Happy male writing positive mail to clientTelecommuting is definitely taking off as COVID-19 disrupts our traditional ways of doing business. For companies, it solves the problem of social distancing and keeping employees from getting sick. And studies show most employees love working at home at least part of the time.

Yet allowing employees to work at home can expose your company to risks that you don’t encounter when your workforce is physically located at your company’s facilities. At Accurate Protection, we specialize in working with companies to better manage ever-evolving risks. That’s why we wanted to share with you some great ways employers can better manage the liability risks of remote workers:

Create a telecommuting policy. Setting clear work-at-home guidelines and communicating them to employees can help prevent misunderstandings. Make it clear that you have the right to rescind their work-from-home privileges at any time and for any reason. Have all employees review and acknowledge your company’s telecommuting policy.

Re-evaluate your insurance coverage. Make sure your insurance program effectively addresses the unique risks of having some of your employees working remotely. (We can help with that.)

Make sure employees are using secure wi-fi. All of your employees should be using private and secured Wi-Fi networks while working remotely. Using an unsecured network — public wi-fi — can put your company’s private information at risk. Require anyone who uses public wi-fi to use a Virtual Private Network (VPN), which keeps their web browsing secure.

Make sure employees are using devices that are secure with up-to-date firewalls and anti-virus software. This applies to laptops, tablets, and smartphones. It’s your responsibility to keep your customer and client information safe.
Use secure virtual meeting rooms. Make sure that private conversations and presentations cannot be monitored by unauthorized third parties.

Make sure you’re complying with federal wage and hour rules. To avoid violations under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), employers should require non-exempt employees working from home to record the time they work each day and stick to the hours they should be working each day. Non-exempt employees are entitled to overtime pay whether they are working at your company’s facility or at home, so it’s important that employees know they must adhere to their normal working hours and that they are prohibited from working additional hours without your approval.

Make sure you’re classifying workers correctly for workers compensation insurance. When employees switch to working from home, some workers compensation insurers may want to change classification codes. As an employer, it’s important to know that you could be potentially be held liable if an employee is hurt on the job and employees may be eligible for workers’ compensation if they are hurt while working at home.

We’re here to help your company better manage its risks. Want to learn more? Visit our website: https://accurateprotection.com/.

Creating a fleet safety plan is crucial to the protection of your employees, your company vehicles and your business. Having company vehicles is necessary for many organizations, but it’s also a risk and a 25774403_Mliability. How do you prevent something that’s important to your business – the ability to transport goods or employees – from becoming something dangerous or disruptive to your business? Developing a fleet safety plan can help protect your people and your property. Developing a working plan is key to negating risk:

  1. Know who’s driving: Businesses are responsible for knowing everyone who may be driving company vehicles. This is the first step in both being aware of risks and working to reduce them.
  2. Commitment to risk management: Once you’ve decided to create a fleet safety plan, it’s important to follow up with managers and other stakeholders to make sure it’s being implemented and executed correctly. Establish your policies and procedures in writing to ensure clear, consistent expectations.
  3. Screen and hire carefully: The safest, most reliable driving teams are those that have been hired according to clear standards and thorough screening. Adhering to a strict hiring process can ensure that your business has a long-term safety record on the road.
  4. Invest in training: You want to make sure that your drivers are always up to date with vehicle safety policies and procedures. Arming with them regular information on safe driving strategies and techniques, including defensive driving, can improve your safety record. Training shouldn’t be a one and done ordeal – managing ongoing training and ensuring that people are following it is part of a successful safety plan.
  5. Proactively managing accidents: Accidents happen, but being mindful and proactive in helping to process the incident can help you better understand your exposure and help plan for and prevent future problems or losses.
  6. Create a plan for maintenance and inspections: To reduce breakdowns and accidents due to equipment failure, establish and manage a schedule for fleet vehicle maintenance.

Handling claims or dealing with loss of property and productivity can severely impact your business. We can help you connect with resources that enable you to create the best risk management plans, as well as help ensure you’ve got the right coverage for any scenario. Get in touch with us today, and feel more comfortable about the future of your business.

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.

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!

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.

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.

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?

Protecting your business with an insurance policy is a key part of the safety of your staff and your assets. But insurance is really a backup safety method; the primary method of true protection is empowering 41402371 - businesswoman presenting to colleagues at a meetingyour employees with the information and education they need to prevent injuries, accidents and losses in the first place. Here are some of the key areas in which to focus your employee safety training.

  1. Harassment training: Harassment is a real threat to your business. Not only can any inappropriate workplace behavior reduce morale and productivity among your team members, it can also lead to potential legal liability and other business risks. Harassment training gives all employees clear guidelines about acceptable conduct
  2. Data safety training: Data privacy is a concern of every business. Training employees how to recognize and avoid malicious emails and other communications can help avoid data leaks and theft. This greatly reduces the potential for any damage done by theft or loss of critical information.
  3. Workplace safety training: Every workplace contains the possibility of physical injury — even if you don’t work in a hazardous or high-risk industry. Even if there’s no need for hardhats, it’s important to train employees to recognize job hazards. This includes awareness of cleaning chemicals, how to avoid falls, and how to keep equipment safe and secured. Human ergonomics also can be essential parts of keeping your employees safe and healthy and protecting your business from liability threats.

Establishing good training procedures is the first step in protecting your people and your business. It’s equally important to ensure that training is ongoing. Training at employee orientation as well as annual training opportunities for a knowledge refresh can keep everyone on the same page about expectations.

If you have questions about insurance or want to learn more about incident prevention, give our office a call today.

Casual business people shaking handsWhen it comes to business insurance, there’s a lot to know. Just like your business itself, there are a lot of pieces. That’s why it pays to partner with an expert insurance firm to answer your questions and make sure all your insurance coverage needs are met.

Here are some of the most common business insurance questions to help get you started on what you should know.

  • Is there a difference between hired and non-owned auto liability insurance? The short answer is yes. With certain exceptions, the term “hired autos” refers to autos the named insured leases, hires, rents, or borrows. The term does not include any auto the named insured leases, hires, rents, or borrows from any of its employees, partners, limited liability members, or members of their households. As respects the motor carrier, the exception applies to private passenger type autos only. By contrast, the term “non-owned auto” applies to vehicles owned by employees and used for company business. It applies only if such autos are private passenger vehicles.
  • What is the difference between general liability and professional liability? General liability protects against any financial loss as the result of bodily injury, property damage, medical expenses, libel, slander, defending lawsuits, and settlement bonds or judgments. For instance, this coverage would apply to someone suing your business for medical damage after walking into your store and slipping on a recently mopped floor. Professional liability is meant to protect your business against bad advice or guidance. If someone acts on your professional business opinion and it results in something harmful or negative, this insurance will protect your company from professional liability claims.
  • Why does it take longer to get a business insurance proposal than a personal insurance quote? We work hard to make sure that your proposal is delivered to you as quickly as possible, but there are a lot of considerations that have to be taken into account, including business type, location, and the number of employees. When an expert insurance broker is reviewing your information, it takes some time to compile all the relevant details and create your unique policy. This not only ensures that you get the best rate, but also that you have accurate coverage.

Still have questions? We can help. Give us a call today so we can start the process of helping you build your best policy and get the protection your business needs.

Engineers in steel factory working on digital tabletSafety training isn’t just a formality — it’s a tested means of reducing serious injuries and cutting back days-away-from-work incidents. But all too often, training is conducted half-heartedly or not at all.

Some evidence of that comes in the most recent breakdown of OSHA’s top 10 most-cited violations. The list is usually pretty static, with the repeat offenders showing up year after year, but this latest iteration saw a new addition in “fall protection — training requirements.” The safety implications of a lack of training run deep. Inadequate fall protection in and of itself has clinched the top spot for the past few years of OSHA’s most-cited list, and actual falls are the leading cause of death in the construction industry. As evidenced by the landscape of falls alone, training touches every part of the occupational safety environment and is a pillar of what we do

So how do we improve on the way we train? For starters, most workers expect to feel safe at work — about 80 percent, according to survey data. That would suggest that most are not only open to learning safety procedures but would also welcome it. Training professionals recommend putting new employees — who are more likely than seasoned employees to be injured on the job due to inexperience — through a highly comprehensive, consistent program to get them up to speed. For both new and veteran employees, on-the-job training has been shown to be an effective means for teaching updates to safety procedures as they are made. Training experts recommend managers start the process by giving employees an introductory overview of the new procedure before guiding them through a “tryout” period for the update. Once that’s done, managers should follow up afterwards to ensure the employee has the right grasp of the behavior.

In any workplace, safety training is an evolving practice. Procedures shift as we discover new ways to do old work, and the shifting ground means that managers need to have an active presence. As always, we’re here to help with all the materials you need to make safety a priority for your workforce!