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Reduce Workers’ Comp Insurance Costs With Vocational Rehabilitation

Posted by David Ross on Sun, Mar 15, 2020

How to Reduce Workers Compensation Insurance Costs with Vocational RehabilitationVocational rehabilitation (VR) is one of the benefits of Workers’ Compensation Insurance. It can benefit both the injured employee and their employer by getting the employee back to work more quickly, thereby reducing the costs associated with Workers’ Compensation claims.

However, this benefit needs to be closely monitored to ensure that it continues to benefit the injured employee. If VR is no longer benefiting them, it could be costing your business.

What Is Vocational Rehabilitation?

Vocational rehabilitation as a WC benefit is designed to help injured employees return to work. Vocational rehabilitation services can vary depending on what the injured employee needs.

According to the National Rehabilitation Information Center (NARIC), some of the services a rehabilitating consultant (QRC) may provide include the following:

  • vocational assessment and evaluation
  • training
  • upgrading of general skills
  • refresher courses
  • on-the-job training
  • career counseling
  • employment searches
  • consulting with the employer for job accommodations or modifications.

Who Can Benefit From Vocational Rehabilitation?

Typically, VR is a WC benefit reserved for injured employees who have been out of work for an extended time. The process begins with a consultation with a QRC who can make recommendations regarding whether VR could be a benefit for the injured employee or not.

The QRC considers several factors before making a recommendation, including whether or not the injured employee will be able to return to the job they had before the injury, whether or not the injured employee is expected to be able to find gainful employment with the employer he or she was with when injured, and whether or not the injured employee is able to find gainful employment through VR services based on the treating physician’s opinion.

How Can Vocational Rehabilitation Be Monitored?

If vocational rehabilitation is approved, the claim handler must monitor the regular reports issued by the QRC. Those reports will include what services are being provided and how well the employee is recovering.

When reviewing those reports, the handler should consider several things. Are the employees’ physical limitations (new or ongoing) interfering with the completion of the rehabilitation plan? The employee could have a setback or could incur a new injury or disability that could stop him from completing the VR program.

Is the injured employee fully engaging in the VR? If the employee is not cooperating, such as missing appointments or not keeping in touch with his or her employer and/or QRC, he or she is not fully engaged in the program and probably won’t benefit from it.

Should the goals of the VR be changed? Perhaps the injured employee is not progressing as expected. Perhaps they’ve had a setback. If this occurs, it may be necessary to adjust the VR goals.  

When is it Time to Terminate Vocational Rehabilitation?

If, while reviewing these reports, it appears that the injured employee is no longer benefiting from VR services, termination of those services should be considered. The individual asking for the termination of VR services has to prove that those services are no longer benefiting the injured employee.

Typically, grounds for terminating those services include the following:

  • Death of the injured employee
  • The Workers’ Compensation case is settled
  • The injured employee is no longer participating in the services
  • The injured employee returns to work with a minimal or no wage loss

Vocational Rehabilitation can often help an injured employee return to work more quickly, benefiting both employee and employer. However, Vocation Rehabilitation that is not monitored can end up costing employers big time.

That’s why it’s imperative that someone continues to monitor the injured employee’s status and level of cooperation and take steps to terminate VR services if evidence shows that the injured employee will no longer benefit from those services.

 

Here's How to Save Even More on Workers’ Compensation Insurance!

The independent agents at American Insuring Group specialize in Workers’ Compensation Insurance. We have the experience and the knowledge to help you lower your WC costs. Our independence allow us to shop and compare insurance providers and policies to get you the right protection at the best price.

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

We provide worker's compensation insurance solutions in Philadelphia, Berks County, Lancaster, Harrisburg, Allentown, Pittsburgh, Erie, PA and beyond. 

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

How Long Should an Injured Employee be Out of Work?

Posted by David Ross on Sat, Feb 15, 2020

Reduce Workers Compensation Costs with a strong Return to Work program.Return-to-work (RTW) programs help employers by helping retain experienced workers, reduce turnover, and control Workers’ Compensation Insurance costs. RTW programs help injured employees by promoting physical and mental healing, retaining social connections, providing financial security, and helping them retain skills. RTW programs even help improve productivity and morale among co-workers. 

Studies show that injured employees who are out of work for more than six months have less than a 50% chance of returning to work and 80-90% of injured workers would rather get back to work than collect disability.

What is a Return-to-Work Program?

The goal of RTW programs is to get an injured employee working again as quickly as possible while they are still recuperating. That may mean providing the injured employee with temporary, modified, or transitional duties to get them back to work more quickly.

Unless you are a doctor, you probably don’t know how long it typically takes an injured employee to heal from an injury – whether it’s a simple sprain or a more serious injury. To develop an effective RTW, it is important to have some expectations as to recovery times. The good news is that someone has already figured that out for you.

Evidence-Based Medicine (EBM) Injury Guideline

An EBM injury guideline tool can help reduce uncertainty by providing recovery timeframe estimates, including the average and median amount of time it takes an injury to heal. It is based on the type of work an employee does – sedentary, light, medium, heavy, or very heavy work.

The two most well-known tools are the ODG guidelines from the Work Loss Data Institute (WLDI) and the MDGuidelines from the Reed Group.

The ODG (official disability guidelines) was released in 1995 as an “evidence-based disability duration (return-to-work) guideline,” by the WLDI. In 2017, WLDI became part of MCG Health.

MDGuidelines are researched and evaluated by an academic-based research team. According to the Reed Group, “MDGuidelines empower employers, insurers and providers to successfully improve health and financial outcomes.” It links several data sources – OSHA, CDC, the National Hospital Discharge Survey, and the worldwide ICD-9 coding system.

An Example

If an employee suffers from a partial rotator cuff tear, and they have a sedentary or light job, it should take a minimum of zero days and a maximum of four days for that person’s body to physically heal enough for them to go back to their full duties at work. However, if that same employee has a heavy or very heavy job, it should take a minimum of 21 days and a maximum of 85 days to recover and be ready to go back to their full work duties.

If you utilize an RTW program, that means that even an employee in a heavy or very heavy job with this type of injury should be back to work within four days – not doing their original work duties but doing sedentary or light duty.

What might surprise you is that more than 50% of people aren’t back to work within the maximum amount of time (85 days) required for physical healing of a partial rotator cuff tear. Understanding recovery time and instituting an RTW program will lead to benefits for your injured employee, his or her coworkers, and your bottom line.

Want to Save Even More on Workers’ Compensation Costs?

Give the experienced independent agents at American Insuring Group a call at (800) 947-1270 or (610) 775-3848 or connect with us online. Our independence means we're free to shop competing providers to get you the best deal. We’ll show you how to save on all of your worker's comp insurance needs in Philadelphia, PA and far beyond.

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

4 Benefits of Workers’ Compensation Insurance for Employers

Posted by David Ross on Sun, Jan 12, 2020

save_property_insuranceAs an employer, you may look at Workers’ Compensation (WC) Insurance as a necessary evil, but the truth is Workers’ Compensation Insurance provides many benefits to employers as well as employees.

It is required by law for the majority of employers in Pennsylvania, and savvy employers understand the value of having Workers’ Compensation Insurance.

What is Workers’ Compensation Insurance?

The Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry defines Workers’ Compensation as “mandatory, employer-financed, no-fault insurance” that compensates employees who suffer a work-related injury for medical treatment and lost wages. The goals of WC are to 1) create safer workplaces, 2) promptly treat and compensate injured employees, and 3) reduce litigation costs.

In Pennsylvania, any employer with at least one employee who could be injured or develop a work-related disease is required to provide Workers’ Compensation for its employees, with very few exceptions such as federal workers, longshoremen, railroad workers, domestic workers, and some agricultural workers.

Here are 4 Benefits of Workers’ Compensation Insurance for Employers:

Regulatory Compliance

If an employee suffers a compensable work-related injury and the employer does not have Workers’ Compensation Insurance, the employer will be required to reimburse the state for not only direct costs of the injury, but also interest, penalties, attorney fees, and fees under the Workers’ Compensation Act.

An uninsured employer can also face the risk of civil litigation by the injured employee and the risk of criminal charges by the state.

Financial Benefits

By complying with the commonwealth’s Workers’ Compensation Insurance requirements, a business avoids the reimbursement costs stated above. Workers’ Compensation Insurance also protects employers from direct lawsuits by injured employees, eliminating the risk of costly legal fees and potential settlement.

Prevent Lawsuits

The Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Act does not allow employees to bring lawsuits against employers for work-place injuries if the employer provides Workers’ Compensation benefits.

Any form of litigation can have negative effects on a business. It can drain your company’s finances, time, energy, and resources. Litigation can also affect your relationship with your employees, customers, vendors, investors, etc.  A lawsuit can tarnish your company’s reputation and has been known to lower a company’s value and sales, and even force companies out of business.

Protection for a Vital Asset – Employees

Workplace injuries have far-reaching effects on employers’ costs, including lost productivity, retraining costs, and more. A safer work environment and fewer injuries are better for everyone – employer and employee alike.

Workplace injuries can cause negative physical and psychological effects on employees – both in and out of the workplace.  A serious injury can change an employee’s life forever, creating chronic pain, limited abilities, depression, and anxiety. One study found that anxiety affected more than 50% of injured workers and more than 25% experienced depression.

Fewer injuries mean lower Workers’ Compensation costs. That saving has become a great incentive for smart employers to create safer workplaces for their employees. To save on WC costs, many employers have developed safety programs and provide safety training.

Another Workers’ Compensation cost-saving measure employers often implement is a return-to-work (RTW) program. The goal of such a program is to get an injured employee back to work as quickly as possible, even if that means working part-time or having lighter duties. An RTW program benefits employees by improving morale, helping them retain social connections and skills, and providing financial security.

How to Save on Workers’ Compensation

Since Workers’ Compensation is required by law for most employers in Pennsylvania, you might as well embrace these benefits. However, that doesn’t mean you should pay more than necessary.

Give the experienced independent agents at American Insuring Group a call at (800) 947-1270 or (610) 775-3848 or connect with us online. We’ll help you save on Workers’ Compensation costs by carefully comparing policies from multiple providers to ensure you get the right policy at the best price!

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

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

Posted by David Ross on Tue, Dec 10, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

Who is at Risk?

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

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

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

Prevention of Hearing Loss Due to Ototoxic Exposure

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

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

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

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

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

More Ways to Lower Your Commercial Insurance Costs

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

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

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

5 Ways to Lower Your Workers Compensation Costs

Posted by David Ross on Sun, Nov 10, 2019

AIG business man pushing cost buttonWorkers' compensation coverage is mandatory for most employers in Pennsylvania, and according to the PA 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.”

Although it may be a necessity, there are ways to lower the cost of your Worker’s Comp Insurance premiums. To lower your WC costs, you need to understand how your premium is calculated.

How is Your Worker’s Compensation Premium Calculate?

A simple formula is used to calculate your Workers Comp premium for each employee:

RATE x (PAYROLL/100) x EXPERIENCE MODIFIER = PREMIUM

RATE:

The rate is determined by an employee’s classification code, which is based on how likely that worker is to be injured on the job. The same classification code is given to employees in the same industry who perform similar functions. It’s no surprise that pilots, drivers, and construction workers – considered among the most dangerous jobs – have a higher rating than an office worker.

PAYROLL:

This number is derived from a projection of your payroll for the current period of your Workers’ Compensation policy.

EXPERIENCE MODIFIER:

Your modifier is based on your company’s loss history – how many WC insurance claims you have submitted - compared to the average loss history in your industry. A company is issued an experience modifier of one if their loss history is average. If your company’s loss history is better than average, you will receive a lower modifier. If your company’s loss history is worse than average, you will receive a higher modifier. The lower your modifier, the lower your insurance premiums.

5 Tips to Lower Your Workers’ Compensation Costs

Review Your Classifications

A classification error can cost you a lot of money. For instance, if your administrative assistant has accidentally been assigned the classification of a roofer, you’re going to pay a higher WC premium for that employee than you need. A roofer is more likely to be seriously injured on the job; therefore, the classification code of a roofer will be significantly higher than that of an administrative assistant.

To make sure you aren’t making any costly classification mistakes, it’s a good idea to have your insurance agent review any classification codes you aren’t sure of.

Create a Safer Work Environment

Fewer insurance claims result in a lower experience modifier, which results in lower WC premiums. How can you make fewer claims? Create a safer work environment. Your business should have a documented safety program that is enforced and embraced by all of your employees.

A small reduction in your experience modifier can result in a significant reduction in your WC premiums.

Plus, in Pennsylvania, employers can receive a 5% Workers' Compensation premium discount by forming and maintaining a workplace safety committee that meets state-established requirements for certification.

Maintain a Substance-Free Workplace

An employee who uses drugs or alcohol while on the job can cause injuries to both themselves and their co-workers. Make it clear from the time you interview a potential employee that you have a zero-tolerance for substance abuse.

One way to do that is requiring a pre-employment drug test, and depending on how dangerous a work environment is, random drug testing for all employees.

Establish a Return-to-Work Program

The longer a claim remains open, and an injured employee is off the job, the more it costs the employer. A return-to-work program gets employees back to work once they are medically ready. That could mean reduced hours or reduced duties that are approved by the injured worker’s physician.

Find Out If You Can Join a Group

In some states, employers that have been in business for a while and have a better-than-average safety history can get a group rating by joining a recognized group, which results in lower WC premiums.

How to Save EVEN MORE on Your Workers’ Compensation Insurance!

American Insuring Group specializes in Workers Compensation Insurance, so we can guide you through the process and provide suggestions for additional ways to save on your Workers’ Comp Insurance. As independent agents, we have the advantage of working with lots of insurance companies, giving you more ways to compare and save! Give us a call at (800) 947-1270 or (610) 775-3848 or connect with us online.

 

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

Lower Workers Comp Cost by Addressing Asbestos Safety

Posted by David Ross on Sun, Nov 03, 2019

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

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

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

What is Asbestos?

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

Here are some of the products where asbestos was used:

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

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

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

How to Identify Asbestos

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

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

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

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

Removal and Disposal of Asbestos

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

Typical removal procedures include the following:

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

Asbestos can be disposed of in several ways:

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

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

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

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

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

4 Steps to a Speedy Workers’ Comp Insurance Claim

Posted by David Ross on Sun, Oct 13, 2019

workplace_safety_lower_insurance_300Despite all of your best efforts to create a safe work environment, accidents do happen on worksites – whether it’s a restaurant or a construction site or even an office, and you should be prepared.

Knowing what to do when someone injures themselves in the workplace can help ensure that the injured employee gets immediate medical attention and that any Workers’ Comp insurance claims are processed quickly and accurately. You should have a process in place, and all managers and supervisors should be trained in that process.

Here Are Four Steps That Should Be Included in the Process:

Take Care of the Injured Employee

Your employee’s welfare should be your first priority. As soon as an injury occurs, determine the appropriate medical treatment. If it’s a serious injury, call 911 immediately. If it isn’t a serious injury, take the injured employee to a medical care facility.

Some insurance carriers offer a 24/7 injured employee hotline that has registered nurses who can provide medical guidance. If your Workers’ Comp insurance carrier has a hotline, all managers and supervisors should be aware of that number.

Survey the Scene of the Accident

Once the injured employee has received appropriate medical care, survey the scene. If it’s a severe injury, any equipment involved in the incident should be secured, and the area where the incident occurred should be cordoned off with cones or tape until the local police and/or the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) are finished with their formal investigation.

Even with minor injuries, surveying the scene could reveal what caused the injury. For example, if an employee falls because of a wet floor, that area can be cleaned up to avoid further accidents.

The purpose of an investigation isn’t to lay blame but to determine the root cause of the accident, so it doesn’t happen again. In that same example, if a faulty refrigerator caused that wet floor, the appliance can be fixed to avoid any additional injuries.

Collect Information

A manager or supervisor should then gather details about the incident. Write down the details of the accident – where it happened, how it happened, etc. – and any medical treatment the injured employee received. Also, talk to anyone who witnessed the incident and document what they share and their contact information. 

Complete the Incident Report

Before the details of the injury fade from memory, the incident report should be completed. OSHA requires employers to maintain records of all work-related injuries using its Injury & Illness Record-keeping Forms and to notify OSHA if the injured employee needs to be hospitalized.

Any Workers’ Compensation claims should be filed within 24 hours of the incident. 

If the injury is fairly minor but still prohibits the injured employee from performing his or her regular tasks, you may also need to consider if a transitional or modified job may be appropriate. The longer an employee is out of work, the harder it is to go back and the more it costs you. A return-to-work program can help keep injured employees off of long-term disability and save you money.

You may also want to take a look at your safety program. Did an employee not receive proper training? Was a safety procedure ignored? What can you do to help ensure this type of accident doesn’t happen again?

Want to Save on All Kinds of Commercial Insurance?

The agents at American Insuring Group specialize in commercial insurance, including Workers’ Compensation. We can help ensure that you have the right coverage and – as independent agents who can compare costs with several companies – that you get it 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, workers comp insurance, workers comp costs, Return-To-Work Programs

Should Your Company Initiate a Workplace Safety Program?

Posted by David Ross on Sun, Oct 06, 2019

Save_Workers_Comp_Insurance_300We often discuss safety and how it can help businesses save on Workers’ Compensation Insurance, but the only way that can happen is with a company-wide culture of safety. Too often, employees ignore the importance of safety and members of upper management don’t understand the benefits of developing a safe work environment.

It takes more than lip-service or a few signs on the wall to develop an effective workplace safety program that results in fewer workplace injuries, fewer WC claims, and lower Workers Comp costs. It takes a plan, commitment, enforcement, and company-wide buy-in, but the effort is worth the results.

Benefits of a Workplace Safety Program

As an insurance company, we focus on the reduced Workers’ Compensation Insurance costs that a safe work environment can bring to a company, but developing, implementing, and enforcing a workplace safety program provides plenty of other advantages and makes good business sense.

According to OSHA, a study of small businesses that registered with the Workers' Compensation Board of British Columbia found a statistical correlation between workplace safety and health and the survival of a small business. The report found that businesses 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.

Here Are a Few of the Other Benefits of a Workplace Safety Program:

  • Lower medical expenses
  • Reduced paid time off
  • Reduced litigation
  • Reduced disaster mitigation
  • Compliance with regulations, laws, and standards
  • Reduced training costs
  • Reduced recruitment and hiring costs
  • Increased productivity
  • Improved financial performance
  • Positive public image
  • Higher employee satisfaction

Do you need more proof that a safety program is a smart business move? OSHA’s Safety Pays program allows you to assess the impact of occupational injuries and illnesses on your profitability. The program uses your profit margin, the average costs of an injury or illness, and an indirect cost multiplier to project the amount of sales you would need to cover those costs.

How to Develop a Workplace Safety Plan

According to the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), there are six critical elements of an effective safety management program:

  1. Management Commitment– From the CEO to the mailroom clerk, everyone within the company needs to understand the importance and benefits of a safe work environment and be willing to do what is needed to create that safe environment.
  2. Employee Involvement – Examples of employee participation include participating in joint labor-management committees, developing safety rules, and reporting hazards.
  3. Worksite Analysis – One of your first steps to creating a safe work environment is to identify potential hazards.
  4. Hazard prevention and control – This means correcting all current and potential hazards, ensuring that all parties understand and follow safe work practices, that appropriate personal protective equipment is provided, and that administrative controls are followed.
  5. Training – All employees and managers should be trained on safety procedures, including potential hazards and how to avoid them, individual responsibilities, OSHA’s requirements, what to do when an injury does occur, etc.
  6. Communication – Consistently communicating with all interested stakeholders is vital to a successful safety program. That communication should be in the form of safety meetings, informal discussions between supervisors and employees, posters and bulletins, newsletters, and a safety suggestion box.

Want to Learn More About Safety in the Workplace?

Check out American Insuring Group’s informative blog. From electrical safety to fire safety and everything in between, you’ll find plenty of resources to help you create a safer workplace. Then give one of our independent Workers’ Compensation Insurance experts a call to save big! Call us 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, Safety Programs

Want Faster Workers Comp Claim Resolution? Don’t Annoy Your Adjuster!

Posted by David Ross on Sun, Sep 15, 2019

Quick-WC-claim-resolution-300Filing a Workers’ Compensation Insurance claim is probably not one of your favorite things to do, but it’s essential when a worker is injured on the job. If you want to make sure the Workers’ Comp claim gets processed as quickly as possible - saving you both time and money - don’t annoy your adjuster.

Adjusters are busy too – juggling 150-200 claims every day - and would like to see your claims processed as quickly and smoothly as possible.  The best way to make that happen is to provide them with what they need in a timely manner to make their job easier and avoid annoying them.

Here are Four Things That Are Frequent Annoyances to Workers’ Compensation Adjusters:

Not completing the Injury Form Correctly

The first step in any WC claim is completing and submitting the injury form. All of the information on that form – social security number, birth date, type of injury, etc. - is relevant to the adjuster and helps them process the claim more quickly. If you leave a field blank, they have to interrupt what they’re doing to contact you for the information.

If you want your claim processed more quickly, gather the information in advance and fill in every field on the form accurately. Make sure names are spelled correctly, the date of the injury is correct, etc. This first report is vitally important, so double check everything before submitting it, and remember if you leave a field blank, someone else could fill it in with information you don’t like.

Not Reporting a Claim Right Away

As soon as an injury occurs, start the process of gathering information to submit the claim as quickly as possible. Submitting a claim days after an injury occurs could force an adjuster to rush through the process and make mistakes. The quicker you can get it in, the more thorough the adjuster’s investigation will be, which results in more accurate and ethical decisions regarding the claim without penalties, leakage, or delays.

Also, adjusters will prioritize claims that include lost wages, so let them know upfront if that applies to your claim. They understand that any delay in the claim is another day of potential wage loss. Providing this information up front allows them to determine if the claim is compensable and get your employee back to work on light-duty as quickly as possible, which helps keep your claim costs down.

Not Knowing the Details of the Injury

Immediately after an injury occurs, begin gathering facts and witness statements to understand exactly what happened. Send all the information you gather to the adjuster and be prepared to answer questions about the incident if they contact you.

Witness statements can be crucial in determining the validity of a claim, and adjusters will compare those statements with the employee’s recount of the incident. If they see any discrepancies, they will research further, which could prevent payment on a false claim; thereby, minimizing leakage and helping to keep your WC costs down.

Not Working With Them

Adjusters are experts regarding the compensability of WC claims. They have been trained and certified to make WC decisions, but you are the expert regarding your employees and the type of work they do. Your input is crucial to ensuring an accurate investigation.

When an adjuster emails or leaves you a voice mail with a question, reply as quickly as possible. Also send anything you receive related to the claim to your adjuster as quickly as possible including bills and medical information.

If you want to save time and money and help ensure your Workers’ Compensation claims are processed as quickly and accurately as possible, keep these four things that annoy WC adjusters in mind.

Want to Learn More About Saving on Workers’ Compensation Costs?

Although Workers’ Compensation Insurance is required for most businesses with employees, that doesn’t mean you can’t get more bang for your buck! Start saving by giving the Workers’ Comp experts at American Insuring Group 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, Commercial Insurance Reading PA

Masonry Contractors: How to lower Contractor and WC Costs

Posted by David Ross on Sun, Sep 01, 2019

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

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

About the Work

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

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

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

Slips, Trips, and Falls

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

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

Here are five ladder safety tips to avoid falls:

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

Here are five scaffolding safety tips to avoid falls:

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

Electrocution

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

Lifting Injuries

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

Here are five lifting safety tips:

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

Heat Illness

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

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

Is Your Contractors Insurance Too High?

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

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