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Reduce Workers’ Comp Insurance Costs With Vocational Rehabilitation

Posted by David Ross on Sun, Mar 15, 2020

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

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

What Is Vocational Rehabilitation?

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

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

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

Who Can Benefit From Vocational Rehabilitation?

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

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

How Can Vocational Rehabilitation Be Monitored?

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

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

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

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

When is it Time to Terminate Vocational Rehabilitation?

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

Typically, grounds for terminating those services include the following:

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

How Long Should an Injured Employee be Out of Work?

Posted by David Ross on Sat, Feb 15, 2020

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

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

What is a Return-to-Work Program?

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

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

Evidence-Based Medicine (EBM) Injury Guideline

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

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

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

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

An Example

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

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

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

Want to Save Even More on Workers’ Compensation Costs?

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

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

What You Need About Saving on Contractor Insurance

Posted by David Ross on Sun, Feb 09, 2020

Contractors_InsuranceFor many contractors, talking about Contractor Insurance is probably the equivalent of a root canal, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Finding an insurance agent who specializes in contractor’s insurance – like the American Insuring Group – takes a lot of the guesswork out of purchasing insurance.

However, it’s always wise to have a basic understanding, so you know what questions to ask and understand what your agent is recommending. Here is what you need to know about Contractor Insurance:

Who Needs Contractor Insurance?

Obviously, contractors need contractor insurance. That includes general, concrete, excavation, masonry, sheet metal, and paving contractors. But Contractor Insurance goes beyond protecting contractors. 

Here is a list of occupations/businesses that can benefit from Contractor Insurance:

  • Appliance Repair Technicians
  • Carpenters
  • Debris removal
  • Electricians
  • Handymen
  • Interior construction
  • Locksmiths
  • Painters
  • Plumbers
  • Property preservation
  • Roofers
  • Snow and ice removal
  • Stucco and plastering

What Type of Insurance do Contractors Need?

Many factors go into the type of insurance policies you need, including whether or not you have employees and what outside parties you may be involved with (i.e., lenders, municipalities, etc.) require.

Here are the most common types of Contractors Insurance that help protect your business from injuries (employees, vendors, etc.), damage, lawsuits, and more.

Commercial General Liability (CGL)

Every contractor should have CGL because the construction industry comes with many risks.  CGL covers basic construction risks, such as lawsuits against your company, along with third-party injuries (visitors to your worksite) and property damage.

For example, if a visitor trips over a wire or slips and falls on a wet surface at your place of business or a worksite, you could be blamed for the injury. CGL typically covers attorney fees, judgments against your business, settlements, medical bills, and funeral expenses.

Another example where CGL can come in handy is f your ladder falls on a customer’s TV and damages it. CGL can help pay for the cost to repair or replace the TV. It can also help cover costs if that customer files a lawsuit against you.

Commercial Automobile Insurance

If you or an employee is driving a company-owned vehicle and is in an accident or causes damage, commercial auto insurance can help cover the cost of property damage, medical bills, lawsuits, and other expenses that can result from an accident.

If you drive a construction vehicle, transport tools or equipment, or have employees run errands for you, you should have Commercial Auto Insurance

Builder’s Risk Insurance

Builder’s Risk Insurance (Aka Course of Construction Insurance) can pay for damage resulting from fire, vandalism, or theft of tools, materials, and property while a structure is under construction.

Commercial Property Insurance

Commercial Property Insurance helps pay for repairs or replacement of your building, along with furniture, supplies, etc. if it is lost, stolen, or damaged.

Inland Marine Insurance

Commercial Property Insurance does not protect your property if it is not at the location listed on the policy. This is where Inland Marine Insurance comes in. It covers products, tools, and equipment while in transit or stored off-site (like a job site).

Workers’ Compensation (WC)

In Pennsylvania, most employers are required to carry Workers’ Compensation Insurance for their employees. If an employee is injured while working, WC can help pay for medical costs and lost wages.

Providing WC insurance to your employees also helps protect you against an injured employee suing your company. In most cases, injured employees are prohibited from suing their employers if WC is provided.

Professional Liability Insurance

Professional Liability Insurance (A.k.a., Errors and Omissions Insurance) covers legal expenses if you are sued for things like unsatisfactory, late, or incomplete work.

 

👉 Contact Us to Save on Contractors Insurance!

The cost of contractor’s insurance can vary significantly depending on your coverage and your deductible. Other factors that determine the cost of your premiums include what services you provide, your revenue, your location, and the number of employees.

  • You may lower costs by bundling liability coverages into a package called a Business Owner’s Policy (BOP).
  • You may lower costs by creating a safer work environment that results in fewer injuries and fewer claims.
  • You may lower costs by working with an independent agent – like those at American Insuring Group – who can compare the cost of your coverage with several companies to ensure you’re paying the lowest premiums for the coverage.

Have more questions about saving on Contractors Insurance costs? The independent agents at American Insuring Group specialize in Contractors Insurance and can help you get the best price on the coverage you need, whether you're in Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Erie, Berks County, or anywhere in PA or surrounding states.

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

Tags: Workers Compensation Insurance, Construction Insurance, Contractor Insurance, Commercial Liability Insurance, Commercial Insurance

4 Benefits of Workers’ Compensation Insurance for Employers

Posted by David Ross on Sun, Jan 12, 2020

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

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

What is Workers’ Compensation Insurance?

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

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

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

Regulatory Compliance

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

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

Financial Benefits

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

Prevent Lawsuits

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

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

Protection for a Vital Asset – Employees

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

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

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

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

How to Save on Workers’ Compensation

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

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

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

What You Need to Know About Restaurant Insurance

Posted by David Ross on Sun, Dec 22, 2019

save_restaurant_insuranceWhen it comes to Restaurant Insurance, there is no one-size-fits-all solution. Every restaurant has different assets that need to be protected, different risk factors, and different types of liability. And every restaurant owner has different levels of comfort when it comes to those risks and liabilities.

Restaurant Insurance can be very complicated if you aren’t familiar with the risks, your different insurance options, and typical exclusions. Here is some basic information about Restaurant Insurance to help ensure that you get the best insurance for your needs.

Insurance Coverage Your Restaurant May Need

With all the different types of insurance coverage available today, including some rather odd ones like chicken insurance and alien abduction insurance (we kid you not!), it’s best to start with the basics and add additional coverage IF you need it. Here are three basic types of coverage every restaurant owner should consider.

Commercial General Liability (CGL) Insurance

CGL protects your business from bodily injury, personal injury, or property damage caused by your restaurant or on your restaurant’s premises. For example, if someone is injured after falling on your property or becomes sick after eating your food, they can sue you. Commercial Liability Insurance will pay for your legal expenses such as attorney fees and judgments against your restaurant. 

It’s important to consider your risks and determine if your CGL policy will cover it or if it is an exclusion. For example, if you serve alcohol to a customer who then causes a car accident upon leaving your restaurant, you could be held liable for any damage or injury caused by the accident. Most CGL policies won’t cover you in that situation, but Liquor Liability Insurance will.

Property Insurance

Property Insurance protects many of your assets, such as your building and your equipment from fire, storm, or theft damage. It may also include Business Interruption Insurance that covers lost income if damage forces you to close your restaurant temporarily.

Workers’ Compensation Insurance

In Pennsylvania, if you have one or more employees – whether they are full- or part-time, you are probably required to carry WC Insurance for each of your employees. WC covers medical expenses and lost wages if your employee is injured on the job. It also protects you against lawsuits filed by an injured worker.

Those are the basic coverages, but depending on your situation, there may be other types of insurance to consider. For example, if you use a vehicle for business, you should have Commercial Auto Insurance for that vehicle, whether it is owned or leased or even if it belongs to an employee.

An insurance agent who specializes in Restaurant Insurance can help you identify any additional risks and determine the best way to cover those risks.

How is the Cost of Your Restaurant Insurance Determined?

Every restaurant is individually underwritten based on the circumstances of its establishment. You will be asked many questions when you apply for insurance, and insurance companies will do some of their own research before quoting you a price. Your costs will be based on how much risk or liability you restaurant poses, the value of what you need to protect, and the level of your coverage.

To determine your risk (how likely you are to make a claim), insurance companies will look at your loss history, years in business, hours of operation, whether or not you sell alcohol and if so, how much, activities within your restaurant, such as entertainment, ID checkers, etc.

To determine the value of what you need to protect, they will look at the size of your property, the volume of your sales and payroll, the type of property, etc.

The level of coverage will be based on several things, including lease requirements, lender requirements, and how comfortable you are with risk.

When you talk to your insurance agent, be open and honest about the operation of your restaurant. Otherwise, you might find yourself in a situation where you don’t have enough coverage or any coverage when you need it.

How to Save Big on Restaurant Insurance

Because American Insuring Group’s agents have experience in Restaurant Insurance, we can help identify risks that are typical for restaurants as well as risks unique to your establishment to ensure that you have the right coverage to protect your assets. As independent agents, we can check with several companies to ensure that you get the best price for that coverage.

Give us a call at (800) 947-1270 or (610) 775-3848 or connect with us online and let us show you how we can lower all your Commercial Insurance Costs!

 

Tags: Workers Compensation Insurance, Restaurant Insurance, PA Workers Compensation Insurance, Commercial Liability Insurance, commercial property insurance, Restaurant Insurance Costs

Workers Comp Costs, Musculoskeletal Disorders, and Ergonomics

Posted by David Ross on Sun, Dec 15, 2019

Ergonomics_Workers_Comp_CostsWhen it comes to increasing workplace safety and reducing Workers’ Compensation Insurance costs, your mind may immediately go to improving safety among construction workers, drivers, or maybe factory workers. These occupations are notoriously dangerous. We often hear about a worker breaking his or her leg after a fall or sustaining a concussion after being struck by something.

These are legitimate safety concerns. But there is another threat to safety that many employers overlook – workplace ergonomics, which can cause musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) and be just as costly to employers.

MSDs are injuries, pain, stiffness, tingling, burning, cramping, or discomfort in the musculoskeletal system, which includes muscles, nerves, tendons, joints, and ligaments. The disorder can affect your neck, shoulders, arms, legs, feet, hands, and the upper and lower back. Examples of MSDs include muscle sprains, arthritis, carpal tunnel syndrome, and tendinitis.

This disorder can be caused by acute trauma like a car accident, but bad ergonomics, such as repetitious motions, vibrations, and awkward postures, can also cause MSDs.

If your employees work in a relatively safe work environment, such as an office, you may not spend much time thinking about how you can improve safety to lower your Workers’ Comp costs. If the majority of your employees work in environments where other types of injuries are more prevalent, you may dismiss the impact of MSDs on Workers’ Compensation Insurance costs.

You may want to re-think either of those attitudes.

The Cost of Workplace MSDs

An estimated 126.6 million Americans are affected by MSDs, according to Science Daily. That’s one in two adults. The cost of the disorder is estimated at $213 billion every year.

And workplaces are not immune to the impact of the disorder. According to ErgoPlus, MSDs account for almost 400,000 injuries every year, account for one-third of all WC costs and result in 38% more lost time than the average injury or illness.

MSDs often result in chronic pain, disability, and mobility issues. The World Health Organization reports that MSDs are the second largest contributor to disability worldwide. The direct cost of MSDs in the workplace is about $20 billion, but the indirect costs, such as lost productivity, product defects, etc. can be much higher.

Employers and employees can work together to reduce MSD risk factors by understanding ergonomics and taking steps to minimize the risks

What is Ergonomics?

Ergonomics is the science of increasing efficiency and reducing discomfort by helping the job fit the worker instead of trying to fit the worker to the job. It can involve engineering controls, such as improving the design of tools or workspaces or automating certain processes. That could mean providing workers with ergonomically friendly accessories such as adjustable tables or chairs, footrests, or lumbar support.

Administrative controls can include actions such as job rotation, reviewing injury logs, and providing employee education, such as discussions on MSD risk factors, how to be mindful of postures, and how to avoid awkward positions.

Reduce MSDs in the Workplace

The first step to reducing MSDs is to learn how to recognize the risk factors, which include highly repetitive tasks, high-force loads that increase muscle effort, and awkward or sustained awkward postures.

ErgoPlus offers this advice to help reduce the risk of MSDs:

  1. Maintain a Neutral Posture by keeping the body aligned and balanced when sitting or standing.
  2. Work in the Power or Comfort Zone, which means lifting close to the body between the mid-thigh and mid-chest.
  3. Allow for movement or stretching if you’re working for long periods of time in a static position.
  4. Reduce excessive force
  5. Reduce repetitive or excessive motions
  6. Minimize contact stress, which is caused by continuous contact or rubbing between sharp or hard objects and body tissue
  7. Reduce excessive vibration
  8. Provide adequate lighting

Lower Your Workers’ Compensation Insurance Costs

Whether you work in a highly dangerous or a relatively safe industry, your workers can be affected by musculoskeletal disorders, which costs both you and the injured worker big time. Learn to recognize ergonomic risk factors and how to reduce the risk of MSDs to improve the safety of your workplace and the well-being of your employees and lower your Workers’ Compensation costs.

Another way to save on WC costs is to work with an agent who can help you identify potential risks and has experience with Workers’ Compensation Insurance, like the independent agents at American Insuring Group.  Why not give us a call at (800) 947-1270 or (610) 775-3848 or connect with us online?

Tags: Workers Compensation Insurance, Business Insurance Philadelphia Pa, workers comp, Commercial Insurance, Contractor Safety Management

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

Posted by David Ross on Tue, Dec 10, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

Who is at Risk?

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

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

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

Prevention of Hearing Loss Due to Ototoxic Exposure

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

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

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

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

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

More Ways to Lower Your Commercial Insurance Costs

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

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

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

Do You Have the Right Restaurant Insurance Coverage?

Posted by David Ross on Sun, Nov 24, 2019

AIG Cook with questionmarksWhether you are a new restaurant owner or have been in business for decades, Restaurant Insurance can be complicated. You probably have lots of questions, such as what insurance do I really need to protect my business and what insurance can I do without.

There aren’t any cookie-cutter answers to these questions because every restaurant has different types and levels of risks, and every restaurant owner has different levels of risk they are comfortable with.

Here are 7 Tips to Help You Get the Right Insurance for Your Restaurant:  

Understand What Factors Affect Your Insurance Rates:

Many factors go into the cost of your restaurant insurance. Some you have control over and some you do not. Understanding which factors can affect the cost of your insurance allows you to make informed business decisions.

For example, if you’re thinking about serving alcohol at your restaurant, you can go to your insurance provider to determine just how much that decision would increase your premiums. Maybe you determine that the increased revenue will be worth the increase in your insurance premiums, or maybe you determine that it is not. The bottom line is that you made a sound business decision because you had the facts.  

Here are ten factors that can affect the cost of your insurance premiums:

  1. Years in business
  2. Location
  3. The volume of your sales, payroll, and square feet
  4. Type of property
  5. Lease requirements
  6. Loss history
  7. Activities
  8. Hours of operation
  9. The sale of alcohol
  10. Level of coverage

Make Sure Your Restaurant is Properly Classified

Your restaurant’s classification will affect both your Workers’ Comp Insurance as well as your General Liability Insurance costs. If you own a diner that is only open from 6 am to 2 pm, you want to make sure that you are not given the classification of a bar that stays open until 2 am. There are more risks for a bar staying open until 2 am, and you will pay a higher premium due to those risks.

It’s in your best interest to be honest with your insurance agent about the type of restaurant you own. For example, if you neglect to tell him or her that you serve alcohol, and someone who was served alcohol at your restaurant causes an accident, you may not be covered. One nasty lawsuit against your restaurant could easily put you out of business without the proper protection.

Ask About Pay as You Go Workers’ Compensation Insurance

Most businesses in Pennsylvania are required to carry Workers’ Compensation Insurance for their employees. Most insurance carriers require a 25% estimated premium upfront. If you have a lot of employees, that could do some serious damage to your cash flow.

Pay as you go Workers’ Compensation Insurance allows you to pay your premium each month based on your actual payroll rather than an estimate. Pay as you go is particularly helpful for new restaurants that don’t yet know how much their payrolls will be. Pay as you go WC Insurance also eliminates the need for audits.

Don’t Assume That You Do Not Need Commercial Auto Insurance

If you have a vehicle that either you or your employees use for your restaurant, you will need commercial insurance coverage. Even if your employees use their vehicle to run errands like making bank deposits, you may still be held liable if they are in an accident. A non-owned auto policy can help cover your restaurant in that situation.

Consider Cyber Liability Insurance

Just because you are a small business doesn’t mean that you are not at risk for a data breach. In fact, according to Small Biz Trends, 43% of cyber attacks still target small businesses. According to IBM, the average total cost of a data breach in the US is $3.92 million. Of course, this number is skewed due to the really big data breaches like Target experienced, but even having a few of your customers falling victim to a data breach could cost your business thousands of dollars, along with your reputation.

Ask About a Business Owner’s Package (BOP)

A BOP bundles your insurance policies together. Most insurance companies like to bundle your policies because it means more business for them, and bundling policies usually means a discount for you as well.

Bundling with one company also helps ensure that there are no gaps in your coverage, and it could speed up the processing of any claims you have to file.

Understand the Difference Between a Captive Agent and an Independent Agent

A captive agent only represents one company. The agents at the American Insuring Group are all independent agents, which means they can compare the cost of your coverage with several different companies. Often, this means lower premium payments for you.

How to Save Even More on Restaurant Insurance

Perhaps the best way to save on Restaurant Insurance and still ensure that you have enough coverage to protect your restaurant is to work with an insurance agent who is familiar with your industry and its risks, like the independent insurance agents American Insuring Group.

We specialize in Restaurant Insurance and will compare pricing and coverage among lots of insurance companies to find you the very best deal. Don't delay - call us at (800) 947-1270 or (610) 775-3848 or connect with us online.

Tags: Workers Compensation Insurance, Commercial Vehicle Insurance, Restaurant Insurance, Restaurant Insurance Costs

5 Ways to Lower Your Workers Compensation Costs

Posted by David Ross on Sun, Nov 10, 2019

AIG business man pushing cost buttonWorkers' compensation coverage is mandatory for most employers in Pennsylvania, and according to the PA Department of Labor & Industry, “Employers who do not have workers' compensation coverage may be subject to lawsuits by employees and to criminal prosecution by the commonwealth.”

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

How is Your Worker’s Compensation Premium Calculate?

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

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

RATE:

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

PAYROLL:

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

EXPERIENCE MODIFIER:

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

5 Tips to Lower Your Workers’ Compensation Costs

Review Your Classifications

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

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

Create a Safer Work Environment

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

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

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

Maintain a Substance-Free Workplace

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

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

Establish a Return-to-Work Program

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

Find Out If You Can Join a Group

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

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

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

 

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

Lower Workers Comp Cost by Addressing Asbestos Safety

Posted by David Ross on Sun, Nov 03, 2019

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

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

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

What is Asbestos?

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

Here are some of the products where asbestos was used:

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

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

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

How to Identify Asbestos

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

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

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

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

Removal and Disposal of Asbestos

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

Typical removal procedures include the following:

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

Asbestos can be disposed of in several ways:

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

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

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

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

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