Modern technology has made it easier than ever for employees to work from home and still remain connected to their place of employment. The Covid-19 situation has forced the hand of many employers – many had to scramble to enable their team to work for home.
Despite the many benefits of using remote employees, there are downsides. Many employers considering this trend wonder how they can ensure workplace safety when the employee’s physical workplace is their own home. Another consideration is the degree of employer liability in remote employment.
Fortunately, OSHA has addressed some of the safety issues surrounding remote employment. According to OSHA guidelines, employers are required to maintain a safe workplace, even for employees working from their own home. OSHA will not require an employer to inspect a remote employee’s home worksite, nor inspect it themselves.
However, OSHA may inspect the worksite of an employee that’s performing an at-home job on behalf of their employer if it possibly involves health or safety hazards and there’s a complaint. A record of all occupational illnesses and injuries must be kept on all at-home workers if an employer is subject to OSHA record keeping requirements. Keeping in mind that OSHA compliance measures shouldn’t involve controlling the home worksite of employees, employers might need to take some additional practical measures to ensure OSHA compliance.
As far as safety compliance goes, the absence of immediate supervision for remote workers is one of the main problems employers face. Experienced, highly-trained, long-term employers are generally the worst offenders when it comes to taking safety risks. This group of employees often become complacent due to the fact they’re so accustomed and comfortable with their job, feel they’re familiar with the job’s hazards, and might have escaped disciplinary action when ignoring safety procedures or taking shortcuts in the past.
One of the best ways that employers can counteract the above dangerous attitude toward safety is by using a holistic approach to safety. Employers should focus and place great importance on each individual employee actively participating in the safety process and taking responsibility for their own safety. Whether at home, on the road, or at a remote jobsite, remote employees need to be ready, willing, and able to take the appropriate actions to protect themselves in any given situation.
Employers will need employee support to make any approach to safety successful, which means that employers must have total employee involvement in the safety process. Involve your remote employees in the process of determining what’s needed to prevent injury to themselves and others during remote location work. Most employers find that the experience and firsthand knowledge of their employees is actually very advantageous in creating safe remote worksites.
Remember, employees that understand the value of safety are more likely to be motivated and willing participants. They’re also more apt to embrace safety behaviors for the longevity of their employment. Employers can reinforce their employee’s positive attitude about safety by having electronic or person-to-person safety counseling in place and ensuring safety managers are encouraging safety participation.
Spring will be here soon, and bicycling can be a fun activity your entire family enjoys. Plus, it’s heart-healthy and reduces stress. Before heading out for a ride, be sure everyone in your family owns and wears a correctly sized bicycle helmet.
1. Verify Safety
Helmets manufactured since March 1999 must meet Consumer Product Safety Committee (CPSC) standards. Look for the CPSC label or sticker inside the helmet and know that this safety equipment will reduce the effects of any impacts.
2. Select the Right Size
Helmet size varies between brands, so take head circumference measurements before you buy helmets. To find your circumference, wrap a ribbon around your head. It should sit on your forehead, just above your ears and extend to the bottom of your hairline on your neck. Then, stretch the tape on a ruler.
Small: 52-58 centimeters
Medium: 56-62 centimeters
Large: 60-66 centimeters
Ideally, helmets should fit snugly but comfortably. They also should fit level on your head with the “Y” of the strap falling at your ear lobe’s bottom. Helmets should also rest low on your forehead and sit about one to two finger-widths above your eyebrows. With it on, you should be able to hear and see clearly.
3. Look for Padded Inserts
Sometimes, extra padding helps a helmet fit better, especially for kids. Follow manufacturer’s instructions when inserting the padding properly.
4. Choose a Color
Whether you want a helmet in your favorite color or one that matches your bike, the color isn’t as important as the fit. However, you may need to prioritize the helmet’s color as a way to encourage your reluctant children to wear and enjoy their bicycle helmets.
Your family can bicycle together and stay healthy as you bond. Just be sure to wear bicycle helmets. They prevent head injuries and are a must each time you step onto your bike. Choose the right helmet and stay safe.
February is the month of love. Millions of couples will get engaged on Valentine’s Day or get married this month, and couples spend an average of $260 on cards, flowers, jewelry and other gifts. Those gifts could include life insurance. It’s not the first gift you think of when you consider romance, but it’s a good way to express your love to the important people in your life. In fact, you could think of life insurance as love insurance. Seventy-five percent of life insurance purchasers buy a policy because of love. This February, show your love with a life insurance policy, too.
Life Insurance for Yourself
When you buy a life insurance policy for yourself, you give your loved ones financial security and peace of mind. While life insurance benefits don’t replace you, they are a small way you can continue to provide for your loved ones after you’re gone. Your beneficiaries can use the money for miscellaneous purposes, including daily living expenses, an emergency fund for the future, debt repayment, school tuition or retirement account funding.
Life Insurance for Your Fiancé or Spouse
Maybe you won’t give your fiancé a life insurance policy along with the engagement ring, and a policy is probably not the first thing you buy together as a newly married couple. However, life insurance is an expression of your love and care. Your partner can choose the beneficiary and provide financial assistance to children or aging parents. The policy payout could also repay your partner’s outstanding debts, fund a favorite charity, cover end of life expenses or boost your retirement savings.
Life Insurance for Your Children
Kids have their whole lives in front of them, but they aren’t immune to birth defects, accidents and diseases like cancer. You can’t protect your kids from everything, but you can give them life insurance. A child’s life insurance policy can pay for medical expenses, funeral expenses and other end of life arrangements. It can also be donated in your child memory to his or her favorite charity or be used for the educational costs of surviving siblings. Whole life insurance policies also grow with your child. When they turn 21, they take over the policy and keep the same coverage or purchase additional insurance for their future.
This February, purchase life Insurance for your loved ones. A policy can cost less per day than your daily coffee, and it provides peace of mind. It’s a loving gift that keeps on giving. Discuss available policies with your insurance agent today.
February marks National Time Management Month. Use this celebration to encourage your employees to rethink their time organization and make changes that improve productivity and satisfaction. Here are some tips you can implement this month.
Identify Time Wasters
Time-tracking software helps you determine exactly how much time you spend doing various tasks throughout the day. Use the data to make tweaks to your schedule.
You decide how to spend your hours at work, so create at least one time management goal this month. It should be SMART:
Schedule your Day
Always create a schedule either on paper or online as you organize your day. Plan your day or it will plan you.
Remember to prioritize important tasks that must get done today. Otherwise, urgent tasks will take over your time, leaving important tasks unfinished.
Set a Timer
Racing the clock to finish a task within a certain amount of time can encourage you to work harder and smarter. A timer can also remind you to take breaks, which are proven to improve productivity, focus and creativity.
Respect your Energy
Like you have limited hours in a day, your energy has limits. Schedule important or tough tasks for high-energy times, and use low-energy times for easy or mundane jobs.
Every interruption affects your focus and wastes valuable time. Close your office door, turn on soft music or wear noise-canceling headphones as you limit distractions and solely focus on each task.
You’re in charge of your time. Learn to say no to tasks that don’t fit into your schedule. You may also need to learn how to advocate for yourself if your boss assigns too many tasks.
Allow Extra Time
After you calculate how much time a task will take, add a few minutes. This extra time serves as a buffer in case you encounter a delay or other issue.
Consider which tasks on your to-do list you can give to someone else. Delegating frees you to focus solely on the projects you alone can do.
Organize your Office
Looking for a misplaced paper or file wastes valuable time. Keep your desk and office area tidy so you everything you need is within easy reach.
Before you schedule a meeting, decide its agenda and invite only essential personnel. Enforce time limits on meetings, too.
Give employees a reward when they achieve their time management goals. A leather planner, clock or timer promotes ongoing efficiency.
Managing time is one way to improve productivity and job satisfaction. Encourage your employees to implement these time management tips this month.
Businesses are shrinking or expanding constantly. Start your renewal process today by comparing your policy estimated payrolls with the summary W-2 sheet produced by your accounting department (must be completed by February 1).
Review the 1099s and check these recipients against your files to assure certificate compliance and proper risk transfer techniques.
After reassessing your payroll exposures for the coming year, estimate your current premium. Talk to your agent about optional markets at that premium level, insurance companies have different appetites for different size risks. Find several appropriate insurers.
Many insurers now demand loss control inspections prior to commitment to offering any quote. Get your reports in order. Make sure loss control measures are in place and working. Order loss runs from your current carrier to have on hand.
Most important: leave enough lead time for the inspections to occur. At least ninety days, so new insurers can inspect your operations.
The insurance markets retool every few years and create new identities, new brands within the industry. Currently, insurance companies are deciding what size accounts they will seek, single lines like workers’ compensation or general liability, or supporting lines requirements: like workers’ compensation, general liability or automobile liability. Ask your agent what the current view is among their companies.
The key to having choices is starting early now. Don’t leave yourself at the mercy of the renewal carrier.
While your reassessing your policies, rethink your program as well. Your program consists of the risk management decisions that have subtle but important impacts on your insurance costs. For example: what is your best expiration date? In the construction industry, January first or April first are popular choices in a well-managed risk management program.
One secret within the insurance industry: rates tend to change on calendar quarters. If rates are increasing on April first, you can always renew on March thirty-first if you have enough lead time. But you need to know in advance and have friendly underwriters, and proactive agents.
Calendar quarters allow for government filings to be used as a basis for the insurance auditors, and audits go smoother. Corporate financial years can be good, especially if they fall on calendar quarters. Decide your best expiration date (and you want all liability lines to share that date)and begin 120 days in advance gathering quote information and loss data. Shop early.
The holidays are almost upon us and alcohol will be flowing at company parties throughout the land. Beware! If an employee or guest gets inebriated at a social function sponsored by your business and then injures another person, you could be held liable.
Consider this scenario: After polishing off four eggnogs in an hour at the company’s Christmas party, one of your workers toddles off to his car. The employee almost makes it home when he runs a red light and T-bones a car. The car is damaged and injures the driver. The driver then sues your business for negligence in allowing the employee to drive home although he was clearly “under the influence” at the company party.
What’s more, under state and local “social host” laws, your business might face a fine or even imprisonment for continuing to serve alcohol to an adult who is legally drunk.
Under your comprehensive general liability policy is a clause for host liquor liability. The insurance company will pick up the tab for property damage and bodily injuries, up to “each occurrence” or “general aggregate” limits for the CGL. This coverage will also pay for court costs, legal fees, and other expenses – and these payments will not apply to the limits.
Be sure not to confuse host liquor liability insurance with Liquor Liability coverage, which protects businesses that manufacture, serve, or sell alcoholic beverages (such as liquor stores, bars, and taverns) against claims for injuries caused by intoxicated customers. If you’re in one of these businesses, you’ll need both types of policy.
To learn more, feel free to get in touch with our agency at any time.