Do NOT Make This Safety Program Mistake!

training-3185170__340written by Rebecca Gomez

Having an effective safety program is crucial for creating a safe work environment and keeping workers’ compensation premiums low. Some employers have used a reward system (reward employees when there are no work-related accidents) as motivation to create a safe work environment. This can be a costly mistake. A reward system actually does the opposite. The reward system discourages employees from reporting injuries, which exposes your organization to liability and increases the cost and chances of repeated injuries.

There are other simpler and better methods to motivate your employees to create a safe work environment. The most effective way is to keep the topic of safety at the front and center and continually discuss safety to instill this culture in your work environment.

Here are some tips you many use to remind your employees to be mindful of safety:

  • Monthly or quarterly newsletters: Have each newsletter contain an article on a specific safety or wellness topic, and include a reminder of important company safety policies and emergency contacts.
  • Promote Employee’s involvement: It is important to make employees feel comfortable bringing concerns to their managers and it is important for the employees to feel confident that their concern will be addressed and taken seriously. Provide employees with a form on which they can document and report safety concerns.
  • Safety trainings: offer monthly trainings discussing safety or wellness. Be creative and get employees engaged. Promote employee involvement by asking various employees to assist in facilitating the trainings. Attendance to safety trainings should be mandatory

These are just a few ways to create a safe work environment without incentivizing employees to hide their injuries. A safer workplace can be established by continually discussing safety at every step, reviewing safety manual, and promote employee involvement.

Baker Romero provides our clients with free safety videos, articles, and brochures tailored to their industry and loss control/claims review.

Let us know if you have any questions regarding risk management or would like us to provide a quote for workers’ compensation. We are here to help.

Risk Management Basics: Preventing Slips, Trips, and falls

Written By: Rebecca Gomez

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One of the most common incidents that nonprofits face are slips, trips, and falls. These claims can be costly for many nonprofits and implementing an effective slip and fall incident prevention method will help prevent future claims and keep insurance premiums low. Your organization should establish a risk management policy that focuses on both prevention and procedures in the event an injury occurs. Some good practices include documenting the incident, collecting witness statements and any video surveillance (if possible). These practices can make a huge difference in defending your organization from fraudulent claims as well.

A basic “walk through” of your premises to find potential problems should be implemented daily. Below are a few tips to include in an effective slip, trip, and fall prevention risk management program:

  • Conduct a daily facility safety survey to look for common problems such as wet or greasy floors, loose mats, torn carpeting, bad lighting, clutter, cables or wires and uneven surfaces.
  • Immediately attend to any problems by putting up warning signs and/or closing an area off and taking steps to eliminate the hazard.
  • Maintain all floors and walkways on a consistent basis, using the recommended cleaning products and methods. Fix all uneven surfaces if possible by recoating or leveling the floor. You should mark or illuminate areas that cannot easily be leveled.
  • Train your employees and volunteers in slip and fall safety, and establish guidelines on how they should report problems and respond to customer injuries or hazardous situations
  • Make sure you have secure handrails for all stairs and balconies.
  • Take care of your outdoor areas, including sidewalks and parking lots. Potholes, snow and ice all create potential problems.
  • Additional or dry replacement entrance mats should be available on site during wet weather.
  • Document all of your efforts by keeping records of your daily safety inspections and any maintenance work to improve walking and working surfaces.

Best practice is to have a written policy in place and to train managers, employees, and volunteers on all safety procedures. Safety is everyone’s business!

Your organization should also have a written incident report form to document any such events. It is every employer’s responsibility to provide a safe environment. Be sure you are doing all that you can to recognize and reduce the risk. Slips, trips, and falls have the potential to be a major cause of injury for your employees, volunteers, vendors, and visitors. Be Prepared.

Let us know if you have any questions or would like more information. We are here to help.

Back to Basics: The Importance of the IIPP

by: Rebecca Gomez

 

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In California, organizations with at least one employee are required to have a written Injury and Illness Prevention Program (IIPP) that is easily accessible for employees to read. An IIPP is a safety program that requires employers to develop and implement an effective program that improves safety in the workplace. In order for the IIPP to be effective, all employees, supervisors, and management need to be actively involved.  Cal/OSHA requires eight elements to be written in the IIPP and implemented in the workplace (with a few exceptions).

  1. Responsibility (The position/person who is in charge of implementing the IIPP)
  2. Compliance
  3. Communication
  4. Hazard Assessment
  5. Accident/Exposure Investigation
  6. Hazard Correction
  7. Training and Instruction
  8. Recordkeeping

Above are the minimum components required for an IIPP to be acceptable to Cal/OSHA standards. Everything in the IIPP must be implemented and documented to avoid a fine from the Cal/OSHA inspector. If your organization adds additional safety procedures to the IIPP, make sure those procedures are properly implemented with proper documentation.

There are a few exceptions to the IIPP requirements. One exception is as follows:

If your organization has 20 employees or less in a calendar year, whose industry is not on a high hazard list, and has an experience modification rating of 1.1% or less, your organization qualifies for the limited requirements of the IIPP:

  1. Identity of those whose authority and responsibility to implement the IIPP
  2. The schedule of periodic inspections to identify unsafe conditions and work practices
  3. Training provided to employees.

Cal/OSHA provides a sample IIPP program (see attached). Anything that is written in the IIPP must be implemented and have supporting documentation. Administrators need to make sure that employees know who the IIPP administrator (the authority) and who has the responsibility for implementing the procedures in the IIPP (This is usually one of the first questions a Cal/Osha inspector will ask an employee during an inspection). If your organization identifies a specific individual’s name, instead of a position title, make sure to update the IIPP if another individual replaces that position.  It is important to update your IIPP at least once a year.

The IIPP, while statutory, can support an organization’s safety culture. The IIPP enforces the importance of safety in the workplace. A safe work environment can help prevent workplace injury claims and lower your organization’s workers’ compensation premium. Please let us know if you have any questions or concerns regarding workers’ compensation or the IIPP. We are here to help.

Developing a Safety Culture

by Rebecca Gomez

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At Baker Romero, we encourage our clients to focus on the importance of developing a safety culture in the work environment. Administrators should find ways to motivate employees to practice safe work practices. An effective safety culture can help lower the amount of claims and minimize the cost of a claim as both affect the x-mod and the workers’ compensation premium.

This past year, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) enacted a new regulation that prohibits employers from implementing injury based incentive programs. OSHA considers this type of incentive program as retaliatory, which can discourage employees from reporting injuries.  Having rewards based on injury free days is an example of the prohibited safety incentive program. When employees refrain from reporting a claim after an injury, another issue to consider is the adverse impact it can have on a claims report. The cost of the claim significantly increase when employees do not report injuries.

However, OSHA did not prohibit the use of incentive programs altogether. Employers should develop a safety program that encourages safe work habits and implement an effective return to work process.  Recognizing employees for safe work habits such as completing training and using safe work procedures can create a proactive safety culture. Also, consider incorporating safety measures into performance appraisals. The performance appraisal demonstrates the importance of a company’s commitment to safety.

In the final analysis, developing a strong safety culture by encouraging safe work habits can be more effective. Administrators should create innovative ways to encourage and recognize safe work habits that encourage employees to be safe on a daily basis.

As a service to our clients, our agency provides safety videos tailored to their organization to help them promote safe work habits.  Please contact us for information regarding the safety videos or if you would a quote for workers’ compensation coverage. We are here to help

August Newsletter 2016

August Newsletter 2016

  • Indemnification Agreements: Risk Management For Your Vendors
  • Affordable Care Act (ACA) Affordability Contribution Percentage Increases for 2017

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Indemnification Agreements: Risk Management For Your Vendors
by Jessica Patrice Gomez, esq

Many nonprofits and small businesses run their businesses using third-party vendors for services such as janitorial, technology, building contractors and transportation. While having a third party vendor can help your organization run more cost efficiently consider the following before signing an agreement with a vendor. 

If you hire third party vendors an important risk management tool your organization should consider is to assess responsibilities for liabilities that may arise in the provision of services provided by third parties. More specifically, you should always be wondering who is responsible for payment in the event of a law suit or claim. 

In order to protect your organization, your contracts should require that your third party vendor is legally responsible for any claims or damages arising out of the work they perform. Your vendor can be held responsible by including an indemnification provision in the contract for their services. An indemnity provision is a contractual promise by which one person or entity accepts full legal responsibility for losses related to certain specified events.

Usually the third party vendor’s insurance carrier is responsible the damage or liability caused by the vendor. These types of agreements are an effective tool for transferring the risk associated with a particular activity and establish clear responsibility in the event of a loss.

This is especially important because most Commercial Insurance Policies will not pay for damages caused by your third party vendor. Further, you should always require the third party vendor to provide proof of insurance. Make sure you always contact your organizations attorney before signing an agreement and make sure it makes sense for your organization.

If you have any questions, please contact us. We are here to help.

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Affordable Care Act (ACA) Affordability Contribution Percentage Increases for 2017
by Pamela Akop

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) released new guidance on the percentages used to determine what is considered “affordable” health coverage on April 12, 2016.

Under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), the affordability of an employer’s plan may be assessed for the individual mandate and the premium tax credit and the employer shared responsibility penalty. The affordability test varies for each provision.

For plan year beginning in 2017, the ACA’s affordability contribution percentages will be adjusted to the following percentages:

  • 8.16 % under an exemption from the individual mandate (2016 it is 8.13%).Individuals that lack access to affordable, minimum value coverage are exempt from the individual mandate.
  • 9.69% under the premium tax credit eligibility rules (2016 it is 9.66%). If employees’ required contributions exceed 9.69%, those employees could be eligible for premium tax credit through the California Marketplace, CoveredCA.
  • 9.69 % under the employer shared responsibility rules ( 2016 it is 9.66%). The shared responsibility rules or pay or play rules, require applicable large employers (those that employee 50 full-time employees or full-time equivalents) to offer coverage that does not exceed 9.69 percent of an employee’s household income for the year.

Failing to meet any of these requirements could trigger significant financial pena

lties for your business. Remember that these percentages only apply to self-only coverage and do not include any additional cost for family coverage.

If you offer multiple health coverage options, the affordability test applies to the lowest-cost option that also satisfies the minimum requirement set by the Ace.

These new percentages are effective for taxable years and plans beginning after December 31, 2016.

 

*This is intended for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice.

June Newsletter

Volunteer Series- Intern Season is here!  What should I consider when hiring my intern? 
  • My Organization is Volunteer Run.  I don’t need more insurance
  • Why People with Dental Insurance Don’t Go to the Dentist…Cost is the biggest fear.  Get informed on your Policy!

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Its interns season! Is my intern an employee or a volunteer?
Is my organization covered?
By Jessica Patrice Gomez, esq.
Summer is here and intern season is in full swing! If your organization has an internship program make sure that you have appropriate risk management controls in place.  As we discussed last month, the problem lies with whether an internship should/ could be paid or unpaid.  Following those guidelines is crucial to your organizations risk management program.  Click here to review last months article.
You may still be wondering what specific type of controls should be in place for your organization.  The answer is it depends.  The goal of this series is to consider potential risk management controls that fit your organizations internship program.
The Paid Intern
If you pay your interns then they would be considered an employee. This means that the intern has the same rights and protections as an employee, including protection from wage and hour, harassment, discrimination, potential breach of contract claims, and workers compensation. Make sure your organization is following the appropriate internal and external risk management practices when hiring a paid intern.
Internal controls include appropriate orientation and safety training, background checks, following the applicable meal and rest breaks as well as providing the appropriate intern manuals, if applicable (duration).
External controls includes proper insurance coverage in the event of a claim such as Directors and Officers (D&O), Employment Practice Liability Insurance (EPLI), General Liability, Specific Professional or Errors & Omission (E&O) and Workers Compensation.

The Unpaid Intern
A bigger issue occurs when an intern is unpaid.  An unpaid internship must truly be a volunteer position.  Both federal and state agencies have set up guidelines for determining whether an organization’s internship may be unpaid. If your program does not follow these guidelines then your unpaid intern may have an employment relationship.  Those guidelines can be found in last months article and can be reviewed by clicking here. 
An important internal control is ensuring that your organization’s unpaid internship program is not replacing the position of a paid employee.
An improperly classified intern can lead to wage and hour claims as well as giving the intern the ability to file employment discrimination claims.  You may want to make sure that your D&O and EPLI policy cover your organization in the event of a claim. Obtain a broadly worded policy form.  Note most EPLI policies do not indemnify wage and hour claims but some carriers provide a defense sub limit.
However, if your organization meets the required state and federal DOL requirements for an unpaid internship program make sure that your organization obtains a Volunteer Accident Policy with appropriate limits.
A Volunteer Accident Policy covers a volunteer’s medical expenses while they are a volunteer at an organization. Coverage is excess over any other medical insurance.
Workers’ compensation may not cover your volunteers if they are not endorsed on the policy.  Even if you decide to add volunteers to your workers’ compensation policy it will be more costly than a standard volunteer accident policy.

Med Pay under your General Liability policy may limit or exclude coverage for your injured volunteers. Review the insurance policy terms and conditions.

Always review your handbooks and safety procedure with your attorney and management staff.
Are Your Paid or Volunteer Interns Driving on Behalf of Your Organization?
Remember automobile insurance follows the owner of the vehicle.  This means that your volunteer’s personal automobile insurance will respond first if they are involved in an auto accident during “company time.” Y

our organization should purchase hired and non-owned auto liability to protect it in the event of an automobile accident.
Further, your HR department should verify the appropriate driver guidelines
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Volunteer Protection Act: What this really means for your organization

Many Non-Profit organizations believe that because they are a volunteer-run organization that they are shielded from liability and therefore do need insurance.  This belief stems from the language of the Volunteer Protection Act.

The Volunteer Protection Act states that “no volunteer of a nonprofit organization or governmental entity shall be liable for harm caused by an act or omission of the volunteer on behalf of the organization or entity.”

However, the Volunteer Protection Act does not shield the organization from the negligence of a volunteer. Further a volunteer may not be protected if there are state laws that impose liability on the volunteer. For example if a state law requires risk management procedures to be followed and the volunteer does not follow them, there is potential liability.   Click here to see more language regarding the Volunteer Protection Act.

As many nonprofits know from experience, California has abolished charitable immunity. This means that nonprofits do not enjoy immunity from lawsuits or liability. A nonprofit may be sued for its negligent acts from its employees and from its volunteers.

In light of this, nonprofits should protect themselves with internal and external risk management controls. Nonprofits internally should have appropriate risk management controls in place such as hands on training with the volunteer.  Preventative risk management is the first step to keeping claims under control and lowering the overall premium.

External controls protect your organizations from potential claims.  Remember no single insurance policy will cover every claim against your organization.  It is important that your organization protect itself with Directors and Officers and Commercial General Liability with high enough limits.  The limits will depend on your organizations risk exposure and funder contracts.  Review all coverages with your attorney and HR professional.

We are here to help.

For informational purposes only.  This is not to be construed as legal advice

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WHY PEOPLE WITH DENTAL INSURANCE SKIP ORAL HEALTH CHECKUPS 

by Pamela Akop

 Routine dental checkups do more than brighten your smile!

They can help keep teeth and gums healthy throughout your life. They can also possibly catch serious medical problems, such as diabetes and heath disease,

However, a CIGNA nationwide survey of consumers finds many aren’t taking advantage of preventive oral health services – even when they have dental coverage.

More than one-fourth of insured adults are not getting regular dental checkups due to concerns about:

  1. Cost
    1. Consumers do not believe preventive dental care is a “free” benefit. They expect to pay something during a routine dental exam, such as a copay or additional services.
    2. Consumers do not check their plan to see what they may owe before a dental appointment – and may not even know how to check their plan. This adds to their concern about cost.
    3. Consumers who have been avoiding the dentist believe their exam will cost more because their dental health may have worsened.
  2. Pain
    1. Consumers believe that if they aren’t having any tooth pain, they don’t need to go the to the dentist.
    2. The lack-of-need excuse is most common with those who have been to the dentist once in the past year. However, this lack of need may be overstated.
    3. The dentist is too painful – even during a cleaning. This is an important reason as to why they don’t go.
    4. When asked about needing dental procedures, almost half of consumers admitted to maintenance or chronic dental conditions that needed attention.
  3. Anxiety
    1. More than four out of 10 people reported fear and anxiety as a barrier for avoiding the dentist.
    2. 25% of people claim to suffer from emotional embarrassment, which can also be a cause of anxiety.
    3. People ages 45 to 64 are 50% more likely not visit the dentist at all during the year compared to those 26 to 34.
    4. There seems to be confusion about what is covered under preventive care. Cost concerns really shouldn’t be a barrier, as most plans cover in-network preventive care visits every six months with no or low out-of-pocket costs.

It is important that individuals can turn to their insurer, dentist or employer for the education and tools that can assist them in overcoming perceived barriers to preventive services.

Having even one dental checkup a year can make a difference. Those who had one exam during the year are nearly twice as likely to report their oral health as very good or excellent compared to those who failed to go at all.

DO NOT WAIT UNTIL YOU ARE HAVING A TOOTHACHE TO VISIT YOUR DENTIST!!!

September Newsletter: Car Gap Insurance / Healthcare Limits

September Newsletter: Car Gap Insurance / Healthcare Limits

CAR GAP INSURANCE- YOU MIGHT NEED IT

The moment you drive a vehicle off the dealer lot, your vehicle depreciates.
If your vehicle is totaled in a covered loss, you may have to pay out the difference between what you owe and what your vehicle is worth at that time.

Gap insurance covers the difference between what you owe on your vehicle (financed) and what your auto insurance carrier is willing to pay for it (actual cash value).

Car gap insurance (or loan/lease insurance) is sometimes not purchased by our insureds because of the added premium cost or because they assume their Comprehensive or Collision coverage will fully insure their vehicle if it is stolen or totaled. However, you should consider purchasing this coverage as it can be a very costly expense after an auto accident is occurred.

Gap insurance coverage is available for both purchased or leased vehicles.

Call us if we can be of assistance.COLLISION

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HEALTH CARE 102 – LIMITS ON ANNUAL OUT-OF-POCKET MAXIMUMS

All health plans that are not grandfathered, whether insured or self-funded are subject to limits on annual out-of-pocket maximums. All cost sharing, such as co-pays, deductibles, and co-insurance, for Essential Health Benefits (EHBs) must accumulate to the plan’s out-of-pocket maximums up to the following limits:

Plan Year Beginning in: Self-Only Coverage Coverage other than self-only
2014 $6,350 $12,700
2015 $6,600 $13,200
2016 $6,850 $6,850 per person
$13,700 per family

Each state, through its state insurance laws, may establish a detailed definition of EHBs for purposes of group health insurance policies issued in that state. Self-funded plans may define EHBs based on general federal guidelines or a state benchmark plan. Generally, an EHB definition includes health care services in the following 10 benefit categories:

Ambulatory patient services
Emergency Services
Hospitalization
Maternity and newborn care
Mental health and substance use disorder services, including behavioral health treatment
Prescription drugs
Rehabilitative services and devices
Laboratory services
Preventive and wellness services and chronic disease management
Pediatric services, including oral and vision care (services for individuals under 19 years of age).

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) requires non-grandfathered group health insurance policies sold in the “small group” market to adopt several reforms. For example – coverage of all 10 categories of EHBs. “Large group” policies, currently sold only to employers with at least 50 employees, and self-funded health plans are exempt from the market reforms. Starting in 2016, the definition of “small group” will expand to include groups with 51 – 99 employees.

SEPTEMBER – Prevention Month

CELEBRATE PREVENTION

This month, stay up-to-date with your immunizations and other preventive care. You can also help keep your immune system strong by eating right, staying active and getting enough rest.

Get a flu shot. Protect yourself, your family and friends by getting a flu shot. Stay at home if you do get sick…don’t spread the germs.

Exercise. Regular exercise (150 minutes a week) can help lower your risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, and stroke. Now that it is getting cooler walk your neighborhood.

Garlic. Garlic contains more than 100 sulfuric compounds that work to fight bacteria and infection. For an extra immunity boost, add garlic to your juice; pasta and pasta sauce; sautéed meats and vegetables. If you do not like the taste or smell of garlic take a garlic supplement.

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*Intended for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice.
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