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4 Tips to Lower the Risk of Workers' Comp Litigation

Posted by David Ross on Sat, Sep 25, 2021

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

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

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

Minimize the Risk of Injury

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

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

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

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

Understand Why Injured Employees Seek Litigation

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

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

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

Communicate With Injured Employees

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

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

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

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

Have a Return to Work program

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

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

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

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

Save on Workers' Compensation Insurance

The experienced agents at American Insuring Group specialize in WC insurance and ensure you have the right coverage at the best price. Give us a call at (800) 947-1270 or (610) 775-3848, or connect with us online. 

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

5 Top Tips to Save on Truck Insurance

Posted by David Ross on Sat, Sep 18, 2021

5 Top Tips to Save on Truck InsuranceAs an independent truck owner/operator or small fleet owner, Truck Insurance can be a significant part of your operating budget. While the right insurance is crucial to the well-being of you, your employees, and your business, there are steps you can take to lower those costs without compromising coverage. 

Hire Wisely

Better drivers typically mean fewer accidents, and of course, fewer accidents mean lower insurance costs. According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), “In 2018, at least one driver-related factor was recorded for 32 percent of the large truck drivers in fatal crashes.” 

Yes, we understand that good drivers can be hard to come by, but taking the time upfront to find suitable drivers and then taking steps to keep them will deliver significant savings down the road. 

Doing a thorough background check and verifying employment history and references of all potential hires is the first step. Look for drivers with clean driving records. It’s one of the things insurance companies are looking for to lower your insurance premiums. A general rule of thumb is to only hire drivers with no more than two minor violations in the past three years. 

Generally, the more experience a driver has, the better they can handle bad weather, road rage, and other hazards truck drivers face every day. Therefore, it’s no surprise that experience is one of the factors insurance companies consider when determining your insurance premiums. To take advantage of this, only hire drivers with a minimum of two years of CDL experience. 

Statistically, there are more accidents involving both very young and very old drivers. The FMCSA reports, “Of the 4,786 drivers of large trucks involved in fatal crashes in 2018, 328 (7 percent) were 25 years of age or younger, and 294 (6 percent) were 66 years of age or older.” Therefore, you may want to consider hiring drivers between the ages of 26 and 62. 

3 Additional Tips:

  1. Consider using FMCSA’s Pre-Employment Screening Program (PSP) to screen new hires.
  2. Consider instituting an employee retention program
  3. Improve drivers’ comfort 

Always ensure that you follow all state and federal hiring laws.

Consider Your Routes

Routes you regularly drive can affect the probability of an accident and increase your insurance costs. For example, driving in high-traffic areas or areas with a higher frequency of bad weather can result in more accidents. Therefore, if you can avoid those areas, you may be able to lower your insurance rates. 

Consider Your Trucks

Purchase the right vehicle for the right job; don’t buy a larger or more expensive truck than what you need because it could increase your insurance costs. Also, keep up with truck maintenance and install safety features in your trucks.

Consider Policy Structure

Often, combining multiple insurance policies with one company can lower your overall costs. Choosing a higher deductible will also reduce your annual premiums, but remember… you need to have the deductible amount readily available when you make a claim. 

Make Safety a Priority

Two key factors in determining your insurance rates are your DOT Safety record and your insurance claims history – how many claims you’ve filed, the size of the claims, etc. The better your record and the fewer your claims, the lower your rates. 

While you may not be able to do anything about your current claims history, you can take steps to lower the number of claims in the future, which will result in significant savings down the road. Develop a culture of safety with safety programs and ongoing safety training for your drivers. 

The Simplest Tip to Lower Your Truck Insurance Rates

Work with one of the agents at American Insuring Group, who specialize in truck insurance. They understand your challenges and needs and can help ensure you get the right coverage. Also, as independent agents, they will compare the cost of that coverage with multiple insurance companies to ensure you get the lowest rate.

Give us a call at (800) 947-1270 or (610) 775-3848, or connect with us online to start saving on your Truck Insurance costs.

Tags: truck insurance, workers comp insurance, Trucking Insurance, Safe Driving Tips

Reviewing Your Loss Run Report Can Lower WC Insurance Costs

Posted by David Ross on Sat, Jul 17, 2021

Reviewing Your Loss Run Report Can Lower WC Insurance Costs in the Lehigh Valley, Philadelphia, Erie, Pittsburgh, Lancaster, Reading and throughout Pennsylvania.In Pennsylvania, almost every employer is required to carry Workers’ Compensation Insurance for their employees; however, they are not required to pay more than they have to.

There are many ways employers can lower WC costs - creating a safer workplace, working with an insurance agent – like those at American Insuring Group - who specializes in Workers’ Comp, and reviewing your company’s WC Loss Run Report at least once a year.

What is a Loss Run Report?

A Loss Run Report – issued by your current insurance provider - shows your company’s claim activity for the policy period. You can request this report for most types of business insurance – including Workers’ Comp, and most states require the company to provide the report within a certain amount of time.

Loss Run Reports list the date of each loss and claim, a brief description of each claim, the amount paid to the insured, and whether or not the claim is closed. You can think of it like a credit report or report card for insurance companies. They use the information in the report to determine how risky a business is to insure, which can affect the premium you pay for insurance or even if an insurance company will issue a policy or renew a policy for your business.

You can use the information to lower your insurance costs and even improve other areas of your business.

What Should You Review on a Loss Run Report?

Accuracy

At the very minimum, you should check the Loss Run Report for accuracy. Ensure that you recognize every claim listed on the report and that the information listed is correct. Invalid claims or incorrect information could impact how much you pay for insurance.

Common Injuries

The report also lists the most common and frequent injuries and where they occurred. You can use this information to improve safety and lower the number of injuries within your company, reducing your insurance (and other) costs.

Claimants

Suppose you notice a high number of claims from one individual or specifically from new hires. In that case, you can talk to them about safety or adjust your safety training to help reduce the likelihood of additional claims.

Lost Time

Lost-Time claims indicate that compensation was paid to an injured worker who cannot perform their job due to the injury. The national average for lost-time claims is between 20 and 25 percent. If you notice a high percentage of lost-time claims, you may want to take a look at your Return-to-Work program. There are many benefits for both employee and employer to get injured employees back to work as soon as possible – even if it’s in a modified capacity. 

Reporting Time

Injuries should be reported within 24 hours whenever possible so the injured employee can receive quick and proper treatment. If you notice a pattern of a long time between when an injury occurs and when it is reported, you may need to look at additional safety training for management.

Open Claims

The longer a claim is open, the more it costs you, so your goal should be to close claims as quickly as possible. Any open claims should be monitored closely.

Litigation

A large percentage of litigated claims could be a red flag. It could be an indication that employees are dissatisfied with their employer or their job. If you see a large percentage of litigated claims on your loss run report, you may want to consider how well management communicates with employees, your business culture, or other areas that can cause discontent among employees.

How to Lower Your Workers’ Compensation Insurance Costs

They say “knowledge is power,” which is certainly true when it comes to lowering your Workers’ Compensation costs. If you don’t know there’s a problem, you can’t fix it. A Loss Run Report can help identify potential issues that you can address to improve your company’s bottom line.

Working with an independent agent with experience in WC insurance – as the agents at American Insuring Group do – is another way to lower your WC costs. We will compare costs and options among competing worker's compensation insurance carriers to be sure you get the right insurance at the best price. Call 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, Return-To-Work Programs

Lower Workers Compensation Costs With Proper PPE

Posted by David Ross on Sat, Jun 12, 2021

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

What is Personal Protective Equipment?

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

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

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

OSHA Employer Obligations

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

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

Types of PPE Protection

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

Eye and Face

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

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

Head

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

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

OSHA identifies three industrial classes of hard hats:

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

Foot and Leg

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

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

Examples of foot and leg PPE include the following:

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

Hand and Arm

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

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

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

Body

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

Hearing

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

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

How to Save More on Workers Compensation Insurance

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

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

The Real Cost of Employee Injuries in Restaurants

Posted by David Ross on Fri, Apr 23, 2021

Reduce your restaurant insurance costs in Philadelphia, Harrisburg, Reading, Allentown and throughout PA with these tipsWorkplace injuries do more than increase your Restaurant Insurance costs. They cost your business in many other ways, such as lost productivity, lower morale, and more. The National Safety Council (NSC) estimates the “total economic costs of work-related deaths and injuries” in 2019 at $171 billion, $1,100 per worker, and $1.2 million per death. Those figures include “income not received or expenses incurred because of fatal and nonfatal PREVENTABLE injuries.”

The good news – as the NSC points out – is that many of these injuries are preventable. Here are seven ways to minimize the risk of injuries – and the ensuing costs – in your kitchen. 

Suitable Attire

Ensuring your employees are appropriately dressed can go a long way to preventing accidents and protecting the quality of the food you serve. 

Providing or requiring closed-toed, non-slip shoes is essential to keeping workers safe in the kitchen. Closed-toed shoes help prevent cuts from falling knives and burns from hot oil. Non-slip shoes help prevent slips and falls. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 27% of the nonfatal work injuries in 2018 that resulted in days away from work were related to slips, trips, and falls. 

Personal Protective Equipment – such as gloves, oven mitts, and aprons – help prevent injuries such as burns. Properly-fitting uniforms - such as chef coats, cook shirts, and aprons – can help protect employees and minimize injuries. 

Professionally laundered uniforms have been shown to provide superior cleanliness as opposed to home washing machines. Hats and hairnets keep hair out of the way and prevent food from falling into the food. 

Non-Slip Mats

Again, 27% of work injuries result from slips, trips, and falls, and restaurant kitchens tend to be high-paced, busy places with employees constantly on the move. Therefore, anything you can do to keep your employees from slipping, tripping, or falling is essential to kitchen safety, making non-slip mats crucial for any restaurant kitchen. 

Proper Ventilation

“Having proper ventilation for your restaurant is imperative for employee and customer health as well as food sanitation,” FSR magazine states. “Improper ventilation can result in safety violations, higher utility bills, decreased employee productivity, and even flaring tempers from customers as well as employees. It can also result in loss of traffic due to unpleasant odors or uncomfortable conditions.” 

Fire Suppression System

According to the U.S. Fire Administration, “Restaurant fires accounted for about 6 percent of all nonresidential building fires reported to fire departments each year. These fires resulted in an average of less than one fatality per 1,000 fires, 11 injuries per 1,000 fires, and $23,000 in loss per fire.” 

Deep fryers are involved in one out of ten kitchen fires. Pouring water on a grease fire is not a good idea as it can cause the oil to splash and spread the fire, and the vaporizing water may carry grease particles, which can spread the fire further. 

Proper maintenance and cleaning of deep fryers help minimize the risk of fires, and installing a fire suppression system helps ensure that if a fire does occur, it is put out quickly and safely. 

Equipment Guards

Kitchen Equipment, such as mixers, grinders, and slicers, are an essential part of most commercial kitchens, but they also present a safety risk. In a fast-paced environment or without proper training, accidents can happen. An easy way to avoid cuts or amputations is installing appropriate guards that keep fingers and hands out of harm’s way. 

Appropriate Signage

Signage can draw attention to potential hazards – such as a wet floor – and prevent injuries. 

Proper Cleaning

Good sanitation should be a top priority in any kitchen. One uncleaned filter can cause a fire. A spill that isn’t immediately cleaned can cause an employee to slip and fall. 

Employees need to be trained on how to clean surfaces, equipment, and floors properly. Daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly cleaning checklists and schedules should be strictly adhered to. 

When Injuries Can’t be Prevented

Sometimes, despite your best efforts, an employee is injured. Or a customer gets sick from a foodborne illness. Or a fire damages your kitchen. The right insurance helps protect you, your business, your customers, and your employees. 

Give one of the experienced agents at American Insuring Group a call at (800) 947-1270 or (610) 775-3848 or connect with us online. Not only will we ensure you have the right insurance, but we’ll also ensure you get it at the lowest cost.

Tags: Restaurant Insurance, workers comp insurance, Restaurant Insurance Reading PA, Restaurant Safety, Restaurant Insurance Costs

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

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

Choosing Appropriate PPE for Construction Workers

Posted by David Ross on Sat, Nov 21, 2020

Use proper PPE to minimize injuries, and lower your Contractors Insurance costs in Philadelphia, Allentown, Reading, Pittsburgh, Erie and throughout PA and the US.Appropriate Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) can help protect your greatest asset – your employees, minimize injuries, and lower your Contractors Insurance costs.

The idea of wearing PPE is not new. It dates as far back as ancient times when soldiers wore protective head and face gear and body armor during battle. However, it wasn’t until the construction of the Golden Gate Bridge in the mid-1930s that PPE was required on a large-scale construction project.

The industry norm at the time was that one worker was expected to die for every million dollars spent on a construction project. At a cost of $35 million, that meant 35 workers were expected to die while constructing the Golden Gate Bridge.

Joseph Strauss, the chief engineer on the project, refused to accept that and made safety a priority, spending $130,000 on an innovative safety net and requiring the use of PPE such as fall protection safety belts, glare-free goggles, and hard hats. A total of eleven – not 35 - workers lost their lives on that project and ten of those fatalities occurred during a single accident when a 5-ton work platform broke off and fell through the safety net.

The use of PPE continued to be optional on most construction sites for several decades until the creation of OSHA in 1971. Today, OSHA requires employers to protect workers from workplace hazards that can cause injury or illness, including providing and requiring the use of appropriate PPE.

Determining Appropriate PPE

The first step to determining what PPE is needed is to perform a hazard assessment of the worksite. A few common hazards include the following:

  • Sharp edges
  • Falling objects
  • Flying sparks
  • Fluctuating temperatures
  • Chemicals
  • Noise

The next step is to determine the appropriate types of PPE needed to protect workers from those hazards. OSHA recommends exceeding minimum standards. PPE should fit properly and be well-maintained.

Employees must also be trained in the proper use of PPE, including the following:

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

Training must be documented, and if a previously trained employee is not “demonstrating the proper understanding and skill level in the use of PPE,” they should receive additional training.

Types of Protection

The following are types of protection typically needed at construction sites:

  • Head Protection – Construction workers should wear hard hats when there is a potential for objects falling from above, bumps to the head from fixed objects, or accidental head contact with electrical hazards. Those hats should be inspected regularly and replaced as needed.

  • Eye and Face Protection – Construction workers should wear safety glasses or face shields when exposed to any electrical hazards and when they are in danger of having flying particles get in their eyes. For example, during welding, cutting, grinding, and nailing.

  • Hearing Protection – Construction workers should wear earplugs or earmuffs when exposed to loud noises, such as around the use of chainsaws or heavy equipment.

  • Foot Protection – Construction workers should wear safety-toed footwear that has slip-resistant and puncture-resistant soles.

  • Hand protection – Construction workers should wear gloves that fit snuggly and wear the right gloves for the job. For example, heavy-duty rubber gloves for concrete work, welding gloves for welding, and insulated gloves and sleeves when exposed to electrical hazards.

Use Insurance as Your Safety Net!

Trusted Choice Independent Insurance Agents

Just like the safety nets used during the construction of the Golden Gate Bridge, the right insurance can act as a safety net when - despite all of your efforts - an accident does occur.

The independent agents at American Insuring Group specialize in Contractors Insurance. We work hard to get you the right insurance protection at the best possible price because we compare rates and coverage among many competing providers.

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

 

Tags: Construction Insurance, Contractor Insurance, workers comp insurance, Contractor Safety Management, Safety Programs

Workers Compensation Basics: What Employers Need to Know

Posted by David Ross on Sat, Sep 26, 2020

The basics on reducing the cost of workers comp insurance in Philadelphia, Lancaster, Pittsburgh, Erie, Allentown, and throughout Pennsylvania.One of the most important types of insurance that almost every business needs is Workers' Compensation Insurance (WC). It helps protect both employees and employers when there is a work-related injury or illness. In Pennsylvania, most employers are required by law to carry WC for their employees.

For many employers, WC is one of the most expensive types of insurance they need to carry, which is why working with an insurance agent who has experience with WC – like those at American Insuring Group - is essential to keeping those costs as low as possible.

They say knowledge is power, so here are the basics every employer should understand about Workers' Compensation Insurance.

What is Workers' Compensation?

If a worker is injured in the workplace or becomes ill because of his or her work environment, Workers' Compensation helps cover medical costs and lost wages if the employee is not able to work. It doesn't matter who or what caused the injury – a faulty machine, the employee, a co-worker, etc. - WC will pay those expenses.

In Pennsylvania, WC covers health care expenses (doctor's visits, surgery, etc.), ongoing care (such as physical therapy), illnesses, repetitive injuries (such as carpal tunnel syndrome), partial or total disability payments, permanent injury payments, and death benefits.

WC also benefits the employer by limiting an injured employee's right to sue an employer directly for damages that injury or illness causes.

Who is Required to Carry Workers' Compensation?

The Department of Labor & Industry states, "If you employ workers in Pennsylvania, you must have workers' compensation insurance -- it's the law." This includes both full and part-time employees, even if they are family members.

The only exceptions are If ALL employees fall into one or more of the following categories:

  • Federal workers
  • Longshoremen
  • Railroad workers
  • Casual workers
  • Persons working out of their own homes or other premises not under the control of management
  • Agricultural laborers making less than $1200 per calendar year
  • Domestic workers who have not elected to come under the provisions of the Workers' Compensation Act
  • Sole proprietors or general partners
  • Those who have been given an exemption by the Department of Labor and Industry due to religious beliefs
  • Executive officers who have been granted exclusion by the Department of Labor and Industry
  • Licensed real estate salespersons or associate real estate brokers affiliated with a licensed real estate broker or a licensed insurance agent affiliated with a licensed insurance agency, under a written agreement, remunerated on a commission-only basis and qualifying as independent contractors for State tax purposes or for Federal tax purposes under the Internal Revenue Code of 1986.

If a business does not qualify for one of these exceptions, it must carry Workers' Compensation Insurance for its employees. Failure to do so can result in the employer being required to pay back any costs paid by the Uninsured Employers Guaranty Fund or a work-related injury or illness, including interest, penalties, and fees. An uninsured employer may also face civil and criminal risks that can result in fines and imprisonment.

How Much Does Workers' Compensation Insurance Cost?

How much you pay for WC is based on a formula:

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

An employee's classification code determines the RATE. Those codes are based on the likelihood of that employee being injured on the job. Employees doing more dangerous jobs, such as construction workers, will have a higher rating than someone in a less dangerous job, such as office workers.

A projection of your payroll determines PAYROLL.

Your business's loss history determines the EXPERIENCE MODIFIER compared with the average loss history in your industry. An experience modifier of one is average. A lower number will reflect a better than average loss history, and a higher number will reflect a loss history that is worse than the average. The lower your experience modifier number, the lower your WC rates. 

 

How Can You Lower Workers' Compensation Insurance Costs?

An independent insurance agent who specializes in WC - like those at American Insuring Group – can help ensure you pay the lowest premium possible. By searching among many competing insurance carriers, we obtain the right insurance at the lowest price possible. So give us a call at (800) 947-1270 or (610) 775-3848 or connect with us online.

 

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