No one expects the worst to happen, but sometimes it just does. Whether it is a complete power outage or a fire breaking out in your break room, preparing for the unexpected should be part of your overall safety program.
While prevention should always be your first priority, preparedness may reduce the severity of the event and help maintain your employees’ safety.
Emergency Planning is Your Responsibility
Every company should have a published, well-communicated and practiced emergency preparedness and life safety plan.
The National Fire Protection Association and the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) provide codes, regulations and guidance on emergency action and fire prevention plans, including minimum standards. OSHA, in fact, requires a written emergency action plan for workplaces with 10 or more employees. Employers with fewer than 10 employees must still have an emergency action plan, but they may communicate the plan orally to employees.
Of course, a plan is only as good as its effectiveness, when put into action. How would your plan fare in a real emergency? Do your employees know what to do? These are questions to ask before an emergency happens.
Communicating, training and drilling are all essential elements to include in your emergency action plan, and can help make the critical difference in life safety outcomes.
Effective Planning Can Save Lives
In the first critical minutes of an emergency, taking the right steps can help save lives. Planning ahead and maintaining a well-trained emergency team can help make the critical difference.
- Appoint, organize and train designated staff with their emergency response duties and responsibilities.
- Document and distribute emergency procedures, including how to notify the fire department, evacuate employees and provide accommodations for those with special assistance needs.
- Publish instructions for the use of emergency equipment, such as the voice communication system, the alarm system or emergency power supply system.
- Post procedures for confining, controlling and extinguishing fires.
- Post procedures for assisting the fire department in accessing and locating the fire.
- Communicate your evacuation plan to all employees, visitors, vendors and contractors.
- Distribute the plan to emergency personnel who will be responsible for taking actions to maximize the safety of building occupants, including the fire department and designated emergency management and supervisory staff.
- Post your evacuation/floor plan exit diagram in clearly visible locations. Assign locations away from the building or job site for employees to gather.
- Practice drills on a regular basis. Monitor and evaluate drill performance to consider improvements.
- Include full, partial and shelter-in-place evacuations, designed in cooperation with local authorities, to familiarize employees with procedures.
- Develop a roll call system to account for all persons and notifications to the fire department of any missing person.
Travelers safety professionals see a broad spectrum of businesses and facilities and understand the plans used to ensure emergency preparedness. Every day, we share our insights with our customers to help keep their businesses, and most importantly, their people, safe.
There are good reasons to take safety seriously. In 2012, there were, on average, 89 workplace fatalities a week.1 An estimated $1 billion is paid by employers in direct workers compensation costs every week.2
A safe work environment does not happen by accident. Management must be fully engaged in creating, planning, implementing, communicating and making sure safety programs work and are designed to fit the business. Most importantly, employees have to understand their role in making their workplace safer.
Eight Key Components of a Safety Management Program
Your safety management program should incorporate the following 8 key components:
- Demonstrate management involvement – Management must lead by example. A visible demonstration that you embrace a safety culture is imperative to its success. Provide the essential time, budget and resources to create and support a safety program.
- Communicate your safety plan clearly – Your safety plan must be published and available to all employees. Reminders and updates should be timely and effective. Allow employees to contribute their suggestions to making the workplace safer.
- Get everyone involved – A safety program is likely to be more effective when employees at all levels are involved. Standardized policies should outline responsibilities and accountability for all employees. Safety goals can become part of job descriptions and employee reviews. Safety committees can help ensure that safety practices are understood and reinforced throughout the company. Positive reinforcement of safe behaviors can be an effective way to help build the desired culture.
- Train your employees to work safely – Safety training should begin from the moment an employee is hired. Ongoing training is also essential to creating a safety culture.
- Review, revise, improve – A safety program should be dynamic, especially since most business environments continue to evolve. An effective safety program should be flexible enough to adjust to changes. Regularly review, evaluate and identify risks that could affect safety, and make the changes necessary to keep your workplace safe.
- Create safety standards – Each department should set safety standards through a Job Safety Analysis (JSA) to make sure every task is done correctly and safely. Recognize good safety performance, and cite and correct unsafe practices.
- Investigate every incident and accident thoroughly – Properly trained staff with experience in investigation, analysis and evidence collection should conduct an accident analysis as soon as possible after an incident. Report the claim within 24 hours to help ensure prompt response and injury management.
- Manage every injury – Even with the best safety program, an employee injury can still occur. Planning helps you to react immediately when an employee is injured on the job. Learn about five strategies that can help you put employees on the road back to productivity.
While initiating a comprehensive program can seem like a major hurdle to safety, we can help businesses like yours take the necessary steps to begin creating a safety culture.
3 years ago ·
by Shawna Kreis ·
Comments Off on How does my loss ratio affect business insurance premiums?
Any new business is considered to be high risk by your insurance company, and the appropriate premiums will be charged. After all, you have not had the opportunity to prove otherwise. As your business becomes more established, though, other factors come into play and help determine your business insurance premiums. Your loss ratio is one such factor that insurance companies take into consideration.
Loss Ratio Explained
The loss ratio can most easily be explained as the ratio between the premiums that the insurance company receives from you compared to the amount of money they pay out as the result of claims to your business. A simplified example that helps you understand how insurance companies look at loss ratio is this:
- If you pay your insurance company $200 a month, that is $2,400 per year in premiums they receive.
- Suppose your business is paid $1,200 in covered claims by your insurance company that year.
- This results in a loss ratio of 50 percent for your insurance company.
- Your insurance company had a profit from your business of $1,200 since they paid out half ($1,200) of the yearly premium you paid them ($2,400) because of the claims they paid to you ($1,200).
Loss Ratio and Your Insurance Premiums
If your loss ratio is higher than comparable businesses in your industry, you will likely pay higher premiums for your insurance coverage. The same is true if you have one year that is marked by a high loss ratio even if you have shown a low loss ratio during the years prior to that particular year. Your insurance company can help you find the policy that best applies to your own unique business situation.
4 years ago ·
by Shawna Kreis ·
Comments Off on Employee Advocacy: How to target and recruit the right employees
Employees are more than just a warm body in your office. Being able to target and recruit the right ones not only makes your life run more smoothly, they actively bring your company closer to the goals you have set for it. There are three top priorities you need to keep in mind when you need to find an employee to fit your next job vacancy.
1. Position Criteria
The first step to finding the right employee is to know exactly what skills and knowledge you want them to bring to your organization. You also need to determine if this criteria can be obtained with experience, schooling or both. Consider the culture of your company and those attributes that successful employees must have to fit in there.
2. Recruitment Methods
These days, in order to obtain a diverse pool of applicants, you will likely need to advertise utilizing a variety of methods. While newspaper ads have fallen out of favor somewhat due to the rise in popularity of the internet, consider posting your job opening in a variety of different media outlets to capture the attention of as many qualified job seekers as possible.
3. Make Your Job Posting Count
Your job posting is the critical bridge that helps you connect with the right applicants. Partly an advertisement for your business and partly a laundry list of attributes you want the perfect job applicant to possess, your job posting needs to include key information. This includes items such as the opportunities that are available for applicants, what you expect from the person who fills the job opening and a synopsis of your company’s goals.
Given the ever expanded concept of what constitutes a disability, employers will continue to face an ever growing compliance challenge. Here are some basics to be remembered:
- Knowledge of the need to accommodate an employee can come from numerous sources including a work comp claims manager, a company supervisor or manager, HR, the employee themselves, a union rep, a doctor, poor performance, simple observation, or some kind of hotline call.
- To have a good process, it must be laid out step-by-step with supporting documentation.
- Be interactive. Remember the rule that the first to give up on the dialogue process generally loses.
- Have appropriate education and training. For example, HR could create a simple video to help employees with the accommodation process.
- Allow managers to engage in simple, easy and quick accommodations.
- Proper documentation of all steps in the process.
- Ongoing communication, monitoring, feedback, and improvement.
The accommodation process begins with a needs assessment. This means a thorough review of the job description and duties and a clear understanding of the employee’s limitations including potential absences etc. Remember you can accommodate an employee by the following means:
- Changing facilities or equipment
- Job restrictions
- Modifying schedules
- Modifying a test, training, or policies
- Offering vacant positions within their skill range
- Offering temporary positions (the ADA does not require you to create a new position for an employee)
- Support including readers, interpreters, or even dogs
- A leave of absence
- Any other idea that would generate a reasonable accommodation
Proper documentation of any undue burden
One of the biggest mistakes an employer makes is to assume in advance that an accommodation would create an undue burden. If the request is reasonable, the best approach is to let them try it and to be clear about performance standards. Document any shortcomings their accommodations may be causing and continue to communicate about ways to elevate them.
There is extensive material on the ADA on HR That Works including flow charts, checklists, forms, and policies to use. There is also training you can provide your managers (a good idea). Also remember if you have over 50 employees the FMLA may allow an employee who has serious medical condition up to 12 weeks of leave which they may use instead of accepting an accommodation.
Most states demand that businesses, regardless of size, take every reasonable action to keep their premises safe for employees and visitors. The definition of visitors is fairly loose. Basically, it is anyone not employed by the business and covered by its workmen’s compensation insurance policy.
This means that clients, customers, delivery persons, repair persons, outside maintenance contractors and anyone who comes to the business premises needs protection from foreseeable dangers.
There are different types of people who come into a business and each has a different level of required care for its class of visitors.
This is a person whose invitation is explicit (by appointment, for example) or implicit (a customer looks at the goods and services for sale in a shop). A business owner’s duty to an invitee is to exercise ordinary care and make the property generally safe without any dangerous conditions.
A licensee in not an invitee or trespasser. An example of a licensee is a party who enters the premises for their own convenience or gratification. Think of a person ducking into your entryway to avoid the rain. The duty of care is far less than for an invitee, and the business is only liable to a licensee for willful and malicious harm.
This group of people enter the premises lacking an implicit or explicit invitation. They come on the business property for their own enjoyment or benefit. The only duty of a business owner is a negative one – the business cannot build any mantraps the willfully and maliciously causes a trespasser harm. Many states have an exception to this limited responsibility; if the business anticipates, suspects or knows of the presence of a trespasser it must exercise ordinary care and avoid inflicting injury on a trespasser through any kind of active negligence.
Common Workplace Visitor’s Injuries
Slip and Fall Accidents
These are the largest cause of visitor injuries. Injuries happen when a visitor trips, slips or falls and suffer injuries. These accidents often stem from things such as uneven floorboards, electrical extension cords crossing aisles or doorways, spills or liquids on the floor, and poorly installed carpet or carpeting that has tears or rips.
It is normal that businesses have a duty to their invitees to make sure they are safe from foreseeable. A business is liable for the criminal acts of a non-employee when the business fails to keep the premises safe from criminal activity. Usually claims of negligent security stem from places such as:
- Parking garages
- Apartment complexes
Businesses in high-crime areas (a parking garage in such an area needs adequate lighting, video cameras and warning signs that video surveillance is ongoing, and other security measure as needed.
This is a legal doctrine that applied mostly to children, even if they are trespassers. Hotels with outdoor pools need adequate fencing, a pool cover, locks and lighting, as the pool is attractive for kids to try to use after trespassing.
Defective Property Conditions
Businesses are often liable for dangerous or defective conditions. These include faulty elevators, faulty escalators, crumbling stairways and more.
Speak with your business insurance advisor about these risks and how to protect yourself, your business and employees from legal liability for them.