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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.

Your Trusted Choice Independent workers compensation insurance agents in PennsylvaniaTo learn how your business can save on workers compensation and all other commercial insurance costs, call our experienced independent agents at American Insuring Group 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 comp costs, Workers Compensation Insurance, Business Insurance, Commercial 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. 

 

Ready to Save on Great Workers Comp Insurance?

Contact us to save on PA Workers Compensation Insurance!The agents at American Insuring Group can help you set up a Workers Compensation plan that promotes quick reporting of injuries, which can lead to more successful resolution of WC claims. PLUS, we can help you save a bundle on great insurance!

Don’t wait - call us at (800) 947-1270 or (610) 775-3848 to learn more, or contact us online.

 

Tags: workers comp costs, Workers Compensation Insurance, 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.

 

Save Big on WC Insurance - Contact Us Today! 

Save on PA Workers Comp InsuranceAmerican Insuring Group specializes in Workers Compensation Insurance and we can save you a bundle. We shop and compare so you don't have to, and we're really good at it!

So give us a call at (800) 947-1270 or (610) 775-3848, or contact us online and start saving!

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

Contractor Insurance and OSHA's Fatal Four

Posted by David Ross on Sun, Oct 28, 2018

Contractor insurance costs in Philadelphia and elsewhere can be lowered by decreasing the rate of construction-related accidents.This is the first in a series of four blogs that will focus on what OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) calls the Fatal Four – the four main safety hazards that account for a majority of all construction worker deaths, and therefore have the greatest impact on workers compensation insurance costs for the construction industry.

In 2016, there were 4,693 worker fatalities in private industry, and 991 of those fatalities were in construction. That means that 21% or one in every five worker deaths were in construction. There’s no denying that worksites can be dangerous places to work.

63.7% of Construction Worker Deaths 

The Fatal Four were responsible for 63.7% of construction worker deaths in 2016; eliminating the Fatal Four would save 631 construction worker lives in the U.S. every year. Imagine how reducing injuries and fatalities that involve the Fatal Four could help your business lower contractor insurance costs, not to mention improve employee morale. 

The Fatal Four Hazards

Numbers are based on the 2016 construction industry:

  • Falls accounted for 38.7% of deaths
  • Being struck by an object accounted for 9.4%
  • Electrocutions accounted for 8.3%
  • Caught-in/between accounted for 7.3%

What are Caught-In/Between Hazards?

Caught-in/Between accidents caused 73 construction worker deaths in the U.S. in 2016. These accidents occur when someone (or a part of someone like a hand or leg) is caught, crushed, squeezed, compressed, or pinched between two or more objects including getting caught, struck or crushed from materials, equipment or a collapsing structure. Although similar to struck-by accidents, caught-in/between accidents are a result of crushing injuries and not the initial impact.

Examples of caught-in/between accidents include the following:

  • Trenching cave-ins
  • Being pulled into or caught in machinery and equipment including strangulation caused by clothing being caught in running machinery
  • Being compressed or crushed between objects that are rolling, sliding, or shifting such as between a truck frame and hydraulic bed that is lowering

Trenching Accidents

One cause of caught-in/between accidents is improperly protected trenches and excavations. A trench that is five or more feet deep needs to have a protective system, and a trench that is 20 or more feet deep requires that a professional engineer design the protective system.

This includes proper sloping and benching to avoid collapse, shoring to support the sides, and trench boxes and shields to protect workers from being crushed or buried by a cave-in.

Another precaution is to avoid using heavy equipment near an excavation when workers are inside the trench to help prevent cave-ins and equipment falling into the trench.

Machinery Accidents

Follow manufactures safety instructions and do not remove safety guards from power tools or machinery. Wear loose-fitting clothing or anything that can get caught in moving parts and pull you in. 

When power tools and machinery are not being used or when doing any repairs or maintenance on them, the tools should be properly de-energized.

Heavy Equipment Accidents

Wear seat belts and safety restraints when operating a piece of heavy equipment and don’t overload or overwork the equipment to avoid tipping it over. When working around heavy equipment, remember that operators may not have a clear line of sight in every direction, so workers should not place themselves between a moving vehicle and an immovable object.

Reducing Accidents Through Training 

To reduce the number of injuries and fatalities caused by caught-in/between hazards, workers need to be adequately trained. They need to understand what hazards to look for and how to avoid them. If implementing these safety measures, saves even one life, isn’t it worth taking the time to train your employees properly? And as a bonus, you'll also help lower your contractor insurance rates.

 

How to Save on Contractor Insurance

Construction Insurance for Philadelphia, Lehigh Valley, Berks County, Harrisburg, Pittsburgh, Erie, PA and beyond.Creating safer work sites is just one way to save on contractors insurance. Another way (and it's so easy) is to work with American Insuring Group. Our independent agents specialize in contractors insurance, so we can help determine the right coverage for you.

Plus, as brokers, we can compare the cost of that insurance among many competing insurance companies to make sure that you’re getting the right insurance protection at the best possible price.

To learn more, give us a call at (800) 947-1270 or (610) 775-3848 or find us online.

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

Tune Up Your Workers Comp Program for Lower WC Insurance Costs

Posted by David Ross on Sun, Sep 23, 2018

Lower your workers comp insurance costs in Philadelphia, Lehigh Valley, Berks County, Lancaster County, PA and beyond with these tipsWouldn’t it be great to this the year you decrease your Workers Compensation insurance costs? Now is the perfect time to tune up your WC program to experience cost-savings.

Take some time to look at your current program to see if any areas need to be updated or can be improved.  

Here are 6 tips for tuning up your Workers Compensation program:

1- Improve Safety

Improving workplace safety will have the biggest influence on your WC costs. A safer workplace means fewer injuries, fewer claims, and lower WC costs. Here are some tips:

  • Look for ways to improve your safety training
  • Review the current members of your safety committee. Are they still the best people for the job? Are there any gaps?
  • Schedule work-site evaluations and safety inspections for the year
  • If you’ve acquired any new equipment or created new jobs, update your safety manual
  • Review all of your safety communications including posters and brochures to make sure they are up-to-date and that they’re doing the job. HINT: There are many resources online - such as OSHA and the USDA– that offer free safety materials.

2 -Report Claims

Insurance claims should be reported the same day the accident occurs to allow WC claims adjusters to investigate the accident properly and establish compensability. Quick reporting will enable adjusters to control the course of the WC claim better.

Take a look at how quickly accidents within your company were reported this past year. If you see that it took more than a day to report any claims, review your claim reporting procedures with all managers and supervisors, and explain why prompt reporting is imperative to the quick resolution of WC claims.

3 - Keep in Touch with Your Injured Employees

You might be surprised to learn how much of a difference this can make in resolving WC claims more quickly and amicably. Let your injured employees know that your company cares about their well-being and that they are an essential part of your company’s workforce.

Here’s how:

1) Contact the injured employee the day of the accident to see how they’re doing

2) Contact them two days after the accident to make sure they understand WC procedures and to answer any questions they may have

3) Invite them to all work functions, so they continue to feel like a part of the team

4) Meet with injured employees weekly to monitor their progress 

4 - Improve Your Return to Work Program

It’s impossible to deny the benefits (for both employee and employer) of getting injured employees back to work as quickly as possible, whether that means returning to regular or light duty. Your goal should be to return at least 95% of your injured employees to work within 1 to 4 days after their injury.

Take some time to determine light-duty jobs that a recuperating employee may be able to do. Then, when an employee is injured, make sure that you give the medical provider a complete job description, so they can add any added restrictions. 

5 - Stay Current on All WC Insurance Claims

We already stressed the importance of keeping in regular contact with an injured employee to monitor his or her progress, but it’s also important to stay in touch with the claims adjuster to discuss the injured employee’s recovery progress, return-to-work status, and any permanent partial disability, which will require a modification to the employee’s job description.

6 - Fight Workers Comp Insurance Fraud

Make sure your employees are aware of the consequences of WC fraud. Post anti-fraud posters throughout your facility, start a fraud hotline for other employees to report suspected fraud anonymously, consider offering a reward to anyone who provides information that leads to a criminal conviction, and always report any suspicious claim to the Special Investigations Unit of your insurer.

 

Ready to Save? Let’s Tune Up Your WC Insurance Policy!

Contact us to save on workers compensation insuranceThis is a great time to review your WC policy for potential opportunities to save while getting better coverage. American Insuring Group specializes in Workers Compensation Insurance and will help you get the right insurance at a great price.

So give one of our experienced independent agents a call at (800) 947-1270 or (610) 775-3848 or contact us online.

We’d love to help you make this the year you lower your company’s Workers Comp costs!

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

Workers Compensation Insurance in the Construction Industry

Posted by David Ross on Sun, Sep 16, 2018

Workers Comp insurance costs are high in the construction industry, but here's how to lower them in Philadelphia, Reading, Chambersburg, Allentown, Erie, Pittsburgh, PA and beyond.We’re sure it comes as no surprise that the cost of Workers Compensation insurance is higher in the construction industry than in most industries. The main reason for this is that worksites can be dangerous places.

There’s heavy equipment being used, people working at great heights, continually changing surroundings, and too often, safety training is put off due to tight deadlines. These potential hazards often result in more frequent workers comp claims and more severe injuries, which means higher medical payments and in turn higher workers comp insurance costs for employers.

Unique WC Challenges in the Construction Industry

In addition to higher risk, construction companies face some unique workers comp safety challenges: 

  • There is usually a mix of employees and subcontractors working at the same job site, which makes it more challenging to ensure consistent safety training and the enforcement of safety procedures. Contractors should always verify that subcontractors have adequate workers' compensation coverage.
  • Falls account for an estimated 30% of all construction claim payments. Injuries from a fall are usually more severe and result in more time away from work and damage to more than one body part. Falls are also the leading cause of death for construction employees accounting for 370 of the 991 construction fatalities in 2016.
  • Skilled tradesmen usually require specialized training and undergo unique physical demands, which often means higher pay that results in indemnity benefits that are either near or at the state’s maximum level. Indemnity benefits are benefits paid to the injured employee to replace part of his or her lost income and account for about half of all the money spent on WC claims in the construction industry.
  • Finding modified duty for injured construction workers can be difficult because once a project is completed, the company moves to another location – sometimes in a different state.

How to Reduce Workers Compensation Insurance Costs in the Construction Industry

Create a Safer working Environment

It’s impossible to eliminate all hazards at a worksite, but there are steps you can take to minimize those hazards. Construct Connect offers these tips:

  • Establish a Safety Culture – A commitment to safety needs to start at the top, and it needs to be incorporated as one of the core principles of your company’s culture.
  • Create a Site-Specific Safety Plan – Each job site is different and comes with its own unique set of hazards, so a safety plan needs to be created for each site.
  • Training – Safety training should be thorough and ongoing.
  • Empower Workers to Speak Up and Hold Each Other Accountable – Everyone on a job site should feel comfortable speaking up if they observe unsafe working conditions.
  • Conduct Daily Safety Meetings – Quickly review the work being done that day and discuss the hazards involved and the safety measures and controls in place.
  • Inspect, Evaluate, and Adjust – Every day the construction site should be inspected, and as construction progresses, the safety plan should be evaluated to see if any changes need to be made.

Return-to-Work Program

Another way to reduce WC insurance costs is to have a good return-to-work program that gets injured employees back to work as quickly and safely as possible, even if that means modified duties. Research shows that there are many benefits to getting an injured employee back to work: 

  • Reduces the financial impact of the injury
  • Lowers likelihood of fraudulent claims
  • Reduces the cost of training and replacing employees
  • Promotes good morale among the injured employee and his or her co-workers
  • Can speed up the healing process

We Specialize in Insurance for the Construction Industry

American Insuring Group specializes in insurance for the construction industry in Pennsylvania and beyond. We understand your unique challenges and can help ensure that you have the right coverage. Plus, we compare pricing with competing insurance companies to make sure you get the best price on workers compensation insurance and on all other types of insurance for your construction business.

If you want to learn more about saving money on business insurance, give one of the experienced independent agents at American Insuring Group a call at (800) 947-1270 or (610) 775-3848 or click here to contact us.

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

Restaurant Workers Comp Insurance: The Good, Bad and Ugly

Posted by David Ross on Sun, Aug 12, 2018

Restaurants come in all shapes and sizes from national fast-food chains to family-run diners with a single location. A safe restaurant can lower your workers compensation insurance costs in Allentown, Philadelphia, Reading, Lancaster, Pittsburgh, Erie, PA and beyond. it’s a mixed bag.

On one hand, the cost of workers comp insurance for servers, cashiers, busboys, dishwashers, and management is lower than average for all occupations. On the other hand, the cost for WC insurance for cooks is above average. 

Most Workers Comp Insurance Claims are Small

Thankfully, most injuries that occur within a restaurant are relatively minor. This translates to lower medical benefits costs, lower temporary total indemnity benefits costs, and infrequent permanent partial disability benefits.

The restaurant industry has a high turnover rate, which often means that safety training is limited, which can lead to more injuries.

Returning to Work

Getting employees back to work quickly and safety after a workplace injury is always a priority of a good workers compensation program. With the restaurant industry, the bad news is that the high number of employees who speak English as a second language can make placement in alternative duty positions challenging; the good news is that there are plenty of modified duties available. Here are just a few examples:

  • A waiter or waitress can fill in as host or hostess.
  • Some injured employees can do side work like setting up the tables or filling water glasses, salt and pepper shakers, ketchup bottles., etc.
  • A dishwasher can ask another employee to carry heavy tubs of dirty dishes so he or she can wash them.

How to Lower Your Workers Compensation Insurance Costs

Workers compensation insurance rates often come down to safety. More injuries mean higher workers comp costs, and of course fewer injuries mean lower insurance costs. It may not be easy, but it is worth it. For every one dollar spent on safety programs, businesses can save $4 to $6 from costs associated with injuries and fatalities, according to Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

Here are a few tips to help reduce the number of injuries at your restaurant:

  • Create a safety program for your restaurant and provide safety and first aid training

  • Require that all injuries – no matter how small - be reported so you can identify patterns or potential problems before something big happens

  • Offer employees incentives such as safety awards and other prizes for employees who follow your safety program.

Common Restaurant Injuries

In and out of the kitchen, injuries from falls and disability from repetitive motion injuries occur more frequently in restaurants than in most industries. While most injuries are minor, severe injuries, can and do occur in restaurants, especially in the kitchen. Here are three of the most common injuries in restaurant kitchens according to QSR magazine:

Burns

More than 5,000 restaurant fires are reported in the U.S. every year resulting in about 100 injuries, about $116 million in property damage, and fewer than five deaths. It’s no surprise that FEMA reports cooking as the leading cause of restaurant fires accounting for 64 percent of all restaurant fires. Other causes include unintentional careless actions (4 percent), appliances (4 percent), and other heat (3 percent). Deep-fat fryers are the top cause of burns in restaurant kitchens, according to OSHA.

The National Restaurant Association recommends these burn prevention tips:

  • Use trays, hot pads, oven mitts, or dry waiter’s cloths to help carry and serve hot dishes.

  • Be careful when removing plates from heat lamps and heat strips to avoid contact with hot surfaces.

  • With deep-fat fryers, use the correct grease level, cook at the manufacturers recommended temperatures, and don’t over fill fryer baskets.

  • Because oil and water don’t mix make sure that fryer and fryer baskets are dry after washing and don’t allow excess ice crystals from frozen foods to get into the cooking oil.

  • Keep grill and stove surfaces clean to prevent grease flare-ups.

  • Use proper cooking tools such as tongs to prevent contact with hot surfaces and foods.

Lacerations and Puncture Wounds

Most cooks have had their share of scrapes and small cuts, but serious lacerations and even amputated fingers can happen. Your kitchen staff should be trained on how to use knives properly and sharp tools should always be returned to their proper location when workers are done using them. A knife left on a counter could easily fall on someone’s foot causing injury. When a laceration or puncture wound does occur, immediately treat and disinfect the wound to help prevent infection.

Sprains and Strains

Restaurant workers can suffer from strains if they’re using improper lifting techniques, and reaching for hard-to-reach items can cause injury.

Misplaced or hard-to-reach items can cause worker injury due to overreaching or trips. Restaurant workers can also suffer from strains due to improper lifting. When these injuries occur, analgesic heat rubs, muscle ointments, and aspirin can help reduce pain and maintain productivity.

 

Get a Free Workers Compensation Insurance Quote and Start Saving!

For a free workers comp insurance quote for your restaurant or other business, call American Insuring Group at (800) 947-1270 or (610) 775-3848 or contact us online.

Our dedicated independent agents will carefully shop the market, leaving no stone unturned to help you find great protection at the best price!

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

Prevent Injuries and Save on Contractor Insurance Costs

Posted by David Ross on Sun, Aug 05, 2018

Prevent Injuries Through Safety, Lower Your Contractor Insurance Costs in Pennsylvania and Elsewhere.We talk a lot about safety on this blog, but the truth is that reducing and preventing the number of injuries in the workplace, is one of the best ways to reduce your workers’ compensation and liability insurance costs. These costs tend to be higher than average in the construction industry due to its dangerous nature, so we’re going to keep talking about safety.

One of the best ways to prevent injuries is to be aware of where and how most accidents occur. Here are the five top events or exposures that lead to injury on construction worksites according to ConstructConnect, along with some tips to avoid them.

The Top 5 Injury Factors on Construction Worksites

#1 - Contact with Objects

Construction sites are filled with heavy equipment and dangerous tools, so it’s no surprise that in 2016, there were 29,160 cases of injuries caused by contact with objects. Being struck by objects or equipment caused the most injuries. Most of those were caused by handheld equipment or objects slipping or being swung by the injured employee. 5,220 accidents were caused by a falling objects or equipment hitting workers.

Injuries also occurred when workers hit an object or a piece of equipment. Some injuries occurred by hitting something stationery such as stepping on an object, but more happened when workers hit a moving object such as a moving part of the machinery.

There were also 3,260 injuries caused by a worker being caught in or compressed by equipment or objects.

Safety Tips:

  • Always wear a hardhat onsite
  • Avoid areas where work is being done overhead
  • Use lanyards or netting to avoid dropping tools or materials to a lower level 

#2 – Slips, Trips and Falls

In 2016, there were 24,700 reported cases of construction workers being injured by slips, trips, or falls. The majority of those injuries were caused by falling to a lower level.

Safety Tips:

  • Provide fall protection for anyone working up high
  • Keep areas where people walk clear
  • Inspect personal arrest systems to make sure that everything is in good working order

#3 – Overexertion

Construction is hard work, so it’s no surprise that in 2016, 21,150 overexertion injuries were reported. These injuries were caused by lifting or lowering objects; pulling, pushing, or turning; holding, carrying, or wielding, and other things like bending, twisting climbing, reaching, etc.

Safety Tips:

  • When lifting an object, bend at your knees and use your legs
  • Wear a back brace when lifting a heavy object
  • Take regular breaks when feeling fatigued or doing something that requires repetitive motion

#4 – Transportation Incidents

U.S. roads can be dangerous. In 2016, 3,470 injuries reported in the construction industry were the result of transportation incidents. This includes vehicle collisions and pedestrians being struck and injured by vehicles in both work zones and off the road – like on construction sites.

Safety Tips:

  • Obey traffic rules when driving
  • Be aware of what’s going on around you
  • Avoid blind spots with mirrors and visual aid devices such as backup alarms and lights
  • Control traffic using barricades and signs to alert drivers of work zones, shifting traffic patterns, etc.
  • Wear proper safety equipment including hard hats, highly visible clothing, steel-toed boots, etc.

#5 - Exposure to Harmful Environments or Substances

In 2016, there were 1,470 injuries caused by exposure to extreme temperatures and 420 injuries caused by exposure to electricity. Electrical injuries can include electrocution, electrical shock, burns, and falls, and low voltage does NOT mean low hazard.

Safety Tips:

  • In hot weather, keep hydrated, try to schedule work during the cooler time of day, bring shade, and keep an eye on each other
  • In frigid weather, provide a heated break area; ensure that workers dress appropriately with layers of loose-fitting, insulated clothing; gradually introduce workers to the cold; know the symptoms of hypothermia, frostbite, and trench foot; and monitor each other
  • Check electrical cords and wires before using
  • Wear personal protection when handling electrical materials

Understanding Leads to Prevention

Understanding your biggest risks for injury and how to prevent them before they happen are your first steps to minimizing injuries in a notoriously dangerous industry. Providing a safe work environment is good for you and your employees. Plus, it provides cost savings on insurance and other costs of workplace injuries such as missed days of work, training new employees, lower employee morale, etc.

 

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

Vocational Rehab Can Reduce Workers Comp Insurance Costs

Posted by David Ross on Sun, Jul 22, 2018

Vocational rehabilitation considerations to reduce workers compensation insurance costs in PAIn 1996, Pennsylvania’s Workers’ Compensation Act was amended, and Act 57 was passed.

These changes were an attempt to address the rising costs of workers’ compensation for employers without affecting the rights of injured employees.

One goal of the amendment and passing of Act 57 was to rehabilitate injured workers and help them get back into the workforce at an economic status similar to what they enjoyed prior to the disability or injury.

This may include vocational rehabilitation (VR) benefits if the injured employee isn’t able to return to the job they held prior to the injury without residual disability or restrictions.

Vocation Rehabilitation Defined

Wikipedia defines vocational rehabilitation as “a process which enables persons with functional, psychological, developmental, cognitive and emotional impairments or health disabilities to overcome barriers to accessing, maintaining or returning to employment or other useful occupation.”

Determining Earning Power and Setting a Rehab Plan

If an employee is eligible for VR, a qualified rehabilitation counselor (QRC) will interview the injured employee to determine his or her earning power. The purpose of the interview is to understand the employee’s injury and need for future medical care or treatment, to discuss work restrictions, and to develop a rehabilitation plan to get the employee back to work as quickly and smoothly as possible.

It is not limited to physical limitations, and its goal is to determine what work the employee is capable of and then place him or her in that type of job.

The goal of the plan is to promote employability and to address things like whether the employee is definitely or likely to be permanently prevented from performing their pre-injury job, whether obtaining employment with the injured employee’s current employer (where he sustained the injury) or another employer is a reasonable outcome, and what additional rehabilitation services they might need.

Rehabilitation services may include job training, physical reconditioning, or job search assistance.

Following the Progress of the Rehab Plan

As with any workers’ compensation claim benefit, it’s important that you as the employer follow the progress of the rehabilitation plan and keep in regular contact with your injured employee and the QRC. Otherwise, the claim can be drawn out and end up costing you more than it has to. Plus, the goal of a rehabilitation plan is to get the injured employee back to work whether it’s with you or another employer.

Here are 3 tools that can improve the chances of getting an employee back to work:

  1. Disability Status Reports
    The QRC will send these to you regularly, and it’s important to read through them to make sure that the employee is making progress. If they aren’t, you may want to consider an independent vocational evaluation.
  2. On-the-job Training Plans
    This is used to develop transferable job skills and should include information about a desired position for the employee, what they will need to qualify for the position, and expected wages.
  3. Written Job Offers
    If you feel that your employee is ready to come back to work, you can write up a job offer that includes the position you’re offering including the tasks and wages.

Getting Back to Work is Good for Everyone

Getting an injured employee back to work as quickly and safely as possible is good for everyone – it keeps the employee active and engaged and helps lower the employer’s costs. Sometimes vocational rehabilitation is required, but as with any workers comp insurance claim, it’s important that you stay on top of it and continue to monitor your employee’s rehabilitation.

 

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*This blog is a summary of “Beware of Vocational Rehabilitation Costs.”

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

Repetitive Motion Injuries and Workers Comp Insurance

Posted by David Ross on Sun, Jun 24, 2018

Workers-Comp-Insurance-Repetitive-MotionThere is a very simple way to reduce health insurance and workers compensation insurance costs: provide a safer work environment and reduce the number of workplace injuries. We said it was simple, not easy.

Musculoskeletal Disorders - Largest Category of Workplace Injuries

We spend a lot of time talking about safety in the workplace in more dangerous industries such as construction and trucking, but every workplace has its safety risks. One risk almost every worker faces is Musculoskeletal Disorders (MSDs), also known as repetitive motion injuries. MSDs are the largest category of workplace injuries. According to OSHA, MSDs are responsible for 34 percent of all lost-workday injuries and illnesses, account for $1 of every $3 spent for workers’ compensation, and cost U.S. companies as much as $50 billion every year in direct costs.

In addition to increased medical and insurance costs, MSDs cause painful injuries that sometimes require surgery and prescription medications, reduce productivity, and decrease morale. While most MSDs are very preventable, many companies do little or nothing to reduce or eliminate MSD risks. A proactive, prevention-focused approach to MSDs can save your business a significant amount of money and your employees a great deal of pain. Preventing an injury rather than treating it just makes good business sense.

What are Musculoskeletal Disorders?

MSDs, Aka repetitive motion injuries are injuries that affect the movement of the musculoskeletal system including muscles, nerves, tendons, ligaments, discs, blood vessels, etc., and they can impact any employee from an office worker to a construction worker.

The parts of the body usually affected by MSDs include the arms, hands, fingers, neck, back, wrists, legs, and shoulders. Common MSDs include Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, Tendonitis, Tension Neck Syndrome, Herniated disc, etc.

When employees are exposed to MSD risk factors, a certain part or parts of their bodies become fatigued, and when that fatigue continues more rapidly than the body can recover, a musculoskeletal imbalance occurs, which can eventually lead to an MSD.

Workplace tasks that can cause this fatigue – known as ergonomic risk factors - include things like high-task repetition (cycle time of 30 seconds or less), forceful exertions, awkward postures, static postures, quick motions, compression or contact stress, vibrations, and cold temperatures.

What is Ergonomics?

OSHA defines ergonomics as “the study of work. More specifically, ergonomics is the science of designing the job to fit the worker, rather than physically forcing the worker’s body to fit the job.” According to OSHA, “Ergonomics draws on a number of scientific disciplines, including physiology,biomechanics, psychology, anthropometry, industrial hygiene, and kinesiology.”

By identifying ergonomic hazards in a workplace and adapting tasks, workstations, tools, and equipment, employers can reduce physical stress on their employees’ bodies and eliminate many MSDs.

How to Develop an Effective Ergonomic Program

To develop an effective ergonomic program, you need to identify potential ergonomic risk factors by reviewing operations and work practices; examine injury and MSD history within your company and information from OSHA, insurance companies, and other sources; and survey the employees performing the jobs.

Control methods of an ergonomic program may include engineering controls or work practice controls. Engineering controls may consist of eliminating excessive force and awkward posture requirements by using mechanical assists, counterbalance systems, adjustable height lift tables and workstations, powered equipment, and ergonomic tools. Work practice controls may include training on safe and effective procedures to complete tasks, job rotation to avoid prolonged periods of performing a single task, and regularly scheduled rest or stretch breaks. 

Recognizing and controlling ergonomic risk factors is an essential step to providing a safe workplace for all of your employees and improving your bottom line. Good ergonomics is good economics. So is good insurance.

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We offer PA Workers Compensation Insurance for businesses in Philadelphia, Reading, Lancaster, Lehigh Valley, Pittsburgh, Erie, Hanover, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania and beyond.To learn more about properly protecting your business, give American Insuring Group a call at (800) 947-1270 or (610) 775-3848, or contact us online.

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Tags: Repetitive Motion Injuries, Workers Compensation Insurance, workers comp costs, Commercial Insurance