Illinois Workers Comp and College Interns

Are interns covered on work comp? 

It’s that time of year - Chicago area businesses will be adding college interns to their summer workforce. Whether they are paid interns or not - the question is “are interns covered on workers compensation in Illinois?”.

99% of the time the answer is YES – interns are covered… even if unpaid. The question falls back to the definition of an employee and for this you can refer to the IRS website for the definition. The IRS sites Common Law Rules.  If the intern is deemed an employee then under the Illinois Workers Compensation Act they would be covered on your Workers Compensation policy. From the IRS website:

Common Law Rules

Facts that provide evidence of the degree of control and independence fall into three categories:

  1. Behavioral: Does the company control or have the right to control what the worker does and how the worker does his or her job?
  2. Financial: Are the business aspects of the worker’s job controlled by the payer? (these include things like how worker is paid, whether expenses are reimbursed, who provides tools/supplies, etc.)
  3. Type of Relationship: Are there written contracts or employee type benefits (i.e. pension plan, insurance, vacation pay, etc.)? Will the relationship continue and is the work performed a key aspect of the business?

Businesses must weigh all these factors when determining whether a worker is an employee or independent contractor. Some factors may indicate that the worker is an employee, while other factors indicate that the worker is an independent contractor. There is no “magic” or set number of factors that “makes” the worker an employee or an independent contractor, and no one factor stands alone in making this determination. Also, factors which are relevant in one situation may not be relevant in another.

The keys are to look at the entire relationship, consider the degree or extent of the right to direct and control, and finally, to document each of the factors used in coming up with the determination.

Please call with questions. 

Dan 

dan@zeiler.com 

708.597.5900 x134

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Ingalls Occupational Health Program - Southwest Suburbs

I had the opportunity to tour Ingalls Occupational Health Care Center in Crestwood, Illinois last month. I can honestly say I was impressed with their entire Occupational Health Program. 

With 4 clinic locations in the Southwest Suburbs (South Holland, Crestwood, Flossmoor, and Tinley Park) this Pro-Employer Center for work related injuries is a vital tool for all business owners.  

Ingalls services include; Urgent Care, Radiology, MRI, Cardiology, Physical Therapy, Drug & Alcohol Testing, and Outpatient Surgery - just to name a few.

The program also includes Worksite Wellness & Prevention Assistance and an Employer Resource Center. 

I cannot stress enough the importance of having a strong relationship with a quality Occupational Health Clinic to control your Workers Compensation costs. In the event of an employee's accident, why not suggest a treatment facility that will get them back to work?

My contact at Ingalls is Michele Netherton, Business Development Manager. She can be reached at 708.915.4806 or mnethert@ingalls.org 

As you know, I am always available to discuss these programs and help implement an effective Risk Management Program. 

Dan Zeiler

708.597.5900 x134

dan@zeiler.com 

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Managing Your Workers Compensation Insurance Costs

                           My name is Dan Zeiler and I'm the owner of Zeiler Insurance Services. Together with the Work Comp Advisory Group our CompVision processes help businesses in the Chicago Illinois area control long term Workers Compensation Insurance costs. 

Many businesses are unaware that procedures can be implemented to reduce Workers Compensation Insurance costs. Managing your Work Comp Expereince Modification is key.  In this blog we will discuss the factors that effect long term Workers Compensation Premiums.  You can also visit our website at www.workcompadvisor.com to learn more.   * Contact Information *

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Illinois Workers Compensation Insurance Audit

I just received the results on a disputed audit for a local Chicago business client. The error on this audit is typical of how the audit process favors the insurance companies. The process starts with all of the payroll assigned to the governing classification and then qualifying payroll exceptions get carved out depending on duties, type of pay, etc.  

In this case it was the starting pay that was in error.  A number was pulled off of a spreadsheet that had nothing to do with the annual payroll figure noted on that same spreadsheet. This was a $32,000 mistake.

 

Please call with questions.

Dan Zeiler

708.597.5900 x134

dan@zeiler.com

www.zeiler.com

 

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Illinois Workers Compensation Insurance ERA Credit

I want to remind you about the importance of taking advantage of the Experience Rating Adjustment (ERA) factor offered in Illinois. 
 
I'm working with a potential client on ways to help control their Workers Compensation insurance expense.  The incidents on the Specific Loss Report shown below are actual claims on the Experience Mod of a Chicago, Illinois business.
 
The report below shows the effect of three claims on the Experience Mod and the additional premium projected (for the three years that it affects the Mod):
1.) A large loss ($113,256). Kind of what you might expect from the mechanics of an insurance policy. The company gets hit with a loss and your premium is affected with paying a surcharge. In this case the three year cost is $28,266 with a 17% effect on the workers compensation experience mod.
2.) A small claim ($2,883) that included “indemnity”.  Indemnity is basically disability payments for time off for the injured worker.  This employee sprained his ankle.  Take a peek at the three year claim cost…Yep!!  $5,519. The Insurance Company actually profits on this one.
3.) A second small claim ($2,083).  This claim was medical only with no “indemnity” paid.  As you can see, the three year cost on this claim is $1,206.
 
The reason for the big difference between 2 and 3?  Experience Rating Adjustment (ERA) factor. Only 70% of the claim cost is used in the experience modification calculation for Medical Only Claims. The purpose of which is to encourage businesses to report small claims.
 
 
Going back to our employee that sprained his ankle - what type of work could you have him do around the office, even though his ankle is sprained, so that his days "off" don't rack up your Experience Mod? 
 
Do you think you might have some safety manuals he could read or better yet maybe even wash a truck or two?
 
From the report, this claim affected the mod by 3.35%.  What if the mod for this business was floating in the 1.00 area?  
 
 
On a side note - If this example involved a contractor, this 3.35% could have disqualified the contractor from the Contractor Classification Premium Adjustment Program (CCPAP). These credits can be 40% of the Workers Compensation premium.
 
Please call with questions.
 
Dan Zeiler
 
708.597.5900 x134
 
dan@zeiler.com
 
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April is Safe Digging Month

April is Safe Digging Month 

An underground utility line is damaged every six minutes because someone decided to dig before calling 811.

The following steps provided by Travelers can help contractors in Illinois control exposures, avoid losses, or contain losses that do occur:

  • Take daily photos of the work site
  • Check utility marks to help ensure all known utilities have been located
  • In the event a strike does occur, once site safety is established, gather detailed documentation of where the marks were in relation to the excavation; documentation can include photos, diagrams and witness statements

Not collecting these facts immediately could seriously damage any contractor's defense. The average utility damage claim is approximately $25,000, and, as such, implementing an effective incident investigation plan containing the elements above can help you defend yourself as a contractor.

___________________________________________________________________________________________________________

All states have laws that require utilities be pre-located by an appropriate locator service, which can be reached by calling 811 -  the national "Call Before You Dig" phone number.

 

Please call with questions.

Dan Zeiler

708.597.5900 x134

dan@zeiler.com

www.zeiler.com

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“Primary Causation” Added to Illinois’ Workers’ Compensation Law

 

“Seeking to help Illinois attract investment, create jobs, and end fraud and abuse,” state Sen. Dale Righter (R-Mattoon) filed legislation that would add “primary causation” to Illinois’ workers’ compensation law.

“For years, a higher percentage of Illinois citizens have been out of work, compared to our neighboring states,” Righter said. “We are plagued by people moving for better jobs to neighboring states and new businesses choosing other states. According to my constituents and business owners in Illinois, a significant reason our state isn’t competitive is because we lack ‘primary causation’ in our workers’ compensation law.”

Righter’s Senate Bill 846 would require an employer’s workers’ compensation insurance to pay a claim only if the employee’s injury was caused primarily by a workplace accident. Under current law, any connection to a workplace accident. Under current law, any connection to a workplace accident, regardless of how remote, obliges the workers’ compensation policy to cover 100 percent of the costs associated with the injury, according to a press release from Righter’s office.

“In far too many instances, our law has allowed simply the slightest connection with the workplace to justify a workers’ compensation policy to pay the entirety of the costs related to an injury. It is unfair and an abuse,” Righter said.

“Requiring primary causation would strike a fair balance.”

Righter estimates that adding “primary causation” to Illinois’ workers’ compensation law would save employers $1 billion per year in reduced insurance premiums. By way of evidence, prepayments point to Indiana and Missouri, where premiums are less than half of what employers pay in Illinois. Twenty-nine states have a more stringent causation standard than Illinois.

“I am optimistic with a governor who understands how to make Illinois competitive, we can make this legislation law,” Righter said. “It’s ridiculous our job creators are on the hook for paying millions in bogus claims. It has to end now.”

Senate Bill 846 also states that if an employee is discharged from his or her employer for cause, then temporary partial disability and temporary total disability payments will not be paid.

 

Please call with questions.

Dan 

dan@zeiler.com 

708.597.5900 x134

www.zeiler.com

Source: http://www.dalerighter.com/Media/News/TabId/273/p/27565/v/2000/workers-compensation-reform-legislation-makes-illinois-more-competitive.aspx 

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How a Return to Work Program Can Save You Money on your Workers' Compensation Premium

How a Return to Work Program Can Save You Money on your Workers' Compensation Premium  

A return to work program can help get your employees back to work sooner, but did you know it can also save you money on your Workers' Compensation Premium? Studies have shown that organizations that implement a return to work program can save an average of $2,329 per workers' compensation claim. Watch this short video to find out how you can take advantage of these cost savings by getting your employees back to work sooner and managing your Experience Mod. 

 

 

Please call if you need help setting up a Return to Work Program or if you have any questions.

Dan Zeiler

dan@zeiler.com

708.597.5900 x134 

 

 

 

 

 

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"Workers' Compensation costs are too high." - Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner

Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner on Thursday began laying out priorities for his first year in office, saying property taxes and workers’ compensation costs are too high, Medicaid spending is unsustainable and state workers’ salaries and benefits are too generous.

In a speech he said was a preview of the State of the State address he’ll give next month, the Winnetka Republican said Illinois is in “massive deterioration mode.”

He said he will propose a number of reforms to turn the state around, and indicated they would involve making Illinois more attractive to businesses while slashing spending on everything from health insurance for the poor to public-worker pensions and the state’s payroll. 

“This is the critical lesson that we’re seeing: We’re on an unsustainable path,” Rauner told students at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business. “We need fundamental structural change and raising taxes alone … isn’t going to fix the problem, and in a lot of ways it’s going to make it worse.”

While he didn’t outline specific proposals, many of Rauner’s ideas are likely to draw heavy opposition from majority Democrats and even some fellow Republicans in the General Assembly, as well as public-employee labor unions.

He said higher-than-average costs of workers’ compensation and unemployment insurance are driving businesses out of the state, property taxes are “brutally high” and “shenanigans” in the public-employee pension system have made Illinois’ multibillion-dollar pension debt “a time bomb for taxpayers.”

Rauner said public employees’ average salaries are among the highest of any state in the U.S. and the state’s share of health care premiums is too high. Anders Lindall, spokesman for the American Federation of State, County Municipal Employees Council 31, said Rauner was using numbers that are inaccurate and in some cases outdated. He said public union employees are not the cause of the state’s challenges.

AFSCME, the state’s largest public-employee union, is set to begin negotiations with Rauner’s administration on a new contract. “The type of misleading statement and false facts we see today are not an encouraging first step you want to see from someone who is truly trying to work together for the common good,” Lindall said. 

Rikeesha Phelon, spokeswoman for Senate President John Cullerton, said the Chicago Democrat wants to see how Rauner’s statements translate into legislative policy and a proposed budget. Rauner is scheduled to deliver his budget address on Feb. 18, two weeks after his State of the State.

But Cullerton clearly wasn’t pleased after Rauner ripped legislators in his inaugural speech for leading Illinois into a budget disaster, saying afterward that many of the new governor’s comments were inaccurate and that he “is going to have to learn about state government.”

Rauner on Thursday also named new members of what he’s calling his “Turnaround Team” — people he said have experience in budgeting and management. They include former Hawaii Gov. Linda Lingle, a Republican who will serve as senior adviser. - See more at: http://thez.zeiler.com/workers-compensation-costs-are-too-high-illinois-gov-bruce-rauner#sthash.gpILWH1h.dpuf

 

Dan Zeiler

dan@zeiler.com

708.597.5900 x134

www.zeiler.com

Source: http://chicago.cbslocal.com/2015/01/23/rauner-previews-1st-year-priorities-cut-taxes-medicaid/

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Illinois DOI Announces 2 Convictions Resulting from its Workers’ Comp Fraud Investigations

Illinois Department of Insurance (DOI) Director Andrew Boron today announced investigations by the Department’s Workers’ Compensation Fraud Unit have resulted in two convictions.  A former Crystal Lake police officer charged with workers’ compensation fraud in McHenry County and a former business owner charged with forgery in Cook County have both been convicted and sentenced.

“As I have said before, we take accusations of fraud very seriously.  These convictions are a direct result of our investigations and should send a clear message that workers’ compensation fraud will not be tolerated in Illinois,” said DOI Director Boron. 

The Crystal Lake felon, a former police officer for Crystal Lake, was sentenced to one year of probation, ordered to pay $9,588.13 in restitution, and required to pay $730 in fines, fees, and court costs.  He pleaded guilty in October to workers’ compensation fraud. He made statements to create the impression the nature and extent of an injury he claimed to have suffered to his wrist while at work was more extensive than it really was.  Video surveillance showed him lifting weights in the police station in the month following the injury while he was assigned to light duty.  Additional video surveillance showed him not only lifting weights, but working as a personal trainer. He filed a case with the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission for his wrist injury in October of 2012, but that case was voluntarily dismissed less than a month later, after DOI’s investigator sought to interview him.

The second fellon from Cook County was sentenced to two years of probation.  As part of his probation, he was ordered to complete drug treatment.  He pleaded guilty to forgery in November. He lacked workers’ compensation insurance after his policy was cancelled for non-payment of premium in 2008 then issued false Certificates of Insurance to a general contractor he performed work for as proof of workers’ compensation insurance.  The general contractor, who relied on the Certificates of Insurance provided, was assessed thousands of dollars in additional premium by his own insurance company to cover the uninsured risk. 

Fraud based upon the issuance of false Certificates of Insurance puts employees and companies such as general contractors at risk, yet it is one of the easiest forms of fraud to detect and prevent.  If there is any question as to the authenticity of the documentation being provided regarding workers’ compensation coverage, the certificate holder should contact the insurance company listed on the certificate directly to verify that a policy is in fact in place. 

Dan Zeiler

dan@zeiler.com

708.597.5900 x134

- Provided by WorkersCompensation.com

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2015 Illinois Workers Compensation Rates

I have had many inquiries into the 2015 Illinois Workers Compensation Rates. If anyone has interest send me an email with the Workers Compensation Class Code in question and I will forward the detail.  If you don't know your class code, let me know the type of business you are in and I'd be happy to help.

Dan Zeiler

dan@zeiler.com  

708.597.5900 x134 

- 2015 Illinois Workers Compensation Rates 

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How Are Disability Insurance Policies Taxed?

How are Disability Insurance Policies Taxed?

The general rule for owners and beneficiaries of disability insurance policies is this: If you take a tax deduction for the premiums, then the income from a disability insurance policy is taxable.

For example: If you are the beneficiary of a workplace disability insurance plan, and your employer pays the premiums (and takes a tax deduction for these premiums as an employee compensation business expense), then any income paid to you is taxable as ordinary income.

However, individuals who buy disability income insurance policies generally cannot take a tax deduction for the premiums. Since they do not take a tax deduction, but instead pay their premiums with after-tax dollars, then income benefits paid out to the beneficiary or policy owner are generally tax-free.

The same principle applies if the employer pays a portion of the premiums (taking a business expense deduction) and the employee pays a portion. The employee is not entitled to take a tax deduction on the premiums because the IRS considers the premiums a personal expense to the employee. If the policy pays a benefit, then the employee must pay income tax on a pro rata portion of the benefit. That is, if your employee pays 50 percent of the premium, you must pay income tax on 50 percent of the benefit.

Note: IRS regulations require the calculation to be made based on an average of premium payments going back over three years.

Section 125 (Cafeteria) Plans

If the employer pays a portion of the premium and the employee uses pre-tax dollars to pay for the remainder of the premium then the employee must pay income tax on 100 percent of the benefit. Note that the principle holds throughout - the employee did not pay taxes, in this case, on any of the money used to pay the premiums, and therefore is not entitled to shield the benefit from federal taxes.

In short, if you take a tax benefit on the front end, you have to pay the full income tax bill on the back end - if the plan, in fact, pays benefits.

Owner/Employees of C Corporations

If you are a C corporation owner/employee, you can choose to have your corporation take the tax deduction now or simply own the policy personally. If the corporation pays the premiums, benefits are taxable to the owner/employee.

Sole Proprietors

Like corporation owner/employees, you also have the option of treating premiums as a tax deductible employee compensation expense, or owning the policy personally and paying premiums with after tax dollars. The same basic principle applies as in the above cases, however: If you took a deduction on the premium, benefits are taxable as ordinary income.

Partnerships

Owners of partnerships (partners) are not generally considered to be employees in the same sense that owner/employees of corporations are. The same applies to S corporations that are taxed as partnerships as well as members of limited liability companies. In these cases, while premiums paid to cover employees are deductible (and benefits to these employees are taxable), any costs for insurance for owners gets passed along to their gross income on their personal returns. They don't get to deduct for the premiums, and neither does the partnership. In these cases, benefits are generally income tax-free.

Workers Compensation

Proceeds from workers compensation insurance programs are generally tax-free, if paid under a workers compensation act in your state.

Railroad sick pay under the Railroad Unemployment Insurance Act is generally taxable - unless it is for an injury sustained on the job.

For further information on how disability insurance proceeds are taxed, and see IRS Publication 525 - Taxable and Non-Taxable Income: http://www.irs.gov/publications/p525/ar02.html

If you have questions or concerns on this issue, do not hesitate to call Zeiler Insurance and speak to one of our customer service representatives. As an independent agency, Zeiler Insurance prides itself with quality customer services for the people of the Chicago-land area and the rest of the Midwest. Customer or not, we can review your insurance and see if you are being protected appropriately for the right price.

-Dan Zeiler

dan@zeiler.com

(708) 597-5900  X134

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Do You Need Workers Compensation Insurance?

Do I need workers compensation insurance?

Employers have a legal responsibility to their employees to make the workplace safe. However, accidents happen even when every reasonable safety measure has been taken.

To protect employers from lawsuits resulting from workplace accidents and to provide medical care and compensation for lost income to employees hurt in workplace accidents, in almost every state, businesses are required to buy workers compensation insurance. Workers compensation insurance covers workers injured on the job, whether they're hurt on the workplace premises or elsewhere, or in auto accidents while on business. It also covers work-related illnesses.

Workers compensation provides payments to injured workers, without regard to who was at fault in the accident, for time lost from work and for medical and rehabilitiation services. It also provides death benefits to surviving spouses and dependents.

Each state has different laws governing the amount and duration of lost income benefits, the provision of medical and rehabilitation services and how the system is administered. For example, in most states there are regulations that cover whether the worker or employer can choose the doctor who treats the injuries and how disputes about benefits are resolved.

Workers compensation insurance must be bought as a separate policy. Although in-home business and businessowners policies (BOPs) are sold as package policies, they don't include coverage for workers' injuries.

www.iii.org

If you have questions or concerns on this issue, do not hesitate to call Zeiler Insurance and speak to one of our customer service representatives. As an independent agency, Zeiler Insurance prides itself with quality customer services for the people of the Chicago-land area and the rest of the Midwest. Customer or not, we can review your insurance and see if you are being protected appropriately for the right price.

-Dan Zeiler

dan@zeiler.com

(708) 597-5900  X134

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A Brief History of Workers Compensation Insurance Programs

Workers Compensation in the Ancient World

Almost as long as workers have been getting injured on the job, we have had some formal or informal system of compensating workers for workplace injuries. Workers compensation claims management and processing is, if not the oldest profession in the world, at least pretty close! The earliest recorded formal and legally-mandated workers compensation scheme in the world dates back to at least the year 2050 B.C., in ancient Sumeria, in what is now Iraq. Stone tablets recovered from the city of Ur - about 9 miles from Nasiriyah - established a set system of payments to injured workers, itemized by injury.

The Code of Hammurabi later adopted the practice, as did the Greeks, Babylonians, Romans, Arabs and even the Chinese.

Into the Modern Age

The Prussians, under Otto von Bismarck, were the first modern nation-states to adopt a formal workers' compensation system following the Industrial Revolution, with the Accident Insurance Bill of 1884. Originally conceived as a measure to prevent Marxist political movements from making inroads into the Prussian/German working classes, the Bismarck program actually contained two important innovations that are at the heart of the American workers compensation system today: First, claims were separated from the tort system, so that workers seeking remedy under workers compensation rule could not sue their employers for damages in the courts. Second, claims were processed under an early version of today's "no fault" provisions. Claims could be paid promptly, because there was no need for a magistrate to assign fault or blame through a detailed fact-finding.

The system worked so well, and was so popular, that the largely German-American population of Wisconsin, in 1911, enacted the first workers compensation insurance program in the United States - modeled closely after the Prussian system.

Development in the U.S.

While the U.S. lagged a few years behind the United Kingdom in adopting workers compensation plans, there was a very limited program created for workers who were directly involved in projects involving interstate commerce, such as railway workers, established in 1908. It was limited only to this population because the sentiment at that time was that programs like workers compensation to everyone else was properly left to the states.

At the grassroots level, however, there was a growing public awareness of the hazards of industrial age employment thanks to populist, muckraking writers such as Upton Sinclair, who highlighted the plight of slaughterhouse workers in his novel, The Jungle. This awareness of the hazards of modern industrial employment in the unforgiving factories, plants led to a number of failed attempts to pass legislation in the state assemblies, early on - first in New York (1898), then Maryland (1902),  Massachusetts (1908) and Montana (1909).

The "Great Tradeoff"

Ultimately, the first state to successfully enact a broad workers compensation was the largely German-American population of Wisconsin - then very much the heart of the American Progressivist movement. Their program was modeled closely after the Prussian system, though only after a long debate between business and labor interests. In the end, they came up with the same "great tradeoff," in the parlance of the time, that was at the heart of the Bismarckian model: Employers agreed to provide substantial wage replacement for injured workers through an insurance system, without any fault-finding requirement that would cause devastating delays in payouts to workers who depended on their wages to survive. In return, labor interests agreed to give up the right to sue their employers for covered claims. This allowed employers relief from the risk of outsized claims and judgments.

Once Wisconsin broke the seal though, other states quickly followed suit: 11 more states passed plans of their own that year, four more in 1912, and eight more in 1913. By 1935, some 45 of the 48 states then existing had passed workers compensation laws of their own, and By 1948, a similar program had been established in all 48 states in existence at that time, as well as the future states of Alaska and Hawaii.

Today, all 50 states have enacted similar legislation, including these provisions:

•A no-fault approach to claims processing - workers don't have to demonstrate that their employer was negligent for benefits to be paid.
•Employers are protected from lawsuits (a tort exemption) over workers compensation issues.
•Employers fund workers compensation benefits by paying premiums, which vary depending the state and the occupation of the covered worker.

Additionally, 45 of the 50 states delegate responsibility for claims administration to special boards. Five states - Wyoming, Tennessee, New Mexico, Alabama and Louisiana, keep the process within the judiciary, though in each case a state agency exists to help with administration and prompt disbursement of funds to injured workers.

If you have questions or concerns on this issue, do not hesitate to call Zeiler Insurance and speak to one of our customer service representatives. As an independent agency, Zeiler Insurance prides itself with quality customer services for the people of the Chicago-land area and the rest of the Midwest. Customer or not, we can review your insurance and see if you are being protected appropriately for the right price.

-Dan Zeiler

dan@zeiler.com

(708) 597-5900  X134

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Five Ways to Avoid OSHA Penalties

Five Ways to Avoid OSHA Penalties

During the first half of October 2014, the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration announced a dozen citations against employers. A New Hampshire roofing contractor was fined $61,600 for not providing adequate fall protection. A Connecticut roofing contractor faces several citations following a fatal accident in July. A metal parts processor in Ohio was cited for 10 serious violations and $64,000 in fines over the accidental death of a supervisor. A cabinet maker in New Jersey faces a six-figure fine for exposing employees to a carcinogenic chemical. The death of an employee on a conveyor belt has a Mississippi lumberyard facing a $75,000 penalty.

Noncompliance with OSHA regulations can cost employers a lot of money. The good news is that complying does not have to be cumbersome or expensive. These procedures and attitudes can help a company keep its name out of an OSHA news release.

Improve record keeping. Good documentation is an employer's first defense against an OSHA inquiry. Information gaps in the OSHA 300 log (the record of work-related injuries and illnesses) may prompt inspectors to conduct comprehensive safety audits of businesses. Filling in missing information for the past three to five years can save your business a lot of grief and expense. Check personnel files and workers' compensation loss records for details of accidents.

Focus on ergonomics. Preventing repetitive motion disorders can help businesses avoid citations and penalties. It also reduces workers' compensation insurance premiums in the long run. Analyze how workers are performing their tasks and look for ways to reduce the strain on their joints, necks and backs.

Fix the routine violations first. Some safety issues are simple and cost little or nothing to correct. For example:
•Blocked exits
•Lack of protective equipment, such as gloves and safety goggles
•Poor housekeeping
•Improper storage of materials such as flammable liquids

These problems can accumulate over time. OSHA has penalized businesses with large numbers of violations like these, so it pays to monitor and correct them.

Have a plan for disasters. The weather has become more volatile, as the tornadoes of recent years and storms like 2012's Superstorm Sandy have shown. Contagions such as the Ebola virus can come seemingly from out of nowhere. Businesses must be ready for the unexpected. Disaster plans should include:
•Training for employees on what to do in the event of an emergency
•Procedures for safe evacuation from the building
•Workplace hygiene
•Stockpiling of emergency supplies such as first-aid kits
•Training for employees on how to administer first aid and CPR
•Arrangements for operating from remote locations
•Communications with employees, their families, customers and vendors

Although OSHA is not concerned with some of these aspects of the plan, having them in place will help the business survive the event.

View safety as a profit driver, not a cost center. Preventing workplace injuries costs money, but it also can improve a business's profitability. Some project owners and general contractors will consider bids only from contractors with workers' compensation experience modifications lower than 1.0. Firms with a reputation for safe operations will attract better workers. Also, insurance does not cover many of the costs from workplace accidents, such as time spent on investigating the incident, reduced employee morale, lost productivity, reporting costs, and the cost of OSHA penalties. Money saved on prevented accidents goes straight to the bottom line.

Some workplace injuries occur despite an employer's best efforts to prevent them. However, reasonable steps to improve workplace safety reduce the frequency and severity of injuries, make the business more competitive, and avoid problems when an OSHA inspector visits. To learn more, speak with us!

If you have questions or concerns on this issue, do not hesitate to call Zeiler Insurance and speak to one of our customer service representatives. As an independent agency, Zeiler Insurance prides itself with quality customer services for the people of the Chicago-land area and the rest of the Midwest. Customer or not, we can review your insurance and see if you are being protected appropriately for the right price.

-Dan Zeiler

danz@zeiler.com

(708) 597-5900  X134

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Workplace Safety Tips for Working in Cold Temperatures

Workplace Safety Tips for Working in Cold Temperatures

Depending on how long a person has been exposed to cold temperatures, hypothermia symptoms may vary. The earliest symptoms include fatigue, shivering, confusion and loss of coordination. As hypothermia progresses, it may cause blue skin, dilated pupils, lack of shivering, loss of consciousness, slowed breathing and a lowered pulse.

Treating Hypothermia
 If a worker is suffering from hypothermia, it is important to act quickly. Let the workplace supervisor know immediately, and ask for medical assistance. Take the victim to a warmer room, remove clothing if it is wet and focus on warming the center of the body first. This should include the neck, head, chest and groin. Use dry layers of blankets or material. Do not give the person alcohol to drink, but a warm beverage may help if the person is conscious and able to drink. Once the victim's body temperature has risen, keep the person wrapped up and warm in a blanket. Be sure the neck and head are covered. For victims who have no pulse, start CPR immediately and have someone call 911.

Immersion Hypothermia
 When a person is submerged in cold water, it creates a condition known as immersion hypothermia. This type develops considerably faster than the standard type, which is due to the body's natural response of conducting heat away from itself 25 times quicker than it does with air. Immersion hypothermia can happen in any water that is below 70 degrees Fahrenheit.

Frostbite
 Frostbite happens when part of the body freezes. It results in a loss of color and feeling, and it is most common in the ears, chin, cheeks, nose, toes and fingers. Frostbite can cause permanent tissue damage, and it may even lead to amputation of affected limbs or digits. Workers who are not dressed properly or have poor circulation are more prone to developing frostbite in cold temperatures. Tingling, numbness, stinging, waxy-looking skin and aching are common symptoms. If a worker exhibits symptoms, immerse the affected area in warm water, keep pressure off of it and seek medical attention.

 There are other conditions to watch for such as trench foot, which happens when the feet are exposed to cold and wet conditions. It can occur at temperatures of 60 degrees Fahrenheit or lower. Another condition to watch for is chilblains, which are itchy areas that return with repeated exposure to cold. Ears, cheeks, nose and other exposed areas are usually affected. The itching is due to permanent capillary bed damage. Keeping workers safe is something all employers should make a top priority. The following tips are helpful for this:

 - Be aware of dangerous environmental conditions in the workplace.
 - Know the signs and treatments for illnesses or injuries caused by cold temperatures.
 - Have workers wear appropriate clothing when working in cold or damp locations.
 - Make sure workers are informed about cold-related injuries and illnesses.
 - If possible, have employees work during the warmer part of the day in colder months.
 - Since energy keeps muscles warm, do not work employees to the point of exhaustion.
 - Encourage workers to eat high-calorie foods that are warm when working in the cold.
 - Make sure there is a warm and dry place where workers can take frequent breaks to warm up.
 - Tell workers to avoid caffeine and choose warm or sugary beverages instead.
 - Have employees work in pairs to ensure they may look for danger signs in one another.
 - Workers who are taking certain medications, have poor physical health or have chronic illnesses face increased risks for cold-related injuries and illnesses.

If you have questions or concerns on this issue, do not hesitate to call Zeiler Insurance and speak to one of our customer service representatives. As an independent agency, Zeiler Insurance prides itself with quality customer services for the people of the Chicago-land area and the rest of the Midwest. Customer or not, we can review your insurance and see if you are being protected appropriately for the right price.

-Dan Zeiler

danz@zeiler.com

(708) 597-5900  X134

- See more at: http://thez.zeiler.com/tips-for-workplace-safety-in-this-cold-weather#sthash.GXpsZmIB.dpuf

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Employers: Control Your Workers' Comp Costs

Ways Employers Can Control Their Workers' Compensation Costs

The law requires most businesses to carry workers' compensation insurance. This protects employees and employers both, and it gives income to workers in the event they are injured badly enough they require time off of work to heal. For employers, workers' compensation liability insurance gives coverage for any lawsuits that may be filed due to work-related injuries.

 The amount of money employers pay for workers' compensation insurance will vary depending on the industry of work and the company's claim history. For companies where the work is based out of an office, insurance is much less expensive than it would be for more dangerous jobs such as warehouses, trucking companies or factories. Regardless of the industry, there are several ways employers can keep their workers' compensation costs under control. Keep these helpful tips in mind.

Train all new employees thoroughly. According to research, about 30 percent of claims come from accidents that involve new hires. Employers should review their orientation programs to identify weaknesses and areas for improvement. It is better to be too thorough than not thorough enough with these programs.

Keep safety as the top priority. Not incurring claims is the best way to keep costs lower. Employers should build a culture of safety throughout the workplace that engages workers in their efforts. For example, making safety councils where ideas are solicited from workers about how to make the workplace safer is a useful step.

Screen all potential new hires carefully. Make sure the right workers are hired initially by taking advantage of screening options. Researchers say that workers who are substance abusers are much more likely to cause accidents on the job and sustain injuries. Drug screening programs should be essential in every workplace for possible candidates, and background checks that are applicable with state laws can also help in many instances.

Classify all workers correctly. Classification codes are used to identify workers' levels of compensation. When employees are not classified correctly, the employer may find coverage is inadequate. There are fines for wrongly classifying workers and not having enough coverage.

Manage all claims proactively. If an employee sustains an injury on the job, it is important for the employer to keep track of the worker's condition. He or she should also begin planning for the worker's return as soon as possible. It is better to have the worker come back and perform light duties than to stay off work for a long time waiting to return to his or her traditional heavier duties. Having a worker rejoin the workforce and perform lighter duties is a good way to help reduce a claim as well.

Workers' compensation coverage is a must for all employers. Controlling costs will help keep the business competitive and lower expenses. To learn more, discuss concerns with us.

If you have questions or concerns on this issue, do not hesitate to call Zeiler Insurance and speak to one of our customer service representatives. As an independent agency, Zeiler Insurance prides itself with quality customer services for the people of the Chicago-land area and the rest of the Midwest. Customer or not, we can review your insurance and see if you are being protected appropriately for the right price.

-Dan Zeiler

danz@zeiler.com

(708) 597-5900  X134

- See more at: http://thez.zeiler.com/tips-for-workplace-safety-in-this-cold-weather#sthash.hhYluh89.dpuf

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Managing Your Worker's Comp. Claims

Manage Your Workers' Compensation Claims

How can managing your workers' compensation claims process protect every employee?

The first step is to file the claim right away. To this end, have claim forms available to all supervisors. Some companies keep forms near the first aid kit alongside the OSHA log. Management must acknowledge the problem to correct it, so keep good records.

Keep any information regarding preferred doctors networks or nearest emergency care facility with the first aid kit. Maps to these facilities help in crisis management.

Because of the privacy laws, keeping records of employee health concerns (hypertension, diabetes, allergies to medicines) at the ready is tricky at best. Without making the records readily accessible by anyone, they need to be available to supervisors in an emergency.

The insurance company has a depth of claims experience that no insured can have. If not treated properly, some injuries worsen over time. The company has a right to investigate and guide treatment and rehabilitation. A delay in reporting that causes the situation to worsen may create coverage problems. Dutifully report all claims immediately.

Allow the insurance company to investigate the claim. Usually, if the claim results in only medical bills and no lost time, the company will not spend time finding causation; but your company management needs to understand the progression of events that leads to any loss.

Uncover the cause. Were safety appliances, equipment, and personal protection in place and used properly? When the employee was drug tested after the claim, was that an issue?

Use any claim as an opportunity to discuss safety at your next scheduled safety meeting. Discuss the following topics as collateral to the claim:

Assure employees the injury is covered by workers' compensation and the injured will be cared for properly. If the injured is at work, have them report on the level of care.Discuss the results of the investigation regarding the cause of the loss in neutral terms, but no personal information about the employee. This discussion is about future avoidance, not humiliation.Remind employees of the drug testing policy and explain the policy aims to protect everyone.

If the insurance company investigation implies fraud, fake injury, review safety rules or regulations in a more generic form. Perhaps discuss slips, trips, and falls prevention as opposed to that specific incident.

Risk avoidance is your best measure against workers' compensation injuries. Maintaining a safety culture with training, meetings, and management leadership keeps a workplace safer. Having proper paperwork and first aid readily available reduces the lost production effect of injuries.

The more prepared you are to handle an injury professionally, the more you protect your workforce. Manage ahead of the crisis with proper planning.

If you have questions or concerns on this issue, do not hesitate to call Zeiler Insurance and speak to one of our customer service representatives. As an independent agency, Zeiler Insurance prides itself with quality customer services for the people of the Chicago-land area and the rest of the Midwest. Customer or not, we can review your insurance and see if you are being protected appropriately for the right price.

-Dan Zeiler

dan@zeiler.com
(708) 597-5900  X134

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Following Work Place Injuries

Why You Should Be Following Workplace Injuries in Chicago, IL

No matter what type of business you operate, all employers should be ready, willing, and able to conduct their own injury investigation immediately following an incident. Early intervention on your part will be essential in cases where there's been a serious injury or an injury of questionable nature. Such a proactive approach will allow you to keep the incident from spiraling out of control and reduce your liability exposure. After all, the last thing any employer wants to do is engage in costly court actions, some of which could spell the demise of the business.

The following are the three main reasons you must immediately investigate an incident:

1. This time will be your only opportunity to look into the legitimacy and cause of the injury while it's fresh, not possibly tainted by elapsed time.

2. It will be the best opportunity to make an informed managerial decision based on the most thorough understanding of the underlying cause of the incident.

3. It will be the best chance to obtain witness accounts of the incident. Time elapsing could allow witnesses to forget vital details, collude with others, or be intimidated into a false statement.

Now that it's clear why you need to investigate, you'll want to understand how to do so. An investigation is basically an objective, logical process that's conducted step-by-step. It's vital that assumptions aren't made and that conclusions aren't jumped to without completing the process.

It's best to designate specific individuals to carryout investigations. Of course, this designated investigator should thoroughly understand both federal and state laws. He/she should also understand the importance of keeping the results and details of the investigation confidential. Alternatively, it will also be of vital importance to the investigation process that your immediate supervisors have been trained to provide as much detail as they can about incidents.

The investigator will determine if a worker's alleged workplace injury had any casual connection with their employment. For example, it needs to be determined whether or not the worker was exposed to a particular risk or danger at the time of the incident.

Keep these three essential steps in mind as you begin any investigative process:

1. Protect the incident site.

Make every effort to preserve the incident site until either it's no longer viable, legislative requirements have been met, or the investigation has been completed. If this isn't possible, then at least do what you can to make a thoroughly detailed representation of the site. You may use plastic containers or bags to help preserve the integrity of the evidence collected and prevent it from becoming contaminated. You may find it necessary to gather, remove, and store physical evidence in an alternative, secure area.

2. Document the incident site.

If possible, don't remove any physical evidence from the incident site until you've documented it with video, pictures, and drawings. The distance and physical location of evidence can be shown with a diagram. If any equipment was involved in the incident, then you should document the machine's serial number, manufacturing information, and maintenance and service records.

3. Take witness statements.

Of course, you should in no way jeopardize or interfere with an injured worker receiving medical treatment. However, if the severity of the injury allows, you should obtain an immediate statement from the injured worker. Then, you should make a list of all potential witnesses and interview them as soon as possible. If feasible, you can sequester the witnesses and interview them separately to help avoid any possible collaboration, collusion, or intimidation from taking place. Make it perfectly clear to all the witnesses that they aren't to have discussions about the incident with other co-witnesses or co-workers. Make sure that the written statements from the witnesses are in their own words, even if grammatically incorrect, and doesn't contain any blank spaces. Ask the witnesses to sign and date their final statement.

It will be significantly easier for you to determine the validity of disability and compensation claims when you've used the above investigative process to determine the cause of the injury. You'll have the detailed documentation to address any questionable issues and possibly even thwart unfounded litigation claims.

If you have questions or concerns on this issue, do not hesitate to call Zeiler Insurance and speak to one of our customer service representatives. As an independent agency, Zeiler Insurance prides itself with quality customer services for the people of the Chicago-land area and the rest of the Midwest. Customer or not, we can review your insurance and see if you are being protected appropriately for the right price.

Dan Zeiler

dan@zeiler.com

(708) 597-5900  X134

www.insurancenewsletters.com

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Having a Well-Designed Return-To-Work Program

 

A Well-Designed Return-to-Work Program Helps Your Employees Find Their Way Back to Work

Return-to-work programs are specifically designed to assist employees out on disability in making a gradual return to work. Instead of assigning an employee a job with established tasks, such as commonly done when an employee is transitioning back to their routine job after a temporary medical restriction, return-to-work programs should include a variety of temporary and transitional work assignments that are flexible and take the needs of the employee's temporary medical restriction into account.

Keep the following points in mind as you design your return-to-work program assignments:

1. Your policy book should include a section on transitional work assignments. Make sure that its clear and concise in explaining that transitional work assignments are mandatory and what the consequences will be for refusing to take an appropriate transitional assignment.

2. Ask your supervisors to compose a list of tasks that could be assigned and performed by a transitioning employee, especially looking at tasks that have been delayed due to a lack of time or manpower. Jobs that are currently being outsourced can also make ideal assignments.

3. Make sure that assignments are congruent with the employee's Work Status Report. This report is completed by the employee's physician and will help you determine what transitional assignments the worker will physically be able to complete.

4. Contact the employee's physician to let him/her know you have a return-to-work program. This initial contact is also the perfect time to ask the physician for recommendations on what types of transitional assignments would be appropriate for the employee's specific temporary medical restriction.

5. Supervisors should also be aware of all medical restrictions a transitioning employee has and understand that any assigned tasks must be within those restrictions.

6. Work with the employee, their treating physician, and their supervisor to establish the transitional assignment's start and end dates prior to the employee returning to work.

7. The specifics of temporary assignments should be documented, including the physical requirements for the assignment, the location from which the employee will be completing the assignment, and the schedule for the assignment. The document should also include a statement that any necessary training will be employer-provided. After you get the employee to sign and date the completed document, you can provide them with a copy and place the original in your personnel files.

8. The employee's regular wage or salary shouldn't be reduced during the temporary assignment, as this could impact indemnity payments and leave the employee with a negative attitude.

9. Avoid providing work just to keep the worker busy, as this could leave the employee feeling degraded.

10. Avoid modifying regular company rules on tardiness; time-off requests, even for medical appointments; attendance; and so forth.

11. Do monitor your employee's progress and make routine follow-ups with their physician.

12. Transitional assignments should never continue indefinitely for any employee, especially once an employee has been released back to regular duty by their physician. Look at non-medical issues that may be behind any delay in an employee being able to return to their permanent job within the time their doctor recommended.

When a return-to-work program is properly designed, it can help you retain your valued employees and help them continue to earn a living. Even though an employee with a medical restriction probably won't be functioning at their full potential, they can still make valuable contributions to your business.

If you have questions or concerns on this issue, do not hesitate to call Zeiler Insurance and speak to one of our customer service representatives. As an independent agency, Zeiler Insurance prides itself with quality customer services for the people of the Chicago-land area and the rest of the Midwest. Customer or not, we can review your insurance and see if you are being protected appropriately for the right price.

-Dan Zeiler

dan@zeiler.com

(708) 597-5900  X134

InsuranceNewsletters.com

www.zeiler.com

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