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4 Steps to a Speedy Workers’ Comp Insurance Claim

Posted by David Ross on Sun, Oct 13, 2019

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

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

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

Take Care of the Injured Employee

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

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

Survey the Scene of the Accident

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

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

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

Collect Information

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

Complete the Incident Report

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

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

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

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

Want to Save on All Kinds of Commercial Insurance?

The agents at American Insuring Group specialize in commercial insurance, including Workers’ Compensation. We can help ensure that you have the right coverage and – as independent agents who can compare costs with several companies – that you get it at the best price!  Give us a call at (800) 947-1270 or (610) 775-3848 or connect with us online.

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

Should Your Company Initiate a Workplace Safety Program?

Posted by David Ross on Sun, Oct 06, 2019

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

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

Benefits of a Workplace Safety Program

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

According to OSHA, a study of small businesses that registered with the Workers' Compensation Board of British Columbia found a statistical correlation between workplace safety and health and the survival of a small business. The report found that businesses that failed within one to two years of start-up had an average injury rate of 9.71 while businesses that survived more than five years had an average injury rate of 3.89 in their first year of business.

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

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

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

How to Develop a Workplace Safety Plan

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

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

Want to Learn More About Safety in the Workplace?

Check out American Insuring Group’s informative blog. From electrical safety to fire safety and everything in between, you’ll find plenty of resources to help you create a safer workplace. Then give one of our independent Workers’ Compensation Insurance experts a call to save big! Call us at (800) 947-1270 or (610) 775-3848 or connect with us online

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

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

Posted by David Ross on Sun, Sep 15, 2019

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

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

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

Not completing the Injury Form Correctly

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

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

Not Reporting a Claim Right Away

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

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

Not Knowing the Details of the Injury

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

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

Not Working With Them

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

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

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

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

Although Workers’ Compensation Insurance is required for most businesses with employees, that doesn’t mean you can’t get more bang for your buck! Start saving by giving the Workers’ Comp experts at American Insuring Group a call at (800) 947-1270 or (610) 775-3848 or connect with us online.

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

Masonry Contractors: How to lower Contractor and WC Costs

Posted by David Ross on Sun, Sep 01, 2019

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

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

About the Work

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

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

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

Slips, Trips, and Falls

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

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

Here are five ladder safety tips to avoid falls:

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

Here are five scaffolding safety tips to avoid falls:

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

Electrocution

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

Lifting Injuries

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

Here are five lifting safety tips:

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

Heat Illness

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

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

Is Your Contractors Insurance Too High?

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

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

5 Situations When Contractor’s Workers’ Comp Claims May be Denied

Posted by David Ross on Sun, Aug 25, 2019

save-contractors-insurance-300Since the passing of the Pennsylvania Workmen’s Compensation Act in 1915, most contractors with employees are required to have Workers’ Compensation Insurance by law. The purpose of Workers’ Compensation insurance is to protect both employee and employer when an employee is injured on the job - regardless of who is at fault.

Workers’ Comp covers medical costs, disability payments, death benefits, and lost wages to the injured employee and protects employers from direct lawsuits by injured employees. Failure to have Workers’ Comp Insurance can lead to lawsuits by employees and criminal prosecution.  

While Workers’ Compensation Insurance is meant to cover work-related injuries and illnesses that prevent an employee from doing their job, there are some things Workers’ Compensation Insurance will not cover.

Here are Five Situations When Workers’ Compensation Insurance Benefits Could be Denied:

Off-Site Work Injuries

The primary purpose of Workers’ Compensation is to protect employees who are injured on the job; therefore, any injuries that are not work-related and occur off a job site are not covered, but you would be surprised how blurry the line between on and off job site can become.

If an employee is injured on their lunch-break and they are not on a job site, the injury is typically not covered under Workers’ Comp. However, if the employee is injured while picking up lunch for their boss or while in an employee lunchroom, it usually is.

Typically, Workers Comp also covers employees who are injured at events such as parties or picnics hosted by the employer.

Workers’ Comp generally does not cover employees who are injured while driving to or from work unless they are driving a company car, doing errands for the employer, traveling on business, or regularly travels for work.

Company Rule Violations

If an employee is injured while violating a company safety rule or any other act the employer has prohibited, they may be ineligible for Workers’ Compensation depending on the level of misconduct. Sometimes that employee’s medical costs and lost wages are covered under WC, but does not allow the employee to sue the employer.

Breaking the Law

If an employee is injured while breaking the law, any Workers’ Compensation claims may be denied.

Under the Influence

If an employee is injured while under the influence of alcohol or illicit drugs, which impairs their motor skills, any Workers’ Comp claim could be denied – regardless of what the company policy is. When an injured employee goes to the doctor for a work-related injury, employers have the right to ask for a drug and alcohol test.

Self-Inflicted Injuries

The majority of Workers’ Compensation claims are legitimate, but as with anything else, there are dishonest employees who may purposely cause their own injury to collect on a claim. Although Workers’ Comp usually does not take fault into account, a claim based on a self-inflicted injury may be denied.

Security cameras throughout a job site can often help determine whether or not Workers’ Compensation insurance should cover an injury.   

Are You Paying Too Much for Workers’ Compensation?

The agents at American Insuring Group specialize in Workers’ Compensation Insurance. They will work hard to ensure that you get quality Workers’ Comp Insurance at the best rates by comparing your costs with companies who are competing for your business.

Let us help you save money while still protecting your employees and your business by giving us a call at (800) 947-1270 or (610) 775-3848 or connect with us online.

Tags: Workers Compensation Insurance, Contractor Insurance, PA Workers Compensation Insurance, Contractor Safety Management

4 Tips to Handle an Angry Workers’ Compensation Claimant

Posted by David Ross on Sun, Aug 11, 2019

best-workers-comp-rates-300Sometimes when an employee is injured on the job and files a Workers’ Compensation Insurance claim, they can become frustrated and take it out on their employer. It isn’t right, but it happens. Sometimes no matter how hard you work to keep things civil, you’ll find yourself facing an angry employee.

 

 

Here are four tips to help diffuse a tense situation (many can be helpful in other situations, not just WC claims):

Do Not Take it Personally

If you do your best to do a good job for your injured employee and he or she still lashes out at you, it’s important to remember that not everything is about you. You need to understand that when an injured employee becomes angry, there are often mitigating circumstances that you will never know. They may be in pain; they may be confused; they may even be scared. Do not take their anger as a personal attack on you and how you are handling their claim.

Stay Calm, Listen, and Be Patient

Staying calm and patient is easier said than done when an employee is blasting you about their WC claim, but it’s essential if you want to diffuse the situation. Before you can resolve any issues with them, you need to try to get them calmed down.

You do that by staying calm, not raising your voice or using a sarcastic tone, and remaining objective. Otherwise, you will irritate the worker even more, and nothing will be resolved.

Let them know you are listening to them by using phrases such as “I hear what you’re saying.” It may sound corny, but it can help calm an angry employee. Don’t interrupt them. Sometimes they just need to vent or want to know that they’re being heard.

Once they calm down, you can focus on answering questions and coming up with solutions.

Empathize

Remember, this can be a scary time for an injured worker. They probably aren’t familiar with the process of filing a Workers’ Compensation claim, and they may be worried about how they’re going to take care of their family or if their injury will ever heal. Try to put yourself in their shoes and not only sympathize but empathize.

WC claimants want to know that you understand what they are saying and what they are going through and that you are willing and able to help them resolve their issues.

Some people have a hard time apologizing even when they know they’re wrong. Imagine how difficult it would be to apologize to someone when you know you are right, and they are wrong! If that sounds like you, swallow your pride and realize that your goal is to diffuse the situation. If an apology will get that done, do it! You can genuinely say you’re sorry for the confusion, or you’re sorry for what they are going through.

Offer Solutions

Most injured employees do not have experience handling Workers’ Compensation claims, but you do, so instead of arguing with them about how wrong they are, try to explain what is going on calmly. Let them know what is being done to resolve their issue or how they may be able to help resolve it.

Don’t talk so fast they can’t catch what you’re saying and don’t use a lot of jargon they may not be familiar with. This will only frustrate an angry employee further.

If you don’t know the answer to a question, find someone who does and get back to the injured worker promptly.

People can be irrational at the best of times. Throw in a little uncertainty and a little fear, and you have the potential for a nasty situation. If you find yourself dealing with an injured worker who is angry, use these tips to help diffuse the situation and resolve the issue more quickly.

Get the Best Price for Workers’ Compensation Insurance

American Insuring Group specializes in Workers’ Compensation Insurance, and we can make sure that you get the best price by comparing the cost of coverage with several insurance companies that meet your needs. Give us a call at (800) 947-1270 or (610) 775-3848 or connect with us online.

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

Lower Workers Comp and Liability Insurance Costs With Safety Signs

Posted by David Ross on Sun, Jul 14, 2019

lower-WC-insurance-with-signs-300The best way to reduce workers’ compensation insurance and commercial liability insurance costs is to create a safer work environment that reduces the number and severity of injuries. Whether your workplace is filled with hazards like a construction site or imposes minimal danger like a retail space, it is your responsibility as an employer to create the safest work environment possible.


One way to create a safer environment for employees, customers, vendors, etc. is to use safety signs to draw attention to potential hazards.

Several agencies such as the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) set standards and regulations for the design, use, and placement of workplace safety signs.

Here are three things to consider when using signs to improve safety, lower injuries, and save on insurance costs:

OSHA has three classifications of signs:

  • Danger Signs are used when there is an immediate danger, and special precautions are needed. These signs need to be red, black, and white.
  • Caution Signs are used to warn people about potential hazards or to caution against unsafe practices. Those signs need to have a yellow background and black panel with yellow letters. Letters placed on yellow backgrounds need to be black.
  • Safety Instruction Signs are used for general instructions and suggestions regarding safety measures. These signs need to have a white background, green panel, and white letters, and any letters on a white background must be black.

Location

Signs should be placed where they can be read from a safe viewing distance, so people have time to prepare to enter or avoid the area. If needed, safety signs should be displayed with illumination or retro-reflectiveness so they can be read under normal operating conditions.

Signs should NOT be placed on or next to moveable objects such as doors and windows and should NOT be a distraction or create a hazard. Safety signs need to be protected from damage.

Signs should be used in these areas:

  • where there is a risk of injuries such as uneven ground or the risk of falling objects
  • where personal protective equipment is required
  • where equipment poses a threat such as loud machines that can cause hearing loss
  • where dangers aren’t visible or apparent such as around radiation or irritating chemicals
  • where equipment such as forklifts and mobile cranes are used
  • where potentially dangerous substances are located
  • where there is asbestos, where it is suspected to be, or where it has been recently removed

Content

Keep your messages concise and straightforward and easy to read, so people are quickly alerted to potential dangers. Use vivid colors, so your signs stand out even in busy areas.

Use symbols, diagrams, and images where possible to bridge any language barriers. Lettering should be large enough that a person with normal vision can read the sign at a distance where they still have time to prepare for or avoid potential danger.

Safety signs are a cheap and easy way to alert employees, customers, vendors, etc. to potential hazards, which should reduce the number and severity of injuries and help lower your workers’ comp and liability insurance costs.

Want to Discover More Ways to Save on Commercial Insurance Costs?

Give the experienced independent commercial insurance agents at American Insuring Group at (800) 947-1270 or (610) 775-3848 or connect with us online. We will compare the cost of your coverage with several companies to ensure that you get the lowest price.

Tags: Workers Compensation Insurance, PA Workers Compensation Insurance, Commercial Insurance, Safety Programs

Opioids: The #1 Workers’ Compensation Problem

Posted by David Ross on Sun, Jun 16, 2019

Opioids are the biggest workers compensation insurance cost driverIf you want to keep your Workers’ Comp insurance costs down, you need to understand the effects of opioid abuse.

The economic burden of prescription opioid misuse in the U.S. is about $78.5 billion every year including healthcare, lost productivity, treatment, and criminal justice costs, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Health insurers and workers’ compensation carriers bear about one-third of that cost, according to Claims Journal


The result is increased workers’ compensation costs. A 2012 report from Lockton Companies reported that “Prescription opioids are presently the number one workers’ compensation problem in terms of controlling the ultimate cost of indemnity losses. There has never been a more damaging impact on the cost of workers’ compensation claims from a single issue than the abuse of opioid prescriptions for the management of chronic pain.” 

Why is This Happening?

Often, when an employee is injured on the job, a physician will prescribe an opioid for the pain. The Addiction Center reported that in 2012, 259 million opioid painkiller prescriptions were written. According to the Talbot Campus, the US makes up just 5% of the world’s population but consumes about 80% of the world’s prescription opioid drugs. 

The problem is that opiates are one of the most addictive substances available today. The Addiction Center reported that of the 259 million prescriptions written in 2012, an estimated 2 million led to addiction. 

According to the Talbot Campus, prescription opioid drugs contribute to 40% of all US opioid overdose deaths. The National Institute on Drug Abuse reports that every day, more than 130 people in the US die after overdosing on opioids. 

Furthermore, approximately 5% of those who abuse prescription drugs eventually transition to heroin. 

The Link Between Prescription and Illicit Opioids

Opioids include pain relievers such as oxycodone, hydrocodone, codeine, morphine, etc. that are available by prescription. However, many opioid addicts turn to illegal drugs like heroin and synthetic opioids such as fentanyl.  The Talbot Campus reported that about three out of four heroin users misused prescription opioids before their use of heroin. 

Fentanyl, a synthetic opioid that is fifty times more potent than heroin, is cheaper to produce and more readily available than heroin. Pharmaceutical fentanyl is primarily used to manage severe pain for cancer patients and end-of-life palliative care. Non-pharmaceutical fentanyl is often mixed with heroin or cocaine – often without the users’ knowledge. 

According to the CDC, there were more deaths involving synthetic opioids (more than 28,000) than from any other type of opioid in 2017. The introduction of fentanyl and other synthetic opioids is currently the most significant concern among opioid experts.

What can you do as an Employer?

Despite these frightening statistics, most people who are prescribed opioids do not become addicts; however, the ones who do are costing U.S. businesses like yours billions of dollars every year.

Thankfully, some precautions can be taken to address pain relief for injured employees. Here are a few steps to take if you want to reduce your workers’ compensation insurance costs.

Educate Your Employees

Make sure they understand the risks of opioid use, how addictive it can be, and how to prevent problems.

Build Good Relationships with Providers

Build a good relationship with area physicians - especially physicians within your network – and pharmacy benefit managers to make sure that they understand the risks of opioid use and how to minimize those risks such as screening patients for addiction, avoiding the use of opioids as the first line of therapy, and conducting urine screenings.

Intervene

If you suspect a case of opioid over prescription or abuse, intervene by talking to another physician, the insurer, and/or the third-party administrator. 

Accidents do happen, and employees do get hurt, but don’t allow the prevalence of opioid addiction exacerbate the effects of those injuries on the injured employee, his or her family and coworkers, or your workers’ comp costs.

 

Want to Lower Your Workers’ Compensation Insurance Costs?

Another way to save on workers’ compensation and other commercial insurance costs is to work with an independent agent who can compare the cost of your insurance with more than one company.

Give American Insuring Group a call at (800) 947-1270 or (610) 775-3848 or connect with us online. Our independent agents will make sure that you get the best price on quality insurance protection. 

Tags: Workers Compensation Insurance, PA Workers Compensation Insurance, Commercial Insurance, Opioid Epidemic

Lower Trucking Workers’ Comp Costs With Safety Training

Posted by David Ross on Sun, Jun 09, 2019

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

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

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

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

Slips, Trips, and Falls

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

Here are fall safety tips:

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

Three-Point Contact

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

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

Lifting

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

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

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

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

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

Falling Cargo

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

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

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

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

Save on Workers’ Compensation and Truck Insurance!

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

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

Save on Workers Comp Insurance by Complying with OSHA

Posted by David Ross on Sun, Jun 02, 2019

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

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

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

About OSHA 

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

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

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

OSHA Employer Responsibilities

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

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

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

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

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

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

Employee Complaints

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

  • Safety and health complaint

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

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

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

OSHA Inspections 

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

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

  • Preparation

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

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

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

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

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

Start Saving on Workers Compensation Insurance Today

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

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

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