Employment Practices Liability Trends to Watch in 2021

Employment Practices Liability Trends to Watch in 2021

Employment Practices Liability Trends to Watch in 2021

As an employer, you care about making your workforce feel valued and managing your organization successfully. However, even if you do everything you can to ensure smooth relationships with your staff, employment practices liability (EPL) risks remain. That’s why it’s crucial for your organization to have EPL coverage. Such a policy can offer protection for claims that result from employees alleging various employment-related issues—such as discrimination, harassment and wrongful termination. Apart from securing EPL coverage, it’s important to stay up to date on the latest Employment Practices Liability trends. In doing so, your organization will have the information needed to respond appropriately and make any necessary coverage adjustments. Don’t let your organization fall behind in this evolving risk landscape. Review this guidance to learn more about EPL trends to watch in 2021.

Employment Practices Liability Trends

The COVID-19 Pandemic and Employment Practices Liability Trends

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has forced many organizations to make serious workplace changes—such as having employees work remotely, adjusting office setups or conducting significant staff layoffs or furloughs. And with these changes, EPL claims followed. Some of the most common, pandemic-related EPL claims include:

  • Allegations that unsafe working conditions or minimal precautionary measures (e.g., poor sanitation practices, a lack of social distancing protocols or inadequate personal protective equipment) contributed to employees getting sick or dying from COVID-19
  • Allegations of retaliation after an objection to unsafe working conditions or workplace exposure to individuals displaying COVID-19 symptoms
  • Allegations of disability discrimination related to remote working (e.g., failing to accommodate remote staff or denying employees the option to work remotely)
  • Allegations related to employee leave concerns (e.g., forcing staff to take leave, retaliating against employees that take leave due to COVID-19 or not allowing staff to take leave due to COVID-19 altogether)
  • Allegations of laying off or furloughing staff without providing proper employment notices
  • Allegations of discrimination related to laying off or furloughing employees

With these trends in mind, it’s crucial to fully document and review any organizational changes created by the COVID-19 pandemic. These changes should be reviewed to ensure they adequately consider the needs of your workforce and are compliant with employment law.

Social Movements

Several social movements have led to an increase in Employment Practices Liability trends and claims in recent years, including the #MeToo movement and the Black Lives Matter movement.

The #MeToo movement—which is an anti-sexual harassment campaign that was originally founded in 2006 and has gained significant social media attention since 2017—largely contributed to a 50% rise in sexual harassment lawsuits against employers over the past few years, according to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). This movement emphasizes how important it is for employers to implement effective sexual harassment prevention measures (e.g., a zero-tolerance policy and a sexual harassment awareness training program), reporting methods and response protocols.

The Black Lives Matter movement—which is a racial justice campaign that was originally founded in 2013 and resurged in 2020 in the form of nationwide protests—has the potential to become a driving factor in race-related workplace discrimination and harassment lawsuits. This movement makes it increasingly vital for your organization to take steps to promote diversity, acceptance and inclusion in the workplace, as well as take any accusations or reports of racism seriously.

LGBTQ+ Protections

Although the EEOC had previously released guidance stating that workplace discrimination and harassment based on sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the U.S. Supreme Court just recently confirmed in 2020 that Title VII protects gay and transgender employees from such treatment. While this is a relatively new development, the Supreme Court’s decision highlights the need for your organization to ensure all LGBTQ+ employees feel properly supported in the workplace.

Employment Practices Liability Trends

Age Discrimination

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the share of employees over the age of 55 in the labor force is expected to rise to nearly 25% by 2024 (up from 13% in 2001). This demographic shift makes it increasingly important for employers to take steps to minimize the potential for age discrimination issues within the workplace. After all, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) forbids age discrimination against employees and job applicants aged 40 and over.

Despite the ADEA; however, a recent Hiscox study found that 21% of U.S. employees have reported experiencing workplace discrimination based on their age. Such discrimination can lead to poor staff morale, a tarnished organizational reputation and an increase in EPL claims. With this in mind, it’s important to review your organization’s employment practices to ensure you are fostering a workplace culture that rejects ageism.

Wage, Leave and Salary History

As wage and hour laws continue to change across the country, it’s critical that your organization regularly reviews state-specific legislation related to minimum wage, employee classifications (e.g., hourly or salaried), overtime pay, sick leave and other paid time off. A failure to provide your staff with adequate wages or paid leave could lead to various EPL claims.

Employers’ ability to receive their employees’ prior salary history has also become a rising concern. In fact, in some states, recent legislation now prohibits employers from requesting or requiring salary history from a job applicant as a condition of being interviewed, hired or even considered for a position. In light of these changes, it’s best to speak with legal counsel for state-specific employee wage, leave and salary history guidance.

Employment Practices Liability Trends

Marijuana Legalization and Employment Practices Liability Trends

Following the 2020 election results, medical marijuana is now legal in 36 states and recreational marijuana is now legal in 15 states. As marijuana legalization becomes increasingly commonplace across the country, it’s crucial for your organization to review any state-specific legislation and adjust workplace policies and procedures accordingly.

Specifically, some states have enacted legislation that restricts an employers’ ability to conduct drug tests for marijuana. Further, several state court cases have ruled in favor of the employee in recent employment lawsuits related to marijuana usage. This includes a case in which a disabled employee sued their employer for alleged workplace discrimination due to medical marijuana usage, as well as a case in which an employee sued their employer for alleged wrongful termination due to a positive drug test for marijuana.

That being said, your organization may need to reconsider or revise procedures related to conducting workplace drug tests for marijuana or basing employment decisions on an employee’s marijuana usage, as these practices could potentially contribute to EPL claims. Be sure to consult legal counsel for state-specific compliance guidance on this topic.

We’re Here to Help

You don’t have to respond to this changing risk landscape alone. We’re here to help you navigate these EPL market trends with ease. For additional coverage guidance and solutions, contact us today.

California’s Leader in Insurance and Risk Management

As one of the fastest-growing agencies in California, GDI Insurance Agency, Inc. is able to provide its clients with the latest and greatest of what the insurance industry has to offer and much, much more. The GDI team has developed an “insurance cost reduction” quoting plan, that provides you with the best coverage at the best rate!

We are headquartered in Turlock, CA, with locations across the heart of California’s Central Valley, Northern California and beyond to provide a local feel to the solutions and services we provide our clients. We pride ourselves on exceeding our client’s expectations in every interaction to make sure that our client’s know how much we value and appreciate their business.

Contact us today 1-209-634-2929 for your comprehensive Employee Practices Liability insurance quote!

Workers’ Compensation Trends to Watch in 2021

Workers’ Compensation Trends to Watch in 2021

Workers’ Compensation Trends to Watch in 2021

Not only is workers’ compensation coverage required in most states, but it also plays a major role in connecting injured employees to the care they need to return to work as quickly and safely as possible. That’s why it’s crucial for your organization to develop an effective workers’ compensation program. The following Workers’ Compensation Trends can guide the development of your worker’s comp program. Of course, GDI Insurance is here to help!

To ensure a successful program, it’s important to stay up to date on the latest workers’ compensation trends. In doing so, your organization will have the information needed to respond appropriately and make any necessary workers’ compensation program adjustments.

Don’t let your organization fall behind in this evolving risk landscape. Review the following guidance to learn more about workers’ compensation trends to watch in 2021.

Workers' Compensation Trends

The Effects of COVID-19 and Workers’ Compensation Trends

As the coronavirus pandemic continues, many employers have had to make a wide range of organizational adjustments—such as going remote, changing employees’ roles, implementing lay-offs or furloughs, or temporarily halting operations.

These adjustments, depending on which state you are in, could be subject to various workers’ compensation-related reporting changes, as well as potentially impact your organization’s premium costs and experience modification factor. This is because your workplace risks and safety exposures have likely changed due to such adjustments. Be sure to consult legal counsel for additional, state-specific guidance on the impact of such adjustments.

Your organization should also prepare for workers’ compensation claims related to COVID-19 exposure. Generally, in terms of COVID-19, claims are evaluated on a case-by-case basis, and coverage may be triggered if both of the following are true:

  • The illness in question arises out of the course and scope of employment.
  • The illness in question arises out of or is caused by job-specific conditions and not an ordinary disease of life (e.g., the common cold) to which the general public is exposed.

Keep in mind that every claim is different. When it comes to compensability, you’ll need to evaluate what jobs or tasks an employee was performing when they were exposed to COVID-19. Additionally, states are going to have different thresholds for COVID-19 compensability. Some states may have more general language regarding workplace illnesses, and communicable and contagious diseases in their statutes, while others have issued specific guidance on COVID-19 claims.

Specifically, a number of states have enacted legislation and issued executive orders that expand workers’ compensation coverage for certain employees (e.g., health care workers and first responders). In particular, some states have created new rules regarding COVID-19 presumptions. A presumption describes the conditions in which an employee’s injury or illness is presumed to have happened on the job and should be compensated. Be sure to track your specific state’s developments regarding the interaction between COVID-19 cases and workers’ compensation claims.

In any case, it’s important for your organization to implement workplace health and safety measures to help protect your staff from COVID-19 exposure and limit the likelihood of related claims. Further, review guidance from your state workers’ compensation board and speak with an insurance professional to learn more about how your coverage may or may not respond to COVID-19 claims.

Workers' Compensation Trends

The Adoption of Telemedicine

The coronavirus pandemic has certainly contributed to an acceleration in the adoption of telemedicine within the workers’ compensation realm. However, workplace health and safety experts anticipate that telemedicine will remain a key offering even after the pandemic subsides.

Telemedicine allows employees to receive medical services virtually after they’ve been injured on the job. Examples of telemedicine in action may include video consultations with care providers following an injury (allowing for a virtual evaluation and diagnosis) and text message alerts that remind the recovering employee of treatment steps or upcoming appointments.

Telemedicine can be useful in situations where medical care isn’t easily accessible to staff, such as:

  • When an injury occurs during an overnight shift and most treatment facilities have closed
  • If your workplace is located in an area where there are limited care facilities nearby
  • If your organization frequently conducts work off-site—making care availability unpredictable

Telemedicine is also an increasingly viable option to help staff avoid the risks of in-person visits or having to navigate adjusted clinic schedules during the coronavirus pandemic.

In addition to providing employees with easy access to medical care following an injury, utilizing telemedicine can offer a variety of key benefits to your workers’ compensation program. This includes transportation and time savings by limiting physical trips to the doctor, simplified access to medical specialists and improved recovery capabilities for injured employees—minimizing treatment delays.

Further, the combination of these benefits can, in turn, help reduce your organization’s overall workers’ compensation claim costs—limiting the need for in-person treatment while still ensuring quality care and a speedy recovery.

However, keep in mind that telemedicine is not a universal care solution for all workplace injuries. This offering only applies to non-urgent situations. In-person treatment will always be necessary in the event of an emergency. Even in non-urgent situations, telemedicine may still need to be combined with in-person treatment. 

The Impact of Mega Claims

Another trend that has become a costly issue in the realm of workers’ compensation is the surge in mega claims. These are exceptionally large claims—totaling $3 million or more in incurred losses.

In regard to workers’ compensation, these claims typically stem from employees experiencing severe (and possibly permanent) injuries on the job. While the causes of these injuries vary, mega claims are usually attributed to falls, motor vehicle accidents and struck-by incidents. In some cases, however, mega claims can develop slowly—particularly when caused by minor injuries that go untreated.

Mega claims are not only expensive, but often lengthier and more complex in nature. Such claims can leave lasting impacts on your organization by way of hefty costs, lost time and the potential for severe reputational damage.

What’s more, mega claims have become a rising concern in the past decade. In fact, according to a recent study conducted by the National Council on Compensation Insurance (NCCI), these claims have reached a 12-year high—increasing in both frequency and severity. This increase has been attributed to several possible factors, such as changes in mortality patterns, medical advances and a rise in health care costs.

Despite their devastating impact, mega claims may be preventable in some instances. To combat such claims, it’s critical to ramp up your safety efforts—particularly when it comes to preventing falls, motor vehicle accidents and struck-by incidents.

The Rise in Comorbidities

The rising concern of comorbidities has also become a recent workers’ compensation trend. Put simply, a comorbidity is the simultaneous presence of two or more medical diagnoses for an individual.

Comorbid conditions are typically long-term health complications that have the potential to increase the severity of other injuries or illnesses that the affected individual may experience, making it more difficult to fully recover. Common comorbid conditions include obesity, diabetes, hypertension, depression, anxiety and substance abuse.

According to a study conducted by the NCCI, workers’ compensation claims involving comorbidities have nearly tripled since 2000. Further, the average cost of workers’ compensation claims connected to a comorbid condition is almost twice as much as that of comparable claims that don’t involve comorbidities.

This increase in workers’ compensation costs is likely tied to the often complex, long-term nature of claims that involve comorbidities. After all, individuals who have comorbid conditions typically take longer to heal from an injury, are more prone to develop additional complications due to an injury and are even at an increased risk of being left permanently disabled by an injury.

To combat the potential impact of comorbidities, many employers have found success by implementing wellness initiatives. In other words, if your organization takes the time to address chronic health conditions and improve the overall well-being of your staff, you could reduce the severity of workers’ compensation claims and maintain low comorbidity rates overall.

Workers' Compensation Trends

The Concern of Key Labor Trends

In recent years, filling jobs with experienced workers has been a challenge for organizations across industry lines due to ongoing labor shortages. As a result, many employers have begun hiring a larger number of inexperienced workers. However, such a practice comes with workers’ compensation risks.

In fact, according to a recent survey conducted by the Golden Triangle Business Roundtable in Texas, employees with less than five years of experience contribute to 43% of overall workplace injuries. This is likely because inexperienced workers often lack years of safety training and may be more willing to take unnecessary risks.

In addition to a rise in inexperienced employees, the past decade has also brought on an aging workforce. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the share of employees over the age of 55 in the labor force is expected to increase to nearly 25% by 2024 (up from 21.7% in 2014). Such a statistic is notable, as the cost of workers’ compensation claims generally increases as employees age. After all, because health typically diminishes with age, the impact of minor injuries can be more severe for older workers—taking them longer to fully recover.

Furthermore, age-related changes and declines can include a shorter memory, slower reaction times, a decline in vision and hearing, or a poor sense of balance. These limitations can lead to many injuries for older workers, including falls caused by poor vision or a slowed reaction time, sprains and strains due to a loss of strength or balance, and injuries from repetitive tasks.

These trends emphasize how crucial it is for your organization to promote a safe working culture and prioritize injury prevention. Specifically, be sure to conduct routine safety training for all employees and implement effective workplace safety policies.

The Results of Marijuana Legalization and Workers’ Compensation Trends

Following the 2020 election results, medical marijuana is now legal in 36 states, and recreational marijuana is now legal in 15 states. In response, your organization will need to review changes to your state’s legislation (if any) and adjust your workers’ compensation program accordingly.

In terms of medical marijuana, very few prescription drugs that are approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and contain marijuana exist on the market. And because doctors are only permitted to prescribe FDA-approved drugs, the actual prescription of medical marijuana for treatment is rare. That being said, if your state has legalized medical marijuana, it is best to consult legal counsel to ensure that your workers’ compensation program supports compliant treatment options.

In regard to recreational marijuana, it should be treated similarly to alcohol usage in the workplace. That is, it should be prohibited during work hours, as it can hinder employees’ abilities to perform tasks safely and increase the likelihood of injuries—contributing to workers’ compensation claims.

We’re Here to Help

You don’t have to respond to this changing risk landscape alone. We’re here to help you navigate these trends with ease. For additional workers’ compensation resources, risk management guidance and insurance solutions, contact us today.

California’s Leader in Insurance and Risk Management

As one of the fastest-growing agencies in California, GDI Insurance Agency, Inc. is able to provide its clients with the latest and greatest of what the insurance industry has to offer and much, much more. The GDI team has developed an “insurance cost reduction” quoting plan, that provides you with the best coverage at the best rate!

We are headquartered in Turlock, CA, with locations across the heart of California’s Central Valley, Northern California and beyond to provide a local feel to the solutions and services we provide our clients. We pride ourselves on exceeding our client’s expectations in every interaction to make sure that our client’s know how much we value and appreciate their business.

Contact us today 1-209-634-2929 for your comprehensive worker’s compensation insurance quote!

Lower Costs by Implementing Safety Programs

Lower Costs by Implementing Safety Programs

Lower Costs by Implementing Safety Programs

Across the country, employers pay almost $1 billion per week for direct workers’ compensation costs alone, which comes straight out of company profits. In fact, lost productivity from injuries and illnesses costs companies roughly $63 billion each year. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), workplaces that establish safety programs and health management systems can reduce their injury and illness costs by 20 to 40 percent. Safe environments also improve employee morale, which positively impacts productivity on the manufacturing line.

In today’s business climate, these safety-related costs for manufacturers can be the difference between reporting a profit or a loss. Industry studies report that companies who focus on safety as a core business strategy come out ahead. The American Society of Safety Engineers reports that the implementation of an OSHA consultation program reduced losses at a forklift manufacturing operation from $70,000 to $7,000 per year.

Use these tips to understand how implementing safety programs will directly affect your company’s bottom line.

Download our Guide to Developing a Workplace Injury and Illness Prevention Program!

Safety Plan

Showing Value from Safety Programs

Demonstrating the value of safety to management is often a challenge because the return on investment (ROI) can be cumbersome to measure. Your goal in measuring safety is to balance your investment vs. the return expected. Where do you begin?

There are many different approaches to measuring the cost of safety, and the way you do so depends on your goal. Defining your goal helps you to determine what costs to track and how complex your tracking will be.

For example, you may want to capture certain data simply to determine what costs to build into the price of your products, or you may want to track your company’s total cost of safety to show increased profitability, which would include more specific data collection like safety wages and benefits, operational costs and insurance costs.

Since measuring can be time consuming, general cost formulas are available. A Stanford study conducted by Levitt and Samuelson places safety costs at 2.5 percent of overall costs, and a study published by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) estimates general safety costs at about 8 percent of payroll. 

If it is important for your organization to measure safety as it relates to profitability, more accurate tracking should be done. For measuring data, safety costs can be divided into two categories:

  1. Direct (hard) costs, which include:
  2. Safety wages
  3. Operational costs
  4. Insurance premiums and/or attorney’s fees
  5. Accidents and incidents
  6. Fines and/or penalties
  7. Indirect (soft) costs, which go beyond those recorded on paper, such as the following: 
  8. Accident investigation
  9. Repairing damaged machinery and line equipment
  10. Administrative expenses
  11. Worker stress in the aftermath of an accident resulting in lost productivity, low employee morale and increased absenteeism
  12. Training and compensating replacement workers
  13. Poor reputation, which translates to difficulty attracting skilled workers and lost business share.

When calculating soft costs, minor accidents costs are about four times greater than direct costs, and serious accidents about 10 to 15 times greater, especially if the accident generates OSHA fines or litigation costs.

According to IRMI, just the act of measuring costs will drive improvement. In theory, those providing the data become more aware of the costs and begin managing them. This supports the common business belief that what gets measured gets managed. And, as costs go down, what gets rewarded gets repeated.

Prove ROI

OSHA studies indicate that for every $1 invested in effective safety programs, you can save $4 to $6 as illnesses, injuries and fatalities decline. With a good safety program in place, your costs will naturally decrease. It is important to determine what costs to measure to establish benchmarks, which can then be used to demonstrate the value of safety over time. 

Also, keep in mind that your total cost of safety is just one part of managing your total cost of risk. When safety is managed and monitored, it can also help drive down your total cost of risk.

Considering the statistics, safety experts believe that there is direct correlation between safety and a company’s profit. We are committed to helping you establish a strong safety, health and environmental program that protects both your workers and your bottom line. Contact us today at 209-634-2929 to learn more about our value-added services.

California’s Leader in Insurance and Risk Management

As one of the fastest growing agencies in California, GDI Insurance Agency, Inc. is able to provide its clients with the latest and greatest of what the insurance industry has to offer and much, much more. The GDI team has developed an “insurance cost reduction” quoting plan, that provides you with the best coverage at the best rate!

We are headquartered in Turlock, CA, with locations across the heart of California’s Central Valley, Northern California and beyond to provide a local feel to the solutions and services we provide our clients. We pride ourselves on exceeding our client’s expectations in every interaction to make sure that our client’s know how much we value and appreciate their business.

Contact us today 1-209-634-2929 for your comprehensive business insurance quote!

Understanding Fall Protection Equipment Warranty Requirements

Understanding Fall Protection Equipment Warranty Requirements

Understanding Fall Protection Equipment Warranty Requirements

Employers that are using fall protection equipment (e.g., personal fall arrest systems, connection components or anchors) should understand the manufacturers’ warranty requirements and instructions. Following these fall protection equipment warranty requirements is often necessary if the business would like the manufacturer to cover the product when it is damaged or if there is a functional issue. Examples of functional issues are when the fall protection fails to protect the employee when they fall or if a component of the fall protection (e.g. webbing, harness straps or buckles) needs repair.

Equipment manufacturers’ warranty instruction manuals play a vital role in workplace safety because both the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) rely on these manuals to develop their standards on the proper use of equipment. The instructions also include the manufacturers’ own requirements that express the particular and proper use of the equipment.

In general, employers that follow manufacturers’ instructions are protected by equipment warranties. Conversely, employers that do not follow manufacturers’ instructions face the risk of voiding warranty protections. Without warranty protections, employers have fewer legal options against manufacturers under product liability policies.

Fall Protection Equipment Warranty

What Are PFAS?

Personal fall arrest systems (PFAS) are made up of a body harness, anchorage and connector. This equipment is used to safely stop a worker who is falling. Under OSHA standards, employers are required to train their employees on the requirements of PFAS. Training is also frequently required by the manufacturer to honor the fall protection equipment warranty. Employees must understand the performance, care and use criteria for the fall arrest systems they are using. Each manufacturer of PFAS has different requirements for their warranties.

General Fall Protection Equipment Warranty Requirements

General warranty requirements include instructions that are meant to keep the equipment in the best shape possible during use. This is why the manual normally provides instructions on how to care for and maintain the fall protection equipment. The manual will also explain how to inspect and clean the equipment if it becomes dirty. Certain manufacturers have specific ways of cleaning PFAS that the user must follow to prevent voiding the warranty.

If employees are using PFAS that are designated specifically for them and they label their equipment, it is important for employees to check the manufacturing manual to determine whether there are any specific requirements when using markers to label the equipment (e.g., a manufacturer suggests only using Sharpie markers for writing on the webbing of their products).

OSHA and ANSI do not provide shelf-life recommendations for fall protection. The shelf life of fall protection is up to the manufacturer and will be found in the manual that comes with the equipment. Shelf-life warranties have changed over the years. Most fall protection equipment used to have a product lifetime of five years from the date of first use or when it was purchased. Some manufacturers have eliminated the five-year shelf life and instead consider the condition of the equipment. Other manufacturers eliminate the five-year shelf life if the equipment passes pre-use and competent-person inspection requirements as outlined in the guidelines.

Using Other Brand Accessories or Components

Employers need to be aware that, when purchasing a particular brand of fall protection, they may be required to purchase the same brand of fall protection accessories to maintain the warranty. Manufacturers may not allow the use of other brand accessories with their equipment. While OSHA does not have a standard prohibiting the use of different brands as long as the components are compatible, the agency has published an information bulletin on the subject. The safety and health bulletin includes this advisory information:

  • Personal fall protection made by different manufacturers may not be compatible.
  • Components by the same manufacturer may not be compatible if the components are not sized properly.

OSHA requires that employers evaluate the compatibility of all fall arrest systems and anchorage devices before the devices are used to protect employees. Employers should carefully read the manufacturer manuals and the warnings to pay close attention to components that are incompatible for use together.

Using different brands of fall protection with different brand accessories could create liability issues for the employer if there is an accident while using the equipment. The manufacturer likely will not allow the warranty to cover any accident liability if the user does not follow the manual instructions. Manufacturers normally do not honor another manufacturer’s product since it is not their product and they are not required to test the compatibility of any other brands with their own. Therefore, it is best practice and in the best interest of the employer to use the same brand for all of their fall protection equipment to prevent any mixing and matching of brands.

Inspection Requirements

Inspecting fall protection is very important for employee use. Employers must ensure that employees are inspecting their equipment when it is required. If an employee finds anything that would negatively affect the integrity of the equipment, it must be removed from service.

Inspections include visual and touch inspections on the webbing of the harness for things such as:

  • Cuts, nicks and tears
  • Fraying and abrasions
  • Missing straps
  • Mildew
  • Brittleness
  • Broken fibers
  • Hard or shiny spots indicating heat damage
  • Uneven webbing thickness indicating it was possibly worn during a fall
  • Issues with the stitching

Additionally, the manufacturer’s label needs to be present and legible, or the equipment must be removed from service.

Both OSHA and the manufacturer require that certain inspections be completed by a competent person. A competent person is an employee who is capable of identifying existing and potential hazards in any personal fall protection system (or any component of the fall protection) and who has authorization to take prompt, corrective action to eliminate the identified hazards. Employers must designate who their competent persons are.

In the Event of a Fall

Anytime PFAS are subjected to impact loading, OSHA regulations require an employer to remove them from service immediately. PFAS should not be used again for employee protection until a competent person inspects them and determines they are undamaged and suitable for use.

Making repairs to fall protection can only be done by the manufacturer, unless the manufacturer authorizes others to make the repairs on their behalf. Review the manufacturer’s manual prior to having repairs made by a third party.

It is important for employers to have fall protection plans that review OSHA requirements, ANSI standards and the manufacturer’s instructions. By following the requirements of the brands of fall protection being used, employers can prevent voiding their warranties.

California’s Leader in Insurance and Risk Management

As one of the fastest growing agencies in California, GDI Insurance Agency, Inc. is able to provide its clients with the latest and greatest of what the insurance industry has to offer and much, much more. The GDI team has developed an “insurance cost reduction” quoting plan, that provides you with the best coverage at the best rate!

We are headquartered in Turlock, CA, with locations across the heart of California’s Central Valley, Northern California and beyond to provide a local feel to the solutions and services we provide our clients. We pride ourselves on exceeding our client’s expectations in every interaction to make sure that our client’s know how much we value and appreciate their business.

Contact us today 1-209-634-2929 for your comprehensive business insurance quote!

California Governor Issues Regional Stay-at-Home Order

California Governor Issues Regional Stay-at-Home Order

California Governor Issues Regional Stay-at-Home Order

On Thursday, Dec. 3, 2020, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced a limited regional stay-at-home order for certain areas in California where COVID-19 cases are straining hospitals and intensive care units (ICUs). This announcement comes one day after California reported approximately 8,208 COVID-19-related hospitalizations.

Under this order, California will be split into five regions—Southern California, Northern California, San Joaquin Valley, Greater Sacramento and the Bay Area. A three-week stay-at-home order will be triggered in a region if the remaining ICU capacity within that region falls below 15%.

On Saturday, Dec. 5, 2020, the California Department of Public Health said that a stay-at-home order was triggered in the Southern California and San Joaquin Valley regions. The orders took effect at 11:59 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 6, 2020, and will last for at least three weeks. At this time, stay-at-home orders have not been triggered in the other three regions.

Regional Stay-At-Home Order

What businesses will be required to close?

If a three-week stay-at-home order is triggered, bars, wineries, hair salons, barbershops and personal services (e.g., nail salons and tattoo parlors) would be required to temporarily close. Restaurants would not be allowed to be open for dining in, but would be allowed to offer takeout and delivery. Additionally, retail stores would be allowed to operate at a 20% capacity.

What businesses will be allowed to remain open?

Critical infrastructure and schools that meet the state’s health requirements will be allowed to remain open during a three-week stay-at-home order.

“The bottom line is if we don’t act now, our hospital system will be overwhelmed. If we don’t act now, we’ll continue to see a death rate climb, more lives lost.”

– Gov. Newsom

What activities are permitted during a stay-at-home order?

Under a stay-at-home order, Californians are permitted to go outside to exercise or get some fresh air, as long as social distancing measures can be observed. However, nonessential trips to the store should be avoided and gatherings with those who do not live in their household are prohibited.

What’s next?

California residents should monitor the news for the latest developments within their region and continue to follow the guidelines imposed by their county, which may include observing a 10 p.m. curfew. We will continue to monitor the situation and provide updates as necessary.

California’s Leader in Insurance and Risk Management

As one of the fastest-growing agencies in California, GDI Insurance Agency, Inc. is able to provide its clients with the latest and greatest of what the insurance industry has to offer and much, much more. The GDI team has developed an “insurance cost reduction” quoting plan, that provides you with the best coverage at the best rate!

We are headquartered in Turlock, CA, with locations across the heart of California’s Central Valley, Northern California and beyond to provide a local feel to the solutions and services we provide our clients. We pride ourselves on exceeding our client’s expectations in every interaction to make sure that our client’s know how much we value and appreciate their business.

Contact us today 1-209-634-2929 for your comprehensive insurance quote!

Virtual Workplace Holiday Parties

Virtual Workplace Holiday Parties

Virtual Workplace Holiday Parties

At the end of the calendar year, workplace holiday parties are an experience that many employees look forward to as a highlight of the season. These celebrations are often a long-standing tradition allowing employees to celebrate with their colleagues—and sometimes family and guests.

However, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, many organizations are evaluating how to engage employees safely this holiday season. Employers find themselves tasked with deciding whether they should cancel, postpone or offer an amended celebration that prioritizes safety—with many choosing to offer a virtual holiday party.

Virtual holiday parties can help increase employee engagement—but also come with a set of challenges. In addition to concerns regarding the coronavirus, holiday events can carry a financial cost and create risks for organizations if employees participate in inappropriate behaviors. This article gives an overview of virtual holiday parties and offers ideas and considerations for employers planning a virtual celebration.

workplace holiday parties

The State of Workplace Holiday Parties During the Coronavirus

According to firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc. who conducts annual workplace holiday party surveys, most employers are either canceling their party altogether or hosting it virtually this holiday season. Their annual survey found that:

  • Twenty-three percent of organizations plan to host a year-end celebration in 2020, down from 76% in 2019.
  • Forty-four percent of organizations canceling holiday parties this year cite COVID-19 as the reason for canceling.
  • Seventy-four percent of those planning to offer a holiday party are doing so virtually.

These findings show that, while holiday parties are generally popular, employers are adapting to address current realities. There isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution to offering a year-end celebration during the COVID-19 pandemic, and employers have a variety of options to engage their employees safely.

workplace holiday parties

Considerations for Offering Workplace Virtual Holiday Parties

Holiday parties can impact employees in a variety of ways. Specifically, these events can boost:

  • Team chemistry and camaraderie
  • Employee motivation
  • Employee engagement

Additionally, holiday parties can give employees a break from the standard workday and even serve as an informal meeting to discuss next year’s goals and instill company values.

How an organization chooses to celebrate varies by workplace, but employers considering a virtual event may find that many of the shared experiences of a year-end celebration can take place in a remote environment.

workplace holiday parties

Planning Workplace Virtual Holiday Parties

A virtual environment won’t always fully replicate the in-person experience that many employees have come to expect for celebrations. Despite this, with careful planning, employers can still plan a virtual event that satisfies employees. Similar to when planning an in-person celebration, there are steps employers will want to take, which include:

  • Establishing a budget for the event
  • Creating the event’s guest list, which may include:
  • All employees
    • A specific team, department or location
    • In some cases, family members or guests
  • Establishing and communicating expectations for employees, including appropriate behaviors and other related policies
  • Planning, promoting and hosting the event

Factors such as a budget and how you intend to engage employees may influence what type of celebration makes sense for your organization. Holiday celebrations often involve a variety of activities, and the good news is that many of these can be offered virtually via online platforms or video chat. Examples of virtual holiday celebrations include:

  • Virtual mixers designed for multiple conversations to take place at once, rather than one big video conference
  • Ugly sweater contest
  • Holiday karaoke
  • Gingerbread house building and decorating
  • Wine and cheese party
  • Online escape room
  • Trivia contest
  • Virtual gift exchange

These are some ideas for employers to consider and may require some advance planning. For example, in some cases, employers may choose to provide party supplies for the employee, which would require gathering and shipping those items to each employees’ home before the celebration. Or, employers may need to prepare a list of trivia questions or instructions for guided activities, such as the online escape room.

When it comes to planning for virtual holiday events, employers can consider planning the activity internally or using providers or vendors that specialize in event planning.

Alternative Methods for Recognizing Employees

Generally, holiday parties carry a cost, and diverting funds to throwing a celebration may not be an option, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. Although employees may be disappointed due to not being able to participate in a holiday party, employers can lift their spirits in other ways.

Many employees may appreciate a gift or form of recognition as a replacement for their prized holiday party. Alternative methods for recognizing employees can include:

  • Giving employees a holiday gift
  • Sponsoring employees to make a charitable gift
  • Recognizing each employee for their individual contributions

As many organizations encounter financial restraints, holiday celebrations are not a requirement by any means. However, it’s important to consider showing appreciation for employees in some way to boost engagement and morale.

Virtual Holiday Party Best Practices

Workplace holiday parties can present a host of liabilities for organizations each year. While virtual celebrations won’t take place at a physical venue, employers should still proceed cautiously. Employees joining an event remotely aren’t immune from engaging in inappropriate behaviors. Holiday parties can remain a risk for employers—but employers can mitigate undesirable outcomes by planning effectively. Best practices include:

  • Evaluating your policies—With an increased number of employees working remotely—and the holiday event taking place virtually as well—ensure your employee handbook addresses remote behaviors to help mitigate risks. Employees should have easy access to an employee handbook and all policies, and be aware that a holiday celebration is considered a workplace event, meaning that all behaviors are expected to comply with organizational policies.
  • Keeping holiday celebrations optional—Depending on an employee’s exemption status, they may need to be compensated for their time, leading to challenges for mandating their attendance at a virtual event. Additionally, while many employees will be excited about a celebration, others may feel differently. With this in mind, it may be easier to make attendance optional.
  • Keeping the celebration general—There is some debate over the appropriateness of observing one holiday over another. However, focusing on offering a broader “holiday party” while avoiding specific religious celebrations can be inclusive to employees of varying backgrounds and beliefs.
  • Setting expectations for behaviors—Unfortunately, many holiday parties can lead to inappropriate behaviors by attendees. Despite being remote, employers should be aware that consequential employee behaviors can also take place virtually. Employers can mitigate undesired behaviors by setting expectations for attendees. Be sure to include these expectations in the employee handbook and communicate them to employees.

These best practices help mitigate the risk of employees engaging in inappropriate behaviors and best ensure that employees have a positive experience.

Holiday Celebrations in Your Workplace

While holiday celebrations can positively impact a workplace culture—there is also a case for forgoing a celebration. In addition to safety concerns, these events may have a financial cost, and holiday parties can present risks for employers, such as employees engaging in inappropriate behaviors. While virtual events may be able to mitigate common concerns such as excessive alcohol consumption that can lead to inappropriate behaviors, employers should know that poor behaviors can also take place in the virtual environment.

Employers who typically host an annual celebration, but are choosing not to do so this year, should consider explaining to employees why throwing a holiday party isn’t feasible. While some employees will be disappointed in this decision, they’ll still appreciate the sincerity and transparency.

As the end of the year approaches, employers find themselves torn between postponing, canceling or hosting a holiday celebration using safe practices. Employers should consider what type of celebration makes sense for their organization, even if that means not having one this year. For additional employee engagement resources, contact GDI Insurance Agency, Inc.

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