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Commercial Lines Reducing the Risk of Work Related InjuriesFor most employers, the cost of an employee’s work-related injury is covered by workers’ compensation insurance, which pays for medical care and replaces some of the income that the injured employee lost while unable to work. There is no coverage, however, for the hidden costs to your organization of that injury, such as reduced efficiency, the cost of training replacements, and increased overtime expenditures.

On-the-job injuries or vehicle accidents aren’t limited to occupations that are obviously dangerous. In most years the top three causes of injuries in the workplace are overexertion (injuries caused from excessive lifting, pushing, pulling, holding, carrying, or throwing of an object), falls on level ground, and bodily reaction (injuries from bending, climbing, slipping or tripping without falling). Such injuries can affect workers in most environments. Whatever your industry, attention to such risks can pay dividends.

Employees should be trained to recognize hazards and to report them to the appropriate person so that the hazard can be corrected as soon as possible. Work requirements involving safety should take precedence over any other.

Any near miss, first aid incident, accident, or other workplace injury-related event should be investigated. Where possible, the investigation should be carried out immediately by a team that includes both management and hourly employees, all of whom have been trained in incident investigation. The goal of investigations is to identify the cause of the accident or injury rather than assign blame and to correct any hazards or other problems found, such as poor communication.

Supervisors and managers should also be trained to recognize and correct unsafe behaviors that can lead to injuries, including rushing, frustration, complacency, and fatigue.

Once a year a team should review all incidents from the prior year to see whether there are any patterns in the accidents and, if so, how to address the problems identified.

Each worksite should confer with its fire and police departments and hospital about plans for all potential emergencies, including fire, explosion, accident, severe weather, loss of power, and violence. Emergency drills should be used to ensure that employees know what to do and to assess the effectiveness of emergency plans.

For additional information, visit the Federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration website.

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

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.

Capture CopyThe Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires employers subject to its recordkeeping requirements to post copies of their OSHA Form 300A between Feb. 1 and April 30 of each year.

The OSHA Form 300A, also known as the “Summary of Work-related Injuries and Illnesses,” must be completed by Feb. 1 using data from the previous calendar year.

As a reminder, OSHA’s recordkeeping requirement does not apply to employers with 10 or fewer employees, or to employers that are in a partially exempt industry.

Employer Action Steps
On Feb. 1, employers subject to OSHA recordkeeping requirements must ensure that copies of their completed Forms 300A are posted in each of their establishments. The form must be displayed in a conspicuous place or places where notices to employees are customarily posted.

Until April 30, these employers must also ensure that their Form 300A postings remain in place and are not altered, defaced or covered by other material.

COVID-19 Guidance
Due to the fact that many employees are working remotely during the COVID-19 pandemic, OSHA will not require employers to display the OSHA 300A form in establishments that are completely empty.

However, employers will need to comply with the posting requirement if employees return to the establishment before May 1, 2021.

Click here to download the legal update

Kim Ovaitte, CPCU, ARM is the Executive Vice President of Marketing & Sales at Gulfshore Insurance.  Also serving as the Construction Practice Leader, Kim works with clients to develop cost effective risk management and claims strategies that dovetail with their insurance program. Comments and questions are welcome at kovaitte@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.

OSHA 1

OSHA has recently published a new Guidance on Returning to Work document for “non-essential” businesses planning to reopen.

While OSHA has published this as a guide – and stresses that no new standards or regulations are being created – it does revisit and mention several existing mandatory health and safety standards, and cites applicable labor, disability, and employment laws including the following:

  • General Duty Clause
    Requires employers to provide their employees a workplace that is free from recognized hazards that can cause death or serious physical harm
  • Employee Exposure and Medical Records
    Requires employers to adequately secure medical records for the duration of the employee’s tenure plus 30 years and follow confidentiality requirements. This regulation may impact employers that implement health screenings or temperature checks that are documented.
  • What You Should Know About COVID-19 and the ADA, the Rehabilitation Act, and Other EEO Laws
    Includes a section of technical questions and answers, how to properly conduct screenings, what applicable regulations exist, and best practices for “Pandemic Preparedness in the Workplace.”

 

OSHA’s return to work publication also revisits the phases of reopening and stresses the importance of adhering to the enforcement and requirements of the Federal Government, state and local governments (including state-OSHA plans), as well as following public health recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The list of guiding principles from OSHA’s latest publication are summarized below:
The principles were designed to assist employers with developing best practices, while stressing the importance of communication and effective employee training. Please note, these principles are not considered complete. To further this point, OSHA has provided additional recommendations and guidance on COVID-19 preparation.

  • Hazard Assessment
    Review job duties and determine potential workplace exposures to COVID from customers, visitors, or co-workers
  • Hygiene
    Have soap, water, paper towels, and/or hand sanitizer dispensers available for occupants to use and encourage frequent hand washing through signage and ease of access. Identify high-traffic areas and schedule frequent cleaning and disinfecting of surfaces
  • Social Distancing
    Limit the total number of occupants to ensure safe distances can be kept. Mark floors in six-foot sections, provide lanes or traffic-flow indicators (i.e. arrows) where width or space is an issue, and have signage up reminding occupants to keep safe distances
  • Identification and Isolation
    Ask employees to self-monitor for symptoms or potential exposures before coming to work. Establish a protocol in the event an employee becomes ill while at work and needs to be isolated
  • Return to Work after Illness or Exposure
    Refer to the CDC Guidelines for returning to work after an illness or exposure.
  • Controls
    Develop appropriate controls to protect workers and minimize potential exposures. This can include erecting physical barriers, establishing new Standard Operating Procedures, re-evaluating Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) requirements, and limiting capacity in areas through staggered shifts, or conducting meetings in virtual environments
  • Workplace Flexibilities
    If possible, provide work-from-home options to employees, and revisit sick leave, or vacation policies
  • Training
    Ensure that any training conducted is done so in the employee’s native language, and if formal, at their reading level. Training should also include best practices on workplace and self-hygiene, as well as proper use, disinfecting, and storage of PPE, along with its limitations
  • Anti-Retaliation
    Reassure employees that they will not be retaliated against for raising concerns about their safety or health. Review their rights with them and provide a list of who employees should contact if they have questions or concerns

 

Please refer to the Guidance on Returning to Work document to review Frequently Asked Questions with respect to COVID-19, and other services and programs made available by OSHA to assist employers in complying with their responsibilities under the law.

For your convenience, Gulfshore Insurance has compiled all COVID-19 resources to one area on our website. We will continue to update you as more information becomes available.

Commercial Lines OSHA Changes Recordkeeping on COVID 19On Tuesday May 19, 2020, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), issued a new guidance (again) on employers’ obligation to record COVID-19 cases in the workplace.  Specifically, effective on May 26, 2020, OSHA is rescinding its April 20, 2020 guidance to employers on their obligations recording coronavirus in the workplace.

OSHA was previously not requiring employers to record positive cases outside the healthcare/emergency responder fields without objective evidence that a positive COVID-19 case is work related and there was evidence of work-relatedness reasonably available to the employer.

Now, under the guidance effective on May 26, 2020, OSHA has determined that coronavirus is a recordable illness (as a respiratory illness on an OSHA Form 300) and employers must record it if:

  1. The employee has a confirmed case of COVID-19 (as set forth under CDC guidelines);
  2. The employee was exposed to COVID-19 in the work environment; and
  3. The case is recordable under general OSHA standards (results in any of the following: death, days away from work, restricted work, transfer to another job, medical treatment beyond first aid or loss of consciousness).

Given the return to work in many states, OSHA decided to exercise its enforcement discretion and require recordkeeping of work related COVID-19 cases. OSHA reminds employers that merely recording an instance of COVID-19 does not mean that the employer violated any OSHA standard. OSHA will consider the following information in determining whether the employer properly made work-related determinations:

  1. The reasonableness of the investigation into work-relatedness.  OSHA cautions employers that they are not obligated to take extensive medical inquiries but should ask the employee who tested positive how the employee believes he contracted the virus, discuss with the employee activities outside of work that may lead to exposure and review the work environment for potential exposure (including knowledge of other employees at the worksite who have tested positive).
  2. The scope of the information that was available to the employer at the time it made the decision about work relatedness and whether the employer later learned additional information.
  3. Factors that will weigh in favor of work related and therefore recordable:
    1. Several cases develop among workers who work closely and there is not an alternative explanation;
    2. Shortly after “lengthy, close” exposure to customer/co-worker and there is not an alternative explanation;
    3. Job duties include close frequent contact with the public community with significant cases and there is not an alternative explanation.
  1. Factors that weigh against a finding of work related:
    1. Only one worker contracts COVID-19, and his/her job duties do not involve contact with the public (regardless of positive cases in the community);
    2. The worker has close contact family member/friend who is not a coworker who has COVID-19 during the period in which the worker was likely infected.

 

OSHA also will give weight to any other evidence of causation based on the individual employee, medical advice, public health authorities and/or the employee’s anecdotal information.

If after the reasonable and good faith inquiry, the employer cannot determine that exposure within the work environment played a causal role in the employee’s infection, then the employer does not need to record the COVID-19 illness. To demonstrate good faith, employers should ensure they have documented their considerations and the information relied upon in making their determinations of work-relatedness.

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate reach out to your Gulfshore Insurance Client Advisor who can offer assistance. We are here to help.

Gregory Havemeier, CIC, AAI, CIRMS is a Client Advisor and Partner at Gulfshore Insurance specializing in community and condominium associations. Gregory works with a wide range of business clients to deliver strategic risk analysis and guidance. Comments and questions are welcome at ghavemeier@gulfshoreinsurance.com

COVID-19: OSHA and Workers' CompensationAs a business owner and employer, COVID-19 has likely caused major changes in the way you are operating your business. As we now look to reopening the economy and other segments of business, you should be prepared for when an employee falls ill or tests positive for COVID-19.

OSHA has provided Guidance on Preparing Workplaces for COVID-19. In addition, you should consider how Workers’ Compensation may apply and if there is any necessary OSHA reporting if you have an employee test positive.

Workers’ Compensation Benefits:

Historically, it has been difficult for an employee who is not working “on the front lines” (i.e. healthcare industry, emergency response, fire, law enforcement) to receive Workers’ Compensation benefits due to a communicable disease or an “ordinary disease of life” as it is often referred. An ill employee not working in the job descriptions listed above has a heightened burden of proof to show that the illness arose out of or was caused by conditions peculiar to the work, and that he/she had a greater risk of contracting the disease in a different manner than the general public. That being said, as more employees fall ill, there is sure to be many workers who will try to prove that case.

OSHA 300 Reporting:

OSHA has released a memorandum specifically addressing COVID-19 reporting. For occupations other than healthcare, emergency response (fire and law enforcement) and correctional institutions, COVID-19 must be reported on the OSHA 300 if the following is true:

  1. It is a confirmed case of COVID-19, as defined by the CDC
  2. The case is believed to be work-related (i.e. several cases developing among workers)
  3. The evidence being work-related was reasonably available to the employer (i.e. information given to the employer by employees, or information an employer learns regarding employees’ health and safety in the ordinary course of managing its business and employees).

Needless to say, if you have knowledge that an employee has been exposed to COVID-19, keep them away from the rest of your workforce, at home, and look to pay them their normal wages during that time.

For more information regarding COVID-19 OSHA requirements and employers’ responsibilities, visit the OSHA COVID-19 Information Page.

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