What is OSHA and how does it impact Workers Compensation?

OSHA stands for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. This government organization is part of the United States Department of Labor. It is the department within the government in charge of the safety and health of workers in the workplace. If you have employees in your business, you need to know about regulations. Any business with one or more employees must comply with OSHA regulations. Here is some information about the history and the three main aspects of the organization.

Image result for OSHA

OSHA was created in 1970 as part of the OSHA Act. This act created to ensure safe and healthful working conditions, as well as to to preserve human capital throughout the workforce of the United States. One primary aspect the training and education of OSHA focuses on is accident prevention. Prior to this act, there were no laws in place to specifically address safety and health in the workplace. Congress created this act in response to workplace accidents amounting to 14,000 worker deaths annually. Since its inception, OSHA has cut the work-fatality rate by more than half. There are three tactics the organization uses to improve workplace safety throughout the United States:  Education, Training and Enforcement.

Hse, Osha, Health, Safety, Cleaning


One aspect of OSHA that far too many businesses do not realize is their focus on Education and Training. The OSHA Training Institute (OTI) Education Center Program was created in 1992 as a response to a growing number of requests for training from private sector personnel and Federal personnel from other agencies increased throughout the 1980’s. The two most popular courses currently include the #500 Trainer Course in Occupational Safety and Health Standards for the Construction Industry and #501 Trainer Course in Occupational Safety and Health Standards for General Industry. Additional courses include topics such as Hazardous Materials, Machine Guarding, Ergonomics, Confined Space, Excavation, Electrical Standards and Fall Arrest Systems.


OSHA is most known for enforcement and instituting fines, but arguably the most important part of OSHA is Employee Training. As part of its duty to keep the workforce safe and productive, OSHA requires all businesses to create an emergency action plan and take steps to set up a training program to train all employees in all aspects of the OSHA plan. What must be included in this plan is how to deal with hazardous substances, blood-borne pathogens, emergency situations, and what to do if an inspector comes to your workplace.


In addition to education and training, OSHA is tasked with enforcement. This is what the organization is most known for. Officials can issue fines ranging into the tens of thousands of dollars for violations, and they can refer violators for criminal prosecution if they deem such action is warranted. Any business with employees must comply with regulations. If your small business had 10 or fewer employees during the last year, you don’t have to file an injury or illness reports, but you still must comply with all other regulations. It is the responsibility of the business owner to ensure their business and all employees are trained to be in compliance with OSHA Regulations.

Image result for OSHA

The Importance of Accident Prevention in the Workplace

It may seem obvious that it should be the goal of employers to focus on accident prevention in the workplace. However, for those that need a little additional encouragement, here are some reasons to prioritize safety in the workplace.

Caution signs are essential to accident prevention in the workplace.

Accidents are financially expensive

Businesses exist to create profit. Most businesses are relatively low profit margin and work very hard to create that profit margin. Workplace accidents lead to extra financial expenses. They can also add costs to insurance policies through increased rates or a worse experience modification factor.

For example, if a business operated at a ten percent profit margin (which is well ahead of many businesses), they would need $50,000 in additional revenue to offset $5,000 in extra expenses created by an on the job injury. That could lead to extra hours worked by ownership, having to cut positions or hours or other difficult budget decisions.

Reduced workplace morale

There are more than just financial costs due to workplace injuries. A lack of accident prevention can reduce morale of other employees. Sometimes the morale can be reduced as a result of having to work longer hours or harder to make up for injured employees that have to miss work. It may result from financial strain on the business due to the injury. It also may arise simply because employees don’t like to see their co-workers suffer.

Recent Trends

It’s hard to argue against the importance of workplace safety. As a result, there have been recent trends by workers’ comp insurance carriers to help with accident prevention in the workplace. Carriers such as Missouri Employers Mutual, Utah Business Insurance Company and Guarantee Insurance Company offer extensive loss control services. Additionally, some carriers offered reduced cost items for workplace safety. These items include The Hartford’s Shoes for Crews incentive, incentives for a healthier workplace, weight loss programs as well as discounts on ergonomic office furniture. Missouri Employers Mutual just launched a safety grant program for their clients to help defray the costs of large one-time purchases to make workplaces safer.

Most employers want to protect their employers and focus on creating a safe workplace. Some of the reasons listed above highlight the benefit to focusing on preventing workplace accident for all employers.

Toolbox Talks. What are they and are they helpful?

Toolbox Talks is a term that spawned from the construction industry. It refers to when companies or crews would meet briefly in the morning. These informal safety meetings help keep your company’s safety procedures, rules regarding equipment, personal protective equipment, job assignments and expectations on the forefront of your employees’ minds. This type of meeting can be shorter and used more to reinforce formal safety meetings or training programs.

Find out how Toolbox Talks can help your business at myinsurancequestion.com

These meetings help to prevent employees from cutting corners to get a job done more quickly. A prime example is an employee not taking the time to walk back to the truck to get safety glasses. By constantly reminding your staff about safety you can reinforce the importance of safety in your company culture. This can help you as a business owner save money on insurance premium over the course of many years.

It only takes one big claim or many small claims in one policy period to hurt your businesses reputation with an insurance carrier. When your business is not safe it can drive up premium and thus effect the growth of your company.  An even worse result could be having to lay someone off due to the rising cost of insurance.  This does not have to be the case and these Toolbox Talks can help to prevent just that.

How can ToolBox Talks help your business save on commercial insurance?

Obviously some accidents happen and they are not avoidable. Carriers do take that into account when looking quoting your business, especially when you have had a claim. If you have procedures like Toolbox Talks or safety meetings on a regular basis the underwriter may view the loss as more of a shock loss or an uncommon accident. If these talks are in place they are much more likely to view your accident as an outlier and less of a sign of more to come.

When planning topics for your Toolbox Talks you may find it is hard to come up with interesting topics. If you are having trouble coming up with topics to cover your insurance agent or carrier can help you with ideas or even provide some material for you to cover. Insurance carriers and agents want you to have a safe and informed workforce. They want this so they can insure your business for a long time to come. No matter the size of your business or how much work has to be done, you will be able to find the importance and benefits of doing these quick meetings.  Below you will find a quick outline on how to operate a meeting effectively and efficiently. These quick meetings are more to reinforce what you have discussed previously and to act as a quick reminder to your workforce that you want them to be safe.  More importantly, you want the workforce to know that the business culture is one that wants safety on the forefront of the minds of the employees throughout the work day. When safety becomes a habit it benefits not only the business owner but the workforce as well. There is never a better day than today to get started on a structure format to educated and reinforce employee safety. Safety is and always should be a proactive approach instead of a reactive one.

Find out how Toolbox Talks can benefit your business at myinsurancequestion.com

Below is a quick example of a format for Toolbox Talks:


  • Focus on one subject per talk
  • Choose a subject that involves your group on hand
  • Avoid vague statements. Be specific and to the point when delivering the message.
  • Give an example of what you expect or from a past experience
  • Leave time for questions or concerns so that everyone leaves on the same page.


Simple Ideas that can Create a Safe Work Environment

There are several safety procedures a business owner can implement into their business without setting up an official safety program. Official safety programs frequently cost a large amount of additional money. As a workers’ compensation professional one common reason for increasing workers comp premiums is bad management or lack of safety procedures causing unnecessary claims. In a society where it’s becoming increasingly difficult to prove a claim to be fraudulent, it’s more important than ever to prevent unnecessary claims from occurring in the first place. When a business has suffered a claim or several claims in the past (frequency or severity), those claims will follow a businesses workers comp experience rating for several years to follow. This factor is referred to as a businesses work comp experience modification rating.

Find out how to provide a Safe Work Environment at your small business via MyInsuranceQuestion.com

Frequent safety meetings are needed to keep this experience modification rating down.  Monday morning meetings are typically the easiest for a business owner and they get the employees on the right track for the upcoming week. Actually a large portion of fraudulent claims occur on Monday? Here are a few things many successful businesses require of their employees.

  • Talk with your employees about proper lifting procedures
  • Ensure all employees have proper safety gear
  • Purchase and require employees to wear basic safety gear
  • Talk with employees about how to handle tools within the trade properly

As far as the weekly meetings go, if you have trouble coming up with topics to discuss simply ask your employees. They may be able to contribute topics based on their day to day job duties.  They can help you analyze what areas they think will cause claims and how the organization can minimize the exposure. These meetings can be short, but they do need to be documented. Your employees need to start the work week off on the correct foot. This can also show you care as a business owner about the safety of your employees.

Business owners being active in the day to day operations are important to the success of any safety program. Being present on the job-site and communicating with the employees help the owners to understand what the employees actually do on a day to day.  Being active int he day-to-day operations helps to quickly identify when an employee is doing something that increases their chances of being injured. Being an active owner typically results in the employees paying closer attention to doing the job the right way instead of cutting corners.

Identifying reasons for prior claims and correcting those problems going forward can also help your business control the experience modification rating. If your a business that suffered claims in the past, use the insurance carriers loss report to identify all claims (believe it or not some business owners are not aware a claim even occurred.) Think about and discuss with your staff ways that particular injury could be prevented from happening in the future.

Appoint someone on your crew or within each department as the leader or foreman. Have those key employees assist in the monitoring of the safety program within the workplace. Have those key employees assist with safety meetings, but hold them accountable for their responsibilities. Reward them when they make a difference.

Another good tactic to promote safety is to put up a sign within the workplace in a highly visible area. Remind employees daily that the job place is X days injury free. Give the employees an incentive to reach a certain number of days with no job place injuries. These little things make the employees think about being safe and make a difference.

Safety Programs and Meetings

The importance of a Safety Programs and Meetings

Safety programs and meetings may seem like a time consuming task and they may seem like they do not make much of a difference until you have had a claim. Even the best run operations will eventually have some sort of work related injury occur. Whether it is a law firm who has a legal assistant injured in an auto accident or a construction worker who has a back strain occur on the job, something will generally happen the longer you are in business.

All carriers ask if you have a written safety program.  This DOES come into play when agents are generating your quote and analyzing your business. For instance, if your business has a written safety program and conducts weekly safety meetings on a variety of topics than an underwriter might understand if you are having a year where a couple injuries occur. If you do not have these policies in place, your business may end up having a claims total higher than your premium paid. This may cause your current carrier to cancel you for claims.  All of a sudden you can’t find an insurance carrier to cover your business.

I have had many clients in this exact situation.  If your business has a safety program in place, what we have been able to do is make a case to the carrier on your behalf by using examples of your safety program and meetings conducted. We do this so when the carrier reviews your business they will take into account all of the right things you are doing and chalk up the recent stretch of losses to more of an outlier than an actual reflection of the way you run your business. On the flip side if you are not having regular safety meetings or do not have a written safety program than it is much harder to convince an underwriter that these losses are a fluke. With no examples to give them on why they will not happen again most underwriters and carriers will decline to offer a quote. This is because on paper it looks like there are no supporting arguments showing there is a plan in place to minimize the exposure in the future.

Now that we have established the importance of safety programs and meetings and programs, lets look at an outline that can be used. Meetings don’t have to be long.  They can be quite quick and effective if you are prepared.

1. PLAN your meeting in advance by looking at topics you have encountered in your years of running the business, industry related issues, or ideas from your workforce.

2. Help your workforce see or understand what you are talking about through pictures and videos. Not everyone learns or is engaged the same way. Pictures and videos will allow you to show specific examples of the point you are hoping to make.

3. Tell your employees how to apply the information you have presented and see if they have any questions, thoughts or concerns.

4. Attendance should be required and not optional.

5. Document attendance so if it ever comes up you can show you are constantly training your employees on safety.

This is a simple guideline you can follow that will keep your team focused for the 10-30 minutes it may take to conduct safety meeting. Meetings don’t need to be long or cumbersome but they should be to the point and deliver your message in an efficient, effective manner.