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Repetitive Motion Injuries and Workers Comp Insurance

Posted by David Ross on Sun, Jun 24, 2018

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

Musculoskeletal Disorders - Largest Category of Workplace Injuries

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

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

What are Musculoskeletal Disorders?

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

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

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

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

What is Ergonomics?

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

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

How to Develop an Effective Ergonomic Program

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

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

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

Protect Your Business With Great Insurance - Learn More

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

Our independent agents can educate you on your options and provide you with great business insurance at an unbeatable price! Call today to learn more.

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

3 Ways Trucking Firms Can Save on Workers Comp Insurance

Posted by David Ross on Thu, May 31, 2018

Tips for how trucking companies can save on Workers Compensation Insurance in Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Lehigh Valley, Berks County, Lancaster County, PA and beyond.Workers Compensation Insurance for interstate trucking companies can be complicated, but it is required by most states. And, due to the dangerous nature of truck driving, it is essential for the well-being of both truck drivers and trucking companies.

Determining Workers Compensation Insurance Risks

The first challenge comes when insurance underwriters try to determine a trucking company’s risks. Each state has its own workers comp insurance base rates, requirements, and rules. To further complicate matters, sometimes a trucking company is located in one state, the truck driver resides in another, and the WC injury occurs in yet another state. While there are interstate payroll classification codes available from the National Council on Compensation Insurance (NCCI), those codes don’t apply to three highly-traveled states: California, New York, and Texas.

The 7th Deadliest Occupation

Another challenge is the dangerous nature of the occupation. With all the time truck drivers spend on the road, it’s probably no surprise that the Bureau of Labor Statistics lists truck driving as the seventh deadliest occupation. In 2016, there were 918 fatal injuries making the fatal injury rate for truck drivers 24.7 per 100,000 full-time employees.

Health and Injuries 

What may surprise you is that truck drivers also tend to be less healthy than the average worker, which makes them more prone to other types of injuries. Drivers sit for long periods of time and then have brief periods of strenuous labor as they load and unload their trucks. Many truck drivers also have unhealthy lifestyles that include a minimal amount of exercise, being overweight, and having irregular sleep habits. This causes a disproportionate number of musculoskeletal injuries compared to other occupations and poor overall physical health that often impacts employee recovery time when they are injured. 

The most common injuries truck drivers experience are vehicle accidents, slips and falls climbing in and out of the cab or trailer and on loading docks, trains, and back injuries while loading and unloading cargo, carpal tunnel, and crush injuries caused by loads falling on the driver. Many truck drivers also attribute kidney stones and hemorrhoids to their jobs but rarely claim either as an occupational injury or disease. 

Despite its complexities, here are 3 ways trucking companies can save on workers’ compensation insurance:

  1. Develop a Safety Program

Take the time to develop a comprehensive safety program specific to your business and give a copy of your safety policies to every truck driver along with safety guidelines specific to eliminating injuries in drivers. Also, create a culture of safety by making it clear that every driver is expected to follow your safety policies or face the consequences and requiring every driver to attend at least one annual safety training to reinforce your safety policies.

  1. Perform Drug Testing

Drug testing will not only affect your workers compensation insurance costs but also your liability insurance costs. You should test every new hire and conduct random drug testing and mandatory drug testing after an accident that causes damage to property or injury to the driver or anyone else.

  1. Health & Wellness Program

An effective health and wellness program may reduce the cost of both WC and health insurance benefits. These programs can help reduce injuries and help employees recover more quickly from injuries. This may seem like an unnecessary expense, but the WC savings you could experience just by reducing obesity alone will pay for the cost of the health and wellness program.  

CAUTION - Don't Misclassify Drivers!

It’s very tempting to try to reduce your workers comp insurance costs by classifying all of your drivers as independent contractors, but the only drivers who should be classified as independent contractors are those who regularly drive for other companies. If the driver is only driving for your company and you’re designating when and where the loads are picked up and dropped off, the IRS and the state board of workers’ compensation will consider them your employees – not independent contractors.

The penalties and fines that you can face for not having WC for employees could quickly put a small or medium-sized trucking company out of business. Plus, drivers whose WC claims are denied can (and often do) sue your company for medical bills, pain and suffering (which is not paid under WC), and the loss of all wages (as opposed to the typical two-thirds of wages paid by most WC claims).

Get the Right Workers Comp Insurance for Your Business 

While workers compensation insurance for trucking companies can be complicated, the WC experts at American Insuring Group can provide affordable and reliable workers compensation to protect both your employees and your business.

Don't take chances - call us at (800) 947-1270 or (610) 775-3848, or contact us online.

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

Safety Pays! 4 Ways a Safety Program Helps Your Business

Posted by David Ross on Sun, Apr 22, 2018

Safety-Program-BenefitsAre you interested in lowering your workers compensation insurance and related costs? Would you like to improve employee morale, increase production, and reduce absenteeism? Implementing a workplace safety program can do all that and so much more.

It is true that developing a safety program takes time and effort, and it can be difficult to measure the return on investment, but research has shown that it is definitely worthwhile.

$170,000,000,000.00 Per Year!

According to OSHA, “Businesses spend $170 billion a year on costs associated with occupational injuries and illnesses -- expenditures that come straight out of company profits. But workplaces that establish safety and health management systems can reduce their injury and illness costs by 20 to 40 percent. In today's business environment, these costs can be the difference between operating in the black and running in the red.”

And about that ROI… it’s been estimated that for every dollar invested in injury prevention, businesses will see a $2 to $6 return, according to Safety and Health Magazine. That's an ROI of 100% to 500%!

 

Here are four ways your business can benefit from implementing a safety program

 

#1. Lower Workers’ Compensation Costs

Often, workers compensation (WC) costs are one of the highest insurance costs in a business. It has been estimated that employers pay almost $1 billion per week for direct workers' compensation costs alone.

Three factors go into determining your workers comp insurance premiums: Classification Code, Payroll, and Experience Modification Rate. Classification codes are based on the type of business you’re in and the tasks your employees perform. There is a corresponding WC rate (which varies by state) for each classification code. The more hazards an employee is exposed to, the higher the rate. The amount of payroll a business runs annually also affects your WC premiums. There isn’t much you can do about these first two; they are what they are

But the third factor – your experienced modification rate – is something you have some control over. Every business is given MOD, which is a number that represents its insurance claim history. The average MOD is set at 1.00. If you have few or no history of claims, your MOD can go lower, which means lower premiums. The more claims you have, the higher your MOD goes, and the higher your WC premiums.

So, the best way to reduce your WC insurance premiums is to avoid workplace accidents, and the best way to do that is with an effective safety program.

In Pennsylvania, you can also receive a five percent discount on WC premiums if you have a safety committee that meets the requirements for state certification.

#2. Avoid OSHA Penalties

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has stringent workplace safety guidelines that every business is expected to follow. Failing to abide by these rules and regulations can result in expensive fines.

Here is a list of OSHA’s penalties:

  • $12,934 per violation for serious, other than serious, and posting requirements violations
  • $12,934 per day beyond the abatement date for failure to abate
  • $129,336 per violation for willful or repeated violations

In the fiscal year 2017, OSHA reported the most-citied violations were 6,887 violations regarding fall protection, 4,652 violations regarding hazard communication, 3,697 violations regarding scaffolding, and 3,381 violations regarding respiratory protection 

Implementing a safety program specific to your industry and your business that follows OSHA’s guidelines can help you avoid costly fines. OSHA offers many publications on everything from roof tarping safety to preventing workplace violence to help you create a safer work environment and avoid OSHA’s penalties.

#3. Avoid Costly Accidents

Accidents can be costly. You may find yourself paying for an accident investigation, property damage repairs, insurance deductibles, administrative expenses, and recruiting, training and compensating replacement workers.

You may also face the hefty costs involved in a lawsuit. Accidents and lawsuits can also affect your reputation, which can affect sales and your ability to attract skilled employees. Avoiding accidents also can lower your worker's comp insurance premiums. 

#4. Keep Employees Safe

Ensuring a safe work environment for your employees is the right thing to do and just makes good business sense. It should be your number one priority.

Safe work environments improve employee morale and make your place of business an attractive place to work. This usually means more productive employees, better service, a better quality product, and more skilled employees. OSHA estimates that lost productivity from injuries and illnesses cost businesses $60 billion every year.

If you want to see the financial rewards of a safety program, it’s essential to have a written policy in place and make it clear that safety is a priority and that the policies and procedures will be enforced. And you should continually provide safety training and look for ways to improve your safety program.

So, now that you have the facts in front of you, will you be taking the time to develop a workplace safety program?

 

Start Saving on All Your Commercial Insurance Needs

Save-on-Workers-Comp-InsuranceTo learn more ways to save on workers compensation insurance and all your commercial insurance policies, call American Insuring Group at (800) 947-1270 or (610) 775-3848, or contact us online.

Our independent agents will compare rates and policies among lots of competing insurance providers to get you the right policy at an unbeatable price.

Click or call today!

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

5 Ways to Lower Your Workers Comp Pharmacy Costs

Posted by David Ross on Sun, Mar 25, 2018

Tips for reducing your pharmacy costs for workers compensation insurance in Philadelphia, Berks County, Lancaster, Harrisburg, Lehigh Valley, PA and more.Often when the topic of reducing workers compensation (WC) insurance costs comes up, pharmaceutical costs are the focus. That’s no surprise when you consider that the “total workers’ comp annual pharmacy spend is approximately $3.6 to $4.1 billion,” according to a CompPharma Survey.

Looking at pharmaceutical costs is a great place to start if you want to control WC spending without sacrificing the quality of medical care your injured workers are receiving.

 

Here are 5 Steps to Help You Save

 

#1. Educate yourself, providers, and patients about pharmaceutical options

For example:

  • Lidocaine gel or cream - an anesthetic that is used to treat irritation, soreness, and itching from certain skin conditions - is about half the cost of Lidoderm – a lidocaine patch.

  • The average cost of Evzio - a prescription medicine used for the treatment of an opioid emergency such as an overdose - is $3,380.69 higher than the combined price of Narcan, Naltrexone, and Naloxone (alternatives to Evzio), according to Express Scripts.

  • Before approving an ADF (Abuse-Deterrent Formulations), which are not typically included in WC formularies, determine if the patient is at risk of abuse and if a more traditional (and often less expensive) opioid may be safe for them.

#2. Use generic instead of brand-name medication whenever possible

On average, the cost of a generic drug is 80 to 85 percent less than its brand name equivalent. According to the Federal Drug Administration (FDA), “FDA requires generic drugs to have the same active ingredient, strength, dosage form, and route of administration as the brand-name drug. The generic manufacturer must prove its drug is the same (bioequivalent) as the brand-name drug.” According to Express Scripts, prescribers often turn to brand-name medications out of “habit, lack of awareness of available alternatives, or patient requests.”

#3. Avoid physician-dispensed drugs

First, there is the concern that – due to incomplete drug histories and lack of safety checks – physician-dispensed drugs may not be safe for injured workers. Some states have rules in place for pricing and dispensing of physician-dispensed drugs, and, according to Express Scripts, “Physician-dispensed drugs cost $109.19 more than drugs dispensed by pharmacies.”

#4. Stay with in-network pharmacies

Prescriptions that are filled through third-party billers or out of network pharmacies are more expensive because they incur additional costs and do not add any value, according to Express Scripts

#5. Closely review prescriptions for specialty medications

The cost of specialty drugs is less than 1 percent of drugs used by injured workers, but accounted for 5.9% of total spending in 2016, according to Express Scripts.

Opioid Prescriptions: the Most Expensive and Most Utilized Class of Drugs in WC

Express Scripts reports that more than 50 percent of injured workers had an opioid prescription last year and 25 percent used opioids for 30 days or more in 2016. Opioids accounted for 26.6 percent of per-user-per-year (PUPY) spend and 24.3 percent of PUPY utilization among Express Scripts clients.

And it isn’t just the financial cost of opioids that make it a critical topic; it’s also the human cost of the opioid epidemic. The number of overdose deaths involving opioids (both prescription opioids and heroin) quadrupled since 1999, and today ninety-one Americans die every day from an opioid overdose, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

Some injured workers are taking a dangerous combination of opioids and other drugs. Opioids should be used based on evidence-based guidelines in acute phases of pain, not for chronic pain. It’s essential that injured workers understand the risks and benefits of opioids.

For more information on the opioid epidemic and the impact on insurance costs, see our infographic.

 

Approved Drugs for Workers Compensation Insurance

Several states have adopted legislation mandating a drug formulary - a list of prescription drugs created by a committee of physicians, nurse practitioners, and pharmacists used by practitioners to identify drugs that offer the greatest overall value – for workers’ compensation. In Pennsylvania, there is a bill in the House requiring drug formulary for WC as of this writing.

 

Call Us for More Information, and to Save on WC Insurance! 

We're a Trusted Choice Independent Insurance Agency for Workers Compensation Insurance in Philadelphia, Reading, Lancaster, Harrisburg, Allentown, PA and beyond.A little bit of knowledge goes a long way to saving money on your WC Pharmacy spend without risking the health of your injured employees, and since American Insuring Group specializes in workers compensation insurance, we’re a fountain of knowledge.

Give us a call at (800) 947-1270 or (610) 775-3848, or contact us online. Pick our brains and let us show you how we can help you lower your workers comp insurance costs!

Tags: Workers Compensation Insurance, workers comp costs

10 Red Flags For Workers Comp Insurance

Posted by David Ross on Sun, Mar 04, 2018

Watch out for these red flags signaling possible workers compensation insurance abuse. It’s your responsibility as an employer, to pay close attention to your workers compensation insurance claims. The majority will be legitimate claims that your employees are entitled to. But even one fraudulent claim can adversely impact your bottom line.

There are important red flags you can watch for to identify possible workers compensation fraud. Here are ten red flags. Seeing just one red flag probably isn’t cause for alarm, but if you see multiple red flags on one workers’ compensation claim, it’s a good idea to bring it to your adjuster’s attention.

Ten Workers Compensation Fraud Red Flags

#1. Questionable Incident Description

An injured employee should be able to describe the incident – what happened, how, and when - with a fair amount of detail and clarity. The details should be consistent and not change as you ask questions or when the employee describes the incident to someone else (doctor, adjuster, employer). If there’s more than one medical report, the details of the event should be the same, and the nature of the injury should be consistent with the type of work the employee performs.

#2. Lack of Witness Corroboration

If the employee usually works around others, there should be a witness, and the witness account of the accident should match the employee’s description of the accident. If the witnesses are all close friends of the employee making a claim or if the employee’s co-workers express uncertainty that the accident occurred, it may be a red flag.

#3. Delayed Reporting

Injured employees usually report their injury immediately – not days or even weeks later.

#4. Disgruntled Employee

Is the employee unhappy with his job or employer? When a workers’ compensation insurance claim is made, check if the employee was recently demoted or passed over for a promotion, if his evaluations are less than stellar and he’s in danger of termination, or if he is scheduled to be laid off. An incident immediately before a strike, plant closing, or end of seasonal employment may be a red flag.

#5. Early Morning Claims

If the employee reports an incident that occurred over the weekend or very early in the morning before the supervisor and other employees have arrived, it could be a red flag.

#6. Inability to reach the injured employee

The employee should provide his address – not a PO Box and not a friend’s address – and you should be able to contact the injured employee. If you find they aren’t home during regular working hours or if you’re always told he’s sleeping or can’t be disturbed, it could be a red flag.

#7. Shaky Finances

If an employee is having financial issues, he may see a workers’ compensation claim as a way out. Find out if the employee has financial problems, is nearing retirement, is in the middle of a divorce, or if they took a lot of time off just before the injury. Check if the spouse is working or receiving any of these payments: workers’ comp benefits, disability, welfare, or unemployment. If the employee asks about a settlement early into the process or applies for social security benefits before the incident occurred, that could be a red flag.

#8. Medical Care

Watch out for subjective injuries - such as soft-tissue and emotional - or injuries that seem to move from one body part to another; frequent changes in physicians or inconsistencies between employee and physicians’ reports; or missed doctors’ appointments or refusal of diagnostic testing. Carefully examine the medical reports to make sure there aren’t any whiteouts, and it doesn’t look like it’s been photocopied multiple times. Most employees don’t have extensive knowledge of the medical or insurance field. If he does, it may be a red flag.

#9. Inconsistent Physically Ability

An injured employee who is out of work on workers’ compensation should not be able to do similar activities to what he was doing at work. So look for evidence that he is performing those activities outside of work such as callused or grimy hands, medical reports that use adjectives like “muscular” or “tanned.”

#10. Over-eager

If the employee is pushy to settle the claim or has an attorney letter of representation dated the day of (or even before) the injury, it could be a red flag.

Final Advice: Don't Assume Insurance Fraud, But ... 

Don’t go into every workers compensation claim assuming there’s fraud. The majority of claims are legitimate. But at the same time, don’t be blind to the red flags that may indicate fraud. If you see multiple red flags, let your adjuster know. It may just help you save on your workers’ compensation costs.

 

Remember the Easy Way to Save on Workers Comp Insurance!

To learn more about workers compensation insurance, call the American Insuring at (800) 947-1270 or (610) 775-3848, or contact us online.

And remember, the easiest way to save on workers comp insurance is to buy it from an independent agent like those at American Insuring Group! We shop competing insurance providers, matching their policies to your needs, and identifying the best value for your particular situation. Get the right coverage at a great price. Call or click today to get started!

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

Teen Employee Safety and Workers Comp Insurance

Posted by David Ross on Sun, Feb 18, 2018

It pays to be aware of the workers compensation insurance risks of hiring teen restaurant employees. We serve Philadelphia, Reading, Lancater, Harrisburg, Allentown, Pittsburgh, PA and beyond.Doesn’t it seem like kids grow up too fast these days? It’s easy to forget that as mature and as smart as they may seem, teenagers still lack the experience an adult has. And if you own a restaurant, there’s an excellent chance that you employ a few teenagers, which could impact your restaurant workers comp insurance costs if your accident rate increases.  

48% of all working teenagers (ages 15-17) in the U.S. work in the “leisure and hospitality” industry, which includes restaurants and other food service jobs.

This group of employees is particularly vulnerable to workplace injuries. Each year more than 210,000 teens are injured on the job, 70,000 are hospitalized, and 70 are killed, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. The injury rate for workers under the age of 25 is about two times higher than for older workers, and based on emergency room data, 38% of teens who are injured on the job are working in the leisure and hospitality industry.

Restaurant Industry Insurance Risks

Every workplace has its share of hazards, and restaurants are certainly no exception. Some of the most common dangers in the food industry include slippery floors, hot cooking equipment, and sharp objects like knives and slicers. Often teens are injured because they don’t receive adequate safety training and supervision or they’re working with unsafe equipment, or stressful conditions.

Most workplace injuries are preventable, and many of the same safety measures you take with your more mature employees also apply to teenagers. Proper training and supervision should be your first priorities. 

Reduce Risk With These Teen Safety Meaures 

Here are some safety measures for teens from the Texas Department of Insurance:

  • Train them on the importance of safety and on the manufacturer’s instructions for machine use and cleaning.
  • Provide appropriate personal protective equipment and available machine guarding and enforce the use of that equipment.

When teens operate a microwave oven:

  • Train them on microwave safety, such as 1) following manufacturer’s instructions, 2) covering foods to avoid splattering, 3) opening tightly covered containers away from their face, 4) preventing the use of metals, foil, or whole eggs in a microwave, and 5) keeping the interior clean to avoid splattering and popping.
  • Place the microwave at approximately waist level and within easy reach.
  • Provide appropriate personal protective equipment such as hot pads.
  • Make sure door seals are in excellent condition and free from food or grease buildup.

When teens use steamers/pressure cookers:

  • Train them to shut off the steam supply and wait for the pressure to equalize before opening the lid of the pressure cooker and to stand to the side and open the pressure cooker away from themselves, keeping the open lid between them and the pressure cooker.

When teens use coffee makers:

  • Train them to check to make sure the coffee filter is in place before making coffee and that the coffee has stopped dripping before removing the filter.
  • Place hot coffee makers away from the edge of counters.

 

Comply With Child Labor Regulations

Also, you should be aware of child labor rules and regulations set by the Department of Labor and your state. There are restrictions on the hours a teen can work and restrictions that prohibit teens from using or cleaning specific equipment. Once you know the rules and regulations that apply to teens, take steps to implement safe work practices, such as labeling the equipment that teenagers are not permitted to use.

It’s your responsibility to provide a safe work environment for all of your employees, particularly teens who are more vulnerable to workplace injuries, and avoiding workplace injuries can increase production, improve employee morale, and lower insurance premiums.

Protect Your Business - Contact American Insuring Group

To learn more about saving on workers compensation insurance, restaurant insurance, or any type of coverage for your business, contact American Insuring Group online or call us at (800) 947-1270 or (610) 775-3848. Our independent insurance agents are sure to find you the right insurance at the best price. Don't take chances with your business - contact us today.

 

Tags: Workers Compensation Insurance, Restaurant Insurance, Bar Insurance, Teen Insurance

3 Tips for Workers Compensation Vendor Management

Posted by David Ross on Sun, Dec 03, 2017

Helpful tips to manage workers compensation vendors. We'd love to be your vendor for the best workers compensation insurance prices in Philadelphia, Reading, Pittsburgh, Allentown, Lancaster, PA and beyond. Contact us today!Most businesses outsource part (or sometimes all) of their workers compensation functions to improve their injured workers’ experiences and case outcomes. Some functions that are commonly outsourced include administrators, medical providers, pharmacy benefit managers, and medical bill review.

Outsourcing often makes good financial sense. Unfortunately, many businesses take the “set it and forget it” attitude and fail to manage their outsourced vendors properly. Too often, companies and vendors don’t take the time to make sure that their goals are aligned, which can cause issues down the road and reduce the cost-effectiveness.

Your outside vendors should be like partners in your business. They should be a part of your team.

Here are three tips for creating effective partnerships with your outsourced vendors:

#1. Find the best fit for your organization 

Working with key members of your organization, determine your goals, create a list of the requirements that are most important to your business, and then develop a model of the ideal vendor for your business.

Develop a list of questions and start interviewing prospective vendors that meet most of your requirements. Here are three crucial questions you’ll want to ask:

1) Are the vendor’s control environments aligned with your internal framework

2) Is there ongoing oversight that uses measurable information and external alerts

3) Does the vendor conduct internal audits; if so, how frequently, and will they share their findings with you?

You should also ask for a client list and speak to a few of them to see if they’re satisfied with the service they’re receiving from the vendor.

#2. Set Expectations

Set Expectations. Once you’ve found the vendor that is most aligned with your business goals, get everything in writing including the length of the term and if your relationship with the vendor will be exclusive. Watch for hidden costs.

You may want to use a service level agreement (SLA) and risk/reward strategies. An SLA will define the level of service you’re expecting, such as time frames for reports and performance measures. You can also include incentives to the vendor for meeting certain expectations and penalties for failing to meet those expectations.

#3. Regular Communication

Any good relationship requires communication. Regular communication keeps you on the same page and helps avoid future problems. Monitor the vendor’s performance, and make sure that they’re delivering what they promised and that you’re getting the data you need in a timely matter. 

Outsourced vendors can be an asset or liability to your company. By choosing the vendors that align best with your goals, being clear about expectations up front, and communicating with them regularly, you can create a great partnership with outsourced vendors that help ensure the best outcomes for injured workers.

 

Get The Best Deal on Quality Workers Comp Insurance!

At American Insuring Group, Ltd., we offer high quality, cost-effective worker's compensation insurance from a great variety of competing insurance companies. We'll work hard to get you the best price on quality insurance to protect your employees and your business. So give us a call at (800) 947-1270 or (610) 775-3848 or click here to contact us online.

Tags: Workers Compensation Insurance, Workers Compensation Vendor Management

Hearing Loss Safety & Workers Comp Costs

Posted by David Ross on Sun, Nov 12, 2017

Hearing loss can impact the cost of workers compensation insurance. Contact us to lower your workers comp costs in Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Lancaster, Allentown, PA, NJ, DE and beyond.Hearing is one of those things that many people take for granted … until it’s gone.

A Chronic Condition

Hearing loss is the third most common chronic physical condition in American adults – following hypertension and arthritis. Hearing loss is even more common than vision trouble.

Approximately 11% of US workers have hearing difficulty, and about 24% of that hearing difficulty is caused by occupational exposures according to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH).

Hearing loss can also lead to miscommunication and accidents, potentially harming employees while driving up workers compensation insurance costs.

20 Million in Workforce Affected

There are more than 20 million people in the U.S. workforce currently experiencing hearing loss, and it’s affecting their jobs and costing businesses money. Any worker can suffer work-related hearing loss, but the top industries include construction, carpentry, mining, entertainment, military, and agricultural according to Healthy Hearing.

Impact of Hearing Loss

According to the CDC, Hearing loss can lead to miscommunications and depression. It has also been associated with cognitive decline and heart problems. Hearing loss can affect safety within the workplace, and the Better Hearing Institute found that workers with hearing loss are five times more likely to take sick days due to severe stress.

Epic Hearing Healthcare says, “… when workers have trouble following conversations, misunderstand what is being said, or pretend to hear things that they don’t hear, it can negatively affect the worker’s productivity and the company’s bottom line. Untreated hearing loss affects companies – whether through lost productivity or increased healthcare costs.”

Causes of Hearing Loss

The causes of hearing loss in the workplace include loud noises and chemicals that cause damage to the inner ear (ototoxic chemicals). When sound reaches 85 decibels or higher or if a person needs to raise their voice to speak to someone who is three feet away, noise is considered potentially harmful. Ototoxic chemicals include organic solvents like trichloroethylene, heavy metals like mercury and lead, and asphyxiants like carbon monoxide.

Approximately 30 million U.S. workers are exposed to dangerous noise levels or ototoxic chemicals.

How To Prevent or Minimize Hearing Loss

The good news is that much of this hearing loss is preventable. NIOSH has created a hierarchy of controls:

  1. Prevent or contain the escape of the hazardous workplace agent at its source (engineering control),
  2. control exposure by relocating the worker to a safe area (administrative controls),
  3. and control the exposure with barriers between the worker and the hazard (personal protective equipment).

Here are a few simple steps recommended by the CDC to reduce your employees’ risk for hearing loss:

  1. Use quieter equipment and keep equipment well maintained and lubricated.
  2. Put a barrier between employee and the source or enclose the source completely
  3. Increase distance between employee and source
  4. Reduce employee’s time in noisy areas
  5. Provide and enforce the use of hearing protection in noisy areas.
  6. Educate your employees about noise hazards

Here are tips to reduce hearing loss due to exposure to ototoxic chemicals:

  1. Use a less-toxic or non-toxic chemical
  2. Provide and enforce the use of gloves, eye protection, respirator and other protective equipment as appropriate.
  3. Follow all chemical safety instructions.

Hearing Loss Prevention Program Benefits

According to the CDC, “A successful hearing loss prevention program benefits both the company and the affected employee. Employees are spared disabling hearing impairments, and evidence suggests that they may experience less fatigue and generally better health. Ultimately, the company benefits from reduced medical expenses and worker compensation costs. In some cases, there may be improved morale and work efficiency.”

Contact Us For Advice on Reducing Workers Compensation Insurance Costs 

To learn more about workplace safety and ways to save on workers compensation insurance costs, give American Insuring Group a call at (800) 947-1270 or (610) 775-3848 or Contact Us Online. We specialize in workers comp insurance for employers in Pennsylvania, Delaware and New Jersey.

Our independent agents will shop and compare competing insurers to find a policy that meets your needs at the best price possible. Contact us today to learn more!

Tags: Workers Compensation Insurance, workers comp costs

Workers Comp: 3 Keys to Effective Return-to-Work Programs

Posted by David Ross on Sun, Nov 05, 2017

Tips to reduce the cost of your return-to-work programs while reducing workers compensation insurance costsSome companies believe that taking the time to develop a return-to-work (RTW) program for injured employees costs more than its worth.

Some don’t think they have enough injuries to justify the cost of an RTW program, or they don’t think they have any “light duty” jobs available.

Some employers just don’t like the idea of paying an employee their full salary for doing light-duty work.

 

Studies Prove Return-to-Work Programs are Effective

But studies have shown that getting an injured employee back to work as quickly and safely as possible is the best approach for both the employee and the company. Return-to-work programs save employers on medical costs, lost time days, and workers compensation insurance costs. These programs can even reduce the number of lawsuits, wage replacement costs, and productivity losses.

The longer an injured employee is out of work, the less likely they’ll be to return to work and the more it costs the employer. Return-to-work programs reduce the length of claims and help injured employees recover more quickly.

RTW programs show that the employer cares about the well-being of the employer and wants to help them get back to work. And getting an employee back to work can help lift the injured employee’s spirits and the morale of their co-workers.

 

Keep Your RTW Program Simple and Cost-Effective

Despite common misconceptions, back-to-work programs don’t need to be costly or complicated.

First, you’ll want to work with your managers, supervisors, and insurance agent to ascertain if specific jobs are more prone to injuries, approximately how many injuries occur within your company each year, and how your injury stats compare with others in your industry.

Once you have this information, work with your insurer and possibly a trusted physician to develop a return-to-work program that fits your company.

 

Here are 3 Components of an Effective Return-to-Work Program:

  1. The Right Medical Providers
    You want to find medical providers who are on the same page as you. You want them to focus on what an injured employee can do, rather than what they can’t do, and you want the provider’s focus to be on safely returning the employee to work as quickly as possible.

  2. Communication
    Every employee should know that there is a return-to-work program in place and that it is followed. They should be familiar with the details of the program. And all employees should understand that the company’s goal is to return an injured employee to work as soon as it’s safe to do so – even if that means a light-duty job.

  3. Alternative Jobs
    You should have a list of light-duty jobs that may be appropriate for someone who is injured. Most companies have tasks that need to be done or activities that once completed could make other jobs easier or improve production, but these tasks or activities aren’t done because there isn’t time or manpower to do them. These tasks may be perfect for an injured employee. When the time comes, discuss the possibilities with the injured employee to see what would be a good fit with their abilities and their medical restrictions.

Taking the time to develop a return-to-work program for your company – no matter how big or small it is – can help your business reduce costs.

 

We Can Help You Lower Your Costs

Trusted Choice Independent Insurance Agents Specializing in Workers Compensation Insurance in Reading, Philadelphia, Harriburg, Altoona, Allentown, State College, Lancaster, York, PA and beyond. Contact Us.American Insuring Group can assist you in creating an effective return-to-work program that works for you and your employees.

Our Independent Agents can also help lower the cost of your Workers Compensation Insurance. So give us a call at (800)947-1270 or (610) 775-3848 or contact us online to start saving.

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

Nail Gun Safety and Workers Compensation Insurance

Posted by David Ross on Sun, Oct 15, 2017

Nail Gun Safety Tips - Avoid Injury and Lower Your PA Workers Comp Insurance Costs.Contractors and handymen, do you remember the days before nail guns? When you had to use a hammer to nail something.

Today, you probably can’t imagine doing your job without a nail gun! They’ve probably made your job a lot easier, and, unfortunately, more dangerous, which can lead to increased workers compensation insurance claims and higher insurance costs.

According to the CDC, nail guns are responsible for approximately 37,000 emergency room visits every year. Sixty-eight percent of those injuries are work-related. Severe nail gun injuries can even cause death.

7 Risk Factors for Nail Gun Injuries

The CDC has identified 7 major risk factors that can lead to nail gun injury:

  1. Unintended nail discharge from double fire

  2. Unintended nail discharge from knocking the safety contact with the trigger squeezed

  3. Nail penetration through lumber workpiece

  4. Nail ricochet after striking a hard surface or metal feature

  5. Missing the workpiece

  6. Awkward position nailing

  7. Bypassing safety mechanisms

Nail Gun Safety Prerequisite: Know Your Triggers!

Before we can discuss ways to avoid nail gun injuries, it’s important to understand the different types of nail gun triggers.

There are two controls with every nail gun: a finger trigger and a contact safety tip on the nose of the gun.

  1. Full sequential trigger – This is the safest type of trigger. The controls need to be activated in a very specific order for the gun to fire, and nails can’t be bump fired – also called bounce nailing. Bump firing or bounce nailing is using a nail gun with a contact trigger held squeezed and bumping or bouncing the tool along the workpiece to fire nails.

  2. Contact trigger – This type of trigger fires a nail when the safety contact and trigger are activated in any order. A nail will be fired each time the safety contact is pushed in if you keep the trigger squeezed. Nails can be bump fired with this type of trigger. Contact trigger nailers are prone to double firing, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC).

  3. Single sequential trigger – To fire this type of trigger, controls must be activated in a specific order and nails cannot be bump fired just like the full sequential trigger. However – unlike the full sequential trigger – only the trigger must be released to fire the second nail.

  4. Single-actuation trigger – This trigger will fire a single nail when the safety and trigger are activated in any order just like the contact trigger. To shoot the second nail, you can release the trigger, move the tool and squeeze the trigger again without releasing the safety again. Nails can be bump

 

6 Ways to Avoid Nail Gun Injuries

The CDC offers six steps to help avoid nail gun injuries:

  1. Use full sequential trigger nail guns, which reduce the risk of unintentional discharge and double fires especially with inexperienced employees.

  2. Provide safety training to both new and experienced employees that covers topics such as how triggers differ and the leading causes of injuries and how to avoid them.

  3. Establish nail gun work procedures specific to your company that address risk factors.

  4. Provide personal protective equipment (PPE) such as safety shoes, high-impact eye protection, etc.

  5. Encourage reporting and discussion of injuries and close calls to draw attention to possible risks, so they can be avoided and to ensure that your employees are getting medical care when needed.

  6. Provide first aid and medical treatment. Sometimes, what seems like a minor injury can be more severe. For example, materials such as nail strip glue or clothing can become embedded, which can cause infection.

Play it Safe with Proper Workers Compensation Insurance!

Trusted Choice Workers Compensation Insurance Independent Agents Serving Reading, Philadelphia, Allentown, Pittsburgh, Harrisburg, PA and beyond.It is your responsibility to provide the safest workplace environment for your employees. The fact that it also reduces your workers’ compensation costs is just icing on the cake!

To learn more about saving on workers compensation insurance, give American Insuring group a call at (800) 947-1270 or (610) 775-3848 or contact us online. Our independent agents are ready to get you solid coverage options at a great price. Call or click today.

Tags: Workers Compensation Insurance, PA Workers Compensation Insurance, Business Insurance, Nail Gun Safety