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Take Action to Prevent Heat Related Illness at WorkAs we enter the hottest months of the year, it is important to plan ahead for work-related heat exposure and the potential for heat-related illness among workers. Heat stress and heat strain can increase the risk of workplace injuries.  Workers in a wide variety of industries are exposed to hot environments during work and are at risk for heat-related illness. A recent study identified public administration (35% of the total cases); agriculture, forestry, fishing, and hunting (13%); and construction (8%) as industry groups with the highest number of heat-related illnesses. Younger workers and male workers were at greater risk than other demographic groups. This study also found that 9% of heat-related illness cases happened to new workers within two weeks of hire.

Many workplace controls are available to minimize heat-related illness among workers. A complete heat stress program for the workplace should include assessing the risk, limiting heat exposure, reducing metabolic heat load, acclimating workers, encouraging hydration, and providing periodic training for heat stress and heat-related illness. Workplace-based educational programs have been shown to improve workers’ knowledge about heat illness; training has been identified as a central part of a heat stress educational program to decrease heat-related illness among outdoor workers.

When providing heat stress education and training, consider your workers and what delivery methods might work best.

 

Employers should provide heat stress training for all workers and supervisors on the following:

  • Recognizing the signs and symptoms of heat-related illnesses and administration of first aid.
  • Causes of heat-related illnesses and the procedures that will minimize the risk, such as drinking enough water and monitoring the color and amount of urine output.
  • Proper care and use of heat-protective clothing and equipment and the added heat load caused by exertion, clothing, and personal protective equipment.
  • Effects of non-work factors (such as drugs, alcohol, obesity, etc.) on ability to adapt to occupational heat stress.
  • The importance of acclimatization.
  • The importance of immediately reporting to the supervisor any symptoms or signs of heat-related illness in themselves or in coworkers.
  • Procedures for responding to symptoms of possible heat-related illness and for contacting emergency medical services.

 

In addition, supervisors should also be trained on:

  • How to implement appropriate acclimatization.
  • Procedures to follow when a worker has symptoms consistent with heat-related illness, including emergency response procedures.
  • Monitoring weather reports and responding to hot weather advisories.
  • Monitoring and encouraging adequate fluid intake and rest breaks.
Gulfshore Insurance is a Naples, Florida based insurance agency specializing in liability insurance, property insurance, workers compensation insurance, vehicle insurance, business income interruption insurance, cyber insurance, commercial umbrella insurance, home and homeowners insurance, car and auto insurance, boat and yacht insurance, property insurance, umbrella insurance, valuables insurance for fine art, jewelry, wine, and more. Navigating insurance requires an experienced and trusted insurance agent who understands your business risks and exposures. Gulfshore Insurance services Naples, North Naples, Marco Island, Bonita Springs, Fort Myers, Sarasota, Lido Beach, Longboat Key, Bradenton Beach, and Southwest Florida. We have office locations in Naples, Fort Myers, Fort Lauderdale, and Sarasota.

Commercial Lines 6 Essential Truck Driver Safety Tips to Minimize RiskKeeping your drivers safe on the road isn’t just essential for their health and well-being. Their safety directly impacts other motorists on the road, as well as your bottom line. The Department of Labor (DOL) singles out trucking as one of the most dangerous occupations in the United States. In fact, transportation and logistics fleets have some of the highest numbers of injuries and fatalities on the job—and those numbers seem to only grow year over year. By improving the safety of your drivers, you not only ensure their protection, but you can also reduce costs associated with accidents, claim payouts, and rises in insurance premiums. The good news is that you can improve your truck drivers’ safety by creating a work culture that actively coaches, trains, and rewards the safest drivers. Here are 6 essential truck driver safety tips to keep your drivers protected on the road.

  1. Encourage your truckers to practice defensive driving. Drivers are encouraged to reduce the risk of accidents and injuries by anticipating potentially dangerous situations and making safe, well-informed decisions while behind the wheel. By using defensive driving techniques, drivers are less likely to be involved in accidents—so you can worry less about costly repairs, claim payouts, and insurance premiums increases.
  2. Develop preventative maintenance schedules. The safety of your drivers really starts with the safety of the vehicles they’re in. Trucks and tractor-trailers that aren’t up-to-date with their regular maintenance—like oil and brake pad changes—are more likely to break down on the road. Telematics devices offer real-time visibility into odometer and engine data, including fault codes.
  3. Ensure comprehensive pre-trip and post-trip inspections. Hand-in-hand with increasing driver safety through maintenance is using thorough vehicle inspections to ensure all trucks are safe before drivers start driving. While pre-trip and post-trip inspections are required by the DOT, not just any inspection will do. To protect the safety of your drivers, use tools that ensure all inspections are thorough and accurately documented.
  4. Coach drivers to avoid distractions. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has identified distracted driving as the number one cause of accidents for truck drivers. Distracted driving is anything that causes a driver to take their eyes off the road or their hands off the steering wheel. Distractions can range from eating lunch while driving to turning out the window to stare at a billboard. But the most common form of distracted driving is cellphone usage, in particular, texting while driving.
  5. Encourage proper rest and breaks. Under HOS regulations, all drivers of commercial motor vehicles (CMVs) are required to take certain breaks before they can continue driving. For instance, under HOS truck driver limits, all CMV drivers must take a 30-minute break after eight hours of driving and a 10 to 11 hour break before coming back on duty. Outside of taking these mandatory breaks, encourage drivers to always prioritize their safety and the safety of other motorists while on the road
  6. Build out coaching and rewards programs with dash cams. An important part of building a safety-first culture is incentivizing and rewarding drivers who embody good driving habits and practices. One of the easiest ways to ensure safety in your fleet is through building out coaching and rewards programs. By introducing dash cams to your fleet, you can use real footage to actually show drivers how to improve their safety on the road.

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

Gulfshore Insurance is a Naples, Florida based insurance agency specializing in business insurance including liability insurance, property insurance, workers compensation insurance, vehicle insurance, business income interruption insurance, cyber insurance, commercial umbrella insurance, and more. Our insurance and risk management advisors are industry specialists for condominium associations, golf and country clubs, oil and petroleum marketers, construction, landscaping, churches and non-profits, and work comp. Navigating insurance requires an experienced and trusted insurance agent who understands your business risks and exposures. Gulfshore Insurance services Naples, North Naples, Marco Island, Bonita Springs, Fort Myers, Sarasota, Lido Beach, Longboat Key, Bradenton Beach, and Southwest Florida. We have office locations in Naples, Fort Myers, Fort Lauderdale, and Sarasota.

Commercial Lines Motor Vehicle Reports Know Who is Driving on Company BusinessMotor Vehicle Reports (MVRs) have become a critical component to a complete fleet safety program, and are used for protecting a company against litigation following an accident.

When an insurance company runs an MVR check, they will not share the results of that check with the insurance agent, or the employer. They will tell you if the employee is excluded from the auto policy, or not. Just because an employee is “insurable,” does not absolve an employer from any negligent entrustment or other liability for an employee’s acts behind the wheel.

The American National Standard (ANSI) Zl5.l-2006, Section 5.1.3 states: Organizations shall perform applicant background checks, including state motor vehicle record (MVR) checks and reference checks with previous employers in accordance with applicable privacy laws. Organizations shall have a written policy as to what would disqualify an applicant. Organizations shall establish a program for periodically performing and reviewing each driver’s state MVR, to assure that the driver remains qualified.

Here are a few reputable MVR resources to order Motor Vehicle Reports. Please contact each company to obtain current pricing and mention that you are a Gulfshore Insurance client in order to receive a discounted rate.

Insurance Information Exchange
800.683.8553
www.iix.com

Florida MVR
850.894.8201
www.flmvr.com

Samba Safety
866.837.3295
www.sambasafety.com

For your reference, below are some common areas of concern:

  • Drivers with less than 5 years of driving experience
  • Driving while intoxicated
  • Reckless driving
  • Driving with a suspended license
  • Speed in excess of 20 MPH over the posted speed limit
  • Drivers with more than 3 moving violations

 

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

Gulfshore Insurance is a Naples, Florida based insurance agency specializing in business insurance including liability insurance, property insurance, workers compensation insurance, vehicle insurance, business income interruption insurance, cyber insurance, commercial umbrella insurance, and more. Our insurance and risk management advisors are industry specialists for condominium associations, golf and country clubs, oil and petroleum marketers, construction, landscaping, churches and non-profits, and work comp. Navigating insurance requires an experienced and trusted insurance agent who understands your business risks and exposures. Gulfshore Insurance services Naples, North Naples, Marco Island, Bonita Springs, Fort Myers, Sarasota, Lido Beach, Longboat Key, Bradenton Beach, and Southwest Florida. We have office locations in Naples, Fort Myers, Fort Lauderdale, and Sarasota.

Commercial Lines Insurance Marketplace Adds to Uncertainty for ContractorsConstruction industry forecasts are difficult in a “normal year” (remember those?), let alone a year following a global pandemic. Given everything, 2020 was a relatively good year in the construction industry despite increases in the costs of materials. The insurance industry, however, was hit by significant losses from the pandemic, a historically active hurricane season, huge wildfires in 2020, and a deep freeze in Texas to start 2021.

The liability market has also been hit hard.  There has been no slowdown in the number of construction defect claims, especially for residential construction. Awards for bodily injury claims, especially as a result of an auto accident, continue to escalate. As a result of the pandemic, carriers have also seen increased claims for both workers compensation and employment practices. Even Cyber Liability underwriters have taken a hard hit with more people working from home and exposing their companies in ways not previously contemplated.

As a result, carriers are now more reluctant to commit capital to the long-tailed construction industry. With less available capacity, the construction market is seeing some significant rate increases and encountering more challenges in securing project-specific coverage for larger residential construction projects.  Insurance companies have become more selective in construction and have cut back capacity, while pushing rate. Particularly hard hit are residential contractors that work on the envelope of a building – roofers, windows and doors, exterior painting, drywall, and stucco.

On Controlled Insurance Programs (CIP’s), lead excess layers are being reduced and carriers are less willing to take the conventional $25,000,000 capacity layer participations of year’s past, leading to smaller portions taken by the carriers at higher rates.  As the market resets, carriers are also more hesitant to offer long-term pricing and coverage commitments via Rolling-WRAP solutions so common over the past decade.  Even smaller practice policies for general contractors and artisans are increasing an average of 15% or more on General Liability and increases on Umbrella and Excess policies have averaged 25 to 50% or more. Contractors with large auto fleets are getting hit the hardest, even with good loss experience. For fleets above 100, many carriers are requesting insureds to purchase $2MM primary auto limits in order to offer a lead $5MM Umbrella. Since auto rates are also continuing a steep incline, many contractors are seeing overall increases of 25% or more.  This dynamic may be best exemplified here in the state of Florida, where the litigious climate and loss ratios have driven carriers out and rates sky high, particularly on the lead excess for residential projects.

Achieving the best, most cost-effective coverage will remain challenging. Putting project policies together may be more difficult in this market and will require greater flexibility. Deal structures are likely to be more complex than in recent years when broader terms and higher aggregate limits were readily available. Rates are likely to be higher, terms tighter, and capacity less plentiful. It is critical to start with a realistic idea of the insurance market as you evaluate projects in this challenging climate. Rates have been moving higher and coverage enhancements may not be as readily available.

The key to building a cost-effective program is working with the right insurance agent. A deep knowledge of the construction industry and experience in designing complex insurance is critical to provide a solid foundation for controlled insurance programs.  When reviewing your practice policies, it is equally important to work with an agent who has expertise in Risk Transfer, Fleet Safety, and Quality Control programs in order to  ensure that your company is presented to underwriters in the best possible light to obtain competitive terms and pricing.

Gulfshore Insurance is a Naples, Florida based insurance agency specializing in business insurance including liability insurance, property insurance, workers compensation insurance, vehicle insurance, business income interruption insurance, cyber insurance, commercial umbrella insurance, and more. Our insurance and risk management advisors are industry specialists for condominium associations, golf and country clubs, oil and petroleum marketers, construction, landscaping, churches and non-profits, and work comp. Navigating insurance requires an experienced and trusted insurance agent who understands your business risks and exposures. Gulfshore Insurance services Naples, North Naples, Marco Island, Bonita Springs, Fort Myers, Sarasota, Lido Beach, Longboat Key, Bradenton Beach, and Southwest Florida. We have office locations in Naples, Fort Myers, Fort Lauderdale, and Sarasota.

Commercial Lines 8 Elements of a Fleet Safety ProgramFleet vehicle accidents are among the most costly injury claims for businesses. The average cost of a loss related to vehicle accidents is approximately $70,000. This is almost twice the cost of the average workplace injury ($36,592).

Without a formal fleet safety program, you may be putting the welfare of your employees and company at risk. A generic safety program is better than none. But it is far more effective to specifically design a program for your company and your fleet. A fleet safety program establishes the policies and procedures that are needed to help ensure a safe work environment for employees. It can also help protect against liability from vehicle accidents.

For any company with a fleet of vehicles of any size, a formal fleet safety plan can provide a number of
advantages, including improved safety, employee satisfaction, and the potential to improve fleet efficiency.

8 Essential Elements of a Fleet Safety Program

An effective fleet safety program must be comprehensive, up-to-date, and instituted as a part of your company’s safety culture. It should be thorough, reaching each employee who gets behind the wheel. And the commitment has to start at the top.

  1. Identifying all of your drivers. Businesses may not be aware of the full extent of their non-owned vehicle exposure. You should identify everyone who drives on behalf of the business, even those employees that use personal and/or rented vehicles.
  2. Management commitment. Leadership support of the program can help assure that the program is used.
  3. Screening and selecting drivers carefully. This can help create a reliable, safe team. Without safe drivers, no organization is likely to have a good long-term safety record. Establish clear hiring standards and a thorough screening process for anyone who drives on company business.
  4. Training drivers. This can help to ensure that all drivers understand vehicle safety policies and procedures. All drivers should have access to information on safe driving strategies and techniques, including instruction in defensive driving.
  5. Managing drivers on an ongoing basis. This is essential in helping to ensure that drivers are following fleet safety rules and driving safely.
  6. Managing accidents, when they occur. This can help mitigate accident costs. It also helps you to understand your exposures and can reduce the potential for future losses.
  7. Establishing written policies and procedures. This sets clear consistent expectations.
  8. Formalizing a plan for vehicle inspection, repair, and maintenance. This can help reduce costly, unexpected breakdowns, and can assist in avoiding accidents due to faulty equipment.

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

Gulfshore Insurance is a Naples, Florida based insurance agency specializing in business insurance including liability insurance, property insurance, workers compensation insurance, vehicle insurance, business income interruption insurance, cyber insurance, commercial umbrella insurance, and more. Our insurance and risk management advisors are industry specialists for condominium associations, golf and country clubs, oil and petroleum marketers, construction, landscaping, churches and non-profits, and work comp. Navigating insurance requires an experienced and trusted insurance agent who understands your business risks and exposures. Gulfshore Insurance services Naples, North Naples, Marco Island, Bonita Springs, Fort Myers, Sarasota, Lido Beach, Longboat Key, Bradenton Beach, and Southwest Florida. We have office locations in Naples, Fort Myers, Fort Lauderdale, and Sarasota.