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New York Contractors Still Repairing Sandy Damage

New York Contractors

In a recent article published by PIANY, it was stated that FEMA approved more than 1 billion dollars in assistance to individual families in NY.  Last year super storm sandy put many families in the NY area out of their homes and repairs are still being made to rectify the damages.

Of the 1 billion spent by FEMA, $855 million was used for eligible survivors who needed home repairs and temporary rental assistance.  The rest of the budget of $145 million dollars was allocated to other uninsured hurricane-related expenses.  These uninsured expenses included personal property, transportation, medical, dental, funeral and moving costs.

The budget of 1 billion dollars was a part of FEMA’s individual and household program.  It was a smaller part of much larger assistance program for New York’s recovery.  The total cost in disaster assistance was 8 billion and included more than 1.5 billion in low interest U.S. small business administration disasters loans, and more than 3.7 billion in flood insurance claim payments.  Besides all that, 1.8 billion dollars were spent for debris removal, repair or replacement of public facilities and reimbursement for emergency expenses.

FEMA’s Mission:

FEMA’s mission is to support our citizens and first responders to ensure that as a nation we work together to build, sustain, and improve our capability to prepare for, protect against, respond to, recover from, and mitigate all hazards. Disaster recovery assistance is available without regard to race, color, religion, nationality, sex, age, disability, English proficiency or economic status. If you or someone you know has been discriminated against, call FEMA toll-free at 800-621-FEMA (3362) (TTY 800-462-7585.)

For more information on New York’s disaster recovery, visit,, and

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New Law to Minimize Health Hazards in Construction

health hazards in construction

There are many risks involved with being a contractor doing any type of construction.  As such, liability insurance and health concerns are a very controversial and heavily covered topic in both the media and blogs.  The reason for this is mainly to raise awareness of the dangers and help as many people as possible by preventing illness and injury.  One proponent of raising the health standards for contractors is OSHA and they are currently working on a proposal to decrease the number of people affected by crystalline silica – a small respirable particle capable of causing silicosis, lung cancer, chronic obtrusive pulmonary disease and kidney disease.  This harmful inhalant is given off when materials such as brick, stone, rock, concrete, and cement are cut, grinded, or drilled through by power tools.  It is 100 times smaller than ordinary sand.

While this proposal is nowhere near being finalized, OSHA is encouraging the public to raise awareness and submit comments to officials in public hearings.  Healthy working conditions for employees and employers is a feat they believe to be of the utmost importance.

According to Dr. David Michaels, the Assistant Secretary of OSHA, “Exposure to silica can be deadly, and limiting that exposure is essential. Every year, many exposed workers not only lose their ability to work, but also to breathe. This proposal is expected to prevent thousands of deaths from silicosis – an incurable and progressive disease – as well as lung cancer, other respiratory diseases, and kidney disease. Workers affected by silica are fathers, mothers, sisters and brothers lost to entirely preventable illnesses. We’re looking forward to public comment on the proposal.”

According to studies performed by OSHA, the proposed rule would save over 700 people annually and prevent 1,600 new cases of silicosis at the same time, once put into effect.  The results of the study were shared once analysis was made.  The data was collected from small businesses and industry giants and after careful consideration it was decided that the 40 year old standards no longer protect workers at an acceptable level.

Safety is one thing that directly affects insurance rates for small business liability, workers comp, and commercial auto.  By adhering to the most up to date standards in the contracting industry you can help minimize your costs long term  Contact our insurance professionals today if you have any questions regarding insurance rates.

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Workers Comp for Masonry Contractors – Impact of Workplace Injuries

Workers Comp for Masonry Contractors

There is no doubt that workplace injuries hurt workers and affect the quality of life for them and their families.  It also costs you, as a business owner, time and money.  In order to both protect your employees and prevent financial burden to your organization here are some key points about workplace injuries and workers comp.  It will affect your wallet as well as your profits.

Masonry workers have the highest and most costly injuries compare to any other contracting organization in existence.  These major construction risk means that there is less profit due to higher workers compensation rates and for workers it means that you take up less pay than others in the industry.

There is a static that insurance companies use when calculating a rate for your masonry company.  It is called experience factor and is the number that indicates how your company claims experience stacks up against others in the same line of business.  If you are less experienced than the rest of the people then your rates will be higher.  The opposite is true as well.

The sad truth of the matter is that some employers are lying about hours worked and effecting the base rate for everyone in the industry.  By underreporting hours you are increasing the cost of paycheck reduction because more accidents occur during less hours worked.  The thing is, most of the work site hours are not correctly tabulated and the understatement means more accidents in less time, increasing the cost of premiums.  So in order to lower the cost of workers comp it would be safe to say that accurate reporting of hours and job site safety would have the most immediate effect.

Don’t slow down the rest of the pack.  The way you run your business directly impacts the cost of workers compensation and so too do the number of injuries that occur.  By correctly calculating hours worked you will help the industry on the whole and stabilize the premium market.  This means less costly coverage for everyone.  IF you are still unsure about what impact workplace injuries has on workers comp for masonry contractors, please don’t hesitate to contact one of our insurance professionals.

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How to Recognize Mold Exposure Symptoms

Recognizing Mold exposure symptoms Isn't always easy.

Recognizing Mold exposure symptoms Isn't always easy.

Recognizing mold exposure symptoms isn’t always easy.  If your house has been subjected to water damage or heavy humidity, it might be possible that mold has grown.  Upon recognizing a mold problem in a home, or on a job site, it is important to protect yourself and recognize if you are suffering from mold exposure.  Most times, people suffer and don’t even know it.  The main reason for this is that they will assume their symptoms are from the common cold, hay fever, or flu.

There are three main types of symptoms from Mold damage.  The first of them are allergic and irritant symptoms.  It’s common that mold symptoms will show up due to mold allergies.  In the event that you inhale mold spores your immune system will create defenses against the foreign particles.  The more you are subjected to the mold the more sensitive to it they will become.  If the person performing work or repair begins to have symptoms that are unbearable, they should seek medical help.  Mold exposure symptoms from allergies include Cold or flu like symptoms coughing, sneezing, sore throat, irritated or itchy throat, blocked nose, itchy nose, runny nose, sinus congestion, sinus headaches, difficulty breathing, shortness of breath, Wheezing, Irritated, itchy skin, Skin rash, hives, Watery eyes, Red, bloodshot eyes, Itchy eyes, Itchy ears, and Hay fever symptoms.

The next group of symptoms are from Toxic Exposure to Toxic Mold.  There are 16 species of mold that are toxic to humans.  These highly toxic cultures are called mycotoxins which cause symptoms worse than allergies.  Symptoms of this type of exposure include bleeding, damage to internal organs, mental impairment, cancer and even death in some cases.  The most dangerous and toxic mycotoxin is black mold.

The last type of mold exposure symptoms can be classified as infections.  This occurs when mold spores are breathed into a person’s lungs and begin to grow.  Affected areas include the sinuses, skin, and digestive system.  Those most vulnerable to this type of infection are the young or elderly.  This is due in part to the fact that their immune systems are no strong enough to fight off the contagions.

As a contractor, it’s important to know and understand all the possible symptoms for mold exposure.  Neglecting these warning signs not only poses a risk for yourself and your employees, but will also have implications on insurance.  Be sure you have the proper workers comp policy in order, or you may be facing a claim in the future.  Contact one of our insurance professionals today if you have any questions.