The winter months are the most dangerous for people who work outdoors. Often workers succumb to cold weather illness when working outside. However, employees in other industries also have ongoing cold exposure as well.
These workers include:
- Delivery People
- Postal Workers
- Maritime employees
- Food Processing Workers
- Cold storage industry
- Supermarket worker
- Tow truck operators
Cold is punishing to people and exposure to cold has many negative effects that include dehydration, frostbite, numbness, shivering, hypothermia and immersion foot disease.
What Ongoing Cold Exposure Does
Continued cold exposure first affects the limbs, toes and fingers and then progresses deeper into the body tissues and the core of the body. If the core temperature of the body dips below 95 degrees F, the worker has hypothermia. Hypothermia is a dangerous illness and along with frostbite is one of the two most dangerous dangers of working in a cold environment – inside or out.
When a person’s skin is has a severe reaction to cold, frostbite can occur. Frostbite freezes the skin and makes crystals of the body fluids including blood. The chilling effect of frostbite is permanent damage to hands and feet, ears, and the nose. When frostbite is severe, the worker may have to undergo an amputation.
Other Dangerous Illnesses
Frostbite and Hypothermia are the two most common cold environment illnesses workers get from cold exposure. Other significant cold weather injuries include:
- Cold Immersion
- Trench Foot
Prevention of Cold Weather Injuries
Keeping feet warm and dry is the best prevention measure against trench foot and frostbite of the foot. Boots that have insulation and are waterproof is one type of the many personal protection equipment available for cold weather injury prevention. Other measures include long johns that have insulation, cold weather outer coats, space heaters where possible and other appropriate cold climate measures.
Preventing cold weather injuries is better than treating them and having your construction company’s worker compensation rates rise. Make sure that you take all reasonable measures to prevent these types of injury. For more protective measures, see our Cold Weather Checklist, and also check out this article by Juan Rodriguez – good stuff.
Thanksgiving is just around the corner, and that means kitchens all around America are ready to see some serious action. According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), Thanksgiving is the leading day for home fires involving cooking equipment, with 3 times the average number.
Here are some Thanksgiving safety tips to help you stay safe while you whip up all that delicious goodness next week…
- Watch it like a hawk – errr… turkey. Don’t leave your stovetop unattended. Keep an eye on those burners!
- Keep the kids occupied. Your stove is going to be hot, and kids should stay at least 3 feet away. Plan to have some cool activities ready for them to help keep them out of the kitchen while you cook.
- Check the floor. Try to keep your floor clear of anything that might get tripped over in the chaos of getting everything ready. There’s nothing worse than dropping that dish of Grandma’s mashed potatoes just before it’s time to eat!
- Wind it up. We use all kinds of appliances on Thanksgiving – electric knife, coffee maker, mixer, etc. Don’t let those cords dangle off the counter in easy reach of a child.
- Arm the Alarms. Check your smoke detectors in advance of the craziness to be sure they have fresh batteries and are functioning properly.
Small and medium-sized businesses often have employees that are “stars.” Sometimes the star is the CEO or president, other times there is a salesperson who consistently outsells every other sales team member by a two to one margin. Maybe you’re a software company that has a star coder whose ideas led to your product being a number one editor’s choice. The point is that most companies have an employee or two that helps their business thrive. What happens to your business in the short-term if a star employee, referred to by the insurance industry as a “key man,” dies?
According to a study conducted by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC), only 22% of small businesses carry this type of coverage.
As an independent contractor, you carry insurance to protect yourself against financial liability from your work. Many jobs require contractors to show that they have a pollution liability policy, which will pay for bodily injury and property damage claims, as well as the expenses of cleaning up toxic waste materials –costs that a standard general liability policy does not cover, and could run into millions.
Sometimes you hear a story and it just touches your heart. That’s what happened when I learned that Jennifer Mimms had a tumor growing in her spine, which turned out to be lymphoma. And she has three young children. I mean… can you imagine?
Actually, I can. Five years ago (to this week) doctors found a tumor encased in my husband’s spinal column – just like Jennifer. The diagnosis was lymphoma – just like Jennifer. We had (have) three children – just like Jennifer.
I remember feeling overwhelmed, first by the circumstances, and then by the way our friends and family — our community — surrounded us with love and prayer, and financial support at a time when our family desperately needed it. We could not have gotten through that difficult ordeal without all of you.
When I learned what my son-in-love’s sister Jennifer was dealing with, I wanted to make sure she and her family received the same kind of support we did. And so the Mason & Mason “No Shave November (for Jennifer)” event was born. The rules are very simple, and there are so many ways you can help.
1. Join the “No Shave November (for Jennifer Mimms)” Community on Facebook.
2. Donate $10 (or more) to support Jennifer Mimms and her family (mail to PO Box 750, North Conway, NH 03845 – Attention: Heather Clement)
2. DO NOT SHAVE.
3. Invite your friends to get in on the action by telling them about the event and sending them the links.
4. Post your pics in the community facebook page.
Jennifer Mimms is a young mom of three awesome kids who are her entire life, along with her long time partner, Evan. Not too long ago Jenn started having some symptoms that made her visit her doctor. Shortly after her visit she received the shocking news that she had a tumor on her spine. After the removal of the tumor and more testing, she learned that she does in fact have cancer, a form of Lymphoma. Jenn still has a lot more tests ahead of her to figure out exactly what is wrong and where the cancer is coming from. As if life isn’t tough enough trying to raise three children in the world today, add in a medical problem this serious and it could be enough to sink a young family. Your generous donations willgo towards the basic needs of the family, such as bills, groceries and gas to get to and from treatments. Jenn is currently in the hospital for chemo treatments, five days per week.
Chances are that you’re using chlorinated polyvinyl chloride (CPVC) – a thermoplastic material – in pipes and related products, because it’s less expensive and easier to install than copper or iron piping. Failure of CPVC components can lead to extensive water damage, and repairs can be costly and complex because these pipes and fittings are located above ceilings, behind walls, and below floors.
In case of a piping mishap, here’s what to do:
Identify the material. CPVC pipes and fittings are usually yellow, cream, orange, or gray. Don’t confuse them with components made of its distant cousin polyvinyl chloride (PVC), which has different chemical properties, physical characteristics, and functions. In general, it’s not advisable to combine CPVC components with those made of PVC.
Preserve the failed part for forensic analysis. This involves a complex chemical/materials evaluation that requires unique skills and specialized examination methods, using such advanced techniques as gas chromatography-mass spectrometry, and fourier transform infrared spectroscopy. To avoid contamination during analysis: 1) don’t tape labels on the damaged part; 2) handle it as little as possible; and 3) if you can’t leave the part in its installed position, wrap it in aluminum foil before placing it in a plastic bag (the materials in these bags can leach out).
Never break open cracked pipes and fittings to see what’s inside. Leave this to a forensic scientist under controlled conditions.
Because CPVC failures can have a variety of causes from raw material flaws and manufacturing defects to improper installation and maintenance, determining which party is responsible can be difficult. However, using proper procedures for installing and maintaining these components can go far to reduce this risk.
A word to the wise… 😉 For more construction risk management tips, feel free to browse around our website or give us a call. You can trust the construction insurance specialists at Mason & Mason!
If your business use several types of vehicles, it’s important that you classify them properly for insurance coverage purposes. Either of two policies might apply, depending on vehicle classification and whether the policy defines the vehicle as “mobile equipment” or as an “auto.”
As you might expect, Commercial Auto insurance covers your autos, while your General Liability Package policy covers mobile equipment.
It’s clear that bulldozers and pickups are autos. However, when it comes to mobile cranes and other types of self-propelled equipment, the waters get a bit muddier – and if you attach a crane or drilling rig to a pickup or flatbed truck permanently things can get even trickier.
Why should you care? Two words: coverage and cost. Depending on the policy under which the vehicle falls, coverage might vary in both specifics and the amount available to pay claims. Because the two types of policies rate coverage differently, the premium will change. There’s one mistake you definitely want to avoid. In the confusion, make sure you don’t wind up paying for a single vehicle under both policies!
However, there’s a silver lining in this potential dark cloud. The specialists at our agency can review your list of vehicles and check the vehicle classification, assigning each its proper policy, without charging you twice. It’s our job to get things right. If you’re unsure whether your current coverage is treating your trucks as cranes, or the other way around, just give us a call. We’re here to serve you.
The first step in reducing this risk is to ensure that every hire is “clean”, and made purely on the basis of job requirements. The Americans with Disabilities Act has very strict ruleas about what employers can and cannot ask during the hiring process.
To help the cause, industrial relationship experts recommend these guidelines:
- Avoid discriminatory language when advertising job opportunities. For instance, an advertisement stating “young” or “recent grad” might discriminate against older job applicants, while “’salesman” implies discrimination based on gender.
- Have a specific job description that gives the essential functions and abilities of the job.
- Use a standardized interview form that asks all applicants the same questions – which must be related to the job.
- Don’t ask applicants questions that might identify their membership in a protected class such as age, religion, or national origin, unless it’s essential to the job (For example, a parochial school can ask about the religion of a potential teacher, but not a maintenance worker).
- Never ask whether an applicant is married, pregnant, has children, or is planning to do so.
- Ask only questions related to the applicant’s ability to perform specific job functions, not personal items such as past history as such as drug addiction.
- If an applicant is otherwise fit for a position, don’t refuse to hire him or her based on presumed susceptibility to injury. You can, however, set bona fide physical criteria required by a job, such as the ability to lift a certain weight.
Although these “ounce of prevention” tips can help curb hiring-related discrimination claims, your business also may need a comprehensive Employment Practices Liability Insurance (EPLI) policy to protect against employee lawsuits.
For more information, just give us a call. We’re in the business of protecting you.
At Mason & Mason, we’re all about protection for our contractors. Most construction projects include the use of scaffolding, which can leave your workers vulnerable to injury. To help you prevent falls on site, industry experts recommend that managers follow these proactive guidelines:
- Slow down or consider efficiency building alternatives. Although the pace of construction work is important, it can easily lead to careless and costly mistakes, including gaps in safety on the jobsite. “You don’t have to sacrifice speed for safety, as long as you’re working at the highest level of efficiency, and being safe plays its own role in this process,” says Mike Mumau, president of Kee Safety – North America.
- Keep your workplace organized. Careful placement of tools can reduce the risk that they’ll injure workers by falling from scaffolding – and make it safer to move around on the scaffolding.
- Identify potential hazards and find solutions in advance. For example, if you’re working near power lines, keep scaffolding far enough away to prevent electrocution risks. If scaffolding needs to be moved during the project, have a plan before each move.
- Provide training. Make sure your workers are trained and up to date on OSHA requirements. “Training in the setup and construction of scaffolding can ensure a solid work space for overhead workers and guarantee a rig that will not inadvertently collapse from instability,” warns Mumau.
- Keep reviewing the site throughout the project. Be sure to identify any new hazards that might arise during construction. During the course of the job, workers tend to become increasingly more comfortable with “routine” activities – which might easily lead some of them to neglect safety precautions inadvertently (or blatantly).
Our construction safety specialists stand ready at any time to offer a complimentary review of your job site safety programs. Remember… the safer your workers, the healthier your bottom line – and the less you’ll pay for insurance.