My Insurance Question: 10 Summer Safety Tips

10 Summer Safety Tips for your Business.  

Summer Safety begins and ends with dealing with the Summer Heat. Depending upon where your business is located and the industry you operate in, how you deal with the Summer Heat may be drastically different. Here are ten tips to help you protect your employees while dealing with the Summer Heat.

Construction Worker dealing with Summer Heat.

Have your A/C Unit checked

Most people think that heat related injuries only concern businesses that have employees who work out side, but when an A/C Unit goes out during the month of July it can have an extremely negative impact on your office and your employees. Having your A/C Unit checked in the Spring can prevent a bad situation from happening. The earlier in the year you get this done, the better.

Communicate with employees

Employees listen to their managers and key employees within your organization. If you communicate through those key employees what is important to the organization, the employees are much more likely to follow through with actions you want them to follow. Communication should be direct and ongoing. The more your employees hear something, the more likely they are to follow through.

Hydration

Drinking adequate amounts of water is important for all employees at all levels of your organization. That is true if they work primarily out in the elements or if they are an office employee. In the Summer this is especially true for employees who work out in the elements. Periodically providing cool drinks for your employees is always a good idea. Talking about hydration with your staff is also important to get them to take hydration seriously.

Sunscreen

Sunscreen is necessary during the Summer Months. It is important for you to provide sunscreen for your employees and to talk about using it. Encourage your managers and key employees to model the types of activities you want the rest of your staff to copy.

Proper Clothing

Depending upon the industry your business operates in and the climate of the area, adequate clothing may defer depending upon the weather your employees face. Preventing sunburn and other types of heat exposure is crucial to keeping your employees healthy and happy.

Adjust your operating hours

It is important for your acclimate your employees to the weather as the Summer heat begins.  Gradually increasing exposure to the environment is the best way to help your employees deal with heat exposure throughout the entire Summer. Depending upon how hot the weather actually is and the type of activities your employees partake in, it may be necessary for your business to adjust the operating hours during the Summer months.

Take Extra Breaks

Taking additional breaks is a great way to deal with an increase in the temperatures during the Summer. When the temperatures rise, it is not a time for your employees to attempt to show how tough they are. More often than not this will result in someone dealing with a heat related illness. Protect your employees by taking additional breaks.

Notice the signs of Heat Related Illness

According to the Center for Disease Control, ‘From 1999 to 2010, 8,081 heat-related deaths were reported in the United States’. That is more than 800 people each year who die from heat related illnesses.  Familiarizing yourself and your managers with the early signs of heat exhaustion can go a long way towards preventing your employees from becoming a victim of a heat related illness.

Mosquitoes

Mosquitoes and other insects come out in great numbers during the Summer Months. Helping your employees deal with them will keep those employees happy and healthy. If your employees stay at your facility, there are steps you can take throughout the property to limit exposure to insects. When employees are working at third party locations, it is important to periodically talk to the employees about how to prevent insect bites.

Prepare Your Vehicles

If you have employees who operate automobiles as part of their job, it is important to help those employees maintain the vehicle so that they will be able to withstand the extreme temperatures all Summer long. It may be necessary for your business to buy car windshield sunshade and to require all employees to use them if they are going to be away from the vehicle for a certain amount of time. Making sure the AC Unit in the car is in tip top shape is important to keep your employees cool and the cars operating throughout the year.

June is National Safety Month

What are you doing during National Safety Month to make sure your Business is as Safe as possible?

Every year National Safety Month is recognized during the month of June and according to the National Safety Council, ‘National Safety Month focuses on reducing leading causes of injury and death at work, on the road and in our homes and communities’. Safety should be at the top of the priority list for any successful business. Not focusing on safety is a very short-sided way to run a business. Businesses with an extra emphasis on safety tend to experience less frequent and less severe injuries to their employees. This leads to less lost time by injured employees, less insurance claims reported by the business, and lower insurance premiums as a result of the safe environment.

June is National Safety Month

Why is safety important?

Having a safety workplace can help your business in many ways. First and foremost it is the right thing to do for your organization, your customers, and your employees. If you operate a safe business it will save your business time and money by not having to deal with injured employees as frequently. It also will save your business when purchasing commercial insurance. Safe workplaces typically have a better experience modification rating than other businesses who do not emphasize safety.

How does a business design a safety program?

The design stage of a safety program will depend upon the location of your business and the industry you operate in. Obviously, if your business operates in Florida there is not much of a need for you to train employees how to operate in the snow. If you are located in Iowa, you may not need to prepare for hurricane season. The same can be said for the industry you operate in. A construction company will not need the same protocols in place as an accounting firm. Because of the uniqueness of each individual business, it is important to consult with your key employees, advisers, and even your insurance agent. All of these people can bring their own experiences to the design of any safety program and make it more complete.

June is National Safety Month and in honor of this celebration of safety this is an infograph about slips trips falls-

What should be included in all safety plans?

Heavy lifting

Any employee who has to lift heavy objects should be prepared to lift with their legs and not with their back. Many employees want to show a can-do attitude, but it is important to let all employees know that safety and their health are more important than impressing anyone with brute strength.

Slips, trips, and falls

Slips, trips, and falls are the most common insurance claim. Especially for retail and restaurant businesses that are open to the public. Even if your business is not open to the public, it is important to prevent employees and any third parties who come on to the property to be prepared for slips, trips, and falls.

Ergonomics of the workplace

Most businesses operate in the technological age. Because of this fact, many employees spend a majority of their time sitting at a desk and typing or staring at a computer. Repetition injuries like carpal tunnel can be severe and so can eyesight damage from long-term  damage from computer usage. Being mindful of the ergonomics of the chair a person is sitting in, the equipment surrounding their computer, and the light that is being emulated from the computers can do a lot to prevent long-term damage due to ergonomics within your staff.

Tips for implementing a safety program.

Once you have designed a safety program, it is equally important to effectively implement it. This must start from the top of your organization. The more involved the owner and key employees are in the implementation of a safety program, the more likely all employees will take it seriously. There should be a schedule for ongoing meetings and they should be documented. These meetings do not have to be extremely time-consuming. Typically 15-30 minutes a week is adequate. It is important to periodically request feedback from all employees and to have some sort of open door policy for employees who may not feel comfortable speaking up in front of their coworkers. No matter what implementation you find is right for your business, it is important to document it and to stick with it. Documentation will come in handy when or if you experience an injured employee. Your insurance agent will be able to use the safety program as a way to show the insurance carrier you are taking the proper steps to prevent this occurrence from becoming a regular part of your business.

 

Portrait of young engineer taking notes for National Safety Month.

Common Types of injuries

Fatigue

Fatigue is an enormous problem in today’s business climate. Especially for businesses that operate in an have employees doing physical work. Adults need seven to nine hours of sleep each day to reach peak performance, but nearly one-third report averaging less than six hours.

Driving

IF you have employees who drive to multiple locations throughout the work day as part of their normal duties, you need to train those employees how to drive when they are on the job. It is a good idea to pull their motor vehicle records on a yearly basis as well. Never assume a responsible employee is also a responsible driver.

Workplace Violence

Unfortunately, workplace violence is more common than most business owners think. Each year more than two million people report being a victim of workplace violence. For this reason, it is extremely important for you as a small business owner to come up with a plan to prevent and how to deal with any and all forms of workplace violence.

Slips, trips, and falls

Slips, trips, and falls are the most common form of insurance claim. Especially for businesses that are open to the public like a restaurant. Fortunately for these types of businesses, these claims are also typically not very severe, just frequent. No matter what type of industry your business operates in, it is worth your while to address slips, trips, and falls that may happen at your facility.

Drugs in the workplace

According to the Surgeon General, nearly 21 million Americans live with a substance use problem.  The same study showed three-quarters of these people are employed and as a result of their addiction, they miss 50% more time than employees without a substance abuse disorder. Construction, entertainment, recreation, and food service are four industries that have twice the national average of drug abuse in the workplace. If your business operates in one of these areas, drug abuse in the workplace is something you should address with your staff.

 

Insurance Needs for Floor Installation Businesses

Floor installation is an industry that has a unique set of risks. Floor laying, finishing and refinishing businesses are a specific type of carpentry that increases exposures because of the construction and lay out of floors in both residential or commercial buildings. This work may include the installation of floor coverings such as linoleum, tile and carpet. There may be chemicals involved in the work that can ad to the risks faced by employees.  Because of the specific risks involved in this industry, business owners should take a bit extra time to speak with their insurance agent about what exactly the employees of the business do and do not partake in on a daily basis.

When going through the quoting process for commercial insurance, it is important to remember that your insurance agent is in the business of analyzing risk. If they are absent the appropriate amount of information to assess the risks of your business, it is in the best interest of the agent to always assume more risk.  If they do assume more risk than your business actually faces, it can cause your insurance premium to be significantly higher.

Once you have spoken long and honestly with your Independent Insurance Agent there are certain policies most all floor installation companies need to secure. Here are four policies that are a good idea to secure.

Property Insurance 

If you own property, no matter how big or small, you need to protect that property in some way. Commercial Property Insurance is different from a personal home owners policy. Commercial Property is sold in two main ways, Actual Cash Value and Replacement Value. An Actual Cash Value Policy will pay for an agreed upon value that the property is worth. This type of policy does not pay for tear down and removal costs. A Replacement Value Policy does pay for the additional costs to tear down, remove debris, and rebuild the property to current codes. Speaking with your agent can help you determine if you need this coverage and if so how much.

Commercial Auto

If you have a company vehicle or you use your personal vehicle for work operations, than you will need some form of additional coverage for you business. Some form of Commercial Auto Insurance is needed for you or your employees if you do travel to third party locations. If your employees use their personal cars for business purposes you may just need a hired and non owned auto policy. This is because the liability to third parties for accidents that are the fault of your employee is the liability of the business. This is because the reason they are on the road is because of the actions of the business. The damages to the employees car will more than likely be picked up by their  insurance company if the accident is their fault. Either way it is important to protect your business with the proper coverage for the risks you face regarding driving and vehicles.

Inland Marine Coverage

An Inland Marine Insurance Policy will cover any specialized equipment you have in your car or on a trailer attached to your car. A commercial auto insurance policy will not cover these pieces of equipment if they are damaged in an accident. For these damages, you will need this separate policy. One thing to remember in relation to an inland marine policy is to keep an up to date account of all the equipment your business owns. Take pictures of these pieces of equipment and keep them on file with your insurance agent. If you buy new equipment in the middle of your term, it is a good idea to notify your insurance agent of the new equipment.

Workers Compensation

Depending upon the state you operate in, how many employees you have, and how those employees are classified you may have to purchase workers compensation coverage. It is important to check with the proper governing body for your state to determine if you need this coverage. Even if you are not required by law to purchase this coverage, your insurance agent can help you determine if it is a good idea to still secure this coverage for your business.

 

Here are several common Workers Compensation Class Codes:

•   5478- Carpet, Linoleum, Vinyl Installation

•   5438- Tile Floor Installation

•   5437- Hardwood Floor Installation and Refinishing

•   5645- Residential Construction

•   5651- Commercial Carpentry

•   5436- California- Hardwood Floor Installation