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Transitional Duty Helps Businesses Save on Workers' Compensation Costs

Posted by David Ross on Sat, May 15, 2021

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

What are Modified and Transitional Duty?

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

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

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

The Key to Successful Transitional Duty

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

  1. Weekly Meetings Keep Injured Employees Connected

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

  1. Weekly Meetings Help Transition Injured Employees More Quickly

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

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

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

The Weekly Meetings

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

Here are a few tips:

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

Save on Workers' Compensation Insurance

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

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

5 Tips to Improve Your Workers' Compensation Plan

Posted by David Ross on Sun, Apr 11, 2021

Workers Compensation Insurance protection in Philadelphia, Reading, Allentown, Lancaster, York, Harrisburg, Pittsburgh and everywhere in PA.No Workers' Compensation Insurance program is perfect; however, if you want to improve your company's bottom line, it's imperative that you continually look for ways to improve your WC program.

Here are five tips to help any business improve its Workers' Compensation Plan. 

 

1. Get Started

This may sound like common sense, but sometimes the most challenging thing with any project is just getting started. Here are five areas that you should focus on to see the most significant impact. Pick one and get started!

  1. Improve safety
  2. Reduce costs
  3. Reduce litigation
  4. Build relationships with medical providers
  5. Get injured employees back to work 

2. Create a Culture of Safety

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that in 2019 there were 5,333 fatal work injuries recorded and 2,814,000 non-fatal work injuries that resulted in 888,200 cases with days away from work. The median number of days away from work was eight. These work-related fatalities, injuries, and illnesses are costing U.S. businesses billions of dollars every year, which is why workplace safety should be a top priority at any company. 

Creating a business culture that focuses on safety will have one of the most significant impacts on reducing your organization's number of injuries. That culture must be embraced by all employees at every level of the organizational chart. 

Here are three tips to help create a culture of safety:

  1. Create a safety program with a set of controls designed to help protect employees from potential harm within the workplace.
  2. Ongoing training should be a big part of any safety program. According to the National Safety Council, "Investing in workplace training is money well spent. Employers with effective safety and health training programs benefit from fewer workplace injuries and claims, better employee morale, and lower insurance premiums."
  3. Employees should be recognized and/or rewarded for committing to workplace safety practices. 

3. Set Program Goals

Bill Copeland said, "The trouble with not having a goal is that you can spend your life running up and down the field and never score." Research shows that setting measurable and attainable goals boosts performance because it motivates and challenges employees to increase their effort, allows them to focus better, and helps them prioritize. 

Goals you may want to consider are reducing the number of injuries, reducing the time it takes to get an injured employee back to work or reducing the number of litigation claims. 

Once you have specific goals in place, create a plan of action and consider recognizing or rewarding employees for helping accomplish those goals. 

4. Avoid Common Mistakes

There are certain mistakes that many employers make. Knowing those mistakes is the first step to correcting them. Here are seven common Workers' Compensation mistakes to watch for:

  1. Not having a safety plan in place or not enforcing it
  2. Not having a return-to-work program
  3. Underestimating the projected annual payroll
  4. Not assigning the correct classification codes or not changing those classifications when business operations change
  5. Listing an employee as a subcontractor – on purpose or by mistake.
  6. Poor claims management
  7. Working with inexperienced insurance agents 

5. Work With an Experienced Independent Workers' Compensation Insurance Agent

The agents at American Insuring Group specialize in Workers' Compensation Insurance. We have a clear understanding of the WC process and a proven track record of providing exceptional service to businesses – both big and small. 

The American Insuring Group's independent agents can help ensure that you get the best coverage at the lowest cost on all of your business insurance needs because, as independent agents, they are free to shop and compare among competing insurance carriers. Give us a call at (800) 947-1270 or (610) 775-3848 or connect with us online today!

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

PPE to Lower Insurance and Other Operating Costs in Restaurants

Posted by David Ross on Sat, Mar 13, 2021

PPE to Lower Insurance Costs in Restaurants in Cities Throughout PA, including Philadelphia, Reading, Pittsburgh, Lancaster, Lebanon, Harrisburg, Allentown and beyond.Restaurant Insurance helps protect your business if something bad happens. If a fire destroys your kitchen, Property Insurance will help you rebuild your kitchen. If an employee is injured on the job, Workers' Compensation Insurance will help pay for medical bills and lost wages and help protect you against accident-related lawsuits. 

Insurance is vital to any business's health and success, but wouldn't it be better never to have had a fire in your kitchen or an employee injured on the job? Benjamin Franklin had it right when he said, "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure."  

One way to prevent many workplace injuries and even help protect your customers is by providing appropriate Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to your employees. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has PPE standards that require employers to provide specific PPE, but we recommend going beyond those basic requirements.  

While this will mean a higher up-front cost, you will make up much (if not more) of that cost by lower insurance costs, higher employee morale, productivity, fewer lost workdays, etc.  

What is Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)?

OSHA defines PPE as "equipment worn to minimize exposure to hazards that cause serious workplace injuries and illnesses. These injuries and illnesses may result from contact with chemical, radiological, physical, electrical, mechanical, or other workplace hazards."  

Standard PPE used by restaurant workers include the following:

  • Gloves – dishwashing, cut-resistant, and freezer
  • Oven Mitts
  • Aprons
  • Anti-Slip Shoes 

COVID-19 has introduced a new PPE requirement – masks. 

What is Appropriate PPE?

The best way to determine appropriate PPE for your employees is to look at any potential safety (knives, ovens, and slippery floors), ergonomic (repetitive tasks or heavy lifting), or other health hazards (noise, chemicals, heat, and stress).  

Once those hazards are identified, consider controls your restaurant can put in place to keep workers safe. OSHA recommends asking three questions. Here's an example. 

Many restaurant workers get burned cleaning fryers or lowering frozen food into deep fryers.  

  1. Is there a way to remove the hazard? Install grease pans that dump automatically for cleaning. 
  2. What improvement in work practices would help? Train workers on the importance of shaking ice crystals off frozen foods before putting them into the deep fryer to avoid splattering. 
  3. What protective clothing or equipment would help? Gloves, sleevelets, and long aprons. These need to resist heat and grease to at least 400º F for anyone working with fryers. 

Other PPE Considerations

PPE should be appropriately cleaned and maintained and should properly fit the employee using it. A PPE program should be implemented that addresses hazards and the selection, maintenance, and use of PPE. It should also include employee training and monitoring to ensure it is effective. 

Training should teach employees on the proper use of PPE, such as…

  • When PPE is needed
  • What PPE is necessary
  • How to put PPE on, adjust it, wear it, and take it off
  • The limitations of PPE
  • Proper care, maintenance, useful life, and disposal of PPE 

The proper use of PPE will protect your greatest assets – your employees, minimize injuries, and lower insurance costs.  

Another Way to Save on Restaurant Insurance

Another way to lower your Restaurant Insurance costs is to work with an agency – like American Insuring Group - specializing in Restaurant insurance. Our independent agents will compare your insurance cost with several companies to ensure that you pay the lowest price for your coverage.

Give us a call today at (800) 947-1270 or (610) 775-3848 or connect with us online for a free Restaurant Insurance quote! 

Tags: Restaurant Insurance, workers comp costs, Restaurant Safety, Restaurant Insurance Costs

Reduce Workers’ Comp Costs With Exoskeleton Technology

Posted by David Ross on Sat, Mar 06, 2021

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

What is Exoskeleton Technology?

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

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

How Can Exoskeleton Technology Reduce Workers’ Compensation Costs?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Cost of Failing to Provide Adequate Workers’ Comp

Posted by David Ross on Sat, Jan 30, 2021

Avoid the cost of failing to provide Adequate WC Insurance. Get the right workers comp insurance from American Insuring Group. Serving Philadelphia, Reading, Pittsburgh, Erie, Harrisburg, Allentown, and all of Pennsylvania.Most employers in Pennsylvania are required to have Workers’ Compensation (WC) Insurance. Failure to carry adequate WC can result in civil and criminal penalties. Therefore, employers must understand their WC obligations. Here's what you need to know... 

What is Workers’ Compensation?

The Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry defines Workers’ Compensation as “mandatory, employer-financed, no-fault insurance which ensures that employees disabled due to a work-related injury or disease will be compensated for lost wages and provides necessary medical treatment to return them to the workforce.”

The goals of WC are simple:

  • safer workplaces
  • prompt treatment and compensation for work-related injuries and illnesses
  • reduced litigation costs

With only a few exceptions, Worker’s Compensation insurance is mandatory for any employer in Pennsylvania who employs at least one employee. If ALL workers employed by that employer fall into one or more of the following categories, they may be excluded from mandatory WC. This is a general list, minus the fine print.

  • Federal workers
  • Longshoremen
  • Railroad workers
  • Casual workers
  • Persons who work out of their own homes or other premises not under the control or management of the enterprise AND make up, clean, wash, alter, ornament, finish, repair, or adapt articles or materials for sale that are given to them.
  • Agricultural laborers making less than $1200 per year
  • Domestic workers who have not elected to come under the provisions of the WC Act (they must notify the Department of Labor & Industry)
  • Sole proprietor or general partners with no other employees
  • People granted exceptions due to religious beliefs
  • LLC’s in which only the employees are members of the LLC
  • Executive officers who have been given an exclusion
  • Licensed real estate salespersons or associate real estate brokers

Workmen’s Compensation rules for independent contractors can be complicated. Merely referring to someone as an independent contractor doesn’t mean the Department of Labor & Industry will agree. Here are a few factors that may indicate an individual is not an independent contractor but an employee.

The individual…

  • Performs duties assigned by the employer
  • Works hours set by the employer
  • Uses tools, equipment, or materials that the employer provides

The bottom-line is… before you assume your employees are exempt from Workers’ Compensation Insurance, check with your insurance agent or the Department of Labor & Industry or risk facing civil or criminal penalties.

According to the National Academy of Social Insurance, the estimated cost of WC Insurance in Pennsylvania is $1.34 per $100 covered in payroll.

Filing a Workers’ Compensation Claim

Employers are required to report all injuries to their insurer or program - in the case of a self-insured employer - the person responsible for managing their WC. 

Employers are also required to submit a First Report of Injury to the Bureau of Workers’ Compensation within seven days if the injury results in the loss of one or more day, shift, or turn of work. If the injury results in death, the employer must file a First Report with the Bureau within 48 hours. The injured workers and the employer’s insurer should also receive copies of the First Report. 

Penalties for Non-Compliance

Refusing to file a Workers’ Compensation claim on behalf of an employee is against the law.

 If an employee is injured, and the employer does not have WC insurance, the Uninsured Employers Guaranty Fund will pay the employee’s benefits. The employer will be required to reimburse the fund, including costs, interest, penalties, and other fees. 

Injured employees covered under WC insurance have very limited ability to sue their employers. However, that is not the case when the employer fails to carry WC insurance. Employers without WC are open to litigation for workplace injuries and illnesses. And often, the damages awarded are higher than what the employer would have paid for WC insurance. 

Employers who fail to maintain WC coverage could be found guilty of a misdemeanor, which carries a fine of up to $2,500 and up to one year in jail. If the courts decide the failure to comply was intentional, the employer could be facing a felony charge that carries a fine of up to $15,000 and up to seven years in jail. 

Getting the Right Workers’ Compensation Insurance

American Insuring Group specializes in Workers’ Compensation Insurance. We can help you determine 1) whether or not your business is required to carry WC and 2) how you can get the best price on quality insurance protection if it is needed. Call us today 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

How Pre-Employment Tests Can Lower WC Insurance Costs

Posted by David Ross on Sat, Jan 16, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What is a Pre-Employment Human Performance Evaluation?

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

An HPE can do the following:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lower Your Workers’ Compensation Insurance Costs!

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

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

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

Lower Contractors Insurance Costs by Lowering Your Experience Rating

Posted by David Ross on Sat, Dec 19, 2020

Here's How to Lower Your Contractors Insurance Costs in Philadelphia, Reading, Erie, Pittsburgh, Lancaster and Throughout Pennsylvania.Want to lower your Contractors Insurance Costs? Lower Your Experience Rating.

Your construction company’s experience rating helps determine your Workers’ Compensation Insurance costs and is based on your company’s WC claim history compared to other companies similar to yours.

You can think of a lower experience rating as a reward for having a safer work environment or perhaps as an incentive to create a safer work environment. The bottom line is that a lower experience rating results in a lower insurance premium.

The Experience Rating

The Pennsylvania Compensation Rating Bureau (PCRB) describes your experience rating as “a systematic, mathematical method of modifying future premiums.” It is based on past claims and helps determine your experience modifier, which is an adjustment of your annual premiums based on the likelihood that you will file a claim.

You qualify for an experience rating if your audited payroll or other exposures over a three-year period, multiplied by the current PCRB lost costs by classification, add up to $10,000 or more.

The experience rating is continually being updated based on a sliding three-year experience period, which according to PCRB, “assures a stable historical record for the individual employer, while also using the most recent available loss experience of the employer.” This means improving workplace safety and minimizing claims can change your experience rating and the premiums you pay.

What if your insurance premiums are less than $10,000? The merit rating plan enables businesses to receive a 5% discount or surcharge depending on their loss history, which provides financial incentives for small businesses to operate safer workplaces.

The following factors affect your experience rating, which determines your experience modifier:

  • Number of Claims
  • Cost of Claims
  • Frequency of Claims
  • Severity of Claims
  • Closed vs. Open Claims
  • Claims History of other businesses in your industry
  • Years in business
  • Number of employees
  • State minimums

The following formula then determines your WC premiums:

WC Premium = Class Code Rate X Experience Modifier X payroll/$100

So, you can see how a lower experience modifier can lower your WC costs.

NOTE: The experience rating formula places more emphasis on loss frequency than it does on loss severity. Therefore, a business with many small losses can end up with a higher experience modifier than a company with fewer, but more severe, losses.

Tips to Lower Your Experience Rating

It comes as no surprise that the number one tip to lower your experience rating is to reduce the number of accidents in your workplace. How do you do that?

  1. Institute a Workplace Safety Program
  2. Engage management and employees in safety protocols
  3. Properly train employees and management on safety
  4. Identify and mitigate hazards
  5. Provide employees with proper PPE
  6. Have adequate staff levels
  7. Inspect and maintain all equipment

The Insurance Information Institute offers this advice, “Review, respond, and improve. Promoting workplace safety is an ongoing process. You should review and improve your program—especially in response to accidents or ‘near misses.’ Employees should always be encouraged to report newly identified hazards or workplace incidents so that you can respond appropriately.”

The other thing you can do is get injured workers back to work as quickly and safely as possible with a Return-to-Work program.

Here's How to Save on All Your Commercial Insurance Needs

American Insuring Group specializes in Contractors Insurance and in all types of commercial insurance. Our independent agents will compare the cost of your coverage among many insurance companies to help you get the best rate on all your Contractor Insurance needs.

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

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

Safety Hazards Can Be Found in Any Workplace

Posted by David Ross on Sat, Dec 12, 2020

Improving workplace safety can help lower Workers’ Compensation Insurance costs in Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Lehigh Valley, Erie, Lancaster, and in counties throughout Pennsylvania.We often discuss how improving workplace safety can help lower Workers’ Compensation Insurance costs, and we typically focus on very hazardous industries, such as construction. But every workplace has its share of hazards that can cause employee injuries.

The National Safety Council reports that a worker is injured on the job every seven seconds. What may surprise you is the three most common types of injuries that keep workers away from work are sprains, strains, or tears; soreness or pain; and cuts, lacerations, or punctures. The three most common workplace injuries resulting in lost workdays include overexertion, contact with objects or equipment, and slips, trips, and falls.

While these types of injuries may be more prevalent at construction sites and other obviously dangerous workplaces, they can happen at just about any worksite – even a seemingly safe office setting. For example, an employee can lift a heavy box of office supplies improperly and experience overexertion. Or someone can fail to clean up spilled coffee in the breakroom, causing someone else to slip and fall.

Minimizing accidents can help lower your WC Insurance costs because there is a specific formula for determining the cost of your WC insurance:

Premium = (Payroll/$100) x Class Code Rate x Experience Rate Modification

Your experience rate modifier, often called MOD, is a numeric representation of your claim experience. The number is based on how your claims compare with other companies with a similar classification of employees. Employers with fewer than average and less severe accidents than average will have a lower MOD, which will help lower the cost of WC Insurance.

Whether you are looking at employees in a highly hazardous occupation like construction or a less hazardous occupation like an office setting, minimizing workplace injuries can help lower WC and other costs. The first step to lowering injuries is to identify and assess potential hazards.

Here are the types of hazards you should look for:

Safety Hazards are unsafe working conditions that can potentially cause illness, injury, or death, such as spills that aren’t cleaned up, frayed cords, and confined spaces.

Physical Hazards include exposure to extreme temperatures, the sun, radiation, or loud noise.

Chemical Hazards include dangerous chemicals in any form (solid, liquid, or gas) and can occur during the use, transfer, or storage of those chemicals. Potentially dangerous chemicals include cleaning products, pesticides, gasoline, paints, etc.

Microbiological Hazards can include exposure to mold, sewage, airborne illnesses, insects that bite or sting, poisonous plants, animal feces, etc. This is one of the most commonly overlooked hazards.

Electrical Hazards include damaged equipment, overhead powerlines, improper grounding, overloaded circuits, etc. Even improperly used extension cords can become a safety hazard to employees.

Ergonomic Hazards can be found in uncomfortable workstations, repetitive movements, poor body positioning, or anything that puts a strain on an employee’s body. These can be the most difficult to spot because the strain isn’t always noticed immediately. Discover more about minimizing ergonomic hazards here.

Organizational Hazards is a broad category that includes workplace violence, high stress, excessive workplace demands, lack of respect, or sexual harassment. It can also include housekeeping hazards, such as blocked fire exits, cluttered desks, and over-stacking loads.

Here's How to Save a Bundle on Workers’ Compensation Insurance!

The independent agents at American Insuring Group specialize in Workers’ Compensation Insurance. We'll make sure that you get the right coverage at the best price. That's because we're free to shop the market for you, unlike those single-brand agencies.

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

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

8 Restaurant Safety Tips to Lower Insurance Costs

Posted by David Ross on Sat, Dec 05, 2020

Lower Your Restaurant Insurance Costs and Workers’ Comp and Liability costs in Philadelphia, Allentown, Reading, Lancaster, Harrisburg, Pittsburgh, Erie and throughout Pennsylvania.The best way to lower Restaurant Insurance Costs – particularly Workers’ Comp and Commercial Liability – is to create a safer restaurant for everyone –employees, customers, vendors, etc.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, there were 2.8 million nonfatal workplace injuries and illnesses reported in the U.S. in 2018. The total cost of those injuries was $170.8 billion, which included wage and productivity losses, medical expenses, administrative expenses, etc. However, it did not include the lower employee morale and productivity workplace injuries cause.

Here are eight restaurant safety tips to help lower costs.

1. Have your kitchen exhaust hood system degreased by a professional every six months.

According to the National Fire Protection Association, there were 7,410 structure fires in eating and drinking establishments reported to U.S. fire departments every year between 2010 and 2014. Cooking equipment was the cause of 61% of those fires. Grease build-up can cause fires that often spread into duct-work, exhaust systems, vents, and fans.

2. Have your fire suppression system checked by a professional every six months.

A properly working fire suppression system can extinguish flames in just a few seconds; thereby, preventing extensive and costly damage.

3. Ensure employees wear proper PPE.

This includes appropriate gloves (dishwashing, cut-resistant, and freezer), oven mitts, aprons, and anti-slip shoes.

4. Invest in anti-fatigue mats.

Anti-fatigue mats provide a cushion between feet and floors and relieve the strain caused by standing for long periods and help prevent slip-related injuries. In addition to minimizing strain and injuries, anti-fatigue mats can help boost employee morale and improve productivity.

5. Provide ongoing safety training for all employees.

OSHA states, “Regular training helps employees learn how to avoid hazards, keeps lines of communication open between you and your employees about hazards you may not be aware of, and lets employees know that you are serious about promoting sound safety policies and work practices in your restaurant.”

Training should include identifying hazards; preventing burns, cuts, slips and falls, ergonomic hazards, and injuries from robberies and assaults: and dealing with emergencies and injuries.

6. Have your employees take alcohol awareness training classes.

If your restaurant serves alcohol, you should have all servers take alcohol awareness training classes. In Pennsylvania, your restaurant can be held liable for damage caused by a customer served or sold alcohol while visibly intoxicated. The right training can teach servers about responsible alcohol consumption and how to protect customers, employers, and themselves.

7. Train your employees on safe food handling.

Every year, foodborne disease causes 76 million illnesses and 5,000 deaths in the U.S., and the restaurant industry is responsible for a significant number of those illnesses and deaths.

An NCBI (National Center for Biotechnology Information) report found the cost of a single foodborne illness outbreak ranged from

  • $3,968 to $1.9 million for a fast-food restaurant,
  • $6,330 to $2.1 million for a fast-casual restaurant,
  • $8,030 to $2.2 million for a casual-dining restaurant, and
  • $8,273 to $2.6 million for a fine-dining restaurant

Those outbreaks ranged from a 5-person outbreak with no lost revenue, lawsuits, legal fees, or fines, to a 250-person outbreak, with significant lost revenue, lawsuits, legal fees, and fines.

The NCBI’s conclusion is, “The cost of a single foodborne illness outbreak to a restaurant can be substantial and outweigh the typical costs of prevention and control measures.”

8. Give American Insuring Group a Call Today!

As independent agents and specialists in restaurant insurance, the agents at the American Insuring Group will compare prices and coverage among multiple reputable insurance companies to ensure that you get the right insurance at the best price!

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

Tags: Restaurant Insurance, workers comp costs, Business Insurance, Restaurant Liability Insurance, Restaurant Safety

5 Benefits of Prompt WC Insurance Claims Reporting

Posted by David Ross on Sun, Oct 25, 2020

Promptly filing your workers comp claims can help lower your WC insurance costs.You’ve purchased the appropriate Workers’ Compensation (WC) Insurance, as required by Pennsylvania law. That’s a significant first step to protecting your employees and your business, but there’s more to a healthy WC program, including the prompt reporting of injuries and claims.

We understand that you have a lot on your plate and may wear many hats, but not reporting a claim promptly can have a negative impact on your WC program, your business, your injured employee, and your worker's comp insurance costs.

5 Reasons Prompt Reporting of Workplace Injuries and WC Claims is Crucial to Your Business

Preserve Evidence

When an injury occurs, it’s essential that the injury is investigated as quickly as possible, or you could risk losing crucial evidence. Therefore, as soon as an injury occurs, someone should document details of the injury, investigate to try to determine how the injury occurred, interview the employee and any witnesses, and of course, ensure that the injured employee receives appropriate medical attention.

Lower Cost of Claims

The National Council on Compensation Insurance (NCCI) found that the median cost of WC insurance claims that were reported between one day and two weeks were “significantly lower,” and the cost rose as the time it took to report a claim rose. The bottom line is that delayed reporting can increase WC claim costs up to 51%.

Better Medical treatment

When an injured employee receives prompt medical treatment from competent, in-network healthcare providers, they are more likely to receive a proper diagnosis and effective treatment to heal faster.

Plus, even seemingly minor injuries can escalate into more significant issues if they are not immediately looked at by a medical professional.

Quicker Return to Work

The sooner you can get an injured employee back to work safely, the better it is for everyone – the injured employee, co-workers, and your business. Having a return to work program can shorten the length of time an injured worker is out of work by an average of 3.6 weeks, according to the RAND Institute for Civil Justice.

Health providers who are familiar with treating workers’ compensation injuries will focus on facilitating an early return to work for the injured employee. The sooner the injury is reported, the sooner that process can begin.

Decrease in Litigation

Promptly reporting an injury and keeping in touch with the injured employee throughout the claim process helps reduce employee’s fears and makes them feel as if their employer cares about them and is treating them fairly. According to NCCI research, this all translates to a lower chance of litigation.

Fraud Prevention

According to the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB), “Workers’ compensation claimant fraud and medical fraud are significant contributors to our nation’s annual $30 billion insurance fraud problem.”

Prompt reporting of an injury helps ensure 1) the injured worker receives proper medical treatment, 2) the injured worker feels they’ve been treated fairly, and 3) allows a better investigation of the incident. All this helps minimize fraud.

Quicker Closure

The longer a claim remains open, the more resources you have to use. Promptly reporting an employee injury can get an employee back to work and the claim closed more quickly.

Safer Workplace

When an injury is reported and investigated quickly, you are more likely to recognize safety issues, correct them, and ensure the safety of your employees.

One More Step: Lower Workers Compensation Insurance Costs

If you want to learn more about how to get the lowest cost on WC Insurance and other commercial insurance, give the independent agents at American Insuring Group a call at (800) 947-1270 or (610) 775-3848 or connect with us online. We shop and compare competing insurance carriers to get you the best rates on quality insurance protection. Call today.

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