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    Consider Safety Accommodations for the Older Worker

    With age comes wisdom and experience. However, getting older also brings the inevitable decline in physical and sometimes mental agility. This change can present serious challenges for the older worker. The Department of Labor's workplace statistics for 2004 indicate workers 64 and older had the lowest number of workplace injuries, however, the fatality rate for workers 55 and older rose by 10 percent.

    How is it possible for older workers to have fewer job-related injuries than other age groups, but still experience increased fatalities? The answer to that question lies in the body's reaction to the aging process. While older workers may have fewer accidents, when they get injured their injuries are often more severe. A longer healing process allows more time for complications that can lead to death.

    However, it isn't only the possibility of older worker fatalities that must concern employers. The type of injuries the maturing employee suffers is also significant. Older workers tend to report more back injuries than their younger counterparts. In addition, a number of workplace injuries are the result of performing the same tasks over and over. Repetitive motion injuries develop over time. Because of this, older workers report more musculoskeletal injuries since they've had more time for these types of injuries to develop.

    As the work force continues to age, it is important for employers to recognize these facts and make accommodations that will allow older employees to remain safe and healthy. The American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE) recommends the following environmental changes to keep maturing workers safe:

    ·   Improve illumination and add color contrast.

    ·   Eliminate heavy lifts, elevated work from ladders and long reaches.

    ·   Design work floors and platforms with smooth and solid decking while still allowing some cushioning.

    ·   Reduce static standing time.

    ·   Remove clutter from control panels and computer screens and use large video displays.

    ·   Reduce noise levels.

    ·   Install chain actuators for valve hand wheels, damper levers or other similar control devices, which bring the control manipulation to ground level and help reduce falls.

    ·   Install skid-resistant material for flooring and especially for staircase treads.

    ·   Install shallow-angle stairways in place of ladders when space permits and where any daily, elevated access is needed to complete a task.

    ·   Utilize hands-free, volume-adjustable telephone equipment.

    ·   Increase task rotation, which will reduce the strain of repetitive motion.

    ·   Lower sound system pitches, such as on alarm systems, as they tend to be easier to hear.

    ·   Lengthen time requirements between steps in a task.

    ·   Increase the time allowed for making decisions.

    ·   Consider necessary reaction time when assigning older workers to tasks.

    ·   Provide opportunities for practice and time to develop task familiarity.

    Bear in mind that even though these changes are ostensibly being made for the older worker, they will actually have a beneficial effect on the health and safety of the entire work force population.


    Learn Safe Boating Rules and Requirements

    Every year, the U.S. Coast Guard reports thousands of accidents and hundreds of deaths resulting from recreational boating. Four leading causes of these tragic accidents are speeding, recklessness, inattention, and operator inexperience. These four problems magnify themselves, especially when combined with other safety concerns and issues.

    Utilize and Maintain Safety Equipment

    Having the right safety equipment on-board and in good working order can mean the difference between life and death on the water.

    *Fire extinguishers - Boats with false floors or enclosed compartments require a Coast Guard approved fire extinguisher to be on board at all times. Be sure to keep it charged, and in a handy location.

    *Life jackets and Personal Flotation devices - Each person on board needs to have a U.S. Coast Guard approved life jacket. Boats that are more than 16 feet long need to have a PFD that can be thrown to a person who has fallen overboard.

    *Boat lights - Test your lights before you leave the dock. Be sure to carry extra batteries as well.

    *Anchor - Not only do you need to have an anchor, but you also need to know how to use it. Each year improper anchoring is a cause of fatal and non-fatal accidents.

    *Emergency supplies - Keep a first aid kit on board along with maps, flares, and matches. It is wise to keep your emergency supplies in a floating pouch.

    Leave the Alcoholic Beverages Onshore

    *Never operate a boat when under the influence of drugs or alcohol. The effects of alcohol can be increased by exposure to wind and sun, as well as noise and vibration.

    *Most years, about a third of all boating deaths are drug or alcohol related. Don't become a grim statistic. Stay sober and alive.

    Loading and Unloading Your Boat

    *Know your boat's weight capacity and abide by it. Overloading your boat can spell trouble.

    *Practice good boat launch etiquette and safety. Load equipment into your boat before you arrive at the ramp. Ask someone to hold the bow line and to help out in boat handling at the pier. Be courteous and cooperative with other boaters upon launching and upon your return.

    Use Good Judgment and Common Sense

    *Tell a close friend or family member where you are going and when you will return.

    *Read and understand local and federal boating regulations before entering the water.

    *Do not allow passengers to ride on seatbacks or on gunwales, and ask them to stay inside of protective railings.

    *Watch your speed and follow all boat traffic rules.

    When it comes to boating, take steps to prevent accidents before they happen.


    Understanding the Role of Loss Mitigation Insurance

    Loss Mitigation Insurance transfers an unknown or unwanted exposure from one company to an insurance company for a price. LMI caps what would otherwise be an unknown amount and is particularly effective if the company with the liability is in the process of merging or being acquired.

    Employers of all sizes can benefit from a LMI policy. The coverage helps risk managers dispose of costly litigation that could damage the bottom-line and impair their ability to complete a refinancing arrangement. Before LMI, when an uncertainty in a merger or acquisition came up, both sides walked away until the lawsuit or financial impediment was resolved.

    One solution used in such cases required the seller to deposit funds into an escrow account to cover the estimated losses from the claim or lawsuit. This tied up capital and there was no guarantee that the amount deposited would be enough to cover the final settlement. With a LMI policy, these problems can be resolved and the transaction put on track again.

    LMI Takes Many Forms

    There are several ways in which LMI programs can be structured. LMI can be underwritten to apply either in conjunction with, or independent of other insurance in force, such as Directors and Officers liability or general liability. For example, a deal to merge ABC Company with XYZ was delayed because of XYZ's concern over the catastrophic exposure for a potentially adverse judgment against ABC. ABC arranged for a LMI policy to be written which responds if the loss exceeds the limits of ABC's existing liability insurance. LMI relieved ABC of a potentially damaging award and the merger proceeded.

    Another example of how a LMI policy helped solve a legal problem within a rigid time limit involved a consumer products company that was in the final stages of buying a company in an Eastern European country. The target company had been involved in litigation with a former employee regarding a patent and though most of the complaint had been dismissed, and a damage analysis of the remaining counts showed potential damages to be minimal, the purchasing company was reluctant to move forward. Further, the acquiring company's option to purchase the Eastern European company was to expire in less than three months.

    Although the investor wanted to exercise its option to purchase the company within the time limit, the patent litigation would not be resolved before that date. Also, the investing company was unfamiliar with the legal system in the target company's country, which caused further concern. The solution: a LMI program was purchased by the target company that would cover excess losses from future settlements of the patent claim and the acquisition was completed before the time limit expired.


    Premium Commitment

    The size of the premium for a LMI policy depends on a combination of the risk analysis by the underwriter and the policy's structure. Most LMI contracts are structured so the policy's limits are never reached. If the policy is not breached, there is no claim. Because the risks covered by LMI policies usually have lengthy tails, it takes a long time for them to be settled, which permits insurers to realize investment gains from collected premiums.

    Although LMI has only been written for a little more than five years, premium volume has skyrocketed from zero to more than $500 million annually in this time. Insurers are writing more of this coverage because underwriters have become more experienced in determining the extent of the exposure as well as drafting and pricing the appropriate policies.

    An insurer's willingness to underwrite LMI depends on the state of the insurance market and the availability of reinsurance. If the insurance market hardens, insurers have less access to the capital to support their underwriting efforts. In a soft market, insurers seek out opportunities to expand premium volume and are more willing to write LMI.


    Insurance Considerations for Parents with College Kids

    In today's world, college students arrive on campus with more than their clothes, notebooks and pencils. They usually come with an arsenal of electronic gadgets. Laptops, smart phones, mp3 players, tablet PCs, printers and other devices are usually in their luggage. In some cases, today's college students may not even live on campus. They may live hundreds of miles from their campuses. However, every college student has more expensive learning supplies than students in the past did. The belongings of college kids living in dorms will usually be covered under a homeowners insurance policy. Full-time students living off campus may also be covered if their primary residence is still their parents' home. Insurers have several other qualification criteria, and they usually place a maximum age limit of 24.

    Although the liability limits of a homeowners insurance policy usually apply equally to covered college students, many insurers place a 10 percent cap on the possessions limit. However, some insurers may not have sufficient provisions to cover college kids in certain situations. Many parents want to purchase additional coverage to ensure their kids will be taken care of. A renters insurance policy is often the best solution. It usually costs between $150 and $200 annually. If a child will be living with roommates, the policy will not cover the roommates' possessions. Another important possession to consider is a college kid's car.

    Parents should ensure their kids are fully covered when going to college. Rates will fall or rise depending on the school's location. Some students may opt to attend college without taking a car. This is especially true for students who attend college in large cities where efficient bus systems exist. When this happens, parents should contact their insurers if the campus is at least 100 miles away. In many cases, parents receive a discount totaling up to 20 percent. However, students will still be covered on holiday visits and during summers at home.

    Another important consideration is health insurance. Many college kids are known for making poor nutritional choices, experiencing high stress and not getting enough sleep. These factors can add up to more trips to the doctor. As a rule, student health plans offered by schools are very limited. They are expensive, have low cap amounts and may require students to seek care only on campus. Since children are usually covered by their parents' medical insurance, most parents opt to rely on this type of coverage. However, children of parents with limited HMO plans may only be able to seek emergency treatment on campus. This could mean much higher bills or higher copay amounts.

    An individual health insurance policy may be the best option for parents who have limited HMO plans. At about $150 less per month for one individual, these plans are affordable. Premiums are lower with high deductibles. Students with plans featuring a deductible of $1,200 or more may open a health savings account and make contributions without tax penalties.

    Another consideration for college students is identity theft insurance. Typically, this coverage is limited. It cannot prevent parents or students from becoming victims of identity theft, and it doesn't cover financial losses directly.  However, it does give coverage for the cost of reclaiming you or your student's financial identity.  For instance,it may cover the costs of making copies, making phone calls, mailing documents, lost wages, and attorney fees.  Parents should check first to see if their homeowners policy includes identity theft insurance while the student is away from the family home. If a student is renting an apartment, ask if his/her renters insurance covers identity theft, or if that could be added to the policy. 

    To learn more about insurance options for college students, discuss these issues with an agent.


    Recognize the Common Culprits of Safety Program Failure

    There are several common, identifiable reasons why safety programs fail.  By being aware of these potential barriers to the success of your safety program, you can modify your program to guard against them.  Commonly culprits of safety programs failure include:

    Support from the Top Down

    When employees don't perceive their superiors as visibly committed to their organization's safety program, they likely will not invest themselves in the program either.  Senior management and department leaders need to epitomize the procedures of a successful safety program.  They also need to be actively involved in both recognizing safety successes and implementing consequences for program violations.


    To be committed to a safety program, employees need to understand the critical nature of safety and how accidents impact the organization and its employees.  They need to understand why they are investing their time and energy towards the safety program.   Specific achievable goals should be developed and rewarding employees for success should be considered.  Structuring goals in a manner that produces short-term successes can help build enthusiasm for the program. 


    To keep the program in the forefront, safety leaders need to regularly communicate with staff about their expectations, the successes of the program, the consequences of not participating in the program and other key issues.  An ongoing training and education component should be central to the program.  Using multiple communication methods can be very effective. 

    Corporate Structure

    A highly decentralized organization can be detrimental to standardizing a safety program.  A company needs to find methods to impose uniformity and consistency across various departments and offices of their company. 

    The Time Factor

    In every organization, time is an extremely valuable commodity.  Management needs to assign priority status to safety and allows its employees to take the time to maintain a successful safety program. 

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