Posts made in February, 2015

Texas Work-Related Injuries: What You Need to Know

Posted by on Feb 26, 2015 in News | 0 comments

As a business owner, I’m sure you will agree that work related injuries are every company’s worst nightmare. Why do they happen and what can you do as an employer to help eliminate them? Education. Thankfully, TDI and OSHA have provided the resources to assist employers with job-safety tips and training. The TDI-DWC is a division of TDI which collects information for the purpose of assisting employers, policy makers, and safety professionals with identifying occupational safety and health issues conducted a survey.  The latest stats available are from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) in a survey from 2011 about occupational injuries and illness.  It was confirmed in this survey that private industry employers had less work-related injuries with a rate of 78.7 percent with days away from work per 10,000 full-time employees in the same industry.  This is a decrease from the 2010 rate of 79.5 and even lower than the national rate of 105. Here is a chart from that survey comparing work related injuries and the types of injuries over a three year period: 2009 2010 2011 Away from work 60,240 56,720 57,20 Nonfatal occupational injuries & illnesses 81.2 79.5 78.7 Incidents non-fatal 8 9 9 Median days away As you can see, one important measurement was the severity of injuries and how many days away from work.  Also something to note is the stats were the same for 2010 and 2011. The TDI-DWC released numerous reports about work-place safety in November of 2012 which showed there were 96,642 non-fatal injuries and illnesses in 2011. Another report accompanied this report that encompassed illnesses, characteristics of employees and injuries. The TDI-DWC also provides safety and health consultations on OSHA regulations in addition to conducting surveys to assist employers with job safety which includes regional and on-site training, health and safety publications, training videos, and employer guidance for return to work programs. This is why it is vital to be involved in your company’s risk management programs – don’t be a statistic. It is also important to remember that your insurance company and agent are ready to help you with managing work-place related injuries and mitigating risk. Along with help from your insurance agent, TDI and OSHA, there really is no reason your company can’t increase on the job safety and reduce work-related injuries. When looking for an insurance agency to help you, keep in mind that they should be more than just an agent, they should be available to walk you through even the unforeseen risks. They should help provide you and your staff with all the tools available for mitigating work-place safety....

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Stressed Out and Distracted Drivers in School Zones – A Recipe for Disaster

Posted by on Feb 24, 2015 in News | 0 comments

Every school year, busy parents tack on more daily chores to their to-do lists. In addition to packing lunches and getting kids dressed, they also have to make sure last night’s homework was completed. For many families, the morning routine also means getting everyone in the car and on the road in time so the kids aren’t late to class and parents aren’t late for work. With all this chaos it’s no wonder the morning’s mad scramble extends to the school gates, with traffic snarling and tempers flaring as people jockey for position at drop-off area. Stressed out and distracted drivers mixing with crowds of school kids can be a recipe for disaster. School zones can be difficult to navigate for drivers, many of whom are running late, might be receiving important work emails or calls on their smart phones, and trying to have last-minute conversations with their kids before they dash off for the day. In fact, as many as one in six drivers in school zones were reported as distracted in a 2009 national study of driving behavior around middle schools. The study was conducted in 15 states by the Safe Routes to School organization, which works to increase safety and reduce traffic around schools. Cell phones and electronics were identified as the leading distractors, followed by eating, drinking and smoking. Other distractions included reaching and looking behind the driver’s seat, grooming and even reading. Drivers of larger vehicles like sports utility vehicles, pickup trucks and minivans were more distracted than car drivers, according to the study, and distracted drivers appeared more frequently in school zones without flashing lights and in school zones that had a daily traffic volume of 10,000 or more cars. Sometimes these distractions have tragic results. Since 2003, 1,353 people have died in school-transportation-related accidents – an average of 135 fatalities per year – and more school-age pedestrians have been killed during drop-off and pick-up (from 7 to 8 a.m. and from 3 to 4 p.m.) than any other times of day, according to statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Remember that your kids are learning from your driving example; don’t teach them to be a distracted driver. To ensure that everyone makes it home safely at the end of the day, drivers should concentrate on the task at hand and exercise patience and caution when getting into and out of school zones. This is especially important since there are so many pedestrians in and around schools. In 2012, 4,743 pedestrians were killed in traffic crashes in the United States, and another 76,000 pedestrians were injured, according to the NHTSA. In that year, more than one in every five children between the ages of 5 and 15 who were killed in traffic crashes were pedestrians. In order to be as safe as possible on the way to and from school, drivers should heed these tips: Be hyper-alert for children walking or bicycling to school. Slow down and always obey posted school-zone speed limits. Remember, children do not easily estimate vehicle speeds and often misjudge when it is safe to cross the street. Learn and obey the school bus laws in your state. Don’t use cell phones or mobile devices, including hands-free devices. Don’t eat, read, drink or groom in the car. Don’t tailgate or honk your horn. Don’t yell, glare or gesture to other drivers, pedestrians or cyclists. Try to be on time. Running late increases your chances of speeding and reckless...

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Daily Diet Shortcuts to Better Health

Posted by on Feb 20, 2015 in News | 0 comments

Americans are more concerned than ever before about living a healthy lifestyle. However, implementing dietary changes and adopting an exercise routine can prove to be overwhelming. A recent Gallup poll found that nine out of 10 consumers say they make it a point to try to include fruits and vegetables on their plates, but they are not necessarily succeeding. “Simple everyday swaps can make the difference in achieving a healthy lifestyle,” says registered dietitian Dawn Jackson Blatner, author of “The Flexitarian Diet.” “We live in a busy society, and no one diet fits all. Focus on small daily shortcuts that are realistic and will have a lasting impact.” Try these quick and simple swaps, which can actually make a difference in realizing your goals: Boardroom conference vs. walking meeting: Swap your sedentary internal office meeting for a “walking meeting.” Instead of meeting in a conference room for 30 minutes, make a few trips around the office building and add a burst of physical activity to your day. Online shopping vs. mall: Switch up the routine and head back to the store. While online shopping has made life more convenient, it has eliminated another opportunity to realize the health benefits of walking. Gym vs. five-minute routine: Eliminate the guilt of missing a day at the gym. Do jumping jacks or crunches during television commercials. This five-minute routine burns calories and keeps you from mindlessly munching in front of the TV. Salad dressing vs. rice vinegar: Replace heavy salad dressing with a light vinaigrette. Simply whisk together Natural Rice Vinegar, garlic salt, mustard powder, sesame oil, sesame seeds and canola oil in a measuring cup. Pour over arugula and tomato halves for a delicious salad. Butter and oil vs. avocado: Instead of making your favorite baked goods with oil or butter, use mashed avocado. The substitution of avocado in baked goods helps increase their nutritional value and serves as a great alternative to ingredients that are high in saturated fat. Avocados offer a subtle flavor and creamy texture to any recipe. Mid-morning snack vs. almonds: Control hunger by eating a few almonds instead of the mid-morning pastry. A study published in the European Journal of Nutrition found that almonds helped control appetite and resulted in reduced calorie intake by the study participants. Another simple swap is to incorporate healthier options into your afternoon snack routine and cut the fat. It’s an opportunity to start the week by adding a zesty flavor alternative into your diet. Look for recipes that are quick and easy to prepare, such as this Superfood Trailmix recipe. Superfood Trailmix Makes 2 cups Ingredients: 1 tablespoon NAKANO Natural Rice Vinegar 1 tablespoon honey 1/8 teaspoon sea salt Dash cayenne pepper (optional) 1 teaspoon coconut oil 1/2 cup raw almonds, chopped 1 tablespoon chia seeds 1 cup puffed brown rice cereal 1/4 cup pumpkin seeds 1/4 cup raisins Directions: In a small bowl, mix NAKANO Natural Rice Vinegar, honey, salt and cayenne. In a 10-inch skillet over medium-low heat, warm oil and add the vinegar mix, almonds and chia seeds. Cook for 6 minutes, stirring constantly, until all excess liquid is gone. Pour onto a parchment paper-lined baking sheet and let cool in the refrigerator for 15 minutes to set. Toss almonds with brown rice cereal, pumpkin seeds, and raisins. Nutrition (1/4 cup): 110 calories, 6g total fat, 1g saturated fat, 0g cholesterol, 60mg sodium, 12g carbs, 2g fiber, 6g sugar, 3g...

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Your Business is Not Fully Covered and Here’s The Reason Why!

Posted by on Feb 17, 2015 in News | 0 comments

Earlier this month I read an article on Huffington Post, titled, “Sweet Cakes by Melissa Violated Oregon Law By Turning Away Lesbian Couple, Officials Rule.”  The owners of this bakery declined to make a wedding cake for the lesbian couple.  The Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries ruled that the bakery owners will have to pay the lesbian couple up to $150,000 for discrimination.  Most business owners aren’t aware of this, but your General Liability policy excludes Employment Related Practices Liability.  After reading the article, the first thing that popped into my head was that this will most likely be an out of pocket expense for these business owners. You see, Employment Practices Liability is a separate policy.  While you may get some throw in coverages on your Business Owner’s Policy, it’s usually a very small limit.  For example, Hartford gives an automatic $10,000 limit.  As you can see, that’s nowhere near enough to cover the potential judgment in this specific case.  And, what about the legal expenses?  Since there is no Employment Practices Liability coverage on the General Liability policy, there would be no duty to defend the lawsuit.  Basically, this couple is potentially out the $150,000 plus all legal expenses, and legal expenses thus far are a fixed cost that will be payable to the legal team. Employment Practices Liability offers coverage for business owners against claims brought on by employees, former employees, potential employees, and third parties.  The policy defends the employer and pays damages when allegations of discrimination, wrongful termination, harassment, retaliation, and inappropriate employment conduct are brought against the business owner. In the US we have seven statutory laws regulating employment practices.  The Fair Labor Act; the Equal Pay Act; Title VII of the Civil Rights Act; Age Discrimination in Employment Act; the American With Disabilities Act; the Family and Federal Leave Act; and the Uniform Services Employment and Re-employment Rights Act are the federal laws that employers have to abide by.  In addition, each state has its own statutes regulating employment practices and discrimination against sexual orientation.   Our own city of Houston amended Ordinance No. 2014-530 to include a number of changes, especially discrimination against sexual orientation in privately owned businesses operating public accommodation establishments.  I’m sure we will continue to see more states add similar laws to protect this group from discrimination. In today’s litigious society, business owners need Employment Practices Liability more than ever.  This policy will protect them from suits brought by employees, former employees, prospective employees, or third parties.  This insurance covers the following types of acts:  discrimination, wrongful termination, harassment, retaliation, and inappropriate employment conduct.  Some of these coverage triggers are both common law and statutory law exposures.  Business owners need this insurance policy to avoid substantial financial losses resulting from costs of damages and defense...

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What Did You Say? Tackling Hearing Loss on the Job

Posted by on Feb 11, 2015 in News | 0 comments

The willingness to take action is the single most important ingredient for success. This is true in any career, in any business venture, and at any time in a person’s life. Addressing hearing loss on the job allows you to stay ahead of the game and helps you achieve success. In fact, the sooner you take action to address hearing loss, the sooner you’ll see that treating hearing loss pays dividends on the job. If you suspect that you may have hearing loss, you’re not alone. Of the nearly 40 million people in the United States with hearing loss, the majority are still in the workforce. And more than 10 percent of full-time employees have a diagnosed hearing problem, according to EPIC Hearing Healthcare’s, “Listen Hear!” survey. Another 30 percent suspect they have a problem but have not yet sought treatment. And still another study revealed that hearing loss is actually common among forty-something’s – people who are in the prime of their careers. The vast majority of people with hearing loss can benefit from hearing aids. And today’s high-tech, sleek, and virtually invisible hearing aids are better than ever. They make it easier to hear sounds and people from all directions and filter out noise. Many of today’s hearing aids sit discreetly and comfortably inside the ear canal and out of sight; and many are wireless, so they can interface easily with other high-tech devices like smartphones, conference-room speaker phones and hearing loops. Some are even waterproof, and others are rechargeable. Achieving success really does take action. And addressing hearing loss is no exception. In fact, addressing hearing loss is a great way to put your best foot forward – and it pays off. Consider these five ways that getting a hearing test and using professionally fitted hearing aids, if recommended by a hearing care professional, could pay dividends on the job for you: 1. Let the boss know you’re a go-getter. Addressing hearing loss sends the message that you want to succeed and that you’re willing to do what it takes to make that happen. It also shows self-assurance and a willingness to deal with issues head-on. 2. Improve your on-the-job communications skills. A national study by the Better Hearing Institute (BHI) found that nearly seven out of 10 participants with hearing loss reported improvements in their ability to communicate effectively in most situations because they used hearing aids. They saw improvement in their ability to hear in business meetings, while talking on the telephone, in small gatherings, in quiet conversation and at restaurants. 3. Strengthen your work relationships. Good listening skills are important to understanding the needs of clients, customers and co-workers as well as to positive workplace interactions. So why allow treatable hearing loss to pose a barrier when a hearing test and hearing aids might help? Instead, take action to hear your best. Research shows people with hearing loss saw improvements in their work relationships when they used hearing aids. 4. Amp up your confidence. Enhanced self-efficacy is an important benefit of using hearing aids. Research shows that when people with hearing loss use hearing aids, they often feel less self-critical and more in control of their lives. One BHI study found that the majority of people with mild and severe hearing loss felt better about themselves and life overall as a result of using hearing aids. 5. Unleash your earning potential. Hearing your best at work helps you do your best. Using hearing aids reduced the risk of income loss by 90-100 percent for those with milder hearing loss, and from 65-77 percent for those with severe to...

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