Gulfshore Insurance > Gulfshore Blog > Commercial Risk Management

Commercial Lines Working Around Overhead Power LinesPower lines are a serious and potentially fatal hazard to workers when safety precautions are not followed. Electrocution remains a major cause of deaths in the landscaping and construction industries. Cranes, backhoes, dump trucks, drill rigs and aerial lifts are common types of equipment involved in contacts with overhead power lines. However, low-tech equipment like ladders, tools and tool extensions, and scaffolds are frequently involved.

What should employers do?

  • Initial worksite surveys should include locating and identifying all overhead power lines. The heights of the wires and distance from the worksite should be noted on site diagrams to make sure workers and supervisors are aware.
  • If work must be done near energized lines, contact the local utility company for assistance. The utility company may need to shut down the lines while you are working near them. If overhead lines cannot be shut down, the utility company can install insulation over the lines during the time you will be working near them.
  • Ensure all workers keep conductive materials 10 feet away from unguarded, energized lines up to 50 kilovolts. For every 10 kV over 50, increase distance by an additional 4 inches of clearance.
  • Workers should not operate equipment around overhead power lines unless authorized and trained to do so. Use a spotter.
  • Do not allow use of metal ladders in dangerous situations.
  • Train all workers in emergency communication and proper techniques for providing aid to someone after an electrical accident.

 

At Gulfshore Insurance, we specialize in insurance and risk management for the landscape industry. We work with hundreds of landscapers throughout Florida and we are happy to assist you with training materials, safety programs, and insurance for your business.

Nick Wichmanowski a Client Advisor and Partner at Gulfshore Insurance who specializes in construction, landscaping, and the oil and petroleum industries. Comments and questions are welcome at nwichmanowski@gulfshoreinsurance.com

Commercial Lines Surge in LitigationA wave of increased litigation will likely emerge as workers who have been laid off see their savings run low and start to look for alternative sources of income. The key to addressing this phase will be how organizations conduct layoffs. Companies that initiate layoffs with little forethought and guidance may see a rise in workers compensation claims and experience numerous other unintended consequences. Companies that develop thoughtful reduction-in-force strategies are likely to see fewer workers compensation claims and lower overall expenses.

To avoid this, consider making settlements on open cases despite the lack of hearings or IMEs. Parties may need cash. Negotiations may resolve informally. Some carriers have seen claims moving to settlement early, sometimes at or below reserve estimates. Therefore, the current economic climate may be creating a prime opportunity to resolve stubborn cases.

Additional Disruptions:
The rise of COVID-19 and the ensuing economic recession are crashing at once and creating profound shifts in the workers’ compensation system. Together these waves will drive changes to the workers compensation system for years to come, reshuffle the insurance industry, and could potentially alter health care in the US.

A decrease in traditional workers’ compensation claims, due to fewer workers and fewer work hours will be at least somewhat offset by an increase in new types of claims, including:

  • COVID-19 claims.
  • Post-termination claims. As waves of workers get furloughed, we can expect a wave of new claims, especially from deeply affected industries such as hospitality and retail. This is driven, in part, by situations where an employee has an injury and may not have filed a claim in a healthy economy but decides to do so in a downturn after seeing his or her bank account run low.
  • Work-at-home claims. These may be related to mental stress, sleep deprivation and other conditions related to extended social distancing. Claims for repetitive strain injuries may also increase.

The “onslaught of pent up demand” for medical treatment among injured workers whose care has been delayed will put stress on the system. Some organizations are expanding care networks and establishing new channels of care. A rise in fraud can be expected in the next few months among attorneys and providers known to engage in workers’ compensation fraud. We should see more claims that are challenging to define as legitimate or fraudulent because they occurred in a distributed work environment where there are no witnesses to corroborate the injury.

The following strategies can help organizations prepare for short- and long-term challenges:

  • Prepare teams to handle an influx of COVID-19 claims. Also, checking and adjusting reserving estimates should be done more frequently.
  • Onboard new tools to increase productivity. New platforms, for example, should be evaluated to help companies prepare for a resurgence when the economy recovers.
  • Augment in-house analytics with artificial intelligence. Smart carriers and TPAs are looking for partners that can augment their in-house expertise with AI-as-a-service. This new approach enables them to unlock unstructured insights buried in scans, images, handwritten notes, combine them with structured data from a cross-industry data lake, and generate predictions based on a range of AI techniques. The result is more accurate forecasts overall, and the ability to generate predictions on unique emerging cases, such as COVID-19.
  • Expand provider networks. Along with preparing for recovery, incorporating new specialists is also advised; such as pulmonologists and immunologists who can treat conditions such as COVID-19.
  • Optimize legal panels.
  • Consider settling potentially expensive claims.

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to reach out. We are here to help.

Dave Wissel is a Client Advisor and Partner at Gulfshore Insurance who specializes in construction, landscaping, and the oil and petroleum industries. Comments and questions are welcome at dwissel@gulfshoreinsurance.com

Please note: The content of this article was taken from workerscompensation.com

Commercial Lines Water Transmission and COVID 19The Centers For Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued clarification and guidance on COVID-19 and treated recreational water venues. The advice and answers provided are useful to swimmers, swim programs and swimming venues.

Can the COVID-19 virus spread through pools, hot tubs, and water playgrounds?
There is no evidence that COVID-19 can be spread to humans through the use of pools and hot tubs. Proper operation, maintenance, and disinfection (e.g., with chlorine and bromine) of pools and hot tubs should remove or inactivate the virus that causes COVID-19.

While there is ongoing community spread of the virus, it is important for individuals, as well as operators of public pools, hot tubs, and water playgrounds (for example, at hotels or apartment complexes or owned by communities) to take steps
to ensure health and safety:

  • Everyone should follow state, local, territorial, or tribal guidance that might determine when and how public pools, hot tubs, or water playgrounds may operate and might include CDC considerations.
  • In addition to ensuring water quality and safety, operators of public pools, hot tubs, and water playgrounds should follow guidance on cleaning and disinfecting community facilities.

 

Can the COVID-19 virus spread through drinking water?
The COVID-19 virus has not been detected in drinking water. Conventional water treatment methods that use filtration and disinfection, such as those in most municipal drinking water systems, should remove or inactivate the virus that causes COVID-19.

Can the COVID-19 virus spread through sewerage systems?
CDC is reviewing all data on COVID-19 transmission as information becomes available. At this time, the risk of transmission of the virus that causes COVID-19 through sewerage systems is thought to be low. Although transmission of COVID-19 through sewage may be possible, there is no evidence to date that this has occurred. This guidance will be updated as necessary as new evidence is assessed.

SARS, a similar coronavirus, has been detected in untreated sewage for up to 2 to 14 days. In the 2003 SARS outbreak, there was documented transmission associated with sewage aerosols. Data suggest that standard municipal wastewater system chlorination practices may be sufficient to inactivate coronavirus, as long as utilities monitor free available chlorine during treatment to ensure it has not been depleted.

Wastewater and sewage workers should use standard practices, practice basic hygiene precautions, and wear personal protective equipment (PPE) as prescribed for current work tasks.

For further information on water transmission and COVID-19, please visit the CDC website.

John Caballero, CIC, CRM is a Client Advisor and Partner at Gulfshore Insurance who specializes in managing risk for community associations. Comments and questions are welcome at jcaballero@gulfshoreinsurance.com

Amerisure Webinar

Please join us to learn from two of Amerisure’s risk management experts about protecting your workplace from the unique risks posed by COVID-19. We’ll discuss:

  • Your company’s role in responding to the pandemic
  • Initial steps for safely bringing back employees once your facility is open
  • Daily access procedures
  • General employee work practices and controls
  • Protocols for employees while they are traveling

Thursday, May 21 at 2:00 p.m. EDT

Click to register

NCCI Rule Change to Exclude Payroll to Employees Not Working for Workers’ CompensationThe National Council on Compensation Insurance (NCCI) is acknowledging the circumstances around COVID-19 and expediting a rule change that will address the question of payroll for furloughed employees as it relates to the basis of premium. Currently, payroll is included in calculating the employer’s workers’ compensation premium. A workers’ compensation premium is based on payroll.

“The rule change is going to take the payroll for that period of time where the worker is furloughed and remove it from the calculation. This will be distinct from “idle time” under our current Basic Manual rules (Rule 2-F-1), and a corresponding statistical code 0012 will be created for reporting this payroll” said Jeff Eddinger, senior division executive, Regulatory Business Management, for NCCI.

If approved, this rule change will be retroactive, most likely to March 1st. How long the code will remain available will depend on how long shutdowns are in effect.

In another change, NCCI will also begin tracking COVID-19 related claims.

NCCI has a COVID-19 Resource Center on its website that includes answers to frequently asked questions and a new analysis of the economic impact of coronavirus on the workers’ compensation industry. Gulfshore Insurance will keep you updated on this matter as more information is released.

Tim Spear, is a Client Advisor and Partner at Gulfshore Insurance specializing in the construction, oil/petroleum, and landscape industries. Through his consultative and diagnostic approach, he helps clients develop customized programs to meet their risk management needs. Comments and questions are welcome at tspear@gulfshoreinsurance.com