American businesses are spending nearly $60 billion a year on Workers Compensation claims that require at least six missed work days, according to a recent analysis by Liberty Mutual Insurance. All but a small fraction of this money is spent on the top 10 causes of serious workplace injuries. If you employ workers in the skilled trades, this is a trend you need to know about. Read more
Follow These Hand and Power Tool Safety Tips
We all know that the contracting industry is a dangerous place to work. From slips and falls to debris and dangerous working conditions, there are a lot of risks. One area that most contractors take for granted and fail to recognize as dangerous is your personal toolbox.
There are a lot of dangers present in your toolbox, and it’s important to recognize proper safety procedures. Here’s an overview of hand and power tool safety and how you can defend against liability issues.
Basic Hand and Power Tools
Almost 10 percent of all workplace accidents are caused by basic hand and power tools. From hitting your thumb with a hammer to slipping with a saw, these nigh invisible liability issues are real and costly. Workers can suffer nerve damage, repetitive motion injuries and even the loss of limbs from hand and power tools.
Many different kinds of physical injuries can result from the contents of your toolbox. These can include punctures, abrasions, bumps, bruises, cuts and even the loss of limbs. Your toolbox includes implements that are designed to cut, burn and melt wood, metal and concrete. They can do a world of damage to skin and bone. In addition, flying debris from the use of hand and power tools can cause injury to eyes and body parts.
The most common physical injuries from power and hand tools include bumps, bruises and cuts, but serious injuries are all too common as well. Workers should strictly observe safety procedures and care including use of proper protective equipment, and keep their toolbox well organized to avoid protruding blades and sharp objects.
Using tools requires repetitive motion — that’s no surprise. This can create serious, ongoing and chronic injuries like carpel tunnel syndrome from turning wrenches, ratchets and screws, banging nails, drilling or even welding all day. These activities put a lot of strain on tendons, muscles and ligaments, and injury can result over time. The best way to prevent these injuries is to take frequent breaks and mix up different kinds of activity throughout the day as much as possible.
Hand and Power Tool Safety Practices
It is vital to practice proper safety policies and procedures to minimize the risk of accidents, injury and liability at work. These can create all manner of problems for the business, from loss of manpower to financial hits and personal loss. Never take shortcuts or ignore safety policies. Make sure tools are always sharp, in good repair and in working order.
Always use thorough and proper personal protective equipment such as heavy gloves, steel-toed boots, hardhats and eye protection. Cut away from your body and make sure you are on solid footing. Take regular breaks and vary your motion and activity throughout the day. These simple hand and power tool safety tips can save a lot of money and heartache.
Finally, as a contractor, make sure you have proper and complete liability insurance. Accidents will happen, and you need to be covered against the cost of liability.
Benefits of Upgrading Equipment
Upgrading construction equipment can have significant positive effects in many areas. Yet, many firms expect their workers to continue using out of date equipment in an effort to save money.
Construction and contracting are two industries that understandably have to keep a tight watch on their budgets. Payment for completed jobs is often well worth the effort, but it can be months on end between the time the project starts and reimbursement finally happens.
As a result, these industries watch their budgets closely and are reluctant to invest in yet more capital without it being an absolute necessity. What these firms do not know is that forcing laborers to work with outdated equipment can actually cost the business money while also potentially putting workers’ lives in danger.
To illustrate this point, here are some of the top benefits of upgrading equipment:
Newer machines operate more efficiently and have features that make working easier. For example, newer models of cement mixers are often lighter and more maneuverable without sacrificing capacity. Workers can use them more readily for tasks like pouring a footpath compared to an older, more cumbersome model.
Aside from features like these, newer models of equipment generally operate more efficiently and result in more tasks completed at a quicker rate. Any time you want to balk at the costs of upgrading, consider the revenue and man hours you are losing by holding on to outmoded technology.
Similar to the above misconception, many companies want to avoid implementing new equipment models because they are concerned about the disruption to work it might cause. On the contrary, the small amount of time it takes to train employees and move the new equipment to the site often pales in comparison to the downtime jobs experience as a result of faulty equipment.
Breakdowns and malfunctions present hazards to employees while halting progress. Even if repairs require a minor amount of fine-tuning or a replaced component, that machine may be out of commission for days or weeks at a time. Newer equipment breaks down less, is often easier to fix and utilizes new technology like onboard diagnostics to ensure less down time overall.
Reduced Chance of Accidents and Deaths
There were 796 construction deaths in 2012 and 2013, the highest of any business sector in America. Looking at just the workplace fatalities between October 2014 and August 2015, many of them involve heavy equipment.
While there is no telling which of these tragic fatalities were preventable, business owners should note that older equipment often has less failsafes and are more prone to deadly malfunctions. Any time someone wants to shrug off forcing laborers to tangle with equipment that is decades old, they should consider the cost of a worker’s fingers, leg or their entire life.
Safety thus becomes the biggest motivator when upgrading equipment. The boost to productivity and morale are second to the value of a human life that could never be understated.
This past week has been cold (and we mean really cold). Still, we saw some contractors out and about last week; clearing snow, and working on other projects (like the beginnings of a kitchen remodel) that New York contractors have come to expect from November until April. While jobs may be slow during our offseason, they still carry the same amount of risk and danger (perhaps more) that we deal with during the warmer months. This past year alone there were an estimated 12 fatal injuries a day, which is why we at Contractors Insurance are making it our New Years resolution to make your workplace as safe as possible. We know we don’t have the power to prevent all workplace injuries, but with some basic information you might be able to create safeguards against the most common causes of injury. Listed below is our road-map to workplace injury prevention in 2015.
Workplace Injury Prevention Road-map
To better understand how to avoid injuries, we think it best to start by defining which injuries are most prevalent in the workplace and then break them down for our workplace injury prevention road-map. So, without further ado, here are the top 5 causes of onsite injuries.
Motor Vehicle Accidents
It’s winter time which means the likelihood of you being involved in a motor vehicle accident is much higher than when the roads are warm and clear. Whether you are a snow removal contractor or a commercial truck driver be sure to educate yourself and your employees on safe driving techniques and provide proper training for those employees. Doing both will lessen the chance of a potential accident.
Musculoskeletal injuries are typically caused by overexertion (like heavy lifting) and fatigue. You can improve workplace injury prevention by teaching employees proper lifting techniques and by keeping them well rested and physically fit.
Repetitive Motion Injuries
Repetitive motion injuries typically take a while to set in but they are extremely common. They’re also protected under your workers compensation policy. To avoid higher premiums encourage your employees to take breaks and reduce frequency of an activity if they begin to notice unusual amounts of pain.
Slips, Trips and Falls
Slips and falls are fairly common on contractor work sites (and are even more so during the winter). By using proper signage to warn of dangerous conditions and maintaining a clean work site you will soon be prepared for workplace injury prevention.
No matter how serious you are about workplace injury prevention, accidents still may happen. When they do, you will want to make sure you have both general liability insurance and workers compensation to ward off any potential disasters. If you have any further questions please feel free to give us a call at 1-800-649-9094. Stay safe!