Here are a few of the common workers’ comp claims filed in the summer months, and what small businesses can do to help reduce the risk of accidents, injuries and illnesses among employees:
Outdoor workers and those who work in non-air conditioned spaces are often at risk for a variety of heat-related illnesses, like heat stress and heat exhaustion. The most severe form of heat-related illness is heat stroke, which is a life-threatening emergency. It’s vital that employers provide proper training to employees and supervisors to ensure they understand the dangers of heat-related illnesses and how it can impact their overall health and safety.
A few things employers can do to reduce the amount of heat-related workers’ comp claims include:
Develop and implement an acclimatization plan for new workers to gradually increase their exposure to heat.
Keep workers hydrated by providing plenty of water and fluids throughout their shift.
Schedule frequent breaks and check in on workers to watch for symptoms of heat-related illnesses.
Young or seasonal worker injuries
Summer not only means a break from the books for teens and college students across the country, but it also represents an opportunity to save some money by picking up a full or part time job.
According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), employees less than 18 years old experience an estimated 160,000 work-related injuries and illnesses every summer, with the majority of these injuries occurring within the restaurant industry. These young or new, seasonal workers generally have less experience and training when they enter the workforce and may not understand some of the basic safety procedures designed to prevent injuries on the job.
To reduce workers’ compensation claims in young or seasonal workers over the summer, employers should require all new hires to participate in safety training programs, understand their right to work in a safe environment and ensure these workers are consistently supervised.
Summer business travel
Summer is a busy travel season for both business and pleasure. Employees required to travel need to be aware of any potential risks this travel involves, and how they can best protect themselves. These risks include:
Unsafe drinking water: Employees should be reminded to drink only bottled water or carbonated beverages and avoid ice cubes in their drinks.
Threats of disease outbreaks in the region, such as measles, Zika and malaria.
Not receiving necessary vaccinations in the appropriate amount of time — in some areas of the world, travelers should receive vaccinations six to eight weeks prior to traveling.
Cleanup and restoration from storms or wildfires
Mother Nature can wreak havoc on commercial property, with heavy rains and high winds from storms destroying the exterior of a building, like roofs, signage, gutters and more. And, 2018 was one of the most destructive wildfire seasons to date, with thousands of commercial structures destroyed in the state of California alone.
These acts of nature and the cleanup process involved can also be hazardous to employees and can result in workers’ compensation claims. Therefore, a few of the steps employers should take to prepare for any nature-related incidents include:
Watch the weather reports to stay abreast of any impending severe storms.
Properly prepare the building by securing any lose items outside, moving items away from exterior glass frontage and unplugging electrical equipment.
Develop an emergency action plan to ensure employees have ample time to leave the premises and return home safely.
Following water damage, protect employees from the risk of mold developing by utilizing dehumidifiers to remove moisture from the air.
Keep the area affected ventilated by opening doors and windows.
Brad Wilkins (Brad.Wilkins@amtrustgroup.com) is loss control manager at AmTrust,