Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Tips to make sure your bird is fully cooked

“My mother is such a lousy cook that Thanksgiving at her house is a time of sorrow.” – Comedian, Rita Rudner

Yup, the pressure is truly on for cooks of a Thanksgiving feast. Guests might overlook the poorly executed sweet potatoes. They might even hold off on panning the over-seasoned, soggy stuffing.

But cook that bird wrong and your dinner table will deflate faster than the Snoopy balloon after the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade. However, with some careful planning and following of the tips below, you’ll ensure your bird is safely roasted.

•  First things first. Make sure your turkey is thawed before cooking. If thawing in a refrigerator, allow 24 hours for each 4 to 5 pounds. That means a 12- to 16-pound bird will need three to four days to completely thaw.

•  Heat it up. Set your oven temperature for 325 degrees Fahrenheit.

•  165 is the target. Use a meat thermometer to remove any guesswork. The turkey needs to reach an internal temperature of 165 degrees, which means a cook time of roughly three to four hours for a 12- to 16-pound bird.

•  Leave it unstuffed. While many stuff their birds, it’s recommended that stuffing be cooked in a separate casserole dish. If you do stuff the turkey, it will require additional cooking time. 

•  Know your variables. Among the variables that can impact cook times are the accuracy of the oven; whether the bird is stuffed or not; if the cook pan is dark or shiny (dark roasting pans cook faster). An oven-cooking bag also can accelerate the cook time.

For additional safety tips about cooking your Thanksgiving turkey, download a PDF from the U.S. Department of Agriculture here.

Check out more at Secura website 

Friday, October 26, 2012

NSC 2012: Preventing Serious Injuries and Fatalities

If occupational injury rates are on a downward trend, that’s good news, right? Well, yes and no – while minor and less severe injuries may be on the decline, serious and fatal injuries are not following suit. According to Colin Duncan, CEO of BST, a company that helps organizations improve their workplace safety performance, EHS professionals must start looking at fatalities and serious injuries differently.
“When we see a statistic that workplace fatalities are not going down at the rate that injuries are, we need to understand why,” Duncan said during the Oct. 23 occupational keynote at the National Safety Council (NSC) Congress and Expo in Orlando, Fla. “We need to accept that the things that lead to serious injuries and fatalities are not necessarily the same things we’ll see for non-serious injuries and fatalities.”
Last year, BST released a white paper suggesting that reducing minor injuries and illnesses may not translate to a reduced potential for fatalities or serious injuries. Duncan followed up on that research during his presentation at NSC, where he encouraged EHS professionals to focus the underlying causes and influencing factors that specifically surround serious incidents and fatalities.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

JP Morgan's Tom Lee Has 10 Reasons Why You Should Get Bullish On Housing

Last week, JP Morgan's equity research team led by Tom Lee published a big 80-page report arguing that the U.S. is in the early stages of an up-cycle.
Lee included 10 reasons to support his argument:

Read more:

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Work Comp Claims Reporting Made Easy

Taking the proper steps in your organization to ensure prompt reporting of all workers compensation claims is essential to helping control your claim costs. As an employer, there are several things you can do to ensure documentation and reporting of a claim goes smoothly.
Reporting requirements
The Division of Workers' Compensation requires that "an employer or its insurer report the injury, other than an injury that requires immediate first aid and no further medical treatment or lost time from work, to them within 30 days after knowledge of the injury. Employers have to report all injuries to their insurance carrier within five days of the date of injury or within five days of the date on which the injury was reported to the employer by the employee, whichever is later."
Missouri Employers Mutual encourages our policyholders to report all injuries, even if it only required immediate first aid. Reporting minor injuries allows for two benefits. First, when a claim is reported to us, we report it to the Division of Workers’ Compensation which establishes the beginning of the statute of limitations on the claim. Second, if the minor injury ends up requiring further medical treatment or lost time becomes a factor, the claim is already in the system and can be assigned quickly to a claims representative for handling.
Train management and staff on claim documentationThe proper documentation makes all the difference in successfully reporting a claim. Train your supervisors and managers about what documentation is needed when an employee reports a work-related injury. Start the process with basic but crucial questions including, were there any witnesses? If so, have the witnesses document exactly what they saw or heard and have them sign their statement. It is also very important to have the injured employee recount, in their own words, exactly what occurred and have them sign the document.
Documentation makes it easy to gather incident information including the date and time the injury occurred, where and how it occurred, the severity of the injury, and body part(s) injured.
Review personnel files annuallyAlong with the incident details, you will also be required to report some personal information on the injured employee. The information is required, so it is very important to keep all of your personnel files up to date. When reviewing personnel files you should ask yourself, do you have the employee's legal name, date of birth, social security number and home address? If you do not require employees to update their information when they move, marry, etc., you may not have up-to-date records. The employee’s hire date is also important for reporting and should prompt you to verify if they have had a recent promotion that resulted in a job title or salary change. If your company does not have a formal process for keeping personnel records up-to-date, we suggest that you implement one.
Although a lot of information is needed for reporting a claim, the process doesn’t have to be complicated.  Put an injury reporting procedure in place that includes documentation of all work-related injuries (both major and minor), training supervisors and managers on the documentation and reporting requirements, and keeping your personnel files updated. For more information about reporting and managing injuries, check out the injury management tutorial on WorkSAFE Center and our prompt reporting video on YouTube.
Give one of our Agents a call 800-392-0423 or click here to email us.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Seven tips to prevent backing accidents in company vehicles

Thursday, July 19, 2012   

No matter what industry you work in, driving a company vehicle includes risk — from the possible cost of property damage to the potential for lawsuits. And those risks multiply when you need to back up a vehicle. Whether you’re an employer or a driver, it’s important to be trained in proper backing.
Follow these tips to prevent vehicle backing accidents: 

•  Know your blind spots. The larger the vehicle, the larger the blind spot. Ask an employee to stand directly behind a parked vehicle with a safety cone. Have him or her walk back from the vehicle, set down the cone when it becomes visible to the driver, and measure the distance of the blind spot. 

•  Walk around the entire vehicle, observing the proximity of structures, other cars, pedestrians, or overhanging wires. Map it out in your head before you get behind the wheel. 

•  Avoid backups when possible. In a parking lot, pull through to the space ahead of you; don’t leave room for someone to park in front of your vehicle. If possible, park in the street rather than a driveway. 
•  Don’t park in alleys where you can’t drive through. Backing out of an alley into a busy street is dangerous for everyone. If you must park in the alley, back in (if local regulations allow it). 

•  Use a spotter for difficult situations. Communicate with hand signals that the driver and spotter understand. This is important for situations where children are present, such as schools, play areas, and residential jobsites. Children are unpredictable and easily hidden in your blind spots. 

•  Get proper rest. Fatigue and lack of rest are major contributors to fleet accidents. Make sure drivers are well rested and alert when driving. 

•  Use technology with caution. Back-up alarms warn bystanders when a vehicle is in reverse. Back-up sonar warns a driver when an object is in the reverse path, and closed-circuit mini TV cameras give a clear view of the path. However, these tools can fail if the driver or surrounding pedestrians ignore or fail to use these devices properly.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Teens and Summer Employment: Manage the Risks

Teens and Summer Employment: Manage the Risks

As the school year comes to a close, many employers will hire teenagers for summer jobs. Although the number of employed teenagers dropped drastically since 2008, those numbers are slowly rising again. In 2011, the number of youths (16 to 24 years old) employed in the United States was 18.6 million—an increase of 1.7 million from 2010 (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics). Hiring teens can prove to be very beneficial for employers, teens and the community. With the trend on the rise, it is a great time to revisit the best ways to manage your risk.  
Higher injury ratesInjury rates are higher among teenagers. Statistics for 2011 shows that the non-fatal injury rate for employees 15 to 17 years old was double the injury rate for employees 25 and older. The higher injury rate can be attributed to a lack of experience and an under-appreciation for workplace hazards. The lack of work experience disqualifies most teenagers from more technical jobs, so they accept positions that are more hazardous by nature or involve manual labor which is inherently more risky. According to the National Consumer League, the five most dangerous jobs for teenagers last summer were:
  • Agriculture—harvesting crops and using machinery
  • Construction and height work
  • Driver/Operator—forklifts, tractors, ATVs
  • Outside labor—landscaping, grounds keeping and lawn service
  • Sales crews—traveling
Managing the riskOSHA (the Occupational Safety and Health Administration) suggests following these simple steps to prevent injuries to working teens:
  • Give clear instructions and safety precautions to take.
  • Ask for your instructions to be repeated and give an opportunity for questions.
  • Demonstrate how to perform tasks.
  • Observe tasks being performed and correct any mistakes.
  • Demonstrate how to use safety equipment.
  • Prepare teens for emergencies.
  • Ask if there are any additional questions.
Taking these simple steps can drastically reduce risk of injury while encouraging safe working habits for all employees.

  • 06/04/2012
  • Written by Brad Williamson
    Claims, MEM
  • Claims Management, Global

Friday, June 1, 2012

Balancing Cost and Performance When Purchasing Vehicles

By Mary Jo Welch 

Not that long ago, pickup trucks and cargo vans were basically “one size fits all” and making a choice was as simple as finding the lowest price. Today, with more than 100 combinations for pickup trucks and cargo vans, getting the best value requires balancing cost and performance. Often the difference between the lowest price and that of the right size vehicle is 10 percent or less, but costs for maintenance and repairs, poor fuel economy and lower resale value can end up being much greater in the long run.    

Selecting a pickup truck or cargo van should begin with an honest assessment of the weight and volume the vehicle will be hauling, including aftermarket equipment such as bins and ladder racks, as well as the estimated weight of the driver, passengers, carry-on toolboxes and other routine variables. Other factors include whether the truck will be driven mostly on the highway, off-road or in stop-and-go traffic, as well as if it will be used for towing.  

While today’s manufacturer’s warranties usually cover everything except normal wear-and-tear items like tires, brake pads and filters, failure to comply with a truck’s recommended weight can end up voiding the warranty on components that fail due to overloading.  

Manufacturers determine the Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) and tow ratings based on the rating of the axles, body/bed, frame, suspension, tires, engine and transmission. Operating a vehicle above the GVWR creates a potential safety hazard by affecting the way the truck handles and stops; it also affects performance and reliability.   

Although drivers may be tempted to continue to load materials into their trucks if there appears to be space available, it’s important to remember that the frame, suspension, brakes and tires are not designed for weights above the rating the manufacturer has established. Overloading a truck can cause premature mechanical failures on driveline components such as axles, drive shaft universal joints, transmission, and suspension parts and brakes.  

The easiest way to determine how much weight a vehicle is designed to carry is to subtract its net weight (found in the owner’s manual) from the GVWR (usually found on a placard on the door jam). The remaining number is the maximum weight the vehicle can safely carry, including the driver, fuel and cargo. Aftermarket accessories and equipment also increase the weight of the vehicle and must be added to the net weight listed in the owner’s manual. The best way to check the net weight is to take the vehicle to a certified scale and weigh it as normally loaded with the driver and passengers.  

While a truck or van certainly will be loaded to 100 percent capacity from time to time, a good rule of thumb is to spec vehicles to operate at 80 percent of their GVWR. This will reduce operating costs and help extend the service life of pickup trucks and cargo vans.     

Mary Jo Welch is assistant vice president of Fleet Operations, Vehicle Acquisition and Licensing for Enterprise Fleet Management. For more information, call (877) 23-FLEET or visit or      

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

The Cost of Hand and Wrist Injuries

May 22, 2012 11:08 AM, By Laura Walter via EHS Today

More than 2 million people visited U.S. emergency rooms for symptoms related to the hand and wrist in 2009. Now, researchers in the Netherlands have found that in addition to being pervasive, hand and wrist injuries also are one of the most costly injury types.

According to a new study appearing in the Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery, hand and wrist injuries represent the most expensive type of injury in the Netherlands, costing about $740 million U.S. dollars annually.

The study, "Economic Impact of Hand and Wrist Injuries: Health-Care Costs and Productivity Costs in a Population Study," examined the frequency, cost of treatment and lost productivity associated with hand and wrist injuries and compared them to other emergency department injuries.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Family Business Succession Planning

Operational and Tax Strategies Ensure a Smooth Transition
By Melanie M. LaSota

Statistics reveal that 17 million U.S. family businesses generate 64 percent of gross domestic product and account for 86 percent of new job creation. Unfortunately, less than one-third of family-owned businesses survive the transition to the second generation. Of those that endure, less than half are passed on to the third generation. This failure rate can be attributed partially to a lack of succession planning. Although most family business owners welcome the prospect of eventual retirement, many fail to establish a financial framework for a smooth transition to future generations. 

Choosing a successor ranks among the most complex and emotionally challenging decisions owners face when crafting exit strategies. Selection among multiple children without triggering family discord is a delicate balancing act. In some cases, the child most qualified to assume control of the business lacks the passion to do so, or the child who wants to continue the family legacy the most lacks the business savvy necessary to run a competitive enterprise. To complicate matters, many owners are burdened by a desire to pass the company to the children who actively participate while providing equal treatment to children who chose alternate career paths. 

Fortunately, strategies exist to manage these complications. To equalize treatment among children, an owner may pass the company to participating offspring and purchase life insurance policies to provide for children who are inactive in the business. Alternatively, a business owner may consider providing offspring with equal ownership of the business, with participating children receiving voting rights and inactive children receiving non-voting interests. 

Read the rest of the article here

Monday, May 7, 2012

Public Sector Fatalities in Missouri Now Investigated by the State

Did you know that OSHA does not have jurisdiction over public sector employees in Missouri? This means they do not conduct investigations into public sector workplace fatalities. Public sector fatalities in Missouri have typically only been investigated by insurance companies and attorneys. A recent municipality fatality shed light on the investigation gap. So how has Missouri resolved this problem? 
After the gap was revealed, it was identified that Missouri statute RSMo Section 286.147 empowers the state to perform investigations of all workplace fatalities. In response to this discovery, the Department of Labor and Industrial Relations (DOLIR) established a public sector fatalities investigations unit.
How it works
DOLIR enforces its statutory authority to investigate public sector fatalities by looking at contributing factors such as machines involved, safety policies, training and maintenance records. Additional information is also obtained by interviewing management and co-workers if necessary. The final DOLIR report may be subpoenaed and forwarded to the Attorney General if an investigation finds gross negligence, criminal neglect or criminal liability.
To reduce duplication, DOLIR does not conduct fatality investigations when another regulatory agency is involved. For example, in the case of work-related vehicle crashes DOLIR will use Missouri State Highway Patrol reports. Private-sector fatalities will be investigated by OSHA and DOLIR will then use OSHA’s report.
Working for a safer tomorrow 
The purpose of the investigations is to find cause, not fault. According to Leon Lawson, Assistant Director, Division of Labor Standards, the investigations are used to correct safety problems and develop information to prevent future fatalities. The investigations are documented and forwarded to the Governor’s office, per statutory requirements. At this time there is no reporting requirement, method or statutory authority for levying fines.
Providing a safe work environment is a way to avoid workplace fatalities and injuries. Employers can start by implementing the following:
  • Provide routine safety training.
  • Develop and enforce formal safety rules including a seat belt policy.
  • Properly maintain vehicles and equipment.  
  • Train employees to do their job correctly and recognize hazards.
  • Provide safety gear including confined space air monitors, trench boxes and                                 lockout-tagout equipment.
Want to get started on building a safety program or just need to refresh some policies? Give Construction Insurance TOGO a call at 800-392-0423 or click here to email us.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Breaking Down the Proposed NCCI Experience Plan Rating Changes

The National Council on Compensation Insurance (NCCI) is proposing changes in the Experience Rating Plan formula along with Missouri’s approved loss cost filing effective January 1, 2013. Why the changes and what do they mean for policyholders?
Increase primary/excess split point  
Proposed changes include an increase to the primary/excess split point. The primary/excess split point is the dollar value that splits a loss into its primary cost and excess portions. Currently, the first $5,000 of a loss is considered the primary cost and the portion above $5,000 is considered excess. The proposed increase would bring the primary/excess split point to an inflation-adjusted $15,000 over a three-year transition period.
The $5,000 split point has been in place for approximately 20 years and the average dollar amount per claim has tripled since then. Currently, the primary loss amount that goes into the experience rating formula is much smaller than it was 20 years ago and does meet the current needs. The proposed changes increase the split point to $10,000 in the first year and to $13,500 in the second year. In year three, the changes will further increase the split point to $15,000 plus two years of inflation adjustment (rounded to the nearest $500).
Revise the maximum debit modification formulaThe proposed changes also include increasing the maximum debit modification to 10%, which is more reasonable than the current 0%. The revision also more fully accounts for differences across states in claim severities.
Predicted effectsNCCI does not feel the proposed changes will have any impact on the overall state premium. On an individual risk basis, most employers currently receiving credit experience modifications will receive larger credits. Most employers currently receiving debit experience modifications will receive larger debits. During the initial split point increase to $10,000, NCCI estimates that 93% of risks will receive less than a 10 point change in their experience rating modification. Additional information on this regulatory activity is available on NCCI’s website.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Understanding the Difference Between Work Comp Fraud and Abuse

Workers compensation fraud and abuse are each destructive and expensive. Determining the difference between work comp fraud and abuse can be difficult, but it is important. In Missouri, work comp fraud and abuse each carry different legal consequences. Read more to find out exactly what the difference is and some of the most common examples.
AbuseWorkers compensation claim abuse is defined as any practice that uses the work comp system in a way that is contrary to its intended purpose and/or the workers compensation statute. Abuse can involve the magnification of symptoms that fall short of a lie, or it could involve the exploitation of benefits. While work comp abuse is not a crime in Missouri, it can be cause for work comp benefits to be discontinued.
FraudWorkers compensation fraud requires a lie that is material to the attempt to receive or deny workers compensation benefits. The presence or absence of a material and provable lie is the deciding factor between fraud and abuse. Although the lie is key to proving fraud, additional elements must also be present including intent, materiality and a benefit.
Take a look at some of the most common types of workers compensation fraud and abuse.
The following examples are based on actual workers compensation claims.
Self-inflicted or intentional injury—Fraud A convenience store employee reported that he was assaulted and robbed while taking cash receipts to the bank. The police respond and the workers compensation carrier found the claim compensable and paid for medical treatment and total temporary disability benefits.
As the investigation proceeded, the employee admitted to stealing the cash deposit, and that his friend punched him in the face to make the assault appear more realistic.
The employee was later charged with stealing, filing a false police report and workers compensation fraud. He was ordered to pay restitution to the insurance company for the false claim and reimbursement of the stolen money. In the end, the employee lost his job and gained a felony criminal record, as well as, permanent damage to his vision.     
Job-related injury that never occurred—Fraud  
An employee was riding his four-wheeler and jumping over dunes during the weekend and sustained a serious knee injury. The employee waited until Monday morning and then reported that he hurt his knee just after starting work. Co-workers told the employer that he hurt it over the weekend. The employee was subsequently charged with workers compensation fraud.
Malingering or engaging in activities while allegedly disabled—Fraud or Abuse  
An employee injured his back during the course and scope of his employment. While collecting workers compensation benefits, the employee continued to engage in out-of-state rodeo and barrel jumping events. The employee was photographed on horseback in mid-air as he jumped over barrels with his number and name listed in the caption. This evidence enabled prosecutors to charge him with workers compensation fraud. He lost his job and gained a criminal fraud conviction.   
Workers compensation fraud and abuse are real problems and you can take control by preventing it in your workplace. Download some of fraud prevention materials:
For more information about workers compensation claim fraud contact Construction Insurance TOGO at 1.800.392.0423

Cell Phones on the Road: Banned for Some, Dangerous for All

Cell phones, smart phones and texting make our lives easier. But this convenience is one of the leading causes of vehicle accidents today, and it doesn’t have to be. On Jan. 3, 2011, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) announced a ban prohibiting truck and bus drivers from using hand-held cell phones while operating vehicles. Learn more about the regulations and consequences on theFMCSA website. Even if you are not in the transportation business, it’s important to work toward preventing distracted driving accidents.
Take a stand, develop a policyDistracted driving affects every industry, and the only way to prevent it is to face it head on. All company drivers, not just drivers of commercial vehicles, put themselves, other drivers and their employers at risk when they text or use cell phones while driving. Missouri Employers Mutual recommends that all employers develop and enforce a cell phones and driving policy.
An effective distracted driving policy should:
  • apply to all employees driving for company business.
  • clearly state that using smart or cell phones is prohibited while the vehicle is in motion.
  • be reviewed annually with each employee and documented.
Employers that contribute to and condone distracted driving open the company to liability. OSHA investigates vehicle crashes that are caused by texting and fines employers under the General Duty Clause. It’s not difficult to determine if a cell phone contributed to an accident because phone records are subject to discovery and can be used against an employer in a criminal and/or civil court. Data logs can prove that a driver was distracted and that the accident was preventable.
Support the policyEmployers can support their employees in smart driving by asking them not to multitask while behind the wheel. Make sure you encourage your employees to stop and check messages, return calls, eat or refresh before asking them to get back on the road. Don’t exacerbate the problem by requiring employees to take phone calls from dispatchers or the office while driving.
Learn more about keeping your employees and everyone else safe on the road at WorkSAFE Center.

OSHA Record keeping Requirements are Worth Keeping Up With

When a workplace injury occurs, there is a mountain of paperwork to go with it. Somewhere in that mountain are OSHA’s recordkeeping requirements. Although injury recordkeeping can seem like just another thing on your to-do list, the information it provides is not only required but it is vital in preventing future injuries. Recordkeeping data identifies past problems and trends to consider when updating your workplace safety program.
Keep in mind that an OSHA log is an important part, but does not include all types of injuries and incidents that could have resulted in employee injury or those that only resulted in property damage. You need to keep track of all incidents to make your workplace safe.
Change is on the way, current requirements still apply
OSHA has issued a proposed standard for public input which means the existing requirements will likely change in the near future. For now, employers with more than 10 employees are required to report according to the current standards. Some lower hazard business sectors are typically exempt from recordkeeping. Visit OSHA’s website to find out if you are exempt. It’s important to note that if OSHA or the Bureau of Labor Statistics has requested your company to maintain a recordkeeping log, you are still required to do so even if you are on the exempt list.
All employers, including those that are exempt from OSHA recordkeeping requirements, must report to OSHA at 1.800.321.OSHA (6742) any incident that results in a fatality or the in-patient hospitalization of three or more workers within eight hours of occurrence.
OSHA logs that must be maintained
Employers that are not exempt from OSHA recordkeeping requirements must maintain three different logs. These forms must be kept up-to-date for five years after the year they cover. Unless requested, you do not have to mail these to OSHA. Download each of the forms in PDF or Excel format.
OSHA Form 300 (Log of Work-Related Injuries and Illnesses)
  • Lists injuries and illnesses, and tracks days away from work, days of restricted work or transferred
  • Maintained and updated throughout the year as incidents occur and must be filled within seven days of the injury
  • Refer to OSHA’s Recordkeeping Tutorial and the full standard for details.
OSHA Form 301 (Injury and Illness Incident Report)
  • Records supplementary information about each recordable case 
  • A new form for each injury is added throughout the year as incidents occur.
OSHA Form 300A (Summary of Work-Related Injuries and Illnesses)
  • Displays the totals for the year in each category. This must be posted in the workplace from Feb. 1 through April 30 each year for the prior year’s injuries and illnesses. 
  • Even if no recordable injuries occurred during the year, you are still obligated to post this form.
Visit OSHA’s recordkeeping page for everything you need to know, including which types of businesses need to maintain the records and what qualifies as an OSHA recordable injury.