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  • Access over one thousand documents designed to help you with:

    • Cost containment
    • Safety programs
    • OSHA compliance
    • Claims reporting
    • Employee communication
    • Legislative updates and more

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Combating the spread of coronavirus at the office

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MERS virus, Meadle-East Respiratory Syndrome coronovirusTo help combat the spread of COVID-19, many offices are allowing employees to work from home. But few companies can shut down completely and must have at least some workers coming to the office each day. Here are some recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to help keep COVID-19 from spreading in your workplace, even with reduced staffing levels:

Encourage good hygiene. Send hand washing reminders by e-mail and encourage all employees to wash their hands immediately after reporting to work. Post hand-washing reminders in the bathroom. Make hand sanitizer freely available wherever employees are. Remind employees to avoid touching their faces and cover coughs and sneezes.

Stop hand shaking. Use other non-contact methods of greeting. Try to keep employees who are in the office separated as much as possible.

Step up cleaning efforts. Surfaces like doorknobs, tables, desks, and handrails should be disinfected more frequently.

Use videoconferencing for meetings when possible. When not possible, hold meetings in open, well-ventilated spaces. Consider postponing large meetings or gatherings.

Encourage sick workers to stay home. Studies show that many employees nationwide come to work even if they have a cold or flu. In some offices, it’s a badge of honor to come to work even if you aren’t feeling well. Make sure employees know that if they aren’t feeling well, have been tested for COVID-19 or have a member of their household with COVID-19, they should stay home. The coronavirus can incubate from anywhere between 2-14 days. In the early stages, it doesn’t always present symptoms and some people who have it do not have significant symptoms.

Assist employees who are at higher risk. Some employees, such as older adults and those with chronic medical conditions, may be at higher risk for serious illness. Employers may want to consider minimizing face-to-face contact between these employees and other employees or customers and/or assigning work tasks that allow them to maintain a distance of six feet from other colleagues and customers.

Don’t forget about mental health. The coronavirus pandemic is having wide-reaching effects on almost every aspect of American life. Understandably, many people report feeling anxious, afraid and unsure about what’s next. You can’t predict the future, but you can encourage your employees to care for their mental health — whether they are at home or at the office.

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Four steps to preventing a fire at your business

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40261398 - fire extinguisherEach year, tens of thousands of small businesses cope with damage from fires. Sadly, a number of these companies never re-open. That’s why taking steps to reduce the risk of fire at your business is such a smart thing to do. But it also can save you money.

Fire risk is one of a number of factors that plays a role in how much you’ll pay to insure your enterprise. And fire-prevention efforts can pay off in lower insurance premiums. The good news? Reducing your company’s risk of fire isn’t as time-consuming or expensive as you may think. Here are some of the best steps a business can take:

Install and maintain fire safety equipment. Many small business owners and managers are too busy to think much about fire prevention. At a minimum, you’ll want smoke alarms with batteries that are changed twice yearly. You’ll also want fire extinguishers on hand. (Make sure you and your employees know how to use them.) Your insurance agent can help you determine whether additional fire-prevention measures, such as sprinklers, are needed or if optional upgrades that can earn you a discount on your policy are worth the upfront investment.

Store chemicals carefully. Make sure you’re storing all chemicals, including the flammable variety, carefully. Did you know that gas cans can explode in certain situations?

De-clutter. Dispose of boxes and trash promptly. A pile of boxes can provide the fuel for a fast-moving fire. Remove clutter from hallways and exits.

Have an electrician review your wiring. If you have purchased or are leasing an older building, it may be wise to have an electrician inspect it for any faulty wiring or other potential fire hazards.

While having fire drills may be the last thing on your mind, they can help increase the likelihood that everyone makes it outside your building safely in the event of a fire. Do your employees know what they should do if there’s a fire? Which exit should they use? Periodic reminders can help make sure everyone knows what to do — and that they get out safely — in the event of a fire.

Ask questions. We can help identify a number of risks your business can face each day and make sure you’re adequately insured. Have any questions? We would be glad to answer them!

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Give workplace stress the pink slip

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CEO owner leader company staff member portrait, possibly finance, accountant, managerIt’s estimated that on-the-job stress costs U.S. companies more than $300 billion annually in increased absenteeism, reduced productivity, increased health care costs and employee turnover. Stress, however, is a very individualized phenomenon — what causes stress in one person may not cause stress in another. The good news is that research has identified a number of stressors that often affect large groups of employees — and the ways employers can help address them.

Surveys show that probably the biggest source of stress for workers is balancing work and family demands. That’s why telecommuting and flextime are sought-after options for a growing number of workers nationwide. Studies show allowing workers the option of working just one day of each week at home can dramatically reduce their stress levels. Telecommuting isn’t the only answer, however. Ask your employees how you can help them meet the demands of work and family life. A bit of flexibility in how they get their job done can make all the difference.

Some other ways to reduce stress at the office:

Let the sick stay home. At many companies, it’s a badge of honor to go into work sick. Leaders often set the example by doing it themselves. Create a culture where people do not feel guilty staying home when they are ill. Even more important, encourage your employees to take all of their vacation days each year. One study showed that 52 percent of American workers did not use all of their allotted vacation time last year.

Create an after-hours work policy. Another big stressor? After-hours e-mails. Studies show that many employees feel like they have to answer e-mails and solve client problems after-hours. Simply put, it is stressing workers out. France even passed a law addressing the issue.

Be a good communicator. When was the last time you simply talked with your employees about the changes happening in your company? Sometimes not knowing what is happening or why changes are being made can affect stress levels. It doesn’t mean your employees need to know the sensitive information; but basic information can calm their nerves.

Offer food. Do you order in food for your employees occasionally? How about breakfast during a morning meeting and offering some bagels, fruit, yogurt and coffee? Need to have a training meeting? How about incorporating it over the lunch hour and have lunch catered? It’s a proven way to raise morale at the office.

Have a sense of humor. Humor can be a powerful tool for relieving stress. Share a laugh with your employees. It’s a great way to help diffuse a stressful situation.

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On-the-job safety affected by personal health

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close up of builder holding hardhat at buildingIt’s no secret that the different parts of our lives are all connected. Even if you don’t bring your work home with you in a briefcase, the spillover between the professional and personal is unavoidable. With that being the case, the way we look at workplace safety should also be part of a bigger picture of general wellness. Some common health issues we might consider include:

Insufficient Sleep. No matter how much coffee has been brewed, insufficient sleep will take a toll on anyone. That’s not good, because studies have indicated that only about 60% of the country’s sleepers are getting the seven hours of nightly shut-eye recommended by physicians. If you apply that to a 10-person workplace, that means almost half the employees are probably displaying symptoms like reduced cognitive function and a higher chance of becoming distracted while taking more risks.

Overweight or obese. Among other health issues, obesity has been linked to muscular and joint problems, a higher risk of cardiac illness and reduced mobility. The musculoskeletal effects of obesity are some of the most relevant when it comes to on-the-job injuries. The increased strain placed on an overweight person’s muscles and bones opens up the chance of sustaining a strain or sprain while performing work-related tasks. What’s more, chronic obesity has been linked to both decreased productivity at work as well as higher average healthcare costs — both things clearly pertaining to an individual’s professional life.

Drug and alcohol addiction. Dealing with addiction can be incredibly difficult. It’s also highly necessary. Beyond personal effects, addicted individuals are up to three times more likely to get hurt in the workplace. Addiction also causes about $263 billion in lost productivity in the U.S. on an annual basis. In Delaware, only about 10 percent of people with an addiction receive treatment.

A manager only has so much sway with employees, but considering the larger context of workplace safety is an important part of risk management. Employers can do this by making staff aware of the resources available — either through company benefits or in the wider community — and keeping an eye on some of the factors employees might bring to work.

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Four qualities to consider when hiring a new employee

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66985064 - two professional business people shaking handsDo you need to hire a new employee? The process of advertising a job, screening applicants, scheduling interviews and making the final selection of a new employee creates a level of risk. As a small business owner, you have many legal responsibilities under federal employment anti-discrimination laws.

That’s why we have assembled a detailed, multi-part education program for our clients called “Work Smart,” that’s filled with documented smart business practices in every area, including hiring. Companies can use this information to build more risk-proof activities and procedures, avoiding potential business risks such as asking prohibited questions during the application process.

When hiring, there’s also the risk, of course, that you will select an employee that isn’t a good fit for your business. That’s why we wanted to share with you four qualities that studies show can help you make a successful hire, whatever your industry:

Initiative. Does the job applicant have a history of volunteering for whatever work needs to be done, not just the jobs that are the easiest or that will earn kudos? This is a good measure of the applicant’s initiative.

Adaptability. Do they view failures as opportunities to grow and succeed or are they afraid to take risks? Do they manage change or do they seem to avoid it? Are they annoyed by day-to-day hassles or do they approach them with a cheerful attitude? No one wants to work with someone who can’t adapt to changing conditions or has a dour attitude.

Empathy. People who regularly seek out opportunities to help other people can be valuable additions to most any team.

A positive attitude. Positive people view challenges as opportunities to learn, adapt, and succeed. Positive attitudes can be contagious among co-workers. As managers, people with great attitudes often are more apt to demonstrate to their workers that they have faith in their abilities to handle challenges and make important decisions. Who wouldn’t want to work with that type of person?

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