Businesses host parties for a variety of reasons, including the holidays and organizational accomplishments. While these events are fun, team-building opportunities, they can create a number of risks for the hosting company. In fact, in the event that an employee is injured at the party or causes property damage, the employer is usually the one held responsible. This can lead to costly litigation and reputational harm that can affect a company for years.
To avoid major losses, it’s not only important for employers to secure the right insurance coverage for every individual risk, but to also have a thorough understanding of common holiday party exposures.
Anytime you provide alcohol to individuals in a non-commercial manner, you are considered a social host. This is important to note, as a social host may be responsible for the acts of their guests should their conduct create harm. These risks are compounded when alcohol is served, and employers may be liable for damages following a drunken driving accident or similar incident.
While the best way to reduce alcohol liability risks is to avoid serving it altogether, this isn’t always feasible. To promote the safety of your employees and guests at company-sponsored events, consider the following:
- Hold the event off-site at a restaurant or hotel.
- Provide plenty of food and non-alcoholic beverages throughout the night.
- Serve drinks to guests rather than offering a self-serve bar. Limit the amount of alcohol you will serve. Require servers to measure spirits.
- Set up bar stations instead of having servers circulate the room. Place table tents at each bar that remind employees and guests to drink responsibly.
- Don’t price alcohol too low, as it encourages overconsumption. Offer a range of low-alcohol and alcohol-free drinks at no charge.
- Close the bar an hour before the scheduled end of the party. Do not offer a “last call,” as this promotes rapid consumption.
- Entice guests to take advantage of safe transportation options by subsidizing taxis or promoting a designated driver program.
Similar to alcohol use, marijuana and other drug consumption can directly affect the safety of your party guests. In fact, according to the most recent federal data, 44 percent of vehicle crash deaths can be linked to drug-impaired driving, up from 28 percent a decade earlier.
Marijuana contains hundreds of chemicals, many of which act directly on the body and brain. Individual sensitivity to marijuana can vary, but the general effects include the following:
- Dizziness, drowsiness, light-headedness, fatigue and headaches
- Impaired memory, concentration and ability to make decisions
- Disorientation and confusion
- Suspiciousness, nervousness, anxiety, paranoia and hallucinations
- Impaired motor skills and perception
- Dry mouth, throat irritation and coughing
- Increased heartbeat
These health effects can last long after an employee smoked, increasing the potential for accidents or major health concerns. In addition, federal, state and local laws may prohibit marijuana use in certain areas, making it all the more important to educate employees on behavior expectations.
To keep your party guests safe and avoid any liability concerns, consider making clear rules for marijuana use at your party. Remind employees that even though they are at a social event, they are still attending a work function and workplace policies on the use of marijuana still apply.
Workplace Harassment and Discrimination
Even when holding company-sponsored events off-site, employers are expected to enforce their workplace policies and safeguard their employees. In particular, employers must pay extra care to prevent issues of harassment and discrimination at their events, as they can lead to employment claims and costly litigation.
To help keep employees safe at company parties, employers should ensure all of their policies related to harassment, violence, discrimination and code of conduct are up to date and account for company-sponsored events. Policies should be specific as to what is and is not tolerated, and redistributed them as thoroughly as possible.
In addition, employers should:
- Consider making the event a family party where employees can bring their spouse, significant other, children or a friend. This can help deter inappropriate behavior.
- Keep event themes and decorations appropriate. Parties should be neutral and not make reference to specific religions or beliefs. In addition, plan your party on a day that does not conflict with religious holidays.
- Consider having just one entrance to your party. This will allow you to control who enters the venue and ensure that uninvited guests do not attended.
- Have supervisors and managers chaperone the event, looking closely for inappropriate behavior. Hire third-party security personnel as needed.
- Avoid making attendance for company-sponsored events mandatory.
Food is a staple of many company-sponsored events, and can actually be a useful way to keep party guest sober and limit alcohol-related liability (starchy foods can help reduce the absorption of alcohol). However, when serving food, there are a number of risks employers should consider.
For instance, employers need to be wary of potential food allergies. In the event that a guest gets sick from the food, they could sue the employer for negligence.
To help protect against this, employers should ask party guests to disclose any of their allergies, either in their RSVP or by contacting the event coordinator directly. In addition, you should specify what ingredients are in every food item, both on the menu and on display cards near the food itself.
For added protection against illnesses, it’s critical that employers promote safe food preparation and handling practices. Moreover, when working with a third-party provider, employers should do their due diligence to ensure they are securing reputable vendors.
Property damage can occur at just about any kind of party, even small, company-sponsored events. As the host, it’s your job to ensure your guests remain safe, behave appropriately and respect the venue and its contents.
To do so, employers should:
- Set behavior expectations before the party.
- Have supervisors and managers chaperone the event, looking closely for inappropriate behavior. Hire third-party security personnel as needed.
- Remove valuable items from the party area wherever possible. Make sure any areas that you don’t want guests to enter are locked, roped off or secured in some way.
- Review your liability insurance and know what it covers.
- Ensure the venue is equipped to handle the number of individuals invited to the party.
Secure the Coverage You Need in Advance
Even if you take all the appropriate precautions, incidents can still occur. As such, it’s important for all organizations to secure adequate insurance.
Each business is different, and may require additional policies to account for all of their exposures. Contact Scurich Insurance today to learn about your coverage options when it comes to hosting a party.
Congress and President Donald Trump recently approved the Disaster Recovery Reform Act (DRRA), an overhaul of the federal government’s approach to disaster preparation and risk reduction. The new law gives businesses, federal agencies and state governments more flexibility when requesting and using federal grants.
Before now, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) had strict regulations about how it distributed funds during a recovery process. Grants were usually used to help replace lost property, but didn’t account for improvements to help prevent future disasters. In fact, one of the biggest reasons that the National Flood Insurance Plan (NFIP) is over budget and in need of reform is that it’s common for a single property to flood frequently and make multiple insurance claims.
The DRRA has new provisions in place to emphasize planning and help streamline how funds are given out:
- 6 percent of the federal disaster budget will be put into a pre-disaster mitigation account every year. State governments, businesses and communities can apply for grants to fund risk mitigation activities.
- Rebuilding that uses federal funds will use strengthened building code requirements to protect against future incidents. Improving public utilities will also be a priority in order to ensure access to clean water and electricity.
- The president will be able to reimburse up to 75 percent of a state or local government’s disaster mitigation efforts to ease the strain on federal agencies.
According to FEMA, every $1 put into planning for disasters can help save $6 during the recovery process. Contact us today at 831-661-5697 for toolkits, articles and other resources your company can use to prepare for various disasters and ensure the continuity of your business.
Because identity theft and data breaches are becoming an ever-growing problem, it’s important to not only have a different password for each account, but to make those passwords easy to remember and hard to guess. The following are tips you can use to make your password harder to crack:
- Change your passwords every 90 days. This might seem like a hassle at first, but hackers have a better chance at cracking your passwords if they never change. It’s also a good idea to avoid reusing passwords.
- Make your passwords at least eight characters long. Generally, the longer a password is, the harder it is to guess.
- Don’t use the same password for each account. Hackers target lower security websites and then test cracked passwords on higher security sites. Make sure each account has a different password.
- Include uppercase letters and special characters in your password. Special characters include symbols like “#,” “*,” “+” and “>.” These symbols can make your password more complex and harder to guess.
- Avoid using the names of spouses, kids or pets in your password. All it takes for a hacker to crack passwords that include these things is a little research on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter.
Representatives from the United States, Mexico and Canada recently reached an agreement to update the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). The new trade deal, referred to as the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), includes a number of changes to support North American businesses, increase labor regulations and overhaul intellectual property (IP) protections.
Although the USMCA has many similarities to NAFTA, some important changes will likely affect businesses:
- North American auto industry—Starting in 2020, vehicles will only avoid tariffs if at least 75 percent of their parts are made in North America (up from the current 62.5 percent requirement). Also, at least 30 percent of the work done during the manufacturing process must be done by employees with hourly wages of $16 or more. Although these changes should help to discourage overseas imports, some believe that they could significantly increase the price of vehicles.
- Better IP protections—The new deal has stricter regulations to protect trademarks, copyrights and other strategic plans. The USMCA also extends copyright protections to 70 years beyond the life of the author.
- Disputes and reviews—One of the USMCA’s provisions allows for a special dispute process that’s handled by a panel of representatives instead of one of the three country’s court systems. An automatic review process will take place six years after the three countries ratify the deal, and it will automatically dissolve after 16 years.
NAFTA will remain in effect until all three countries approve the USMCA, which is likely to occur sometime in early 2019.
Flooded barns and lost crops are just a couple of the emergencies farmers have to deal with after a natural disaster. Thankfully, there are federal programs and resources available to help with some of the costs, but seeking them out can be confusing and time consuming. The agency you contact will depend on the type of damage you have, so a farmer may have to go to three separate agencies for help.
Disaster Relief – Helpful Links
3 STEPS TO POST DISASTER RELIEF
It can be overwhelming trying to navigate the different programs available. Here, we break it down into three steps:
Step 1: Take pictures. Disaster programs need documented damage, so take pictures before you clean up, and take note of specific losses. Save receipts for any purchases you need to make during recovery.
Step 2: Know what programs for coverage are available. There are several different programs that address different needs of hurricane relief. For example, the Farm Service Agency (FSA) handles assistance specific to farms and farmland. The Small Business Administration handles disaster assistance for businesses. The Federal Emergency Management Agency handles household damages and reconstruction.
Step 3: Be aware of important deadlines. Each program has different application processes and different deadlines. Make sure you get your applications in on time.
- If seeking the help of an FSA program, be aware that most have an application deadline of 30 days after the damage or loss occurs.
- If damage prevents you from planting, complete a Notice of Loss form and submit it to your local FSA office within 15 days of the planned planting date to determine eligibility.
- If you participate in Risk Management Agency (RMA) federal crop insurance, report the damage within 72 hours of discovery, and follow up in writing within 15 days.
The International Risk Management Institute’s Construction Risk Conference (CRC), held from November 4-7, 2018, in Houston, Texas, is designed for construction professionals like you. If you decide to invest in your business and attend this conference, here’s what you need to know.
What is the CRC?
Held annually, the CRC brings together a variety of experts who share up-to-date information about construction industry risks, insurance trends, and strategies and tactics you can take to avoid risks. This year’s sessions include:
- Kathy Antonello, Chief Actuary at the National Council on Compensation Insurance, will discuss “Workers Compensation Trends and Challenges in Construction.” You’ll learn about trends, challenges and ways to manage your Workers’ Compensation program.
- The View from My Seat offers tools you can use to manage new technologies, labor shortages, law and regulation changes, and other evolving construction risks.
- Jim “The Rookie” Morris shares his inspirational and motivational story.
- Breakout Sessions and Snap Talks dive into topics like contracts, design liability, construction delays, and your supply chain.
Who Attends CRC?
The CRC is designed for a variety of people who work in the construction industry. It’s important for:
- General contractors.
- Project owners and managers.
- Construction lawyers.
- Insurance agents, brokers, underwriters, and adjusters.
- Consultants and service providers.
Why should you Attend CRC?
Consider attending the CRC to gain five benefits.
- Gain knowledge about emerging risks, trends and solutions. As you understand new threats in your industry and to your business, you’ll also learn how to manage these challenges in ways that protect your company.
- Position yourself as an expert. Attending a conference will enhance your knowledge and understanding. Use the information you gain to improve your business offerings and reputation as an expert.
- Expand your network. Meet and collaborate with other construction professionals as you strengthen valuable relationships and share advice and support.
- Identify your insurance needs. After learning more about your risks, you can identify and purchase the right insurance coverage for your business.
- Rejuvenate your mind and body. While you’ll listen to experts and network with peers, you also have time to rest and relax, which allows you to return to work mentally and physically refreshed.
How do you Register?
Registration is open until November 7. However, you can take advantage of the Standard rate and save $400 when you register before October 12. Save even more with the discounted rate that’s available to project owners and contractors. Also, remember the IRMI Conference Guarantee. You can request a registration fee refund if you don’t get your money’s worth from the CRC.
Invest in yourself and your construction business when you attend the 2018 IRMI Construction Risk Conference. It’s good for business.