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Reduce Your Exposures During Work Events

Businesses host parties for a variety of reasons, including the holidays and organizational accomplishments. While these events are fun, team-building opportunities, they can create a number of risks for the hosting company. In fact, in the event that an employee is injured at the party or causes property damage, the employer is usually the one held responsible. This can lead to costly litigation and reputational harm that can affect a company for years.

To avoid major losses, it’s not only important for employers to secure the right insurance coverage for every individual risk, but to also have a thorough understanding of common holiday party exposures.

Alcohol

Anytime you provide alcohol to individuals in a non-commercial manner, you are considered a social host. This is important to note, as a social host may be responsible for the acts of their guests should their conduct create harm. These risks are compounded when alcohol is served, and employers may be liable for damages following a drunken driving accident or similar incident.

While the best way to reduce alcohol liability risks is to avoid serving it altogether, this isn’t always feasible. To promote the safety of your employees and guests at company-sponsored events, consider the following:

• Hold the event off-site at a restaurant or hotel.
• Provide plenty of food and non-alcoholic beverages throughout the night.
• Serve drinks to guests rather than offering a self-serve bar. Limit the amount of alcohol you will serve. Require servers to measure spirits.
• Set up bar stations instead of having servers circulate the room. Place table tents at each bar that remind employees and guests to drink responsibly.
• Don’t price alcohol too low, as it encourages overconsumption. Offer a range of low-alcohol and alcohol-free drinks at no charge.
• Close the bar an hour before the scheduled end of the party. Do not offer a “last call,” as this promotes rapid consumption.
• Entice guests to take advantage of safe transportation options by subsidizing taxis or promoting a designated driver program.

Marijuana Consumption

Similar to alcohol use, marijuana and other drug consumption can directly affect the safety of your party guests. In fact, according to the most recent federal data, 44 percent of vehicle crash deaths can be linked to drug-impaired driving, up from 28 percent a decade earlier.

Marijuana contains hundreds of chemicals, many of which act directly on the body and brain. Individual sensitivity to marijuana can vary, but the general effects include the following:

• Dizziness, drowsiness, light-headedness, fatigue and headaches
• Impaired memory, concentration and ability to make decisions
• Disorientation and confusion
• Suspiciousness, nervousness, anxiety, paranoia and hallucinations
• Impaired motor skills and perception
• Dry mouth, throat irritation and coughing
• Increased heartbeat

These health effects can last long after an employee smoked, increasing the potential for accidents or major health concerns. In addition, federal, state and local laws may prohibit marijuana use in certain areas, making it all the more important to educate employees on behavior expectations.

To keep your party guests safe and avoid any liability concerns, consider making clear rules for marijuana use at your party. Remind employees that even though they are at a social event, they are still attending a work function and workplace policies on the use of marijuana still apply.

Workplace Harassment and Discrimination

Even when holding company-sponsored events off-site, employers are expected to enforce their workplace policies and safeguard their employees. In particular, employers must pay extra care to prevent issues of harassment and discrimination at their events, as they can lead to employment claims and costly litigation.

To help keep employees safe at company parties, employers should ensure all of their policies related to harassment, violence, discrimination and code of conduct are up to date and account for company-sponsored events. Policies should be specific as to what is and is not tolerated, and redistributed them as thoroughly as possible.

In addition, employers should:
• Consider making the event a family party where employees can bring their spouse, significant other, children or a friend. This can help deter inappropriate behavior.
• Keep event themes and decorations appropriate. Parties should be neutral and not make reference to specific religions or beliefs. In addition, plan your party on a day that does not conflict with religious holidays.
• Consider having just one entrance to your party. This will allow you to control who enters the venue and ensure that uninvited guests do not attended.
• Have supervisors and managers chaperone the event, looking closely for inappropriate behavior. Hire third-party security personnel as needed.
• Avoid making attendance for company-sponsored events mandatory.

Food Exposures

Food is a staple of many company-sponsored events, and can actually be a useful way to keep party guest sober and limit alcohol-related liability (starchy foods can help reduce the absorption of alcohol). However, when serving food, there are a number of risks employers should consider.

For instance, employers need to be wary of potential food allergies. In the event that a guest gets sick from the food, they could sue the employer for negligence.
To help protect against this, employers should ask party guests to disclose any of their allergies, either in their RSVP or by contacting the event coordinator directly. In addition, you should specify what ingredients are in every food item, both on the menu and on display cards near the food itself.

For added protection against illnesses, it’s critical that employers promote safe food preparation and handling practices. Moreover, when working with a third-party provider, employers should do their due diligence to ensure they are securing reputable vendors.

Property Damage

Property damage can occur at just about any kind of party, even small, company-sponsored events. As the host, it’s your job to ensure your guests remain safe, behave appropriately and respect the venue and its contents.

To do so, employers should:
• Set behavior expectations before the party.
• Have supervisors and managers chaperone the event, looking closely for inappropriate behavior. Hire third-party security personnel as needed.
• Remove valuable items from the party area wherever possible. Make sure any areas that you don’t want guests to enter are locked, roped off or secured in some way.
• Review your liability insurance and know what it covers.
• Ensure the venue is equipped to handle the number of individuals invited to the party.

Secure the Coverage You Need in Advance

Even if you take all the appropriate precautions, incidents can still occur. As such, it’s important for all organizations to secure adequate insurance.
Each business is different, and may require additional policies to account for all of their exposures. Contact Warren G. Bender Co. today to learn about your coverage options when it comes to hosting a party.

Filed under: Property & Casualty,Safety — Jillian Bender-Cormier @ 11:38 pm November 21, 2018


OSHA is Taking Heat for Ignoring a Safety Issue

Although OSHA has established many standards to protect employees in the workplace, the agency doesn’t have any official regulations regarding everyday heat exposure. According to the National Safety Council, nearly 250 people die from exposure to excessive temperatures every year, and many more experience injuries from heat exhaustion and heat stroke. As a result, over 130 organizations have recently petitioned OSHA to create a standard that provides at-risk employees with rest breaks, access to shade and other protections.

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) has recommended that OSHA create a heat standard three times—in 1972, 1986 and 2016. Even though OSHA has supported NIOSH’s framework for the standard and created heat exposure guidelines, the agency can only examine heat-specific hazards under its general duty clause for employers to provide a generally safe work environment.

All businesses need to take care to protect their workforces from dangerously high temperatures. Here are some strategies you can use to protect your employees from the heat:

• Increase ventilation at your workplace by using air conditioning, setting up cooling fans or installing insulation around hot surfaces.

• Encourage employees to download the OSHA-NIOSH heat safety tool on their iOS or Android smartphone.

• Train employees on how to recognize the early signs of heat-related illnesses, such as red skin, nausea, confusion, heavy sweating, cramps and dizziness.

• Schedule physical work during times when the temperature is lower, such as the early morning or late afternoon.

• Make sure that your employees have access to water in their work areas, and encourage them to take small drinks every 15 minutes—even if they aren’t thirsty.

• Let your employees take more frequent breaks as the temperature rises.

• Keep in mind that anyone who hasn’t been exposed to excessive heat for a long period of time may need to allow extra time for their body to reacclimatize.

Filed under: OSHA,Safety — Jillian Bender-Cormier @ 4:16 pm October 12, 2018


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

OVER 80% OF ACTIVE SHOOTER INCIDENTS OCCUR AT WORK
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.

WE TAKE SAFETY TRAINING TO THE NEXT LEVEL FOR OUR CLIENTS
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.

ENROLL IN OUR TRAINING TODAY
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.

OPT TO BE PREPARED FOR THIS EVER-GROWING THREAT TO OUR BUSINESSES AND FAMILIES
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.

CONTACT JACKIE SUDIA TO GET STARTED
916-380-5333 (direct)
jsudia@wgbender.com
Cost: $9 per employee (40% off)

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


Do Office Employees Need Training for GHS (Globally Harmonized System of Identification of Hazardous Substances)?

Back in 2013, employers were advised of the requirement to train employees regarding new label elements and safety data sheets but there have been questions about why some employees would need to be trained. For example, an office employee cleans their desk surface weekly with a cleaning product purchased by the employer from a grocery store and is available for employee use. Is GHS training required for that employee?

The Technical Answer
California Code of Regulations 5194(b)(5)(G) excludes incidental use as follows:
(G) Consumer products packaged for distribution to, and use by, the general public, provided that employee exposure to the product is not significantly greater than the consumer exposure occurring during the principal consumer use of the product; GHS training is required for employees working with hazardous substances on a regular basis in the course and scope of their employment.

The Practical Answer
GHS Training is not required for incidental use of a consumer product used in a consumer manner but general awareness training for all employees of the hazardous material identification system would be considered wise and a ‘best practice’ for all employers. Why? Because in the event of an injury to an employee caused by substances in the workplace, it could be deemed negligent that an employer provided a product but not information of its hazardous nature. Free information and GHS training materials are readily available from many sources, see below.

Still unsure of whether to train? Call OSHA Compliance 916-263-0704. I reached a knowledgeable person on my first try and/or call your insurance agent/broker for information.

Resources
California Code of Regulations-Hazard Communication https://www.dir.ca.gov/title8/5194.html
Cal OSHA Safety and Health Fact Sheet on GHS-Globally Harmonized System-DIR http://www.dir.ca.gov/dosh/dosh_publications/ghs_fs.pdf
Guide to the California Hazard Communication Regulation-DIR https://www.dir.ca.gov/dosh/dosh_publications/hazcom.pdf
US Department of Labor –OSHA Hazard Communication https://www.osha.gov/dsg/hazcom/index.html
Free PowerPoint presentation http://www.osha.gov/SLTC/hazardcommunications/ghsoverview.ppt
Free YouTube Training Video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PkGbof7FeZA
Sacramento Safety Center http://safetycenter.org/

If you have any questions or comments, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Jackie Sudia-Reno, AIC, ARM, CRIS
Claims and Risk Management Liaison
Warren G. Bender Co.
License #0406967
jsudia@wgbender.com
(916)380-5333 (Direct Phone & Fax)
(916)960-6957 (Mobile/Text)

Filed under: OSHA,Property & Casualty,Safety — Jillian Bender-Cormier @ 1:29 pm March 30, 2016


Contractor Safety: Are You Responsible When They Are on Site?

Dealing with contractors on site who don’t adhere to your safety procedures can be risky. Since you or your employer can be subject to fines or even jail time when not compliant with regulations, you need to know who is accountable for your contractors.

Countries have different rules and regulations when it comes to safety and training for contracted companies and lone workers.

Globally, the International Labour Organization (ILO) reports that “although there are no ILO instruments that specifically address contractors’ and subcontractors’ safety and health at work (or for training in the industry), those concerning occupational safety and health (OSH) in general emphasize the importance of OSH training for all workers. Safety training should focus on supporting preventive action and finding practical solutions.”

While there are no specific global requirements, we will explore contractor safety regulations for the construction industry in the United States.

United States
OSHA offers safety and health regulations for construction. According to the regulations for construction, “in no case shall the prime contractor be relieved of overall responsibility for compliance with the requirements of this part for all work to be performed under the contract.”

Workers in the engineering and construction industries face many hazards, as construction sites are one of the most dangerous places to work in the world, especially for contracted lone workers.
OSHA also indicates that “to the extent that a subcontractor of any tier agrees to perform any part of the contract, he also assumes responsibility for complying with the standards in this part with respect to that part… [W]ith respect to subcontracted work, the prime contractor and any subcontractor or subcontractors shall be deemed to have joint responsibility.”

In 2013, OSHA noted that 20 percent of occupational fatalities were in construction. Every month, the agency reports fatalities of contract workers, and often, publicizes citations and fines for both host companies and the employers of contract employees if they are killed or injured or endangered on the job.

The Safety Landscape is Evolving: Are you Prepared?
In the United Kingdom and Australia, the governments have implemented legislation that requires the employers to be responsible for the safety and well being of their contractors. Canada and the United States still have some work to do so that contractor responsibility is clear for both employers and contractors.

Is your organization up-to-date on local and regional legislation? Is this information effectively communicated – specifically to your lone workers? And are your current safety investments compliant?

Filed under: Blog,Construction,Safety,Surety Monthly — Jillian Bender-Cormier @ 12:22 am November 25, 2015