Top 10 Safety Tips to Prevent Workplace Injuries

Employee injuries can prove costly on many levels. In addition to personal pain, the injury can lead to lost production and costly workers’ compensation claims. In some cases, an incident that could have been easily prevented results in major expenses for the company. To avoid these situations, use the following safety tips.

Make a plan: Every business should have a safety and wellness plan. This plan should cover procedures for accident prevention and how to handle workplace injuries. All employees should be thoroughly trained on these procedures. Make this training part of your onboarding process and provide regular reviews of safety measures for all staff.

Educate employees: In addition to familiarizing employees with your company plan, educate them on general safety measures. For example, basic training in safe lifting and moving practices can be helpful in many settings. Assess what training your employees may need or want and dedicate the resources to this important component of worker education.

Train employees: Beyond general safe practices, train employees on specific machinery operation. Never allow an employee to operate equipment without first completing proper training. Depending on the situation, this training may vary from a quick explanation to extensive certification training.

Research safety: Are you aware of the potential safety concerns for your setting? Study up on accidents that are common for your type of business and learn how to prevent them. A little research can go a long way in preventing workplace injuries.

Provide equipment: The right tools for the job can make all the difference in the world. Keep employees safe and prevent injury by ensuring they have the proper equipment to perform their tasks. This includes safety equipment. Proper use of gloves, goggles, hats, and other personal protection equipment should be required and monitored.

Staff appropriately: Overworked employees are more likely to suffer injury. Don’t try to accomplish too much with too few staff. Be realistic with your goals as you hire, schedule overtime, and assign employees to various tasks. If a job requires three people to do it safely, don’t try to do it with two. If a job could be dangerous if attempted while drowsy, don’t schedule it for the end of a double shift.

Complete inspections: If your employees use vehicles, equipment, or other machinery to complete their jobs, it’s essential that these are inspected regularly. Routine inspections and maintenance are crucial to the proper functioning of this equipment. The ongoing care of your equipment will prevent sudden malfunctions or breakdowns that can result in worker injury.

Stay organized: An orderly workplace is a safer workplace. Keep work areas free of debris. Arrange furniture and equipment to provide adequate walkways and workspaces. Store safety gear in an organized fashion and in an easily accessible location.

Post signage: Clearly mark potential hazards. Post signs that remind workers to use protective gear and indicate where this equipment can be found. Use signs to warn employees of common injuries and how to avoid them.

Seek input: Have you ever asked your employees about workplace safety? Be open to input from workers about their environment. Do they feel safe? Is there anything you could provide that would make their tasks safer to complete? Let employees know you value their feedback, and consider how you can implement their suggestions to further improve safety and reduce risk.

How Can You Prevent Costly Water Damage?

Water issues can lead to extensive structural damage. A minor leak can result in major claims for commercial building repairs. Fortunately, most leaks offer warning signs that building owners can watch for to prevent further damage. To protect your building from leaks, keep an eye out for these red flags:

Discoloration: Notice any unsightly stains on your walls? This can indicate a plumbing leak in the wall. Be on the lookout for stains that grow in size.

Mildew: No one wants to find mold in their building. If you do, this is an indication that moisture is an issue. Watch for growth on walls, ceilings, and baseboards. If you discover mold or mildew, locate the source of the moisture ASAP and make any necessary repairs.

Odor: Have you noticed a musty odor in your building? This odd aroma may indicate a leak. Sniff out the source of the odor and make repairs before the issue worsens.

Warps: Are any of your walls bent or curved? When walls absorb water, they warp. This misshape can be due to a leak behind the wall. If your walls aren’t smooth, look for possible leaks to prevent further damage.

Peeling: Whether wallpaper or paint, peeling can mean you have a leak. The moisture will cause the material to pull away from the wall.

If you discover any of these warning signs for leaks, take action to make leak repairs immediately. This proactive approach will help prevent damage and the need for costly repairs later on.

Colon Cancer: More Prevalent Than You Think

Colorectal cancer is on the rise in younger people, causing the American Cancer Society to lower its recommended screening age from 50 to 45 for those with “average risk.” Young and middle-aged Americans now have a much higher risk of colon cancer, and even higher risk for rectal cancer, than their older counterparts do. According to a recent American Cancer Society study, colon cancer has hit millennials particularly hard. Because millennials would not typically suspect colon cancer, they may miss early symptoms as simple as abdominal cramping.

An increasingly unhealthy lifestyle may be driving the increases, according to researchers. Lack of exercise, obesity, and low fiber consumption may increase the risk.

However, testing can catch colon cancer early. Anyone with a first-degree relative with colon cancer before the age of 60 should begin a more aggressive testing time line. Test at either age 40 or ten years before the age of your relative when he or she was diagnosed. Keep in mind that researchers have not identified a perfect age to test.

Whether your insurance pays for the test depends on several factors. If your health care plan is the Affordable Care Act or Medicare and you are over 50, a colonoscopy is covered as preventive care. Before scheduling your test, contact your insurer to determine whether they will pay for it. Shop around, because outpatient facilities usually charge less than hospitals for the same test.

If you’re unsure about a colonoscopy, the fecal immunochemical test (FIT) is a noninvasive test you use at home and send to a lab for results. Your primary care physician can provide more details. If your FIT test is abnormal, you will need a colonoscopy.

Inside Scoop on High-Deductible Plans and HSAs

The National Business Group on Health forecasts that providing employees with health care will average about $15,000 per employee in 2019.

A High-Deductible Health Plan (HDHP) is one way employers seek to lower those costs. HDHPs offer employers lower premiums, but employees may pay more. You still save on out-of-pocket costs because your provider and your insurance company continue to negotiate those costs rather than charging market rates.

Whether your employer provides an HDHP or you obtain one on your own, your HDHP may qualify for a health savings account (HSA). The 2019 HDHP minimum deductible required to qualify for an HSA is $1,350 for individuals and $2,700 for families.

Why Open an HSA?

Combining an HSA with your HDHP provides more health care savings, some tax-related. You can deduct HSA contributions on federal income taxes and on many state taxes. Interest earnings are tax-free, and the funds you withdraw to pay for qualified health care also are tax-free.

You may use your HSA funds only for qualifying health care expenses. Qualifying health care generally includes expenses to prevent or cure disease, to relieve disease symptoms, and to treat the effects of disease.

HSA Limits

The 2019 HSA individual contribution limit increased from $3,400 to $3,500 for individuals and from $6,750 to $7,000 for families. The HDHP maximum annual deductible and other out-of-pocket expenses in 2019 is $6,750 for individuals and $13,500 for families.

Due to employers’ efforts to cut their health care spending and the nation’s reliance on high-deductible plans, HSAs make sense. Your account bears interest and, with certain limits, your funds roll over from one year to the next.

For more information, contact our office. We can help you decide whether an HDHP will work for you, and then verify whether it qualifies for an HSA. We are your resource for all things insurance, so let us know how we can help.

Why Buy a Term Life Insurance Policy?

Term life insurance (life insurance that is in effect for a limited period of time instead of your entire life) can sometimes be the right answer.

Before covering the why, let’s review how term life insurance works.

Let’s say you have a term life policy for $500,000 with a “term” of 15 years. If you were to die on the last day of the fourteenth year, your beneficiary would receive the policy amount of $500,000. If you were to die two days later, your beneficiary would receive nothing.

Why would anyone want a life insurance policy like that?

There are some good reasons. Two top the list: it covers your needs, and it’s affordable.

It Covers Your Needs

Sometimes, when you buy life insurance, you’re protecting your loved ones from the many unknowns that could negatively affect them if you die prematurely. The policy payout may replace your income, pay off the mortgage and the auto loan, and fund your children’s college education, for example.

Other times, you don’t have such generalized needs. If your spouse works, and your children are in high school, your spouse’s salary may cover the daily expenses if you die. You simply need to ensure that if you die within the next 10 years, there will be enough money to see your children through college.

In that case, a 10-year term life insurance policy might be all you need.

In other words, term life insurance is a simple solution for a specified risk.

It’s Affordable

The other reason people choose term life insurance is that it’s affordable.

Because the insurance company is taking on less risk, it can afford to offer you lower premiums. You get the most amount of coverage for the least amount of money up front. And there’s nothing wrong with choosing term insurance because it’s cost-effective. After all, why pay for more than you need?

What Is Gap Insurance, and Do I Need It?

Have you ever purchased a brand-new car? It had that new-car smell. The odometer readout was near zero. The paint was bright and shiny. You were excited to drive off the lot and put the first miles on your untainted vehicle.

Guess what else happened as you drove off that lot? The vehicle started depreciating. According to Kelley Blue Book, most cars lose about 20% of their value in the first year.

This rapid depreciation could pose a problem for insurance claims. If your initial deposit on the car was small, the loan amount that you owe may be higher than the value of the car.

If your vehicle suffers extensive damage or is totaled in its early years (before you have paid down that loan), your insurance coverage may not provide enough to pay off the vehicle. Why? A standard auto policy typically covers the depreciated value of the car. In other words, it will pay what the car is currently worth on the market when you make your claim.

If this amount is less than what you owe on the car, gap insurance comes into play. It will cover this difference (the gap).

This extra coverage can be helpful in several circumstances.

Long-term financing: If you financed a vehicle for 60 months or longer, you might need gap insurance to provide adequate coverage.

Leasing: If you lease a vehicle, gap insurance is often required as part of the lease agreement.

Lost value: Some cars depreciate faster than others. If your model depreciates faster than average, gap insurance could prove useful.

Low down payment: If you put less than 20% down on the vehicle, this insurance will help cover the gap between the value and the balance of your loan that will most likely exist for a while.

Are you unsure whether you need gap insurance? Contact our office to review your current auto policy and determine whether this coverage makes sense for you and your vehicle.

Landscaping Losses: Are They Covered by Insurance?

Your neighbor’s teenager drove over your beautiful flower beds. That old oak finally fell, and it took out your fence on its way down.

If a disaster hits your landscaping, is this covered by homeowners insurance? In many cases, yes. As part of your home, your landscaping is often covered by your homeowners policy, but not always. Here’s the scoop:

Plant perils: Homeowners policies typically cover costs to replace plants, trees, and shrubs that are damaged by fire, lightning, vandals, or someone’s else’s vehicle. However, damage caused by weather and pests, such as flooding, wind, and insects, often is not covered by homeowners insurance.

Tree tragedies: Tree coverage can be a bit tricky. Coverage varies depending on the specifics of the situation. If a tree falls on a structure, your policy may provide coverage for the cost of removing the tree and the repairs to the structure. If it falls without damaging anything, you may have to pay for the tree removal yourself. Additionally, your coverage probably won’t pay to replace the tree in either situation.

Landscaping limits: As with most policies, homeowners insurance usually has limits on the landscaping coverage provided. Often, this limit is a certain percentage of the dwelling protection. The policy may also limit how much can be spent on each replacement plant. It may be possible to extend your coverage to include higher amounts and additional circumstances.

Reach out to our office to determine whether you’d like to expand your landscaping coverage. A quick review of your policy will reveal what protection you’re currently offering your plants.