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4 Technologies Businesses are Using to Reduce Workplace Injuries

worker health and safety

worker health and safety

There were 4,693 worker fatalities in 2016, and a large percentage of those deaths were in the construction field.

While most people associate work-related injuries and deaths with the construction industry, the truth is that any worker can be injured in any workplace. Yes, even office workers can become injured while on the job.

Just as businesses use technology to streamline their operations, technology can help streamline safety and reduce worker injuries.

1. Smart Helmets

Smart helmets are changing safety on work sites. While still in their infancy, these helmets are starting to make appearances on job sites.

Some helmets, like the ProActive, are soft and comfortable during normal wear, but transform into a hard, shock-absorbent helmet upon impact. The ProActive looks like a baseball cap, and it comes with ear protection for added safety. These ear pieces can conduct electricity, which allow communication systems to easily be integrated into the helmet.

The SmartCap system looks like a regular baseball cap, but the interior of the hat contains sensors that monitor electrical activity in the brain. That information is transmitted to employers. These sensors help measure fatigue, and lets employers know if an employee is in an impaired state.

Smart helmets can help prevent injuries both in the construction industry and other industries that require manual labor. Ultimately, businesses will save on workers’ compensation claims, and employees are less likely to have to deal with stressful claim denials.

“Workers’ compensation insurance companies are notorious for trying to minimize work injuries and limit payouts,” says personal injury attorney Bary L. Gassman. “Despite the benefits that employers are required to provide to injured workers under Illinois workers’ compensation laws, those provided by some employers and insurance companies continue to fall short.”

2. Smart Gloves

Wearables are making their way into workplaces everywhere, and smart gloves can help prevent exposure to toxic substances.

This device was created by researchers at Fraunhofer Research Institution for Modular Solid State Technologies EMFT in Germany. The protective glove contains custom sensor materials that change colors in response to toxic substances in the air.

3. Supportive Vests

Back injuries are some of the most common in the workplace. Wearable technology can help prevent unnecessary injuries.

The researchers at Fraunhofer Institute are also working on a specialized vest that is soft, flexible, lightweight and designed to be supportive without limiting range of motion. The team integrated electronics into the fabric of the vest, which are powered by the kinetic energy generated by the wearer.

The vest is equipped with sensors that monitor the way the user moves. A processor compares the movement against optimum movement patterns. Any time an irregularity is detected, the warning lamp illuminates. Built-in actuators help wearers avoid making incorrect movements and help support correct movements.

4. Virtual Reality Training

Virtual reality can help people in high-risk industries get the training they need without having to be exposed to the dangerous environment. Employees can learn the appropriate way to react in dangerous situations and how to avoid them.

All the while, workers can remain in a safe, controlled environment.

Insurance

Is Your Disability Covered? Know Your State WCL

disability

disability

Disabled workers often face a set of challenges which their colleagues may not even be able to comprehend, much less empathize with.

Even when they work with an employer who provides them with the support they need to do their job to the best of their ability despite their disabilities be they visible or invisible.

Even though all employees have the right to employment without being discriminated against on the basis of disability, they may not have the same provision in place if they leave their home state to pursue a job elsewhere.

Different states have different rules and while you have federal protection against discrimination, some different states have subtly different attitudes towards individual disabilities especially when it comes to workers’ compensation.

Whether you have an existing disability or want to ensure that you’ll have the right to receive workers’ compensation if you suffer a debilitating injury at work it’s worth familiarizing yourself with the disparity between states (and even between organizations).

Workers’ comp is mandatory in all US states… except one!

You could be forgiven for assuming that workers’ compensation is a right for employees in all 50 states and while it is mandatory in most it is not mandatory in Texas.

Of course, that does not mean that a Texan employer will not necessarily award workers’ compensation to their employees, nor does it necessarily mean that an employer’s workers’ comp provision will cover your work-related disability outside of Texas.

This is because different employers have different forms of insurance and thus there may be a disparity between local law and employer policy.

It’s highly likely that an employer in Texas will have a worker’s comp provision in place, but employees will have the option to opt out of it. These people are referred to as “nonsubscribers”.

Where policy meets insurance

Even in states where workers’ comp is mandatory it is not entirely state run. In many cases worker’s comp provision is a combination of state legislature and private insurance policies.

The only states that rely on entirely state-run programs for workers’ compensation are North Dakota, Ohio, Washington, and Wyoming.

Businesses can purchase insurance for compulsory and non compulsory components meaning that two employers in the same state may offer different workers’ comp provisions which cover a different range of disabilities.

Workers’ comp: Know where you stand

As you can see, it’s important to know where you stand in terms of workers’ comp. Read this article by Terry Katz & Associates: what disabilities covered under workers comp laws. There are two ways in which you can (and should) check this out further.

Check employer’s obligations

First, you should check your employer’s (or prospective employer’s) legal obligations by familiarizing yourself with your new state’s workers’ comp laws (WCL). This will outline the bare minimum that your employer is entitled to offer.

However, their insurance provision may be in excess of this legal minimum so even if you have an existing disability that is not covered by local WCL this does not necessarily mean that it’s not covered by your employer.

Ask what disabilities are covered

This is why you should know exactly where you stand with your employer before you join the company. Ask what specific disabilities are covered by their workers’ comp insurance policy. This may be in their employee handbook or their Human Resources department may be able to help.

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Insurance

Reasons Your Business Will Need To Add Vehicles To Its Fleet

truck

truck

Running a fleet of vehicles in your business is costly exercise, so it’s wise to keep up with developments in vehicle technology, and other areas like financing and tax obligations.

Reducing costs and boosting business productivity is a driving force of change so when is it a good time to add more vehicles or change out the vehicles you’re currently running?

We have some of the reasons right here.

Why Your Business May Add Or Change Its Vehicles

Growth in staff who will need company vehicles

This is a pretty simple and obvious reason to add to your company’s tally of vehicles. As more and more people join your company, you might find that they need to embark on commercial travel as part of their job.

What you need to consider is what type of vehicle will be service their requirements in their role for your business, plus how your business should fund the purchase. There’s also the tax implications to consider too, which will vary depending on where your business resides. Contact your professional advisors and also do some research online on both tax requirements and funding options.

The Telegraph in their article identifies how businesses can choose vans and the financing options including leasing finance.

Your business needs a new type of vehicle

You should take into account not only the number of your workers who might need commercial vehicles at any particular time but also how exactly they would want to use those vehicles.

Fleet News notes that many firms adhere to an “open choice” policy, whereby employees are free to choose the make of car they would like. Don’t just consider the brands, though, but also the colours – some aren’t always business-friendly – and the seating capacity in case you want to transport clients.

To save on running costs and boost productivity

You might already be aware of the eco-friendly benefits of switching from a gas-guzzling vehicle to an electric one. Naturally, these benefits hold true in the business world, too. However, all the same, remember not to insist on such vehicles if there would be worrying practicality trade-offs.

For example, a driver who does over 20,000 miles annually might not find a purely electric vehicle cost-effective. Also, keep in mind that setting a CO2 cap can be a worthwhile alternative green measure.

However most businesses reliant on large vehicles in their fleet have their eye on the advancements in autonomous vehicles like large trucks and vans says better wise insurance. They are keen to find the best prices for fleet insurance and save on costs and boost productivity.

Your business wants to trim its tax obligations

This is another strong reason to consider investing in green tech for your fleet. You might not have realised how much you could save on van tax from switching to a zero-emissions vehicle. Various Government initiatives have ensured this for UK drivers.

Whereas, in the UK, most new small and medium vans attract a universal tax rate of £250 yearly, no annual road tax applies for electric vans. The tax savings could enable you to polish up other aspects of the business.

Get the best deal for your business

When sourcing insurance for multiple vehicles in a single fleet, it’s possible to save money. Check with your broker so you get the best deal by paying less for each extra vehicle you add to the policy.

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Insurance

How Workers’ Compensation Insurance Protects Businesses

insurance

insurance

Whatever your size from startup, to small business to large corporate, as a business owner, or CEO your many responsibilities include protecting the company against lawsuits and that includes litigious employees.

Workers’ compensation insurance is for the employee. It provides support with wage replacement and medical benefits when employees are injured at work. There’s a more detailed account of workers compensation explained here.

Although workers’ compensation is technically designed to protect workers, it also provides protection for businesses. It can shield your business from lawsuits filed by employees who claim that you or an employee you hired caused an on-the-job injury and also fines.

Protects The Business From Fines

For starters, it protects you from fines. All states, with the exception of Texas, require businesses to have workers’ compensation insurance.

If an employer fails to obtain Workers’ Compensation insurance, they are subject to administrative fines and potential criminal liability and premium penalties and may be ordered to close business until insurance has been obtained and will be held financially responsible for all costs arising from a work-related injury.

The quote above is from Jason D. Mills & Associates

With adequate workers’ compensation insurance cover your business can also be protected in other ways let’s look at a couple of them.

Limits Legal and Financial Liability – Work-Related Injury or Illness

Employees get extensive cover including: medical care for illnesses or injuries; vocational training, income replacement, funeral expenses and death benefits if the employee is killed on the job; and in return employees are prohibited from suing employers for on-the-job injuries, except for cases of gross negligence that leads to an employee’s death.

When your business has the right level of cover, it’s not liable for:

  • Medical costs
  • Lost wages
  • Fines for not having coverage
  • Damages incurred by the employee, which may include pain and suffering, punitive damages and loss of life enjoyment

Gets Employees Back to Work

Workers’ compensation ensures that workers receive the medical care and rehabilitation they need to get back to work.

Thus when an injured employee’s needs are met, they are more likely to remain in the job and with the company so it’s a win win for all parties.

An absent worker no doubt puts more pressure on everyone in the business, especially if it’s a small business. Ideally a temporary hire can fulfil the role in the interim.

Implementing an effective transition program, is also wise as it will speed up the the injured employee’s return to work while ensuring they are able to handle all their tasks safely.

Summary

With adequate workers’ compensation insurance, employees have the security and peace of mind that they will be taken care of if they are injured on the job.

For businesses irrespective of size, having the right level of coverage is professional and it shows that you are a responsible employer who cares about your employees.

Not all states in USA make the cover mandatory so if your business is located in a state that doesn’t require it,
your business will be attractive to new staff hires and secure employee loyalty.

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