score will be lower. 

Try plugging different numbers into that formula, and again, you can see just how much your experience modifier score can affect the cost of your premium. If you can lower your modifier, you can reduce your premiums. The best way to do that is to create a safer working environment for your employees, so there are fewer injuries and fewer claims. This is the reason that we focus so much on safety in this blog.

 

We Specialize in Workers Comp Insurance, so Contact Us for Help

Save-on-WC-Ins-Protection-150American Insuring Group specializes in Workers’ Compensation insurance, and our independent agents will make sure that you get the best possible price on quality workers comp insurance.

How? We diligently compare competing rates among many insurance carriers, and then come back to you with the best deal on the insurance that meets the unique needs of your business.

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

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

3 Workers Comp Insurance Claim Investigation Tips

Posted by David Ross on Sun, Jan 27, 2019

Follow these tips when investigating workers comp insurance claims in Philadelphia, Reading, Lancaster, Allentown, Pittsburgh, Erie, PA and beyond,Every workers compensation insurance claim should be investigated because it’s imperative to making accurate and legal assessments related to primary liability.

To do that, you need to know a bit about the law and about medicine to create an efficient workers compensation program.

Most business owners lack extensive knowledge of both medicine and the law, so here are 3 valuable tips to help you investigate Workers Compensation (WC) claims. 

1 - First Report of Injury 

This document is the beginning of any WC insurance claim investigation, and it serves as the basis for your insurance company’s investigation making it a critical document to any successful resolution of a WC claim.

The form you use may be issued by your state’s industrial commission or could be company-specific. Whichever type of form you’re using, the information on it needs to be accurate and complete. This is an instance when you do want to sweat the small stuff.

Before submitting this form, make sure it is completely filled out and that the information is correct. Check that the name of the injured employee is spelled correctly; that you have the correct social security number, date of injury, and wage info; and any potential witnesses are listed.

Make sure information about the injury is complete and accurate including when, where, and how the injury occurred, type of injury, the body part affected, and where the injured employee received medical care and treatment.

You should also know who completed the form and even a little background about that person. It’s a balancing act; you need to trust but at the same time verify that all the information is correct.

Often, the space allowed is not enough to provide thorough information, so don’t be afraid to write “see attached” if you need more room to describe the accident including alternate explanations of what did or didn’t occur.

2 - Recorded Statements from Injured Employee and Witnesses

First, make sure you understand the laws in your state regarding recorded statements and that you follow those guidelines. Then you want to obtain as much detail as possible. You should ask questions about:

  • The claimant’s background information such as date of birth, education, work history, etc.
  • The claimant’s prior medical history including surgical history, car accidents, chemical and substance abuse treatment, mental health, etc.
  • Potential interveners such as public assistance, veterans' benefits, unemployment compensation and history, etc.
  • Working environment at the time of the injury such as the claimant’s manager or supervisor, work duties, wage history, verbal and written reprimands, etc.
  • Detailed information about the injury such as a description of injury, immediate injury symptoms, post-injury symptoms, etc.

To help avoid questions regarding the admissibility of the recordings, make sure that the employee reviews and signs a transcribed copy of the statement.

3 – WC Documentation

There are several documents available to you as you delve into a workers’ compensation claim investigation including the following:

  • Medical records and authorizations to discover prior injuries or conditions.
  • Industrial Commission records – Most states keep WC records on file with whatever state agency is responsible for overseeing the WC act. Although you will probably need to get authorization to obtain these records, they can contain a great deal of information about an employee’s prior medical history.
  • Central Index Bureau Records (CIB) or ISO report - Although these reports may not be admissible, they can provide information about prior insurance-related claims made by the injured employee that can lead to other information that is admissible

A thorough Workers Compensation claim investigation takes time and effort but can save you thousands of dollars and reduce your insurance costs. Follow these 3 tips to make the process go more smoothly and lead to quicker and more successful Workers Comp claim resolutions.

 

Save Big on Workers Compensation Insurance!

Contact us for all your PA workers compensation insurance needs.Workers comp insurance can be more affordable than you think!

To learn how you can save big on Workers Compensation Insurance, give the independent experts American Insuring Group a call at (800) 947-1270 or (610) 775-3848 or contact us online.

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

Comply with OSHA and Save on Workers Comp Insurance

Posted by David Ross on Fri, Dec 21, 2018
Following OSHA's rules and guidelines can help you save on workers comp insurance in Philadelphia, Reading, Lancaster, Harrisburg, Allentown, Pittsburgh, PA and far beyondThe Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) has a lot of rules and regulations for business owners, and sometimes, those rules and regulations seem like nothing but a nuisance. However, not complying with them, can result in hefty fines.

The good news is that OSHA’s intention is to protect employees from workplace injuries; therefore, following OSHA’s rules can help create a safer work environment for your employees and, in turn, lower your workers compensation insurance premiums.

We’re here to help you better understand OSHA, its rules and regulations, and to help your business comply with them.

About OSHA


OSHA, established in 1971, is a government agency that is part of the US Department of Labor. Its primary purpose is “to assure safe and healthful working conditions for working men and women by setting and enforcing standards and by providing training, outreach, education and assistance.” OSHA’s rules and regulations cover most private sector employers and their workers along with some public sector workers.

Since OSHA was established, workplace injuries, illnesses, and deaths have decreased significantly. “Although accurate statistics were not kept at the time, it is estimated that in 1970 around 14,000 workers were killed on the job. That number fell to approximately 4,340 in 2009,” according to OSHA. “At the same time, U.S. employment has almost doubled and now includes over 130 million workers at more than 7.2 million worksites. Since the passage of the OSH Act, the rate of reported serious workplace injuries and illnesses has declined from 11 per 100 workers in 1972 to 3.6 per 100 workers in 2009.”

Fewer workplace injuries and illnesses not only lower insurance premiums, but they also create healthier workplaces and happier employees.

 

OSHA Employer Responsibilities

As an employer, it is your responsibility to provide a safe workplace that is free from OSHA-recognized hazards. Here are three ways to do that:

  • Use color codes, posters, labels or signs to warn employees of potential hazards.
  • Establish and update operating procedures and safety training and make sure your employees understand them.
  • Ensure that employees have safe tools and equipment that is properly maintained.

It is also your responsibility to follow OSHA requirements, which include the following:

  • Post the OSHA poster that informs employees of their rights and responsibilities in a prominent location.
  • Report all work-related injuries to the nearest OSHA office within eight hours.
  • Keep records of all work-related injuries and illnesses and ensure that employees and their representatives can easily obtain employee medical records.
  • Post and correct cited OSHA violations.

OSHA also encourages all employers to adopt an Injury and Illness Prevention Program. Click here to learn more about your OSHA responsibilities.

 

Employee Complaints

There are two main types of complaints employees can file with OSHA against your company as his or her employer:

Safety and health complaint
If an employee believes their work environment is unsafe or detrimental to their health, they can file a confidential report with OSHA requesting an inspection of their workplace.

Protection from retaliation complaint
If an employee who submits a complaint to OSHA feels they have been retaliated against, they can file this type of complaint with OSHA.

Your best defense against both of these complaints is to do your best to create a safe work environment, follow OSHA’s rules and regulations, and keep an open line of communication with your employees.


OSHA Inspections

OSHA can inspect your worksite for any number of reasons including a complaint from an employee; after a severe injury or illness; a referral of a hazard from another federal, state, or local agency, or individual; or if you’re in a high-hazard industry or have experienced a high rate of injuries.

Typically, employers are not notified of an inspection in advance; however, understanding the process can take some of the stress out of the experience.

Preparation
Before conducting an inspection, OSHA compliance officers research the inspection history of the worksite.

Opening Conference
The compliance officer will explain why OSHA selected the workplace for inspection and describe the scope of the inspection, walkaround procedures, employee representation and employee interviews. Both the employer and employee can have a representative accompany the officer during the inspection.

Walkaround
The compliance officer and the representatives will then walk through the portions of the workplace covered by the inspection, inspecting for OSHA violations and hazards that could lead to employee injury or illness.

Closing Conference
After the walkaround, the compliance officer holds a closing conference with the employer and the employee representatives to discuss their findings.


Start Saving on Workers Compensation Insurance Today


Understanding OSHA’s rules and regulations can help keep your employees safer, reduce the chance of an inspection and potential fines, and reduce workers comp insurance costs.

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Tags: Workers Compensation Insurance, workers comp costs, Commercial Insurance, Business Insurance

Quicker Workers Comp Insurance Claim Reporting

Posted by David Ross on Sun, Nov 25, 2018

Faster reporting of workers comp insurance claims is good for businesses in Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Erie, Lehigh Valley, Lancaster, Reading, and beyond!Any good Workers Compensation Insurance (WC) program includes a strategy to ensure quick reporting of injuries and WC claims. 

Claims that are reported quickly are easier to evaluate and determine primary liability. The longer you wait, the more difficult that becomes. 

Therefore, learning how to shorten the reporting time should be a major goal when it comes to your Workers Comp program. 

Here are six tips you can take to help ensure that claims are reported quickly:

1 - Educate Management

Too often, the reason an injury isn’t reported promptly is that management and staff are unsure how to report the injury. Make sure that management knows the specific process for reporting injuries including a contact person to make sure the injury is filed quickly. Your WC insurance carrier and third-party administrators should be able to assist you with that information.

2 - Educate New Employees

All new employees should be made aware of your company’s WC process including written documentation of your WC insurer and other contact information along with written documentation regarding how work injuries should be reported and the information an injured employee will need to report that injury.

It should also be made clear to all new employees that your company places an emphasis on safety and reporting injuries promptly and that injured employees will not be penalized in any way.

3 - Keep Employees Informed

Good communication is the key to any good WC program, so it’s important that you keep your employees informed about your company’s WC process both before and after an injury occurs. This might include posters, safety meetings, etc.

You should also issue and post quarterly safety reports. State industrial commissions usually require this; however, you would do well to go beyond the minimum requirements. Those reports should highlight safety improvements within the workplace, so employees understand the critical role they play in keeping their workplace safe. 

4 - Create a Company-Wide Culture of Safety

A good WC program focuses on creating a culture of compliance and consistency where the emphasis is on creating a safe workplace and when an injury does occur that it is reported quickly, honestly, and ethically. For workers to buy into this type of culture, it needs to include senior-level leaders. Without the full support of upper management, the culture will break down. 

5 - Eliminate Accident-Free Incentives

Accident-Free incentives – where employees receive a cash incentive for a certain number of accident-free days - are well-intentioned and often look like a good idea on the surface. The idea is that employees will be incentivized to work safely to receive the reward.

However, studies have shown that this type of incentive ends up making employees feel as if they can’t report their workplace injury. If you want to provide employees with an incentive, a metric that encourages timely reporting of workplace injuries is a better idea.

6 - Make it Easy for Employees to Report Injuries

Technology offers many opportunities for employers to make it easier for employees to report injuries, which means WC claims are reported more quickly. Technology can also allow employees to provide more detail about their accident along with relevant documentation.

Because most employees today have smartphones, a good option is an app. These apps are affordable and easy to implement. Features that are included with most of these apps include the ability to upload the first report of injury to the employer, insurer, and other stakeholders; easy communication between the claims management staff and the injured worker; and payment status and direct deposit of indemnity benefits. 

 

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

How to Get Injured Employees Back to Work ASAP

Posted by David Ross on Sun, Nov 11, 2018

Strategies to lower your WC costs by getting employees back to work fasterThe majority of injured workers are back on the job within four days.

The longer an injured employee is off the job, the more it costs your company and the less likely the employee will return to work, so one crucial goal of any Workers Compensation Insurance program is to keep injured workers on the job or to get them back to work as quickly as possible.

Here are two time-tested strategies you can use to get your injured workers back to work ASAP: 

1 - Communicate

You should begin discussing your Workers’ Compensation program when an employee is hired. Most employees don’t understand how a WC program works or what is expected of them if they file a claim. Letting them know there is a process in place and that there are certain expectations from the start, can help save a lot of headaches down the road.

All new employees should be given a brochure about your Workers Compensation program including the following information:

  • How medical treatment is provided
  • How and who will pay the bills
  • Your company’s return-to-work (RTW) process

The brochure should clearly state that there will always be an investigation following an accident, that the employer wants the injured employee to return to work as soon as possible, and that they will not be punished for getting hurt.

That same brochure or an abbreviated version should be given to the employee when they are injured, so they have a step-by-step guide for the process. These brochures can help injured workers understand the process and allow them to become engaged in their recovery.

However, it isn’t enough to simply hand an injured employee a brochure. One of the most effective ways to get an injured employee back to work is through direct communication. There’s a good chance that employee is confused or overwhelmed and may feel alone in the process. You need to let them know that they are not alone and that you have their best interests at heart. 

A supervisor or manager that the injured employee knows and trusts should call the worker the day the injury occurs or the following day at the latest. Let them know that you’re sorry they were hurt and ask them how they’re doing. Let them know that they are a valued employee, and you want to get them back to work as soon as they are able. Let them know what to expect and what they need to do and answer any questions they may have.

Then there should be weekly conversations to monitor the employee’s progress. A get-well card can help too.

2 - Create a Designated List of Health Care Providers

The WC laws in each state are a little different, but in Pennsylvania, employers have the right to establish a list of designated health care providers that injured employees can use for 90 days from the date of the first visit. If an employer does not have a list of selected providers, provide written notice of the injured employee’s rights and responsibilities, and properly post the list, injured employees can go to the physician of his or her choice.

The advantage of having injured employees stay within your designated network of medical providers is that you can choose physicians who are well versed in occupational health issues. These physicians will understand that getting an injured employee back to work is not only in the best interest of the employer but also the employee. Research has shown that most people recover and heal faster if they are participating in productive activities rather than becoming a couch potato.

Here are some requirements for a designated list of health care providers from the Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry:

  • The list must contain at least six providers
  • Three of the six providers must be physicians
  • No more than four providers may be coordinated care organizations
  • Each provider’s name, address, telephone number and area of medical specialty must be included on the list
  • Listed providers must be geographically accessible and their specialties appropriate for the anticipated work-related medical problems of the employees

It's a Win-Win

A speedy transition from injury to return-to-work is a win-win situation and doesn’t need to be complicated. If you clearly communicate your WC and RTW processes and expectations with all employees from the start, regularly communicate with an injured employee, and show concern for the well-being of your injured worker, you’ll be able to get him or her back to work more quickly.

 

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