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Scurich Insurance Services has been serving the Monterey Bay Area since 1924. Our mission is to partner with our customers and provide them superior service and value. We are a member of United Valley Insurance Services, Inc., a cluster of over 70 California Independent Insurance agencies, which produced over $530,000,000 of annual premium last year. At Scurich Insurance Services we understand your business and our community. Our customers look to us for comprehensive solutions. We have established relationships with more than 40 of the nation’s leading insurance providers, which allows us to deliver multiple, competitively-priced options and a team of experts to guide you through the process. When you need to file a claim, change a policy or process a certificate you can depend on Scurich Insurance Services to respond quickly to your request. SERVICES In order to provide value added benefits to our customers that go beyond the insurance policy Scurich Insurance Services offers the following additional services: Safety Programs – English and Spanish OSHA Compliance Safety Policies – English and Spanish Online OSHA 300 Log Safety Posters and Payroll Stuffers - English and Spanish Certificates of Insurance – If received before 3:30pm done the same day Risk Management Consulting Brokerage Services Represent most major insurance companies to better market your account. Safety tapes/DVD’s BUSINESS LINES Commercial Commercial Packages Business Auto Workers Compensation Umbrella Bonds Directors & Officers Professional Liability Employment Practices Liability Personal Auto Home Umbrella Recreational Vehicles Boatss Life & Health Individual Medical Individual Life Group Medical Group Benefits

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OSHA Launches Campaign To Curb Construction Falls

Author TonyScurich , 10/28/2016
Falls are the leading cause of construction deaths. In 2014, fatalities from falls accounted for 359 out of 899 deaths in the construction industry. To curb such deaths and injuries, OSHA has joined forces with the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health and National Occupational Research Agenda (NORA).The Construction Nationwide Safety Awareness Campaign is comprehensive and based on three key steps for employers: Plan for safety, provide proper equipment, and train workers. To ensure safety on job sites that involve working from heights, plan how the project will be done and the tools needed. When estimating job costs, include these resources and have them available on site. For example, on a roofing job, think about such potential fall hazards – holes, sky-light, leading edges, etc. – and then select appropriate fall protection equipment, such as personal fall arrest systems (PFAS). Provide workers who are six feet or more above lower levels with fall protection and the necessary equipment including ladders, scaffolds, and safety gear. If roof work is involved, have a PFAS with a harness for each worker who needs to tie off to the anchor. Make sure the device fits and inspect all equipment regularly. Finally, give workers “toolbox talk” training on potential fall hazards and the set-up and use of the safety equipment they’ll be using. The OSHA campaign has a number of training tools, job site posters, and other educational resources – (many of which target workers with limited English proficiency). To learn more about how to keep your workers from falling down (literally)on the job, feel free to get in touch with our construction insurance specialists.

Construction Site Traffic Management Checklists: Safety Pays!

Author TonyScurich , 10/26/2016
  Accidents involving vehicles or mobile equipment (excavators, dumpers, etc.) on building sites kill more than a dozen workers a year and injure hundreds more. To help make sure that your workers and outsiders can move around your job sites safely,and keep your insurance premiums down, experts recommend using this checklist: Keep pedestrians and vehicles apart:
  • have separate entry and exit gateways for pedestrians and vehicles
  • provide safe pedestrian walkways that take a direct route where possible
  • make sure drivers with access to public roads can see both ways
  • don’t block walkways or vehicle routes
  • install barrier between roads and walks
Minimize vehicle movements:
  • provide offsite parking
  • control entry to the site
  • have storage areas so that delivery vehicles don’t have to cross the site
Control people on site:
  • recruit drivers and equipment operators carefully
  • make sure that drivers, operators, and those who direct traffic are trained
  • manage the activities of visiting drivers
Maximize visibility:
  • provide mirrors, CCTV cameras or reversing alarms
  • designate signalers to control maneuvers by drivers or equipment operators
  • install lighting for use after sunset or in bad weather
  • make sure that all pedestrians on the site wear high-visibility clothing
Provide safety signage and instructions:
  • ensure that all drivers and workers know and understand the routes and traffic rules on the site
  • use standard traffic signs where appropriate
  • provide safety instructions to all visitors in advance
For a comprehensive – and free– review of vehicle and mobile vehicle safety practices on your job sites, just give us a call. We’re here to help at any time.  

Follow The Signs To A Safer Workplace

Author TonyScurich , 10/24/2016
Workplace safety signs and tags play a key role in helping prevent accidents to workers and visitors alike. To make the most effective use of signs and tags in your facility that comply with OSHA regulation (29 CFR 1910.145), we’d recommend that you follow these guidelines:
  • Identify all hazards throughout the workplace. In addition to obvious dangers, include those that are out of the ordinary, unexpected, or not readily apparent.
  • Select or design signs and tags. Make sure they conform to OSHA requirements and are consistent in format.
  • Use proper wording. According to OSHA, "the wording of any sign should be easily read, concise, and contain sufficient information to be easily understood."
  • Position signs carefully. Signs should be placed so that they’re easy to see and read from a distance and draw maximum attention to hazards.
  • Identify safety and fire protection equipment clearly. This includes such items as eyewash stations and safety showers, as well as fire extinguishers and hoses.
  • Employ tags properly. OSHA requires that "tags shall be used as a means to prevent accidental injury or illness to employees who are exposed to hazardous or potentially hazardous conditions, equipment, or operations.”
  • Review your program whenever new hazards are introduced. If you just put up signs and tags and forget about them, your facility probably won’t be in compliance with the OSHA regulations. Check the program frequently to make sure that it’s still doing the job.
The workplace safety professionals at our agency would be happy to help you review your signage and tag policy. Give us a call at any time.

Stress And Work Performance: The EAP Solution

Author TonyScurich , 10/14/2016
Stress, called the “health epidemic of the 21st century” by the World Health Organization, costs American businesses up to $300 billion a year, According to “Stressed at Work,” a recent research report by Benzinger, Dupont &Associates, stress impacts work performance in nearly half (49%) of employees surveyed. Difficulties in concentration, absenteeism, and poor work quality are leading the way. Differences by gender or age can be significant.. Personal problems cause females to be absent from work more often, but males tend to miss more days of work. The frequency of disciplinary action for stress-related acts by males was almost twice as high as for women; with the 56-65 year-old age group having the highest disciplinary rates The good news: More than nine in ten employees (94%) report improved work performance following participation in an Employee Assistance Program (EAP). The study recommends that companies work with their EAP in identifying and addressing the needs of workers, who are more vulnerable to stress, so they can prevent potential problems becoming serious. These programs and promotion campaigns should consider differences in gender and age. For example:
  • Managers need to pay attention to female absenteeism because it might reflect stress at home and/or at work.
  • To decrease male disciplinary actions, EAP support and wellness programs should focus on the specific needs of men in the workforce, and use promotional outreach methods that reflect male preferences for brevity (e-mail and text messages).
The more familiar you become with signs and symptoms of stress on the job, the more effective you’ll be in encouraging stressed employees to engage with EAP and workplace health programs: which means the healthier your workers are, the better your bottom line! To learn more, feel free to give us a call at any time.

Reclassifying Obesity Could Raise Comp Premiums

Author TonyScurich , 10/12/2016
Injured workers who gain weight due to inactivity or as a side effect of medication will probably receive higher workers comp benefits, thanks to the American Medical Association’s recent reclassification of obesity as a disease. That’s the conclusion of a recent six-year study of claims by the California Workers' Compensation Institute. According to the report, although this reclassification doesn’t have legal standing, the AMA’s positions often have a strong influence on lawmakers, regulators, and health care providers. Immediately after the decision, senators and congressmen introduced bipartisan bills requiring Medicare to cover more obesity treatment costs, including prescription drugs and intensive behavioral weight-loss counseling, which will give health care providers a financial incentive to use these remedies. Judging from the results of the California study, this means that businesses can expect to pay more for workers comp. The report found that the costs of comp claims that listed obesity as a “comorbidity,” or additional cause, were far greater than for claims without them. Medical benefits for comorbidity cases cost 81% more than for other cases, while indemnity payments averaged nearly 65% higher. More two in three claimants with obesity comorbidity received permanent disability, nearly five times the rate for the non-obese. Finally, the use of narcotic painkillers was significantly higher among overweight claimants. Obesity might even become a primary comp diagnosis for jobs such as long-haul trucking or office work that require employees to remain seated for extended periods. The bottom line: look for the management and financial changes stemming from the reclassification of obesity as a medical condition to create new challenges and incentives for health care professionals, businesses, and workers compensation insurance companies. We’ll stay on top of these changes to help make sure that your company has the coverage you need at a competitive rate.  

The EEOC Systemic Expedition

Author TonyScurich , 9/26/2016

In an issue of Corporate Counsel an article entitled It's a Systemic World Out There discusses the EEOC's pursuing large "systemic" cases. For example, in fiscal year 2011 they conducted 580 systemic investigations, filed 84 systemic lawsuits, and settled 35 systemic cases for total $9.6 million. Although your company might not be large enough to be on the EEOC's radar screen, I can tell you that attorneys are also suing small to midsized companies on a class basis. An employee walks into a lawyer's office because they didn't receive their final paycheck, and before you know it they're filing a class-action lawsuit against your company for missed overtime and meal periods. The article provided a few golden nuggets of advice:

  1. When responding to an EEOC inquiry, don't use the phrase "pursuant to our consistently applied policy." This only invites a broader request for information.
  2. Do not submit more information than is necessary.
  3. Conduct your own statistical analysis before submitting data.
  4. Do preventative analysis looking for adverse impacts in the hiring, promotion, or termination practices.
  5. Validate pre-employment tests.
  6. Conduct preventative compensation analysis periodically.
  7. Cover all internal analysis with attorney-client privilege. This might be impossible in smaller organizations, but you can certainly retain outside counsel to instruct you on how to conduct such analysis and report back to them.
  8. Listen to your employees. As I have always recommended, you should survey your employees, including use of the Employee Compliance Survey that can be found in HR That Works.
  9. Invigorate that underutilized internal complaint system. Again, go one step further and ask if there's a problem –don't wait for them to tell you there is one.
  10. Stay current with legal trends. This is one reason why HR That Works membership is so valuable.
  11. Walk the talk. Are you sensitive to the potential for your practices to cause adverse impacts? Frankly in my experience I can tell you that some business owners could care less about whether a practice causes an adverse impact. All they care about is getting the best employees they can, damn the EEOC. Of course, few companies appreciate a risk until they're hit with it.

Finally, the article points out how large corporations can gather the data requested by the EEOC easily because they have such large HRIS systems. However, most companies with less than 500 employees don't have this data readily available, and t collecting it can be an over-burdensome process. This is one reason to make sure that you hire an attorney any time you receive a communication from the EEOC or another regulatory agency.

 

Underground Construction Risks: The 811 Solution

Author TonyScurich , 9/12/2016
Across the nation, utility lines, tunnels, and structures run under our feet, Each year, excavators strike approximately 700,000 of these underground lines, often triggering potentially fatal accident (from steam, gas, propane, or electricity). A single strike might easily cost a contractor hundreds of thousands, or millions, if the accident leads to an interruption of service that shuts down a factory, hospital, telecommunication lines– even a missile silo. In most cases, insurance will not cover these losses. To deal with this threat, the Common Ground Alliance coordinates 811 --Call before You Dig, a nationwide phone and online system that contractors can use to notify local utilities so they can "mark out" their facilities before excavation of anything from to a sewer to a subway. These markouts are required under state law. When you use the call 811.com system, bear in mind that:
  1. It doesn't matter where you are - downtown, in the middle of a suburban street, or building a private home.
  2. Call even if you're confident that you know where something is buried (for example, if you installed the line); many contractors dig up lines that have just put in.
  3. Instead of marking the area with wooden stakes - which are all too easy to drive through gas lines - use white paint or "feathers;" even the most shallow excavation can be hazardous.
Remember, failing to contact 811.com before every excavation violates the law - and leaves you wide open to huge liability losses. Don't take a chance your odds of losing in the Underground Damage Casino! To learn more, just get in touch with the Construction Insurance Specialists at our agency.

Workers Comp Prescription Narcotics Abuse: Fight Back!

Author TonyScurich , 9/2/2016
4 The use of narcotics in treating injured workers faces heavy scrutiny today - and for good reason. The latest National Council on Compensation Insurance, Inc. (NCCI) Annual Issues Symposium found that:
  • The average cost of narcotics per Workers Comp claim rose from $39 in 2003 to $59 in 2011. This is a rate of 0.79 narcotic prescriptions per claim, up from 0.56 in 2003 - a 14% increase in eight years.
  • More than 5% percent of Comp claims that resulted in at least one prescription for if anymedication included five or more narcotics prescriptions.
To curb the prescribing of narcotics for your injured employees, start by choosing the right Workers Comp physician. In most states, businesses have the legal right to designate the physician that injured employees must use. To find a physician in your area who is board certified in Occupational Medicine, go to http://www.acoem.org/. If none is available, look for a doctor who takes patients on Workers Compensation. In many cases, urgent care clinics make great partners. Once you find a physician, talk to him or her about your business, discuss your return-to-work program and the types of transitional jobs you offer - and ask about their attitude toward prescribing narcotics. Even if state law prohibits you from requiring injured workers to see a specific physician, you can still suggest that they do so. For example, you might say, "Doctor Joan at Acme Urgent Care has treated many of your co-workers and they've gotten better quickly." Selecting a doctor who doesn't dispense drugs and only prescribes narcotics when they're are absolutely necessary can go far to help injured employees get back to work and be healthy and productive as swiftly as possible - while keeping your Workers Comp costs under control.

NIOSH Offers Tips On Preventing Work-Related Highway Crashes

Author TonyScurich , 8/26/2016
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Employment-related accidents behind the wheel are the leading cause of death from traumatic injuries in the workplace, killing some 2,200 people a year and accounting for 22% of job-related fatalities. Deaths and injuries from these accidents increase costs and reduce productivity for employers - while bringing pain and suffering to family, friends, and coworkers.

Preventing work-related roadway crashes poses a significant risk management challenge. The roadway is a unique work environment. Compared with other work settings, employers have little ability to control conditions and exert direct supervision over their drivers. The volume of traffic and road construction continue to increase, while workers feel pressured to drive faster for longer periods, and often use mobile electronic devices that distract them behind the wheel.

To help reduce this risk, for both long-distance truck drivers and employees who occasionally use personal vehicles for company business, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) recommends that employers follow these precautions:

  • Require drivers and passengers to use seat belts.
  • Ensure that employees who drive on the job have valid licenses.
  • Incorporate road fatigue management in safety programs.
  • Provide fleet vehicles with top quality crash protection.
  • Make sure employees receive training to operate specialized vehicles.
  • Offer periodic vision screening and physicals for employees whose primary job is driving.
  • Avoid requiring workers to drive irregular or extended hours.
  • Prohibit cell phone use and other distracting activities such as eating, drinking, or adjusting non-critical vehicle controls while driving.
  • Set schedules that allow drivers to obey speed limits.
  • Follow state laws on graduated driver's licensing and child labor.

For more information about how to prevent work-related driving deaths and injuries, just give one of our Risk Management experts a call at any time.


Don't Let Drivers Use Their Cell Phones!

Author TonyScurich , 8/3/2016
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A survey by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that 69% of U.S. drivers talked on their cell phones - and 31% read or sent text messages or e-mails while driving. "The cell phone can be a fatal distraction for those who use it while they drive," warns CDC Director Thomas Frieden.

Using cell phones to text behind the wheel can increase the danger of fatal crashes by six to 23 times, and drivers using hand-held devices are four times more likely to become involved in crashes serious enough to injure themselves. You probably have rules about employees talking on their phones and texting while driving - but are they following them? According to Jim Evans, president of human resources consulting firm JK Evans & Associates, some bosses turn a blind eye to cell phone use behind the wheel, while others don't want to cut into their employees' productivity. His advice to employers: "Dust off the old cell phone policy or unwritten practices and revisit whether employee safety and employer liability is at risk." To minimize this danger, your company should require employees who drive on the job to:
  • Turn off personal phones or switch them to silent mode before entering a company vehicle.
  • Pull over to a safe area if they need to make a cell phone call or send or answer a text message.
  • Ask a helper or another passenger to make a return call.
  • Contact supervisors or dispatchers when the vehicle is parked.
  • Avoid smoking, eating, drinking, reading, and any other activities that distract them behind the wheel.
  • Tell people who call them while driving that they'll call back after reaching their destination.
  • Not send or answer text messages, surf the Web, or read e-mails.