10 Workplace Safety Considerations for Small Business Owners

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Content utilized to create this post was from Forbes Magazine’s Human Resources Council (includes Megan Leasher, Nicole Smartt Serres, Sameer Penakalapati, Tracy Cote, Chris Stanzione, Subhashree Chaudhuri, Courtney Peterson, Tina R. Walker, Kristin Fowler & Madhukar. Govindaraju)

The vaccines have arrived and the numbers are trending up, down and all around depending on what network your watching and who you are speaking with. The fact is small, midsize and enterprise level businesses are considering what approach they should take for getting their staff back to work in an office environment. The majority of small and mid-sized employers are looking at using a blended approach, meaning they plan on implementing more work from home flexibility with their existing in office staff. 59% of those that are working from home support a work schedule that allows working from the office and at home. We wanted to provide 10 impactful considerations for employers as they forge forward.

TEN WAYS TO CREATE A SAFE WORK ENVIRONMENT


  1. There is no one-size-fits-all approach

Have a plan that fits your cultural goals and direction. Your plan should be a blend of meeting all safety & risk management guidelines from a legal perspective along with proper consideration for what the organization and its people need.

2. Communication is not a one way street

Involve trusted staff to carry the message of your risk & safety policies. Encourage employee participation in the development process. When your employees feel that their input is valued your office will be engaged in carrying your message. Design the process to be sustainable at all levels of your organization.

3. Proper work-life balance impacts mental health

Employees may be asked to get used to another new normal. Whether that means coming back into the office on a more regular basis or permanently, try and remember that by and large employee mental wellness suffered throughout the pandemic. As you take steps to protect the safety and health of your workforce, do not overlook mental health and wellness. Everybody has unique circumstances that may adversely impact their mental well being so little adjustments like extending flexible work hours can go a long way to employee satisfaction.

4. Play by the same set of rules – that means everybody

It is easy to become disregardful of even the most sensible of guidelines that have been established for the greater good of the group. Implementing common-sense guidelines supported by your state or OSHA need to be followed by everybody. Consistency is the key for resonating the message. Send out reminders as often as necessary and echo your message firmly. Somebody who refuses to abide by clearly defined rules may need to be sent home. Be relentless about making sure everybody is playing by the same set up rules.

5. Be mindful of each other’s responsibilities

Small to mid-sized businesses need to be aware of the risk and safety management responsibilities and the varying degrees the employer and the employee are responsible for. When it comes to providing a safe working environment, provide safety options, consider alternative ways of doing a job safely, and engage employees in a mutually agreeable way. Remaining open-minded and reserving judgement is crucial as well.


6. Tap into available consultative and training resources

Shameless self-promotion is coming in five, four, three, two and one; do you have access to safety and health resources through an agency, consultant or expert… such as a Libertate Insurance for example? Inquire about the available voluminous resources that your reliable partners posses when it comes to evolving environments, laws and compliance requirements! Leverage your partnerships especially those involved in your firm’s best interest and you will be amazed at what “we”, I mean they will be able to help you with.

7. Put safety policies front and center

Do you remind employees about the ongoing safety and mask campaign? Chances are safety policies are not necessarily the primary thought running through your employees minds while racing from desk to printer and back. Your firm’s culture needs to foster regular engagement to the point it becomes second nature. Emotional intelligence goes a long way in the delivery of your message. Remind employees of the care and concern leadership has for their well being, it will be appreciated.

8. Make health and safety part of your organization’s culture

It is all of our responsibility to protect each other and minimize risks. When you see something, say something. Avoid expecting somebody else to see and say something. Every member of the organization can play an active role and should.

9. Do they understand your expectations

If you create a health and safety culture with team members that own the message and every member of the organization is singing the same safety tune, you have won the expectation battle. Do not allow the loose ends or the uninformed be the squeaky wheel. Be consistent, be vigilant and be clear about what is expected.

10. Get creative about getting input from office and field staff

Companies have implemented daily check-ins, reporting processes and employee task forces to encourage information about risk and safety to flow in daily. Create a safety game, make sure managers are listening, remember one voice and one message. Make safety and risk management happen.

Managing COVID-19 Employment Practice-Related Exposure

We found this article, made available by Insurance Journal, most informative. The original content can be accessed by clicking here.

This post is part of a series sponsored by The Hanover Insurance Group.

As the pandemic continues, we’re seeing new COVID-19-related regulations, restrictions and advisories issued and adjusted by federal, state, and local officials on a regular basis. Each jurisdiction can create and enforce its own laws, leaving many employers faced with varying—and at times conflicting—orders and guidance. This creates a decision point for employers. Which should they follow? And, how can that decision impact their business?

From decisions about workplace safety, such as personal protective equipment, visitor policies and vaccine requirements, to handling work-from-home, family, and medical leave requests, there are a lot of business issues to sort through and a great deal of exposure, which could leave them open to the threat of an employment-related lawsuit. As trusted advisers to these businesses, independent agents can help guide their clients through the maze of regulations and guidance, sharing thoughtful risk management practices and key coverages to evaluate.

Growing threat of litigation

More than 2,000 COVID-related employment lawsuits have been filed already, and the number is expected to grow as businesses respond to ever-evolving circumstances. Business leaders can prepare by educating themselves and seeking out resources and guidance to navigate health, safety, and economic issues. Whether it’s subsequent waves, a change of jurisdictional guidance and/or regulations, or the availability of a vaccine, forward -thinking leaders will be well prepared to understand the options and their impact and make informed, proactive decisions.

With the pandemic, employers should be especially mindful of the following types of employment practice claims:

  • Workplace safety: Allegations of failure to provide a safe working environment
  • Discrimination: Allegations of age and disability bias in employment termination
  • Wage and hour: Allegations of failure to pay non-exempt employees for remote work or time spent completing employer-mandated COVID-19-realted health and safety activities, such as daily screenings
  • Retaliation: Allegations of retribution for complaints about workplace safety or use of medical leave

Thoughtful risk management

With questions like ‘can employees be required to get a COVID-19 vaccine?’, ‘how do we manage continued work-from-home requests?’, ‘what accommodations should be made for employees with disabilities?’, and ‘how do we address employees’ workplace safety concerns?’, it can be difficult for businesses to know where to start. Independent agents can play an important role in helping their clients think critically about their risks and take proactive steps. Similarly, top insurance carriers understand this, and have acted to provide employers with guidance and services that can help them minimize the risk of litigation.

For example, The Hanover has negotiated agreements with leading labor and employment practices firms to offer a range of services to Hanover policyholders that can help reduce the risk of employment practice lawsuits related to COVID-19. These value-added services are offered to policyholders no cost, or at a significant discount, such as:

Holistic insurance solution

  • COVID-19 return-to-work guide, including a robust testing and screening guide, sample policy language and detailed guidance on workplace safety, disability accommodations, and more
  • Family First Coronavirus Response Act compliance assistance, including sample policies, template forms, a flowchart for managing requests and attorney consultation
  • COVID-19 online training module for employees on personal hygiene practices and more
  • A COVID-19 customer information center with key information from the CDC, EEOPC, and state-specific resources

Beyond risk management, agents can help their clients by partnering with insurance carriers that offer employment practices liability insurance that can be tailored to the needs of each business.

As businesses wonder if they have adequate insurance protection, agents can help them understand their coverage and identify possible risk areas by considering these three important factors:

  1. Definitions: As agents know, not all definitions are created equal. Carefully assess definitions of wrongful acts to ensure a business’s unique risks are covered.
  2. Who to cover: Ensure coverage applies to the acts of all individuals who work at the organization. For example, does the business use contractors?
  3. Key coverage provisions: These should include punitive damages where insurable, and coverage for Equal Employment Opportunity Commission or state equivalent proceedings.

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to evolve, employers face increasing risks from employment-related lawsuits. Fortunately, agents can play an important role in guiding their business clients to risk management practices and coverages that help best protect their operations, their interests, and their employees.

NAPEO’s 2021 Virtual Risk Management Workshop March 9-10

NAPEO members we have exciting news! NAPEO’s 2021 Virtual Risk Management Workshop is just around the corner. Don’t miss this opportunity to register for this 2 day event.

NAPEO’s Risk Management Workshop has evolved into the largest gathering of PEO risk management professionals, carriers, brokers, and agents. Nowhere else will you find the PEO industry’s top risk managers, key insurance executives, regulatory experts, and policy makers gathered for such an in depth look at PEOs and workers’ compensation. 

The 2021 workshop will offer relevant, timely and valuable educational programming. Attendees will hear from risk management experts, get tips from leaders in the industry, and be able to take home ideas you can employ back in the office immediately to improve your risk management practices.

NEW for 2021 This year, NAPEO Gives Back will have a presence at the Risk Management Workshop.  NAPEO will host a concert with musical guest and NAPEO service partner Ken Jewel to close out the first night. This concert will benefit, Rocks the Cure, which was founded by Ken and is a non-profit organization that uses entertainment and music to raise money for pediatric cancer research. Rocks the Cure also helps the patients and families who have been affected by this terrible disease. $25 of each registration fee will be directly donated by NAPEO Gives Back to Rocks the Cure.  There will also be opportunities to donate directly during registration and during the event.  

Who Should Attend?

  • PEO risk managers
  • PEO owners
  • PEO senior managers with risk management responsibility
  • Insurance and risk management service providers to the PEO industry

Don’t miss this great event. Click on the below link to register.

https://www.napeo.org/events/events-calendar/rmw

Group Management Services Acquires Corporate Business Solutions

GMS expands its footprint with addition of Georgia-based HR outsourcing provider.


prnewswire.com/news-releases

RICHFIELD, Ohio, June 19, 2020 /PRNewswire/ — Group Management Services Inc. announced today the acquisition of Corporate Business Solutions, a Georgia-based Human Resources Outsourcing provider.

CBS was founded more than 20 years ago as a third party 401(k) administrator, developing over time into handling a full array of HRO services. This acquisition will add about 70 clients and 3,500 worksite employees to GMS.

As a Professional Employer Organization (PEO), GMS provides a suite of comprehensive HR solutions, allowing clients to focus on core business. These services include Payroll, Human Resources, Risk Management, and Benefits.

Both organizations share an emphasis on giving their clients a competitive edge when it comes to the technology, service levels, and human resources they provide. This is evident in the fact that they share a 90-plus percent client retention rate, well over the industry average.

Find out how PEOs help businesses: https://www.groupmgmt.com/why-gms/education-center/what-is-a-peo/

GMS started in the Cleveland area in 1996, eventually expanding into Columbus and Cincinnati, and now have 10 offices nationwide. The acquisition of CBS will further extend their client base outside of Ohio and increase their presence in the Southeast.

“We’ve been trying to expand our footprint outside of Ohio and have been showing some success in the past five years,” GMS President Mike Kahoe said. “In 2014, we were 99 percent Ohio-based. Today we are 90 percent Ohio-based and this will move us closer to 80 percent, making us a more diverse company.”

CBS President Jim Karle adds, “The acquisition by GMS will enable CBS to further deliver on its promise to provide our clients a wide array of quality insurance products that are affordably priced. Enhancing our clients’ competitive edge has always been core to CBS – this accelerates our ability to do that for our many valued clients.”

GMS plans to continue their expansion and grow organically and through acquisitions moving forward. This is just the beginning of more to come.

About Group Management Services
GMS has partnered with more than 1,500 clients across the country, representing about 26,000 employees from 10 different locations throughout the United States. We enable those clients to outsource all their back-office functions the areas of payroll, human resources, risk management, and workers’ compensation. For more information on GMS, visit: https://www.groupmgmt.com/about-us/.