Tag Archives: James Russell

Benefits of First Aid Training in the Workplace

Most Businesses are not legally obliged to provide staff with on-site Health and Safety training. However, with incoming Health Care Reform and nationwide promotion of wellness in the workplace, more and more companies are beginning to offer First Aid training to staff. In light of this, we explore the benefits of making First Aid training a requirement in the workplace.02F66770

Practical benefits

First and foremost, introducing an ‘in-house’ First Aid Training Scheme has its practical benefits:

  • All employees become more safety aware, helping bring down the number of accidents;
  • First Aid saves lives, particularly where there are grave injuries and it is critical that immediate action is taken;
  • First Aid training does not have to take a long time, some managed training courses are only a few hours long;
  • First Aid trainees know exactly what’s in their first aid kits, how to use the contents and the various ways to react in an emergency;
  • The training gives employees critical knowledge and the confidence to effectively manage an emergency without fear or confusion;
  • They learn how to give injections, use painkillers, bandage injuries and control blood flow.

Tailored to the Industry

While outside First Aid programmes are widely available and supported on many fronts, ‘in-house’ first-aid programmes allow the company to tailor the scheme to suit their place of work and their financial capabilities. As well as that, on-site first-aid programmes can be incorporated into the company’s overall risk management strategy, reducing the need for a massive overhaul of current policy.

The problem with outsider First Aid programs is that they are generally run as a ‘one size fits all’ process. With ‘in-house’ first-aid programs, you can determine the learning criteria, based on the requirements of the workplace. For example, First-Aid training for a large office will differ from a first-aid programme designed for a construction agency. In-house training allows the company to specify what areas need to be covered and apply the learning to simulated scenarios that could occur in the workplace.

Cost

The main concern of companies in terms of the cost of introducing in-house training is considering the right provider and the exact number of sessions they should deliver, as well as the number of participating employees.

At first glance, it may sound like there’s a lot to consider in terms of the company’s budget. However, once you take into account the financial effects of workplace injuries, reducing accident severity and potential through first aid training can save a company quite a bit of money in the long term.

Employee Morale

It is hugely important to consider Employee morale in the overall business process, no matter what industry you operate in. At the end of the day results will depend on the efforts of your staff and if morale is low, the work is going to suffer.

By providing onsite First Aid training you can demonstrate how you care for the welfare of your employees and show them how they are valued in the workplace.

Providing First Aid training doesn’t cost Businesses a lot of money, however, workplace accidents do. By introducing an in-house scheme tailored to meet the demands of your workplace, you can sure up your company’s risk management plan and ultimately ensure the safety of those connected with the business.

If you are considering introducing an ‘in-house’ First Aid Training scheme, contact us directly for advice on how to do so.

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3 Reasons Employee Vigilance is Vital in Your Risk Management Strategy

Most of us have an unconscious list of risks that we expect to meet in our workplace every day. If pressed, most of us could list the obvious risk management measures that are in place in our workplaces. We can see the handrails and warning signs to prevent slip/fall accidents and we know all about the ergonomic importance of good posture.

But there are some workplace injuries we don’t automatically see a solution for, and some that we don’t even consider when we assess our day-to-day risks. Some of the top 10 workplace accidents occur outside that subconscious list of daily dangers.

The irony is, they are on the list of common accidents, specifically because they fall outside that list. These are accidents that have one unified risk management solution; be vigilant. While a comprehensive risk management strategy means finding solutions, these accidents demonstrate the role employees must play in their own safety.

Falling Objects

While your risk management strategy will include provisions for the proper storage of heavy objects and the provision of safety gear. That said, it is inevitable that objects will be dropped, as you can never 100% guarantee safe carriage of any item. Once that happens there is a risk of injury and the difference between an injury and simple damage to the object will be the reaction of your employee. If they react quickly to move or catch the object (depending on size) they will avoid injury.

Reaction Injuries

Even then, it may not be enough simply to react, your employee must react appropriately. Reaction injuries like muscle damage or body trauma can occur when an employee tries to avoid another injury. Grabbing a rail may prevent a fall but sprain a wrist or dodging a falling object may mean running straight into a door.

Walking Into Injuries

Not that employees need to be dodging a hazard to walk into things. Completing this list of unlikely risks that cause common accidents, the ‘walking into’ injuries are more common in the workplace than vehicle accidents, machine entanglements and repetitive stress injuries. When you aren’t looking where you are going, everything becomes a hazard.

Each of these examples, taken from the list of the top ten most common workplace injuries, require well-trained and risk-aware employees. When you set your risk management strategy, it’s vital that you important that you include every single risk. And teach your employees to react appropriately to every hazard. Especially the risks they’d least expect.

For more information on risk management, or a free risk assessment, you can ask one of our insurance experts for free. 

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Hot Work Hazard Prevention

“Hot work” is any task that involves burning, welding or using fire- or spark-producing tools, or actions that produce sources of ignition. There are numerous potential hazard areas on an oil job site, including well heads, fuel tanks, mud tanks, tank batteries, gas separators and oil treaters.

Reducing Hot Work Risks

Workers performing hot work are exposed to the risk of fire from the ignition of flammable or combustible materials, from leaks of flammable gas and from hot work equipment. To reduce your risk of injury, abide by these safety recommendations:

  • Perform hot work in a safe location, or in places where fire hazards have been removed or covered.
  • Use guards to confine the heat, sparks and slag, and to protect the immovable fire hazards.
  • Do not perform hot work where flammable vapors or combustible materials exist. Work and equipment should be relocated outside of the hazardous area, if possible.
  • Make sure that suitable fire-extinguishing equipment is immediately available. This equipment may be pails of water, buckets of sand, a hose or portable fire extinguishers.
  • Have additional workers standing on hand to guard against fire while hot work is being performed. This includes locations where anything greater than a minor fire may develop, or if any of the following conditions exist:
  1. Appreciable combustible material is closer than 35 feet to the point of the operation
  2. Appreciable combustibles are more than 35 feet away but are easily ignited by the sparks
  3. Wall or floor openings within a 35-foot radius expose combustible material in adjacent areas, including concealed spaces in walls or floors
  4. Combustible materials are adjacent to the opposite side of metal partitions, walls, ceilings or roofs, and are likely to be ignited by conduction or radiation
  • Monitor the atmosphere with a gas detector. If a flammable or combustible gas exceeds 10 percent of the lower explosive level, the work must be stopped
  • Fire watchers should abide by the following:
  1. Have fire-extinguishing equipment readily available and be trained on how to use it.
  2. Be familiar with the ways in which to sound an alarm in the event of a fire.
  3. Maintain a fire watch for at least half an hour after the completion of welding or cutting operations to detect and put out possible smoldering fires.
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Pollution Liability Insurance – Managing Your Changing Exposures

Pollution and environmental conditions are growing exposures for many businesses, exposures that are not covered under standard insurance policies. A steadily increasing focus on the environment paired with an expanding list of known pollution sources have led to many recent costly law suits that companies never saw coming. Due to the unknown nature of many environmental conditions, a pollution claim can arise at any time, for nearly any type of company, and the cost could prove devastating.

Luckily, pollution insurance is available as a separate policy to protect companies from the risk of environmental conditions and cover the many potential costs of those exposures.

History of pollution insurance

Environmental insurance products date back to the mid- to late-1980s, and have evolved since then to keep pace with changing trends, new exposures and greater coverage needs. The first policies, known as pollution legal liability insurance, covered third-party bodily injury, property damage and cleanup cost claims that resulted from the offsite release of environmental contaminants from the insured’s property. These policies, though better than nothing, had obvious shortcomings: they didn’t cover any claims resulting in onsite contamination and they didn’t cover any first-party cleanup costs.

The early 1990s brought expansions to pollution policies, as they began to cover claims for onsite contaminant releases and claims for first-party cleanup costs due to a newly discovered environmental condition. Most carriers did limit this first-party coverage to cleanup costs that the site owner was legally obligated to pay, such as to stay in compliance with local, state or federal standards.

In addition, newer pollution policies cover site owners for the entire lifespan of a property – from “cradle to grave” (as long as the owner has coverage throughout this entire period). This lifespan begins when the property is acquired, lasts throughout its useful purpose and ends when the property is abandoned or sold – because the property owner could be liable for environmental exposures during any phase of the property’s lifespan.

Many of the recent pollution policies also include previously known exposures, such as asbestos, lead-based paint, or specific contaminant levels that were previously below legal standards. Such known exposures used to be widely excluded.

Pollution policies today

Currently, there are several types of pollution coverage available, and most policies are customizable to fit a company’s unique risks and exposures. They often offer ancillary coverage options too, such as contamination during the transportation of goods.

The pollution insurance sector will likely continue to evolve and expand as environmental trends and expectations change.

Who is covered?

Traditional pollution policies covered only the site owner, but today, many parties could be liable for environmental conditions. During the sale of a property, both the seller and purchaser could have potential liability. They could address this shared liability somehow in their contractual arrangements, but both could protect themselves with a type of pollution coverage.

Lenders whose loans are backed up by actual real estate also face a potential liability if they foreclose on a property and then an environmental condition is discovered. Not only will this make the value of the property plummet, but the lender would then be responsible for the costs of the pollution. Lender liability coverage was created to protect lenders from this unique environmental risk.

The tenant of a property, whether the owner or renter, also faces liability for pollution claims, particularly if their business operations or personnel caused the pollution.

Why purchase pollution insurance?

The risk of pollution may seem like somewhat of an obscure one, but it is one that could arise at any time. New forms of pollution and contamination are frequently being discovered, often with the result of a large (and generally successful) lawsuit due to third-party bodily injury or property damage.

In addition, due to the widely variable and uncertain nature of environmental and pollution factors, this risk is an economically uncertain liability – but one that could be financially disastrous. Costs could exceed even the value of the property itself. Many risk managers feel more comfortable paying a fixed amount in premium than gambling with potentially catastrophic costs in the future.

Potential costs are so high because there are many aspects to pollution exposures. For instance, a third-party claim could include bodily injury, property damage and/or hefty cleanup costs, both for contaminants that traveled offsite or were released onsite. Plus, the company would be responsible for the court costs associated with defending itself. A first-party situation arises when a company experiences a spill or contamination situation that that requires cleanup, often due to a violation of local, state or federal environmental standards. In both of these instances, business interruption is also a consideration, as any cleanup could be quite time-consuming as well. Pollution insurance can cover all of those exposures.

In addition, pollution insurance can help a property transaction go quicker. If an environmental condition exists prior to or during the sale of a property, the process can be dragged out while the condition is cleaned up. Even if no known condition exists, environmental tests and investigations to find potential pollution sources can be lengthy. A pollution insurance policy can help the sale move because the buyer knows an existing environmental condition would be taken care of, without needing to hold off the sale until that point.

Pollution policies tend to be flexible, making it easier for businesses to tailor their coverage to fit their company’s particular exposures. The experts at NewFirst Insurors can help you find the right policy for your company.

What qualifies as a pollution source?

There are countless possible pollutants, environmental conditions and contaminants in any building or property, and more could be discovered at any time. Many claims that insurance companies classify as pollution-related are ones that you may think would be covered under your commercial general liability (CGL) policy. Due to the sweeping pollution exclusion on these standard policies, you may find yourself surprised when a claim is classified as pollution and not covered.

The following are just a sampling of possible pollution exposures that may affect your company:

  • Chinese drywall (defective drywall containing unsafe levels of sulfur that has been released into the air)
  • Toxic mold, fungus or other bacterial contamination
  • Silt runoff from construction sites into public water sources (liability for both contractor and property owner)
  • Certain green construction techniques that can cause unforeseen pollutants
  • Nanotechnology
  • Asbestos
  • Lead-based paint
  • Any contaminants or chemicals that could be released into the air or public water supply (this list could be endless, including solvents, degreasers, paints, cleaning products, fuels, pesticides, herbicides, etc.)
  • Aboveground or underground storage tanks
  • Improper waste disposal (including medical waste)
  • Building or car exhaust/fumes
  • Malfunctioning of HVAC or ventilation equipment
  • Malfunctioning, crumbling or leaking of older buildings and pipes, causing contamination

Pollution is an unpredictable, costly exposure that your business needs to consider as part of its risk management program. While a lot of pollution-related incidents can be prevented, there is always the possibility for an unexpected spill, contamination or environmental condition to occur or surface. That is why pollution insurance is absolutely vital to protect your company. Contact NewFirst Insurors to learn more about pollution coverage today.

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The Value of Surety Bonds

The way project owners evaluate and manage risks on construction projects and make fiscally responsible decisions to ensure timely project completion are crucial to their success. Since private owners cannot afford to gamble on a contractor whose reliability is uncertain or who could end up bankrupt halfway through the job, a surety bond is a great safety net for the investment.

What is Suretyship?

Suretyship is a very specialized line of insurance that is created whenever one party guarantees performance of an obligation by another party.

What is a Surety Bond?

A surety bond is a written agreement where one party, the surety, obligates itself to a second party, the obligee, to answer for the default of a third party, the principal.

Types of Surety Bonds

 1.     Contract (or Corporate) Surety Bond

The contract (or corporate) surety bond provides financial security and construction assurance for building and construction projects by assuring the project owner (obligee) that the contractor (principal) will perform the work and compensate certain subcontractors, laborers and material suppliers, as outlined via their contract. Contract surety bonds include:

  • Bid bonds provide financial assurance that the bid has been submitted in good faith and that the contractor intends to enter into the contract at the price bid and provide the required performance and payment bonds
  • Performance bonds protect the owner from financial loss should the contractor fail to perform the contract in accordance with its terms and conditions.
  • Payment bonds guarantee that the contractor will pay certain subcontractors, laborers and material suppliers associated with the project.
  • Maintenance bonds guarantee against defective workmanship or materials for a specified period.
  • Subdivision bonds make guarantees to cities, counties or states that the principal will finance and construct certain improvements such as streets, sidewalks, curbs, gutters, sewers and drainage systems.

2.     Commercial Surety Bond

Commercial surety bonds guarantee performance by the principal of the obligation or undertaking described in the bond. Commercial surety bonds include:

  • License and permit bonds are required by state law or local regulations in order to obtain a license or permit to engage in a particular business (contractors, motor vehicle dealers, securities dealers, employment agencies, health spas, grain warehouses, liquor and sales tax).
  • Judicial and probate bonds, also referred to as fiduciary bonds, secure the performance on a fiduciaries’ duties and compliance with court orders (administrators, executors, guardians, trustees of a will, liquidators, receivers and masters). Judicial proceedings court bonds include injunction, appeal, indemnity to sheriff, mechanic’s lien, attachment, replevin and admiralty.
  • Public official bonds guarantee the performance of duty by a public official, (treasurers, tax collectors, sheriffs, judges, court clerks and notaries).
  • Federal (non-contract) bonds are required by the federal government (Medicare and Medicaid providers, customs, immigrants, excise and alcoholic beverage).
  • Miscellaneous bonds include lost securities, lease, guarantee payment of utility bills, guarantee employer contributions for union fringe benefits and workers’ compensation for self-insurers.

Who Are the Three Parties That Make Up the Surety Agreement?

  • The principal is the party that undertakes the obligation.
  • The surety company guarantees the obligation will be performed.
  • The obligee is the party who receives the benefit of the bond.

How is Suretyship Similar to Other Forms of Insurance?

  • State insurance commissioners regulate both.
  • They both provide a safety net for financial loss

How is Suretyship Different?

  • In traditional insurance, the risk is transferred to the insurance company. However, in a suretyship, the risk remains with the principal and the protection of the bond is designated for the obligee.
  • In traditional insurance, the insurance company assumes that part of the premium for the policy will be paid out in losses. Yet, in true suretyship, the premiums paid are “service fees” charged for the use of the surety company’s financial backing and guarantee.
  • In underwriting traditional insurance products, the goal is to “spread the risk,” while in a suretyship, surety professionals view their underwriting as a form of credit. Therefore, the emphasis is on the pre-qualification and selection process.

Government Regulations

Since 1893, the U. S. Government has required contractors on federal public works contracts to obtain surety bonds to guarantee that they will perform such contracts and pay certain labor and material bills. The current federal law on federal public works is known as the Miller Act. It requires performance and payment bonds for all public work contracts in excess of $100,000 and payment protection, with payment bonds the preferred method, for contracts in excess of $25,000. Almost all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and most local jurisdictions have enacted similar legislation requiring surety bonds on public works as well. These are generally referred to as “Little Miller Acts.”

While surety bonds are mandated by law on public works projects to protect taxpayer dollars, the use of surety bonds on privately-owned construction projects is at the owner’s discretion. Alternative forms of financial security, such as letters of credit and self-insurance, don’t guarantee performance or payment protection of a surety bond or assure that a contractor is competent.

With a surety bond, the risks of project completion are shifted from the owner to the surety company. For that reason, many private owners require surety bonds from their contractors to protect their company and shareholders from the enormous cost of contractor failure. Subcontractors may be required to obtain bonds to help the prime contractor manage risk, particularly if the subcontractor is completing a significant part of the job or is a specialized contractor who is difficult to replace.

How Do Contractors Obtain a Surety Bond?

Surety bonds are issued through agents and brokers who are knowledgeable about the surety and construction industries. Surety bond agents and brokers usually work for companies that specialize in surety bonds or in insurance agencies that have a sub-specialty in surety bonds.

The professional surety bond agent or broker usually maintains a business relationship with several surety companies, which enables them to match a contractor with an appropriate surety company. Also, a solid surety company and producer will help a contractor maintain and increase its capacity.

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What is ISNetworld?

More and more these days, my clients are asking for ISNetworld assistance.  Our agency has made ISNetworld support part of the risk reducing services we offer to our clients in the construction, manufacturing and oil and gas industries.  As the popularity of this service increases, I do receive questions from current and future clients about ISNetworld, including “What the heck is it?”

As the ever-evolving world of safety compliance presents new ideas every day, let me first just say…This is a great question! One I had myself not too long ago.  So here are some Frequently Asked Questions and Answers, direct from http://www.isnetworld.com.

  1. What is ISNetworld?  ISN provides an online contractor management database, ISNetworld. ISN collects health, safety, procurement, quality and regulatory information designed to meet governmental record keeping and Owner Client requirements. Through its Review and Verification Services (RAVS), ISN’s subject matter experts review and verify contractors’ self-reported information. Contractors also use ISNetworld to manage internal training and record keeping requirements. For more information, click here to watch a brief video about ISN.
  2. Are resources available to help customers?  Customers are provided with access to our Customer Service team at the following numbers below or by email at customerservice@isn.com.
    • Main Tel: 1 (214) 303-4900
    • North America: 1 (800) 976-1303
    • Australia: 1800 350 581
    • United Kingdom: 0800 028 8483
  3. Who can view my information in ISNetworld?  All subscribed Owner Clients can view your company’s information by default, while all subscribed Contractor Operators will need to request access. There are no additional fees to allow multiple Owner Clients to view your information. Click here for a comprehensive list of ISNetworld Owner Clients.
  4. What are the benefits of subscribing to ISNetworld?  Ensuring proper conformance and maintaining up-to-date information is essential.  Below are several examples of how ISNetworld can assist with your Owner Client’s reporting requirements.
    • Efficient and standardized way to meet Owner Client requirements
    • Improve internal safety and information systems
      • Written safety programs are audited by safety professionals
      • Track individual level data
        • Ability to track individual training and qualifications
      • Manage company personnel
    • Marketing and exposure to Owner Clients
  5. Is ISNetworld a secure database to store my information?  ISN has industry standard security measures in place to protect the loss, misuse and alteration of user information under our control. ISNetworld is password protected; allowing only authorized users access to the site. Unless specified by the user, Owner Client information is not shared with other Owner Clients and contractor information is not shared with other contractors. Contractors who have supplied information have the ability to restrict the access of Owner Clients to view the information. Click here to view the ISNetworld Privacy Policy.

Subscription Information

  1. How much does a subscription cost?  Contractor companies pay an annual subscription fee based on the number of employees. Employee count is based on the 3-year average number of employees.  Multi-division contractors/suppliers qualify for a hierarchy subscription. Click here for Contractor/Supplier subscription pricing.
  2. How do I become a member of ISNetworld?  Click here to provide your company information and our staff will contact you.
  3. Is there a benefit if my company has multiple subscriptions?  Yes, companies with multiple subscriptions have the option of setting up a hierarchy structure which establishes a relationship between multiple accounts within ISNetworld. A hierarchy structure consists of a primary account and subsidiary accounts.Benefits of a hierarchy subscription include:
    • Allow Owner Clients to view association between the primary and subsidiary accounts
    • Ability to replicate information from the primary account to subsidiary accounts
    • Promotes consistency in information gathering within multi-divisional organizations
    • Adjusted pricing structure for subsidiary accounts
    • Reporting injury rates/frequencies by division versus aggregate

     

Owner Client Requirements

  1. Does the questionnaire within ISNetworld satisfy the questionnaire requirements for Owner Clients using ISNetworld?  Yes, the Management System Questionnaire (MSQ) is a standardized questionnaire used by ISNetworld Owner Clients.  Once your company has completed all required portions of the MSQ, this will satisfy the questionnaire requirements for all connected Owner Clients.  Your company will complete this questionnaire once in its entirety and provide quarterly updates as required by Owner Clients.
  2. Is a hard copy of the questionnaire available?  The questionnaire is available online within your company’s account. This will ensure Owner Clients have access to the most up-to-date company information.
  3. What types of documents are submitted in ISNetworld?  The documentation may differ based on the Owner Client’s requirements.  Documents which are submitted for review in ISNetworld may include:
    • Insurance Certificates
      • Owner Clients provide their insurance requirements to ISN so their specific requirements can be configured within ISNetworld.
      • ISN reviews contractor’s certificates of insurance according to the review requirements of the Owner Client.
    • Written Safety Programs
      • ISNetworld RAVS will review your company’s written health and safety program for conformance with regulatory and/or Owner Client’s standards.
      • Your company will be required to submit copies of your company’s written health and safety program.
      • Detailed instructions will be communicated during your company’s subscription setup.
    • Owner Client Specific Documents
    • Training Documentation
    • Supplier Diversity Certificates

Your Texas Associates and NewFirst Risk Advisor can help you with the ins and outs of navigating ISNetworld and its RAVs.

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