A Closer Look at the Top Workers’ Comp Class Codes We Write: Barber and Beauty Shops

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Much like the retail industry, beauty and barber shops may not jump out at you initially as posing a workers’ comp risk. However, if we look closely at the environment in which barbers and hair stylists work, we can see that there are quite a few risks:

• Slips, trips, and falls due to slippery floor surfaces (from liquids or hair clippings)
• Cuts from sharp objects like scissors
• Burns and electrical shocks from curling irons, straighteners, etc.
• Chemical exposures from hair products

Workers’ Comp for the Barber Shops

When it comes to writing a barber shop or beauty salon workers’ comp policy, we generally focus on programs that feature:

• At least one full-time employee (owners included) or part-time equivalent
• No more than 75 employees at any one location per shift (due to the unlikelihood of one location having such a high number of employees, especially on one shift, this is generally not a factor)
•New ventures acceptable

Want to know more? AmTrust is a leader in workers’ compensation insurance for small to mid-sized businesses. Contact us to find out how we can design specific insurance packages to fit your client’s needs.

Article Source:- https://amtrustfinancial.com/blog/agents/a-closer-look-at-the-top-workers%E2%80%99-comp-class-codes

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Guidelines for Adults Working with Children

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Working with children can be an extremely rewarding career, but due to the nature of this vulnerable population strict guidelines must be in place and followed by everyone involved.

The Importance of Properly Screening Employees Who Work with Youth

Whether your organization is working on character building, tutoring, social services or another area, the guidelines for adults working with youth are the same and start with thoroughly vetting potential workers and volunteers with background checks. There is no federal mandate for this, so questions regarding this step should be directed to the state level.

It’s recommended that all organizations implement a basic background screening process to both evaluate the skills of prospective employees and reduce the risk of hiring potentially abusive individuals. This screening process should include a comprehensive application form authorizing a background check, a personal interview that discusses past employment experience and indicates potential problem behaviors, and reference checks with past employers. Additionally, a compliant hiring policy should be set in place to deal with the results of the screening. For instance, if the background check reveals the individual has been convicted of any sort of crime involving a child or a violent crime, this person will be immediately eliminated from qualifying for the position.

Additional Child Supervision Guidelines

On top of background checks, there are additional child supervision guidelines you can employ to ensure the safety of kids in your care. These include educating staff and volunteers, parents and guardians and children on what is expected and what will not be tolerated. Your organization can also implement abuse prevention policies that discourage opportunities for abuse and encourage children and vulnerable adults to voice concerns about inappropriate behavior.

Other post-hiring best practices include having employees and volunteers attend an orientation and sign a statement that indicates they understand the organization’s written policies regarding the treatment of those in their care, as well as the state’s laws on reporting abuse. Ongoing training programs on crisis management techniques, how to identify and report abuse by employees or volunteers, communication techniques and more should also continually be offered.

Some of the specific guidelines for adults working with youth include:

  • Limit one-on-one contact with children. Staff should avoid being alone with a child in their care. Two staff members should always be available in one-on-one situations, or one staff member should be present with several children.
  • Avoid touching and initiating contact. Even the most innocent touch can be misconstrued, so the staff should understand they should never touch or initiate physical contact with a child.
  • Hold activities in accessible, well-lit areas. Activities with children should be held in a non-secluded setting that is well-lit, highly visible and observable to others.
  • Behave appropriately at all times. Staff should understand the boundaries of their relationships with the children in their care. Avoid after-hours relationships of any kind.
  • Maintain open-door policies. Closed door interactions between adults and children should be avoided. Leave doors open during conversations or when assisting a child.
  • Require regularly scheduled staff trainings. Staff members should be trained on all guidelines not only upon being hired, but also throughout the course of their careers. Schedule regular training programs through the year and upon completion, have the staff sign a document stating they’ve received the training.
  • Perform annual re-screening of employees. It’s imperative that adults working with children not only undergo a background screening check before they are hired, but that they are re-checked on an annual basis.

To learn more about the guidelines for screening adults working with children in your organization, the Insurance Services Office (ISO) created an informative paper with all the details you need on screening applicants so that only the safest, most qualified individuals have contact with children at your facility.

Nonprofit Insurance from AmTrust to Meet Your Organization’s Needs

Lastly, make sure your organization has nonprofit insurance in the event that something does go wrong. AmTrust agents offer a comprehensive suite of coverages to offer their nonprofit clients the perfect insurance solutions to help support their respective missions. For more information, please contact us today.

Article Source:- https://amtrustfinancial.com/blog/loss-control/guidelines-for-adults-working-with-children

An Ounce of Prevention Sets Financial Institutions Apart

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When it comes to choosing insurance, most financial institution managers consider how well a potential insurer will handle a claim. Of course, this is important, as it’s why we buy insurance, and it’s often hard to differentiate why one company may be better than another.

However, in today’s competitive environment, prospective customers should also ask themselves “What is my insurance company going to do to help prevent a claim?”

Loss Control Services to Reduce Risk for Financial Institutions

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Consider whether an insurer has the following features in their loss prevention program to determine if they are worthy of your business.

Risk Management Employment Practices 

Insurance companies sometimes contract with attorneys or HR firms to help prevent employee-related suits (discrimination, harassment, etc.). The scope of services varies greatly, as some loss prevention programs provide best practices advice, whereas others will provide actual legal counsel. Some firms will limit their services to a number of hours or phone calls – while others provide broader or unlimited service. Either way, some key features to look for in an excellent Employment Practices Loss Prevention program are:

  • Hotline service allowing you to ask questions on employee-related matters
  • HR documents, such as Hire-and-Fire worksheets, interview checklists, and more
  • Employee handbook templates that are customizable
  • State employment law updates
  • HR/employee training
  • Cybersecurity policies

Ensuring loss prevention measures are up-to-date is a never-ending battle in cybersecurity. That said, you, as a prospective customer, will want to ensure an insurance company’s pre-breach loss prevention services are evolving as quickly as the cyber criminals. Consider these features a sign of a solid cybersecurity loss prevention program:

  • Self-assessments to ensure current systems and processes are in line with the exposures
  • Breach response planning tools so you know what to do and who to call when a breach occurs
  • Security training access
  • State law updates and other cybersecurity news
  • Breach prevention best practices

Lastly, any good loss prevention program should be integrated into the insurance company’s claim process in the event a claim does happen. Ideally, the law firm providing loss prevention on employment practices should have an open line of communication with the company’s claim staff or, better yet, be their panel counsel. Companies providing cyber loss prevention should also provide a breach coach that walks the customer through a breach step by step.

Considering these features of an insurer’s loss prevention program will help your financial institution choose an insurer that has your best interests covered. Contact us today to learn more.

Article Source:- https://amtrustfinancial.com/blog/agents/an-ounce-of-prevention-sets-financial-institutions

Cold Weather Safety Tips for Outdoor Workers

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Spring might be on the way, but for the next several weeks, many parts of the country still will be dealing with winter weather that includes extremely low temperatures, large amounts of snowfall and bitter winds. While offering them an opportunity to warm up with a hot cup of cocoa after being outside is nice, if your workers are exposed to the winter elements it’s important to ensure they are protected at all times. Even if they’re only outside for a short period of time, the risk of injury increases when they are not prepared.

Common Winter Weather Hazards – and How to Keep Outdoor Workers Protected

protecting workers from winter weather hazards

OSHA has identified some of the most common cold weather hazards as the following:

Slips and falls due to snow or ice. 

Working outdoors in cold weather can mean walking on slippery pavement or loading docks. Plus, employees may track in snow, ice and mud as they enter buildings. Keep walking surfaces as clear of snow and ice as possible by using de-icer immediately following a storm. Employees should wear proper footwear that is not only well-insulated and water resistant, but that also has thick, rubber soles with good treads. If working on icy walking surfaces is unavoidable, or likely, slip-on metal cleats may be a good footwear accessory to consider.

Cold stress from exposure to cold air temperatures. 

When an employee’s skin temperature decreases, eventually the internal body temperature decreases, too, causing conditions like frostbite or hypothermia. Whenever possible, schedule outdoor tasks for the warmest part of the day and provide heated areas out of the wind to use during break periods so workers have ample time to recover from the cold. Additionally, employees should wear layers of clothing to protect them from the elements, including an inner layer of clothing that can absorb moisture and an outer layer of consisting of a waterproof, windproof and durable coat. Make sure they also wear insulated hats, thick gloves, wool socks and well-fitted boots.

Loss of power and communication disruption. 

During a winter storm, it’s not uncommon for many facilities to lose power, which often can lead to a disruption in communication practices. You wouldn’t want your valuable employees to show up on a job site that could be dangerous, so set up a phone tree with employees so they can be made aware of power outages that could impact their work for the day.

Winter driving.

Icy road conditions are responsible for 24 percent of all weather-related vehicle crashes, with 15 percent occurring when it’s snowing or sleeting. If driving is an essential part of your employees’ roles, they should watch the weather forecast to stay on top of any potential storms on the way and plan their routes accordingly. While it’s impossible to control the condition of the roads, making smart decisions and being properly prepared can help reduce the risk of accidents. It’s a good idea to pack a winter-survival kit in vehicles, so if the vehicle slides off the road or becomes stuck in a snow bank, occupants of the vehicle can survive until help arrives.

Shoveling snow and/or using snow blowers. 

While shoveling snow can be extremely taxing on the body and lead to dehydration and back injuries, snow blowers can also be dangerous to outdoor workers. They frequently cause lacerations or even amputations, and can also lead to electric shock when not grounded properly. Workers should take frequent breaks from shoveling and rest in a warm area. They should also understand proper shoveling techniques, like pushing snow instead of lifting it whenever possible and bending and lifting from the legs, not the back. When using snow blowers, never attempt to clear a jam by hand. Instead, after turning it off, wait for all moving parts to stop, and then use a long stick to clear debris or jams. Also ensure all powered equipment is properly grounded before using.

Downed power lines and trees. 

It should always be assumed that downed power lines are energized, so only qualified workers should go anywhere near them, especially because the moisture from snow can reduce the effectiveness of equipment designed to protect from electrocution. Make sure to establish a safe distance from any damaged power lines, including those around fallen trees, and report incidents immediately to properly-trained electrical workers.

Working at heights. 

Another common winter weather hazard involves those employees who are required to work on roofs or other high surfaces. A roof may be structurally unsafe due to the weight of the snow or ice covering it. Workers are also at risk of hazards like walking on unseen skylights, increased slippery surfaces or overhead power lines. It’s always important to determine if additional equipment is needed to remove snow or ice from heights, like aerial lifts or non-slip safety boots, as well as properly training all outdoor workers on how to use them. Whenever possible, reschedule roof or other high work until snow and ice are not present.

Loss Control from AmTrust Financial

AmTrust’s Loss Control Department knows that access to the right safety resources and commercial property safeguards are keys to a successful business. We can give you the individual attention you deserve, identifying specific hazards and offering recommendations that fit your operation. For more information about our small business insurance solutions please contact us today.

Article Source:- https://amtrustfinancial.com/blog/loss-control/protecting-workers-winter-weather-hazards

OSHA is a Champion for Temporary Worker Safety

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According to the American Staffing Association (ASA), that’s how many temporary and contract employees clock in during an average workweek.

Helping keep the economy rolling, the staffing and recruiting industry provides job and career opportunities for more than 15 million U.S. employees each year, per the ASA. No matter the industry or assignment, businesses employing temporary workers have an obligation to keep them safe.

The agency responsible for making sure the job’s done right is the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). In 2018, OSHA sharpened its focus on the safety of temporary personnel with the release of its guidance on lockout/tagout training requirements for temporary workers. It’s one of three documents specific to this class of employees that OSHA released last year.

Working Hard to Keep Employees Safe

Since its creation in 1970, OSHA has had a clearly defined mission: to ensure that every working man and woman in the nation is employed under safe and healthful working conditions. In OSHA’s eyes, temporary employees are entitled to the same protections as all other covered workers.

“OSHA has for a while recognized the potential that these temporary workers are possibly falling through cracks from a safety training standpoint,” explains Jeff Corder, vice president of loss control at AmTrust North America, a multinational property and casualty insurer that writes coverage for staffing agencies.

To help keep temporary employees out of harm’s way, OSHA launched the Temporary Worker Initiative (TWI) in 2013. The agency continues to be an active advocate for temporary worker safety, paying close attention to the risks these employees face when introduced to unfamiliar environments. A list of the TWI bulletins issued to date can be found here.

Temporary Workers Have a Higher Risk of Injury

When it comes to temporary employees and their safety, OSHA has several concerns. The first being that host employers could be using temporary workers as a way to get around compliance obligations and other worker safety laws. Other key concerns include:

  • Temporary employees are more vulnerable to accidents because of their limited time on the job.
  • Not all temporary workers receive the training needed to perform their jobs safely; additionally, these employees may not have a thorough understanding of their duties.
  • Temporary team members are more likely to be retaliated against by the host employer for reporting a health or safety violation – or engaging in another type of whistleblowing.

Compliance Takes Collaboration

While their business objectives may differ, staffing agencies and host employers are jointly responsible for maintaining a healthy and safe work environment for temporary employees. To ensure their well-being, OSHA recommends that agencies and employers do the following:

Perform your due diligence

Staffing agencies have a duty to investigate the conditions of each client’s workplace before initiating an employee’s placement. Additionally, the staffing agency should follow up with every host employer to verify that the company is fulfilling its responsibilities as a safe employer. On the employer side, companies working with staffing agencies need to verify that any contracts accurately reflect which party is responsible for compliance with various OSHA guidelines.

Understand and anticipate potential risks

While staffing agencies aren’t expected to become experts on specific workplace hazards, they need to determine what hazards exist and how best to protect temporary workers before they start an assignment. Keeping employee safety top of mind, the host employer must implement and enforce a workplace safety program, and continually assess its environment for potential hazards. A collection of recommended practices for safeguarding temporary workers is available in this free PDF.

Have ongoing communication

Consistent dialogue between the staffing agency and the host employer is the only way to ensure that temporary employees receive all the safety protections they deserve.

Treat temporary workers like any other employee

Every employee, regardless of employment status, is worthy of the same level of respect and training, especially when it comes to health and safety procedures.

Two agencies, one goal

OSHA isn’t the only agency that looks out for the wellbeing of temporary workers. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health conducts research and makes recommendations for preventing work-related injuries and illnesses. The agency’s website hosts an array of resources linked to workplace safety and health, from accident prevention videos to health hazard evaluations.

AmTrust is all in on workplace safety

A safe and successful workplace starts with having the right resources and safeguards in place. Comprised of risk management specialists, AmTrust’s Loss Control Team is dedicated to helping businesses like yours create a loss prevention program that addresses the specific risks of your operation. As an AmTrust policyholder, you’ll have access to a series of industry-specific training videos along with a host of other risk management solutions. 

Even when workplace safety is a priority, accidents can happen. As one of the nation’s largest workers’ compensation insurance providers, AmTrust provides coverage designed to protect your business and your employees in the event of a workplace illness or injury.

Every employee has a right to work in a healthy and safe environment. Working closely with staffing agencies, businesses big and small must be diligent about protecting their employees, including temporary workers.

For answers to frequently asked questions about workplace safety and a list of links to related resources, visit OSHA’s Employer Section. 

Article Source:- https://amtrustfinancial.com/blog/loss-control/osha-is-a-champion-for-temporary-worker-safety

To Chatbot or Not? AI Tips for Your Small Business

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As the applications of artificial intelligence (AI) and marketing technology grow, you may be wondering whether using a chatbot could help you keep up with the trends and compete in a crowded marketplace. One of the key advantages of chatbots for both companies and consumers is that they leverage AI to provide greater convenience with relatively minimal operating costs, which could result in a boost of your business’s bottom-line performance and allow greater consumer access to information about your brand.

So, exactly what is a chatbot, and how could your small business benefit from using one?

How Does Chatbot Technology Work?

A chatbot is a computer program that mimics conversation through artificial intelligence. If you’ve ever interacted with a Google Home, the iPhone’s Siri or Amazon’s Alexa, you’ve used chatbot technology. Thanks to AI, these chatbots are designed to interpret individual requests and, based on a few rules outlined in the chatbot’s programming, point the inquirer to the appropriate resources or directly answer the request.

As a chatbot receives more data, the AI technology that supports it can help the chatbot become more sophisticated, allowing it to respond to more intricate requests, like what kind of product would be the best choice based on specific customer needs or wants.

What Can a Chatbot Do for My Business?

As a small business owner, you’ve most likely thought about or even have documented the most frequently asked questions from your customers or leads. By syncing with data that you already have, a chatbot could be the first line of defense to address these FAQs. Here are three distinct ways a chatbot could benefit your small business:

  1. Improving the customer experience

As a business owner, you may not always have the time or resources to keep up with answering your customers’ questions or concerns 24/7, especially as your business expands. A chatbot can instantly reply to the visitors who engage with it so they don’t have to wait for your business to open or search through your site to get answers to common questions.

  1. Automating standardized service

If you’re like most business, you’ll hear the majority of questions customers ask over and over again. For example: “What are your store hours?” Or, “How do I get a refund?” A chatbot can use existing documentation to answer these questions for you, and it even can be programmed to connect customers with a human when necessary so you and your staff can focus on the most urgent or intricate requests.

  1. Providing enhanced marketing data

One of the best features of a chatbot for small businesses is that they collect valuable data about your customers. For example, if you run a food delivery service and allow customers to place orders via a chatbot, you’ll easily be able to track how much money your customers spend with the bot, what your best-selling food items are and more. You can use all of this new data to improve your chatbot, customer service and marketing efforts.

When and Where to Use a Chatbot

Many chatbots for businesses today are built on top of already existing messaging platforms such as Facebook Messenger or WhatsApp. These bots make it easier for any business owner to respond with agility to increasing demand for social interactions.

Facebook offers its own documentation on how to get started building a chatbotfor its Messenger service, and there are even bots that can help you build botsfor Facebook Messenger and other social sites. If you want to hire a freelance designer to build your bot, sites like Upwork can help you find experienced programmers who are able to design chatbots that can help you accept payments, provide product support, answer frequently asked customer service questions and perform other consumer-facing activities.

Before deciding to design your own chatbot, think through the scenarios that would offer the best return on your investment. These scenarios include cases where you have a high demand for information and standardized data sets that can be leveraged to respond to these requests. If you can think of applications where linking existing data sets with a machine that can learn will provide a better customer experience and free your internal resources for more specialized tasks, then a chatbot is something to consider.

As with all tech trends, the business applications for chatbots will most likely expand with time. For now, use the guidance above to determine whether artificial intelligence and chatbot technology may be right for your business.

Small Business Insurance Solutions from AmTrust Financial

AmTrust understands and supports small and mid-sized businesses across the country. We offer multiline insurance coverage, including

workers’ compensationBOPcyber liability and more. For more information about our small business insurance solutions please contact us today.

Article Source:- https://amtrustfinancial.com/blog/small-business/chatbots-for-small-business

AmTrust Protects the Dreams of Small Businesses

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The cost of absenteeism, both scheduled and unscheduled, is growing. Absenteeism costs employers at least 10 percent of payroll costs per year. Based on recent studies, unscheduled absenteeism costs up to $84 billion a year annually in lost productivity. While advocates for better employee leave options have made strides over recent years in securing more paid time off, employers are faced with managing a more robust absentee system.

The annual costs associated with absenteeism vary by industry, with the greatest loss occurring in professional occupations (excluding nurses, physicians and teachers). Total expenses include wages paid to absent employees, temporary employees and overtime pay for additional coverage, plus the cost for absentee management. Plus, there are indirect costs that go along with absenteeism, including poorer quality goods, reduced productivity, safety issues and low employee morale.

Many Family and Medical Leave Options

There are many leave options for employees: short-term disability, long-term disability, workers’ compensation, FMLA, state leave and company sponsored leave. Plus, there are over 500 laws regulating state and federal job-protected leaves across the country. These laws are complex and ever-changing.

The newest, strongest and most comprehensive leave law, the New York Paid Family Leave Policy (PFL),went into effect in New York in 2018. The law provides guaranteed paid leaves for eligible New York state residents for three life-impacting circumstances: the addition of a new family member into the home, the care of a family member with a serious health condition and when a family member is being deployed abroad for active military service. The program is seen as a model for family leave requirements across the country.

Leave Management Solutions

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With so many leave options, it is hard for companies to manage and track the many forms, paperwork, time off, intermittent leave, etc. We want to hear your voice about what is most important in a leave management solution. Please take our short four question survey to share your opinion.

Based on findings in a 2017 study, US businesses appear to be making leave administration a higher priority, especially in firms with 250 to 1000 employees. Businesses are putting new practices in place or refining existing processes to boost workforce productivity and, more importantly, to ensure compliance with federal, state and local laws. The report found that complex interaction of government requirements and corporate policies are increasingly becoming a burden on employers, many of whom are seeking ways to leverage external vendors to help ensure the compliance of their plans and to integrate their programs in a more efficient manner.

Absence management programs are not just about regulations and compliance. For many companies, it is about attracting and retaining a productive workforce that actively contributes to the mission of the organization in a manner that is safe and healthy for all parties. Companies are offering employee assistance, wellness, health and disease management and return-to-work programs to increase the well-being of their employees.

The study found that more organizations are making an effort to reduce absenteeism and its impact on their organizations. The companies that are participating in absence management programs are seeing positive outcomes to their efforts including an increase in productivity, employee experience, decreased absenteeism and a reduction of direct costs.

AmTrust’s Absence Management Program

AmTrust is excited to announce our integrated, compliant leave of absence administration solution that assumes the burden of tracking and reporting responsibilities associated with employees taking leave. Our absence management program automates employee leaves and handles absences from beginning to end. We can create customizable and comprehensive solutions for each client based on what is right for their culture, employee experience and business goals. By handling all leave processing and data collection, we help lift the burden off HR while providing a seamless employee experience. The program cost is dependent on the overall claims incident rate. Individualized underwriting is provided for each policyholder.

Our leave management program offers benefits to both employers and their staff. For employers, the program handles employee absence from beginning to end and ensures your organization is always compliant with local, state and federal leave regulations. We help enhance productivity by facilitating employees’ return to the workplace from leaves as soon as medically appropriate. For employees, the program ensures caring, expert support during leave times from a professional who will provide personal guidance navigating leave laws, documentation and procedures.

The program generates mandatory and optional employee notices, forms and documents consistent with corporate requirements. Our solution provides summarized reporting information for leave management by location, department, shift or supervisor to help HR easily track their leave program. Plus, the program allows for the creation, storage and maintenance of electronic absence management records.

The AmTrust Leave Management Solution provides a proprietary absence management solution that reduces time off of work from employee absence, saving employers significant costs while improving productivity and creating a positive experience for their employees. Contact us for more information about the AmTrust Leave Management Solution today!

Article Source:- https://amtrustfinancial.com/blog/agents/amtrust-introduces-employee-absence-management