The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) previously reported that over 40 percent of businesses affected by a disaster do not reopen. Of course, the COVID-19 pandemic is unprecedented and that number is likely to be higher as the economy reopens.
We hope these tips will help, as America re-opens.
Several organizations are available to help your business rebuild after a disaster strikes. Here is a link to federal information on disaster assistance – https://www.sba.gov/funding-programs/disaster-assistance
- The Small Business Administration – Apply for a low-rate, long-term loan through the SBA’s Office of Disaster Assistance.
- Your bank – Talk to your banker about a low-cost loan or other financial assistance. Paycheck Protection Plan is still available.
- Insurance agent – File a claim and discuss your ongoing needs.
- Community – Ask your community, including neighbors, clients and vendors, to help clean up, rebuild and return to business as usual.
When disaster strikes, your business must be prepared. These steps can help. If you don’t have these steps in place, consider implementing them today in preparation for the next disaster.
Review Your Business Contingency Plan
If you don’t already have one – create a business contingency plan. It’s part of your emergency preparedness strategy. This backup plan outlines the steps you’ll take if you ever face a disaster, and it will address:
- Business continuity. COVID-19 or other pandemics do not qualify for this coverage. It may be a while before we have clarity on this from insurers and courts.
- Emergency response
- Crisis communications
- Information technology
- Incident management
- Employee assistance
Some of the questions this document answers include:
- Who is the go-to contact?
- How will we accept, fill and track orders?
- What alternatives are available if our vendors are non-operational?
- What’s the best way to secure data?
Examine your business contingency plan today and make sure it addresses all your needs. With it, your business can regroup quickly after a disaster strikes.
Review Your Insurance and Risk Protection
You probably carry typical business insurance such as liability, property and employee coverage. Read these policies carefully, and store copies of your insurance documents in a safe place where they are easily accessible any time.
If you see gaps in your coverage or notice that you don’t have coverage for certain disasters, purchase additional policies. An umbrella coverage or flood insurance are two examples of insurance products that protect your business. For more details on how to prepare insurance-wise for an emergency of any kind, talk to your insurance agent.
Mold growth in your commercial building can cause health concerns and compromise your building’s integrity. Because mold grows quickly in damp conditions and thrives on wood, insulation, carpet, paper, and other organic surfaces where moisture and oxygen are present, it’s especially problematic during the spring season. Prevent health concerns like asthma, respiratory infections, breathing difficulties, itchy eyes, nasal congestion, and skin irritations when you reduce mold in several ways.
Inspect your Building for Mold Growth
Mold thrives in damp, dark and humid areas, including basements, crawl spaces, bathrooms, carpeted areas, and storage spaces. Inspect your entire building, including secluded areas, at least once a week. Look for visible mold growth that may be green, black or brown, and note any spotty or fuzzy stains, another sign of mold.
If you notice damp areas in your commercial space, look for leaks that could cause and encourage mold growth. Repair broken pipes, wall cracks or unsealed windows so that the area remains dry and mold-free.
Damp areas and condensation could cause mold to grow, so install dehumidifiers where necessary. These appliances reduce moisture and keep the area dry and free of dangerous mold.
Clean the HVAC System
The heating, ventilation and air conditioning system could spread mold spores throughout your building and increase health risks. Clean the system thoroughly and maintain it as you protect your employees, customers and vendors.
Treat Mold Properly
Small areas of mold growth can be cleaned and treated with bleach or another mold cleanser. Remember to wear a respirator and protective clothing as you perform this task to protect yourself from an allergic reaction.
If your building requires more extensive remediation methods, hire a professional to access the mold, determine the extent of the damage and create a removal plan. Depending on the growth, treatment could require renovations like drywall or sub-flooring replacement. In this case, hire a reliable professional to remove the mold and treat the area properly.
File an Insurance Claim
Your commercial property insurance policy may cover mold removal, especially if it stems from a covered peril, such as a storm or act of vandalism. Check the policy or talk to your agent as you determine if you can file a claim and cover the mold removal and treatment.
Implement an Ongoing Inspection Program
After removing and treating the mold, schedule regular inspections of the area. Look for evidence of mold growth and excessive moisture as you prevent hazardous mold growth.
Mold damages your commercial building and affects the health of your employees. This spring, reduce mold and protect your assets with these tips. For more tips, talk to your commercial property insurance agent.
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.