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The Department of Homeland Security considers construction an “essential critical infrastructure workforce.” However, all safety measures that can be taken, should be taken. The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) has taken the initiative and put together a detailed plan that outlines the steps that every employer and employee can take to reduce the risk of exposure to COVID-19.

The plan describes how to prevent worker exposure to coronavirus, protective measures to be taken on the job site, personal protective equipment and work practice controls to be used, cleaning and disinfecting procedures, and OSHA guidance on what to do if a worker becomes sick, including record-keeping requirements.

National Association of Home Builders COVID-19 Plan:

 

These resources are also available in Spanish, here.

Gulfshore Insurance is focused on supporting and addressing client concerns. Visit our Coronavirus Resource Center for guidance on risk management measures and resources to help manage ongoing operations.

Effective January 15, 2020, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) has increased the maximum allowable penalty amounts for OSHA violations in federally-mandated states.

The 2020 numbers are a result of a cost-of-living adjustment multiplier based on the Consumer Price Index, which was calculated at 1.101764 as of October 2019. The most recent penalty amount for each level of violation was multiplied by this number and rounded to the nearest dollar.

The maximum penalty amounts that may now be assessed are:

For more information: OSHA Memo, Jan 10, 2020.

We know that employee workplace injuries drive up your cost of insurance. It is also no surprise that employees who work in physical trades are more susceptible to a workplace injury. Knowing the most common workplace injuries across all types of construction companies can help you prevent them from occurring.

Here are the Top 5 Workplace Injuries for the Construction Industry.

Cuts & Lacerations:
Construction workers are always at risk of cuts and gashes from a myriad of potential dangers. However, these are often the easiest to avoid. Make sure you crews are using and wearing their PPE!

Falls:
Slipping, tripping and falling should always be of concern. A fall from just one or two steps up on a ladder can result in broken bones and severe injury. Remind your crews to use extreme caution and proper technique with ladders and scaffolding and keep work areas neat and clear of tripping hazards.

Head Injuries:
The two main causes are falling objects and workers hitting their head on objects. Hard hats can prevent most of these injuries – be sure your crews are using them!

Burns:
Burns are always near the top of the list of most common construction injuries. Hot equipment, exposed wires, chemicals, etc. are all contributors to this category.

Heat Stroke:
It should be no surprise that heat stroke makes it into the top 5 in the state of Florida. If your employees are exposed to the elements, give them the tools they need to be protected from the heat. Water coolers, Gatorade, tents for shade. These are small expenses that will go a long way for moral and the safety of your employees.

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

Jeffrey Sanders, TRIP is Client Advisor at Gulfshore Insurance. Jeff works with a wide range of business clients to deliver strategic risk analysis, guidance, and insurance. Comments and questions are welcome at jsanders@gulfshoreinsurance.com

Legalized marijuana, whether medical or recreational, is finding its roots nationwide. In those states that have legalized medical and/or recreational marijuana, employers must understand the relevant legal developments and how they affect the workplace. Currently, 33 states and Washington, D.C., have legalized medical marijuana use, and 10 states have approved both its medical and recreational use. So, what does this mean for employers?

All marijuana use is still illegal under federal law. Marijuana is listed as a Schedule I drug under the Controlled Substances Act, which means that it is deemed to have no medical value and a high potential for abuse. As such, this allows you to continue to consistently enforce your zero-tolerance drug policies, including as it applies to medical marijuana. Accordingly, you should be able to continue to send any employee to random or reasonable suspicion drug testing consistent with your policies and practices, and then enforce your disciplinary policies as it would not matter what kind of illegal drug – including medical marijuana – shows up in the individual’s system.

If you employ individuals in safety-sensitive positions or other jobs that require drug-testing under federal or state guidelines, you will almost certainly want to follow this recommendation. In some cases, you may be required to do so under federal law, such as Department of Transportation (DOT) regulations. In other cases, you will want to do so in order to avoid the risk of having one of your employees cause an accident involving members of the public, coworkers, or simply themselves, which could lead to devastating consequences and employer liability. Any employee who has to drive as part of the job, even if not subject to DOT regulations, should be legally prohibited from being under the influence of marijuana.

Since the passing of the most recent amendment in Florida, employers have worried about what it could mean for drug use in the workplace. Until courts rule otherwise, companies must not tolerate testing positive for marijuana under the drug-free workplace.

Given what we know, there are still many lingering questions, such as:

  • Should I still drug test?
  • Can I refuse to hire an employee who uses medical marijuana?
  • Do I have to accommodate an employee who uses medical marijuana?
  • What effects of medical marijuana can be anticipated on a job site?
  • How do I know if the medical marijuana use is valid?

The National Council on Compensation Insurance (NCCI) recently filed with the state Office of Insurance Regulation a proposal that would lead to an average 5.4% rate decrease for employers, effective January 1, 2020.

The exact amount of the rate decrease will be determined after the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation (OIR) holds a public hearing in October to discuss NCCI’s rate request and the Insurance Commissioner issues a formal decision. If the proposed rate decrease is approved, it will take effect January 1, 2020 and will apply to workers’ compensation policies as they are issued or renewed on or after that date.

Please note: The -5.4% decrease is an average rate decrease across all industry types. The rate change for your specific workers’ compensation policy may be different. The average proposed rate decrease by industry group is:

  • Manufacturing     -6.3%
  • Contracting       -7.4%
  • Office & Clerical   -4.94%

 

Gulfshore Insurance will provide additional information following the final rate decision. If you have any questions or concerns regarding this information, please contact us. We are here to assist you and happy to answer any questions you have.