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Why You Must Keep Up to Date with OSHA Regulations

A new year means a host of new changes to the OSHA regulatory structure. Some companies may see increasing changes as a burden, but these revisions and new rule adoptions come about for one specific reason: they intend to keep employees safer while avoiding past incidents. Any time you wonder why OSHA is so bothersome when it comes to oversight, documentation and compliance, realize the chances are great that a rule change is a direct response to an injury or egregious violation that occurred in the past. That’s right: someone ruined it for everyone.

The point is that, regardless of your personal feelings on the matter, your business has a vested interest in adhering to changes in OSHA regulations for the following reasons. Read more

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Helpful Tips to Improve Job Site Attitudes

How to Improve Job Site Attitudes

Attitude is everything when it comes to the job site. People love to throw around words like “teamwork” and “team building,” and often these terms are dismissed as platitudes and touchy-feely buzz terminology. The truth is, however, that acting as a team is vital to the functioning of a construction and contracting job. This is a dangerous business, and the better the attitudes of your workforce, the safer the job site becomes. Here’s a few ways you can improve job site attitudes and thus prevent costly accidents and injuries.

Benefits of Positive Attitudes

When you take steps to improve job site attitudes, you create a number of benefits that help to reduce liability and danger to your workers. Among these are a culture that operates faster and more efficiently. Fewer mistakes on the job site translates to less waste and higher quality work.

In addition, people will be more focused on their work, with fewer distractions, which will lead to a far reduced risk of accidents that can cause injury or property damage. Finally, weather and extenuating circumstances notwithstanding, projects will be far more likely to be completed on schedule.

improve job site attitudes

Attitude and New Hires

When people have a positive outlook about their job and work together like a well-oiled machine, new hires are welcomed into the community and have an easier time finding their place. Coworkers are more open and available if a new hire needs help or has questions, and this includes supervisors.


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Training

In order to keep the environment happy, new hires should be given thorough training about their role in the company and on any safety and security issues before stepping onto the job site. This should apply even if they are experienced. It shows that you care about your workers and want to keep everyone safe.

Hazing

Do not tolerate any form of harassment, initiation, embarrassment, or hazing at your business. Everyone has already gone through (presumably) the same hiring process and is perfectly appropriate to the job they’re taking. There is no reason for other staff to “test” or otherwise put a new worker through the ringer.

improve job site attitudes

Job Site Humor

While joking around and enjoying themselves on the job should be encouraged, inappropriate humor should be avoided. Jokes that are racial, religious, political or sexual in nature should not be permitted on the job site, as they stand to make some workers distinctly uncomfortable. Avoiding these situations can save your workers stress and discomfort, can improve job site attitudes and save you the hassle of harassment lawsuits.

Fair and Equal

Always be fair and equal with your staff. Get all the facts before rendering a judgment on an issue, and always be fair and equal with everyone. When problems arise, ask your staff what you can do to remedy the situation without putting anyone on the spot. Never “out” a worker who comes to you with a serious concern. Doing so can open them up to shunning or poor treatment by others.

Of course, workers compensation insurance and commercial general liability insurance are always good defenses against liability issues that do arise.

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Curb Your Employee Lawsuit Liability

No employer wants to deal with workers’ compensation claims or lawsuits for unsafe working conditions. We live in a litigious society, and only by taking great pains to create an ideal working environment can you protect yourself against such issues. By doing everything you can to prevent workplace incidents and injuries, you are not only protecting yourself from legal claims, but you are also doing the right thing. Here are some tips to reduce the chances of employee lawsuit liability.
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Workforce Safety and Wellness: How They’re Connected

At the International Risk Management Institute (IRMI) Inc.’s annual conference, the executive chairman of Pankow Management Inc., Rik Kunnath, reinforced the intrinsic connection between general wellness and workplace safety initiatives. “Among a lot of companies, there’s a growing awareness that for workforce safety programs to really affect behaviors, there needs to be a culture of deep concern for the well-being of employees,” Kunnath explained. He suggested that by implementing programs that promote a more holistic approach to employee wellness, workforce safety initiatives will subsequently fall into place.

Unfortunately, it took the occurrence of a number of on-site fatalities during the early 1980s for Pankow Management Inc. to take a closer look at the workforce safety protocol they had in place, and to re-evaluate the priority of a safe work environment.  “What led to some soul searching as to whether we were really doing all that we could to work safely,” Kunnath explained, “and whether or not our drive towards high rates of production were overwhelming the safety message.”

Since then, Pankow has made a concerted effort to rehabilitate their practices, and have committed themselves to protecting their workers. Their newfound approach takes a much broader look at overall employee health, and offers workplace wellness programs to decrease the likelihood of on-site injuries occurring. Kunnath voiced initial concerns that some people at Pankow had about the change, explaining, “In the beginning, there was some concern that by taking this view of our values, our safety programs could get watered down as they compete with other wellness initiatives.” Fortunately, the outcome was far more positive, as Kunnath continued, “But if anything, the opposite has occurred.”

Kunnath discussed that it is no secret that the contracting industry as a whole is a high-risk work environment, and there are many opportunities for workers to sustain injuries. Whether the injuries sustained by contracting workers are due to accidents or unsafe environments due to negligence or other oversights, there are always ways to prevent injuries if everyone is more mindful of their surroundings and the wellbeing of everyone on-site. That sense of communal recognition of the importance of everyone’s wellbeing is the crux of Kunnath’s message; “It’s just that it’s a lot easier for employees to accept your safety message when everything else you do in your interactions with them says that your concern for their well-being is real.”

During the IRMI conference, Duinink Inc. was awarded the 2013 Gary E. Bird Horizon Award, which recognizes their employee wellness program, especially for the success it has shown by significantly decreasing the company’s insurance claims costs, in addition to its workers comp and lost productivity costs. Duinink Inc.’s Risk Manager, Rick Maursetter, explained, “Wellness, like safety, is a journey that never ends. From the company’s standpoint, it offers benefits in the form of greater productivity, lower loss potential, and reduced premium costs in the areas of workers compensation and health care. If you’re working for a company that’s not promoting a wellness program, we challenge you to return to your company and get that journey started.”

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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.