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.
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.
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.
Workers’ Comp Insurance is often thought of as a commodity product. There is some logic to that line of thinking. Pricing is determined by classifying employees and then taking the percentage rate assigned to that classification and multiplying it by estimated payroll. In some states such as Florida and Wisconsin, the workers’ comp rates assigned to those classifications are set by states, whereas in some states the rates by classification can vary from carrier to carrier. In competitive states, pricing is often thought to be the main differentiator between workers’ comp carriers. Most of the benefits paid from claims related to workers’ comp insurance are set by statutes, so carriers should be viewed pretty similarly in that regard as well.
Other than pricing, what can separate workers’ comp insurance carriers? Carrier rating is one factor that is considered. It relates to the financial strength of carriers. A higher carrier rating should lead to more certainty that claims will get paid, but it is highly unusual for claims not to get paid by any workers’ comp insurance carrier. Higher carrier ratings are sometimes required to meet insurance requirements of vendors or customers. A carrier’s customer service reputation can also be relevant. Additionally, payment plans can vary by carriers. Some carriers offer pay as you go. This allows premium to be paid in line with how busy a company is at a particular time. Furthermore, it generally reduces large audit balances.
Another differentiating factor is, are different programs offered by workers’ comp insurance carriers. Missouri Employers Mutual is one carrier who offers several programs to enhance employee safety. They often safety grants to policy holders. The grants will provide dollar for dollar matching funds up to $20,000 for successful applicants to purchase more permanent type safety devices. Some applicants may be able to get a grant larger than their policy premium. Missouri Employers Mutual also offers safety dividends to policy holders with lower loss ratios as a way to reward good safety practices. The Hartford is another carrier that offers numerous programs to differentiate its product. They offer programs to provide discounted slip resistant footwear to employees, programs that can lead to weight loss and overall a healthier employee pool and discounts related to vendors which can provide a more ergonomic friendly workplace. The Hartford also provides a broad form policy which includes things like more cancellation notices, pays benefits for more additional expenses, includes complimentary waivers when needed and provides longer notification periods for insureds related to certain mandatory notification events. Some carriers, such as Employers, offer price differentiators such as filing for a 5% rate deviation in Florida which allows them to offer worker’s comp rates which are 5% lower than other carriers in Florida which must use the rates set by the state.
Another area carriers can differentiate themselves is by superior loss control or claims management services. Utah Business Insurance (UBIC) is a carrier that offers superior loss control. Very knowledgeable field reps meet with prospects and insureds to provide insight on safe work places. These field reps are strongly versed in OSHA and other safety protocols. Both UBIC and Missouri Employers Mutual also diligently investigate claims as they arise.
While price is always an important consideration as it relates to workers’ comp insurance, there are numerous other factors worth considering when selecting a workers’ comp provider.