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4 Steps to Protect Your Business From Fires

Fires can cause widespread devastation and are one of the biggest threats to any business. According to the National Fire Protection Association, there are over 130,000 non-residential fires every year that cause over $3 billion in property damage.

The best way to protect your business from a fire is to analyze your risk exposures and train your workforce on how to act. Even if you believe that your business is prepared for a fire, it’s important to review your fire prevention plan in order to make sure it’s up to date.

Here are four steps you should take to protect your business from fires:

1. Create an emergency evacuation plan. Your employees and customers should know how to leave your business at any time by locating a clearly marked, unobstructed emergency exit. You should also conduct an evacuation drill at least once every year to ensure that your employees know how to act.

2. Follow all of your fire code requirements.
Depending on your business’s size, industry and location, the fire code will require your business to take certain steps to prevent fires.

3. Install and maintain fire suppression systems. Make sure that your workplace is outfitted with automatic fire sprinklers and portable fire extinguishers. You should also make sure that fire extinguishers aren’t used after they have expired and that your workforce is trained to operate them.

4. Get in touch with local first responders. Establishing a relationship with your local fire department and providing them with your building’s floor plan will help ensure the fastest possible response time.

For more information on protecting your business from fires, contact us at (916) 380-5300 today.

Filed under: Property & Casualty,Recent Headlines,Safety — Jillian Bender-Cormier @ 11:17 pm January 17, 2018

Weed at Work: Legalization of Recreational Marijuana and Possible Effects on Workplace Policies

By Jackie Sudia, AIC, ARM, CRIS
Warren G. Bender Co.
January 17, 2018

On January 1, California joined several other states in legalizing recreational marijuana, also known as cannabis. As with prescription medication, alcohol, or any other substance that affects a person’s cognitive behavior, there are certain actions a person cannot legally do or safely perform under the influence of cannabis (e.g. driving). The ingredient in cannabis products believed to produce a psychoactive effect is Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). While the psychoactive compound THC is relatively short-lived in the system, the inactive compound produced from metabolizing THC (carboxy THC or THC COOH) remains present in a person’s system for weeks. In a Standard 5 Panel Drug Test, the presence THC metabolites reveal whether the tested person has used cannabis within the prior three to six weeks. This means that, unlike testing blood alcohol levels, testing for the presence of THC metabolites cannot accurately determine if someone is under the influence. A ‘positive’ result for THC metabolites only shows that an individual has used cannabis within the last month or so, not when it was used, or how much.

As an employer, you may be asking how your company might continue to enforce a zero-tolerance drug policy specifically for the use of marijuana (cannabis). Let’s imagine that you have a situation where a manager suspects that an employee is under the influence of cannabis after they’ve returned to work from lunch. How could the manager be sure that the employee actually used cannabis before returning to work? An employee might smell like cannabis because they were near someone who was smoking. Smell is not a reliable indicator, especially given that many products containing THC are not smoked and/or have no odor. There are tinctures, infused foods, vaporizers, and capsules that have no smell. For this reason, learning to recognize the signs and symptoms of inebriation and being alert for unsafe behavior provides a broader and more useful assessment. As an employer, being prepared for changes to reasonable suspicion drug testing procedures could avoid wrongly accusing an employee.

Another scenario to consider is that if an employee uses cannabis while not at work on a Sunday, they are very likely to test positive on a Wednesday; the positive test doesn’t prove that they were under the influence on Wednesday. One school of thought is that employers can’t control the actions of employees while not at work; this has yet to be tested by California courts. That said, unfit actions or unsafe behavior at work are unacceptable hazards that an employer can control. These types of infractions are usually documented in an employer’s Employee Handbook and acknowledged by the employee. If an employee is observed acting in an unsafe or unseemly manner at work, they may be subject to corrective action regardless of whether or not they are under the influence of cannabis.

In addition to legalization of recreational use, ‘medical marijuana’ is still being prescribed by physicians. Just like any prescription medicine that may impair a person’s ability to do his or her job, requiring a note from the prescribing physician with job restrictions while using the medication provides documentation resolving any ambiguity. Providing a detailed job description including the employee’s essential job functions can help support the next action you to take.

It’s important to note that cannabis products are still against Federal Law. Federal law applies to work performed for the federal government or which takes place on federal land and more. Drivers subject to Department of Transportation (DOT) Regulations are not allowed to test positive for THC metabolites no matter what state they are in.

Future court cases in California will eventually shape the way each situation should be handled. How your company decides to deal with these changes will define your company’s future liability, insurance costs, and reputation. Being educated on this subject and developing an action plan will help you protect your business and preserve your working relationships. We recommend you seek the guidance of your legal, insurance, human resource, loss control, and safety professionals.

Disclaimer: The information in this post is provided for general informational purposes only. No information contained in this post should be construed as legal advice from the Warren G. Bender Co. or the individual author, nor is it intended to be a substitute for legal counsel on any subject matter. No reader of this post should act or refrain from acting on the basis of any information included in, or accessible through, this post without seeking the appropriate legal or other professional advice on the particular facts and circumstances at issue from a lawyer licensed in the recipient’s state, country or other appropriate licensing jurisdiction.

Filed under: HR,Property & Casualty,Safety — Jillian Bender-Cormier @ 11:08 pm

Introducing ALICE (Active Shooter Defense) Training at Warren G. Bender Co.

According to the FBI, 160 active shooter incidents occurred in the United States between 2000 and 2013. Over 80 percent (132) of those incidents occurred at a place of work.

Warren G. Bender Co. has invested in specific training for you and your team called ALICE (Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, Evacuate). This training provides preparation and a plan for individuals and organizations on how to proactively handle the threat of an aggressive intruder or active shooter event. Whether it is an attack by an individual person or by an international group of professionals intent on conveying a political message through violence, ALICE Training option-based tactics have become the accepted response, versus the traditional “lockdown only” approach.

Protection and safety must be the priority in an Active Shooter event or Terrorist Attack. Circumstantial and operational concerns vary in every new situation. ALICE Training provides options that address the unique challenges specific to your business. We’re offering this training at a 40% discount at $9 per employee.

Don’t be in denial that your place of work and the people within it are exempt from an active shooter occurrence. Take advantage of the WGBCO ALICE training and show your team that you take their safety seriously.

916-380-5333 (direct)
Cost: $9 per employee (40% off)

Filed under: Recent Headlines,Safety — Jillian Bender-Cormier @ 12:54 am November 7, 2017

Older Employees at Greater Risk of Fatal Accidents

An analysis released by the Associated Press (AP) has shown that U.S. employees who are 55 years old or older are more likely to be involved in fatal workplace accidents than their younger counterparts. Additionally, as the average age of retirement continues to increase, older employees are becoming a larger portion of the overall workforce. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) estimates that by 2024, these employees will account for 25 percent of the entire labor market.

The AP used data from the BLS and the American Community Survey to conduct its analysis, and ignored fatalities that were determined to be the result of a natural cause, such as a heart attack or stroke. Despite this, the analysis found that the natural deterioration of vision, hearing and joint strength were the main contributors to the higher number of fatalities involving older employees.

The number of workplace fatalities for employees of all ages dropped from 5,480 in 2005 to 4,836 in 2015. However, fatalities for older employees over that same period increased from 1,562 to 1,681. As older employees continue to stay in the workforce, employers need to take extra care to protect them from hazards.

Filed under: Safety — Jillian Bender-Cormier @ 5:08 pm September 13, 2017

NHTSA Announces Additional Air Bag Recalls

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has announced that the results of new safety tests have prompted the recall of an additional 2.7 million vehicles in relation to defects in air bag inflators manufactured by Takata Corporation. The agency said that the most recent recall applies to driver-side air bags built from 2005-2012 that are included in certain vehicle models manufactured by the Nissan, Mazda and Ford motor companies.

Defects in air bag inflators manufactured by Takata have been linked to 17 deaths and over 180 injuries worldwide, and the total number of recalled vehicles as a result of these issues is now over 100 million. Takata recently pleaded guilty to a felony charge as part of a $1 billion agreement with the Justice Department that also includes financial compensation for automakers and victims of the malfunctions. The company also filed for bankruptcy as a result of the ongoing recalls, but stated that it was prepared to continue shipping replacement parts for affected vehicles.

To learn more about recalls related to Takata’s air bag inflators, visit the NHTSA’s website.

Filed under: Personal Insurance,Safety — Jillian Bender-Cormier @ 5:56 pm August 16, 2017