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Slips, trips, and falls also known as STFs, are some of the leading causes of injury in the workplace. In the United States, nearly 50,000 people are injured and almost 600 more are killed in fall-related incidents at work. These injuries result in lost productivity, pain & suffering, lawsuits, and increase healthcare and insurance costs. To help reduce your risk of STFs on the job, follow these safety tips:
Inside the Workplace:
- Keep hallways and corridors clear of obstacles and clutter
- Never place any objects in front of emergency exits, especially furniture
- Install handrails on both sides of all stairwells
- Keep cords, wiring, and cables clear of walkways
- Perform routine inspections to identify any dangerous conditions, repair any hazards immediately, and record the details of any incidents that take place
- Place wet floor signs on wet surfaces (entryways after snowstorms, freshly mopped floors, spill areas, etc.)
- Remove debris and objects such as loose papers, books, boxes, etc. from floors, walkways, and stairs
- Use non-skid rubber mats to keep rugs from slipping
- Do not place furniture within walking routes
- Use child safety gates at the tops and bottoms of staircases to prevent children from falling down the stairs
- Only use ladders on a solid, dry, and even surface
- Always face the ladder when climbing up or down
- Maintain three points of contact at all times (e.g.: Two feet, one hand/one foot, two hands)
- Never lean or over reach over the sides of the ladder – reposition the ladder if necessary
- Use tool belts – do not climb with tools in hand
- Do not use ladders outside in windy or rainy conditions
- Do not use chairs, tables, cabinets, etc. as ladders
- Keep in mind the weight limit and use duty for each ladder
- Repair cracked or split walking surfaces immediately
- Make sure parking lots, walkways, and doorways are adequately lit
- Point downspouts away from walking surfaces
- Keep walkways/driveways/parking lots clear of snow and ice
- Clearly mark steps, gaps, ledges, and other hazards
- Ensure all steps have handrails, and all ledges have railings
Taking these steps can help reduce or prevent slips, trips, and falls from occurring at your workplace and reduce the chances of injuries and costly lawsuits.
“Slips, Trips and Falls.” National Safety Council. National Safety Council, 2016. Web. 27 Feb. 2017. http://www.nsc.org/NSCDocuments_Advocacy/Fact%20Sheets/Slips-Trips-and-Falls.pdf.
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Ride sharing programs (Transportation Network Companies) such as Uber and Lyft have transformed how people get in and around cities. The idea is pretty simple. Using a smartphone app, riders can easily connect to a TNC driver to provide an alternative to traditional taxis and black cars that is convenient, competitively priced, and powered by private car owners. Chances are, you’ve probably either used or at least heard of these services.
It all sounds easy enough, but the concept is not without issues and controversy. One of the biggest issues is how traditional personal auto policies do, or more importantly, do not provide insurance protection when they are being used in a ride sharing program.
In Massachusetts and New Jersey, Personal Auto policies generally exclude coverage for accidents arising out of driving passengers for a fare, known as livery. TNCs do offer insurance plans for drivers when there is a fare in the car. When there is no passenger in the car, but the driver is waiting for a fare, there is a potential significant gap in coverage.
In addition, if an insurance company finds out you are driving your car for a TNC, they may cancel your Personal Auto coverage because of this expanded use. If you plan on driving for a ride sharing (TNC) service, you should talk to your independent agent and learn what you need to do in order to be properly insured and protected
You can read about the full insurance and non-insurance requirements for TNC vehicles and drivers on the Massachusetts Legislature’s website.
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Every winter, many people are injured when they slip and fall on icy sidewalks, driveways, and parking lots. These injuries can range from minor bumps and bruises to broken bones and head injuries. Whether you’re a property owner/manager or just going for a walk outside, there are some things you can do to help prevent injury to yourself or others when the pavement gets slippery.
For Property Owners/Managers
- If you don’t have access to a snowblower or a plow, shoveling walking surfaces early and often during heavy storms will make the job easier and less stressful on your body. While shoveling, drink plenty of water and take breaks.
- Make sure entrances and vestibules are kept dry or wet floor signs are present when water and slush are tracked into a building.
- Check your local municipal government’s website to see if there are laws or ordinances regarding snow removal deadlines to avoid fines or citations.
- Be mindful of the type of salt/de-icer you use on your driveway/walkway and apply only the recommended amounts as indicated by the manufacturer. Certain kinds are harmful to plants, animals, water supplies, and may even damage the surface itself.
- Grit, such as sand, kitty litter, and gravel can help provide extra traction on stairs and sidewalks, especially when combined with salt or de-icer.
- Lock all gates, doors, and fences leading to restricted or unused outdoor areas (such as bar or restaurant patios) to prevent trespassers and unauthorized visitors from slipping on untreated surfaces.
- Risk Transfer – if you’re using a contractor to clear snow and ice from walkways, driveways and parking lots, make sure you have a signed contract with contractor assuming responsibility for this exposure and you are named as an Additional Insured on the contractor’s GL policy covering this operation.
- Move slowly and try to keep your steps flat to the surface to avoid slipping on icy or wet areas.
- Wear shoes or boots with plenty of traction. If the soles of your footwear are smooth or worn, they are more prone to losing grip on slippery surfaces.
- Black ice may form when the temperature drops suddenly after a storm. Be especially careful walking outside after the weather has been cold and wet.
- Watch out for traffic. Icy conditions for pedestrians mean icy roads for motorists who may lose control of their vehicles if they’re not careful.
Icy and untreated sidewalks are dangerous and can leave your home or business vulnerable to a injury claim or lawsuit. Following these tips can help mitigate your risk of being liable if someone slips and falls.
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It is easy to understand how an unoccupied office, building, or apartment could seem harmless from the perspective of the insured. Many business owners operate remotely and maintain vacant property in other locations. Vacant properties however, can present a surprising number of challenges if not properly monitored.
Property is considered vacant if less than 31% is occupied. Because of the lack of owner or tenant presence, vacant properties are more likely to experience damage and are prone to criminal activity.
Property that has been vacant for 60 consecutive days before the loss may not be covered by an insurance claim if the following events occur:
- Sprinkler leakage (resulting from unprotected pipes)
- Glass breakage
- Water damage
- Theft or attempted theft
In addition, other covered causes of loss are reduced by 15% for vacant but insured property.
Consider taking steps to ensure that your vacant commercial property is secured and protected from loss that may occur in an owner’s absence. There are ways that both tenants and property owners can reduce the risk associated with unoccupied building space for extended periods of time. Properly setting the thermostat, or using a remote climate controlled system, and turning off the water supply when not in use prevents leaks, cracks, and water damage. Ensuring that ice dams are prevented and gutters cleaned out also helps reduce possible damage. Installing an alarm system and providing lighting around the perimeter discourages burglary, theft, and glass breakage.
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Many businesses underestimate the potential risk involved with not having employment practices liability insurance (EPLI). Having a code of conduct and expertise in human resources helps mitigate most forms of unlawful employment practices, but incidents can and do still happen. Every business is exposed to employment practices liability, an area of professional liability that includes:
- Breach of Contract
- Sexual Harassment
- Invasion of Privacy
- Wage/Hour Law Violations
- Intentional Emotional Distress
- Wrongful Termination
- False Imprisonment
The laws regarding these illegal practices are interpreted and enforced by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), which recognizes eleven types of employment practices discrimination: age, disability, equal pay/compensation, genetic information, national origin, pregnancy, race/color, religion, retaliation, sex, and sexual harassment.
Employment practices don’t deal with just full-time employees either. Volunteers, part-time workers, contractors, customers, and vendors can all file charges against an employer for an alleged violation of these laws. With these types of charges on the rise, it is important for business owners to fully understand the laws surrounding employment practices as well as the tools needed to best protect them from potential lawsuits. For more information about employment practices liability, visit our Employer Protection resource page.
“Laws Enforced by EEOC.” U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. USA.gov, n.d. Web. 16 May 2017.
“Discrimination by Type.” U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. USA.gov, n.d. Web. 16 May 2017.