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02Aug 2017

As a nonprofit organization, most of your workforce is probably comprised of volunteers. These individuals devote their time and energy to help the community through your organization. Though these individuals offer their services without expecting compensation, they still require supervision to ensure that their jobs are done correctly. Furthermore, it is important for your organization to manage its volunteers to minimize the risk of harm to the community members you serve and the volunteers themselves.

There are three types of volunteer liabilities that may affect your organization as follows: 

Direct liability: The organization or volunteer is liable for an action or failing to act. For instance:

o   Not properly screening volunteers who will work with children

o   Providing volunteers with unsafe tools such as a ladder while doing repair work

Indirect (vicarious) liability: The nonprofit is liable for the actions of a volunteer on the organization’s behalf. For instance:

o   Volunteer damaging city property while working for an organization in a park

o   Medical bills accrued by a community member after an injury while supervised by a volunteer at an organization-sponsored event

Strict liability: The need to determine negligence is not necessary because responsibility for inflicting harm is automatic.

Training Program

As a nonprofit, it is essential for your organization to develop a training program for its volunteers. The individual program will depend heavily on the position the volunteer holds, the experience he or she brings to the role, the needs of community members he or she serves, and your organization’s policies.

While in the training program, volunteers should be given a safety handbook outlining your organization’s policies. Further, he/she should sign a waiver after reading through the organization’s policies and procedures.

The training program should also include the following at minimum: 

  • An official welcome to the organization and education on the history, mission statement and services provided. Outline the goals of the organization and the specific needs of the community members to be serviced.
  • Provide an overview of the skills and responsibilities required for the position. If special equipment is used, a supervisor should teach the volunteer how to use it until the volunteer feels comfortable.
  • Explain the organization’s policies and procedures such as reimbursement policies and sexual harassment training.
  • Conduct a safety briefing that covers how the volunteer can protect him or herself and community members from danger and injury while representing the organization.

Managing Volunteers

After volunteers complete the training program, it is essential that your staff members continue to monitor and manage them throughout their tenure at your organization. Ensure that your staff members feel comfortable delegating responsibilities to the volunteers and correcting them if they make mistakes. Furthermore, if a volunteer acts inappropriately, advise the staff members to dismiss the volunteer before he or she inflicts harm onto another person or him or herself.

On another note, provide motivation to your volunteers to work hard for the community. Encourage them and praise them for giving it their all. In addition, provide them with a t-shirt, hat or poster as gratitude for their hard work.

Checklist for Supervising Volunteers

To ensure that your organization is fully prepared to manage volunteers, determine if your nonprofit has the following in place:

  • A description of all volunteer positions that describes the tasks and duties expected.
  • Maintain and distribute a volunteer safety handbook for use during training.
  • Establish a grievance policy in the event that volunteers are dissatisfied while working for the organization.
  • Ensure that all volunteers sign a waiver that acknowledges the organization’s policies.
  • Establish disciplinary standards for volunteers.
  • Train all staff members and supervisors who come in contact with volunteers on how to interact with them.

Our team of P&C experts at Kaercher Insurance is here to help. If you need assistance with establishing policies for volunteers, please contact us today at (702) 304-7800.

02Aug 2017

Regular property inspections are an important part of managing condominium or homeowners association (HOA) risks. Thorough inspections increase the safety and well-being of homeowners, protect property values, and reduce the risk of costly repairs and lawsuits.

Why should HOAs conduct regular inspections?

Conducting inspections regularly keeps an HOA on top of security risks, as well as maintenance and building problems. A thorough inspection should do the following:

  • Increases the safety, health and welfare of all association members and guests: Regular inspections ensure your HOA community is a safe place to live. One significant area of liability for HOAs is slip-and-fall accidents, which indicate the need for frequent inspections of sidewalks, driveways, parking lots and roadways throughout the property. Surfaces should be inspected for uneven and free of snow and ice during cold weather.
  • Identifies problem areas before they get worse: If deterioration of common amenities is detected early, it could save the HOA money if repairs are made before the damage becomes even more costly.

Different seasons bring different property risks. Season-specific inspections—such as checking chlorine levels in an outdoor pool during summer, leaf buildup in eaves and gutters in the fall and sidewalks for ice in winter—should be done along with regular inspections.

Inspections show an HOA’s insurance carrier that it is proactive in addressing exposures and reducing loss.

Can an HOA inspect a homeowner’s unit? 

Shared amenities—parking lots, pools and the clubhouse—are the usual places to inspect, but there may be instances where homeowners are violating rules on their individual properties. Sometimes the rule violation simply has to do with maintaining the aesthetics of the property as stated in the bylaws; but other violations pose serious health and wellness issues or other costly risks to the HOA. For example, if the condominium is a nonsmoking building and some residents choose to smoke in their units, they create a potential fire hazard for all homeowners.

The media has recently drawn increased attention to hoarding behaviors and the dangerous health and environmental problems hoarders can pose for themselves and those around them. This may also be an issue of concern for your HOA.

However, an HOA cannot enter a homeowner’s private unit to investigate potential violations or conduct inspections without his or her permission, unless due to an emergency. In some cases, the HOA may have to obtain a court order, which could be difficult, as the HOA must show probable cause as to why the residence must be entered.

What is the property manager’s role in inspections?

An HOA property manager is responsible for carrying out site inspections according to a schedule determined by the bylaws or the HOA board. Not only do they conduct formal inspections, but they serve as the HOA’s eyes and ears, finding and correcting hazards, and ensuring members and their guests follow the rules for both individual properties and shared amenities.

If your HOA does not have a property manager, the board or another appointed person should conduct the inspections. Keep in mind that inspections should always be fair, especially when it comes to individual homeowners’ properties.

Six HOA Site Inspection Steps 

Whether inspecting communal areas of the HOA or a homeowners’ properties, take a comprehensive approach to examine all areas of risk. This may take extra time and effort in the beginning, but will become easier and routine over time:

  1. Check the HOA’s bylaws and state statues: The HOA’s bylaws may have inspection requirements, including the minimum for what should be inspected and how often. Also, look at state statutes regarding inspections; for example, HOAs should check local fire codes and conduct inspections of fire alarms and extinguishers a certain number of times per year, depending on the state. An HOA’s insurance company may also have recommendations for what to inspect and how often.
  2. Document the inspection: Documenting the inspection results is critical, as it serves as a written record of problems, issues and violations. As with any HOA document, the inspection documentation should be clearly written and professional, as it may serve as evidence in case of a claim against the HOA.
  3. Create an inspection checklist: List all areas and amenities of the association’s property and define the items to check in each area. It’s important to revise or add to the checklist as new issues emerge; but the same checklist should be used for every inspection.
  4. Update the checklist with corrective measures: It’s important to identify problems, but it’s just as important to fix them—either on the spot or in a timely manner. Serious problems should be addressed immediately, but there should also be a timetable for correcting problems of other varying priority levels.
  5. Present site inspection results to the board: Outcomes from site inspections should always be communicated to the board, as the results may require action from the HOA’s leadership and or affect the annual budget. For example, if the inspector notes that the pool is beginning to deteriorate and will need repair, the board should keep this in mind when they discuss the annual budget.
  6. File the checklist with the HOA’s records: Inspection checklists should become a permanent record of the HOA. They serve as a record of maintenance, how problems were addressed and when, and may serve as evidence in a lawsuit.

Inspections are a major component of an HOA’s risk management plan. For more information on inspection basics and insurance for your HOA, contact Kaercher Insurance today.

02Aug 2017

Fireworks are an indispensable part of celebrations such as Independence Day and New Year’s Eve. When your business or organization puts on a special event with fireworks, take precautions to reduce the risks and keep your employees and spectators injury-free.

Know the Risks and Be Prepared

Injuries and accidents often occur because people underestimate the dangers posed by fireworks and don’t take proper safety precautions. In fact, a special study conducted by the Consumer Product Safety Commission found that more than half of fireworks-related injuries were the result of unexpected ignition of the device or consumers not using fireworks as intended. The bottom line is that all fireworks carry potential risks of burns, blindness and other injuries, but you can reduce the danger through proper planning and safety:

  • Make sure the site is suitable for your display and check weather reports both before and on the day of the event. 
  • Contact your local authorities to keep them informed of your plans and give them plenty of advance notice.
  • Arrange for the proper delivery, storage and use of your fireworks. Ensure that your staff is properly trained on all tasks.
  • Plan ahead for proper crowd control. Post signs warning of potential hazards, keep spectators a safe distance from the firing area and make sure all parking areas are located far away from the display area.
  • Do not permit anybody other than the display operator and firing team into the firing zone and the safety zone around it. Keep spectators a safe distance away, preferably with barriers.
  • Plan for what to do if things go wrong. Ensure you have enough fire extinguishers and buckets of sand or water ready in the event that something lights on fire. Designate someone to be responsible for contacting emergency services.

Be sure that your business or organization complies with all applicable state and local laws. The laws regulate who can purchase and use fireworks, when they can be purchased, when they may be used and what the maximum noise levels may be. Under these regulations, the industry focus is not only on product safety but also on the reduction of accidents and injuries.

Insure Your Event

Regardless of whether you hire a professional fireworks display operator or release the fireworks yourself, you should first verify that your general liability policy will provide coverage for injuries or property damage caused by the fireworks. Other coverages to consider, depending on the nature of the event, are event cancellation insurance, weather insurance and special event insurance.

For more information about managing risks at your event, contact Kaercher Insurance today.

 

02Aug 2017

There are many potential implications associated with the aging workforce that employers are faced with today. Many organizations are beginning to understand that their longer-term business strategies have the potential to be compromised if the population of baby boomers currently in the workforce happens to retire at around the same time.

Many believe that older workers are more expensive and less productive than younger groups, but this conventional wisdom may leave you out of an opportunity to maximize talent base.

Aging Workforce Implications 

Many employers are wary about hiring or even maintaining a primarily aging workforce at their organization despite many possible benefits. Because of the concerns surrounding this talent-management issue, employers must consider the full range of economic implications of an aging workforce, including both cost and productivity factors. The key to turning this issue into a business opportunity starts with a better understanding of its advantages and challenges.

  • Older workers are somewhat less likely to be disengaged and slightly more likely to be moderately or highly engaged at work than younger groups, according to a recent Towers Perrin Talent Report.
  • Because disengaged workers are more likely to leave their employers, it presents a retention risk for employers. This could mean a higher cost to the organization due to the high expense of employee turnover.
  • Turnover costs can be as much as 50 percent of an annual salary for many positions, so the benefits of maintaining a stable workforce and avoiding turnover often exceeds the increased compensation and benefits costs of aging workers. Because of this, the cost to hire and maintain older workers can be quite reasonable.
  • Hiring or retaining additional older workers may not cost much more than younger workers simply because these workers could offer enhanced skills such as experience, maturity and engagement.
  • Even though cognitive declines can occur with age, knowledge and experience in a field can offset this. Communication and decision-making skills acquired with experience at an organization can often make up for decline in manual dexterity.
  • Obviously, average pay tends to increase with service and age, but this can also result from movement up the career ladder in an organization. So, older employees are not necessarily more expensive in terms of pay.
  • Although health care claims costs do tend to increase with age, and are on average higher for workers nearing retirement age, costs can also vary due to many underlying factors. A study conducted by the University of Michigan Health Management Center found that age may be less of an influence in increased health care costs than factors such as individual health risk and proper health care utilization.
02Aug 2017

Choosing the wrong tenant can lead to lost income, litigation costs and damage to your property. Conducting a background check on prospective tenants is a wise way to ensure a mutually successful experience for you and the applicant, and it is an effective risk management tool. Although background checks do present some costs, taking on a tenant without having performed this screening carries significant risk and can cost you a lot more money in the long run.

Why Prescreen?

Many applicants have a criminal record, but they do not disclose this information. Therefore, consider these advantages of pre-screening:

  • Discourages applicants from hiding a criminal background or falsifying their credentials. 
  • Eliminates any uncertainties about applicants.
  • Encourages honesty while going through the leasing process.

Extent of Background Checks

At a minimum, it is advisable to review an applicant’s criminal history, as it may be a factor to consider when allowing him or her to become a tenant. Searches for criminal records might include federal, state and county records.

Beyond the basic criminal background check, take a risk-focused approach to determining additional levels of screening, which might include identity verification, employment verification and professional license verification.

Credit Check

An additional level of verification that is essential for a background screening of a potential tenant is a credit check. This can provide additional verification of social security and employment information and can reveal crucial information about the applicant’s ability to make payments responsibly.

Rental Applications

The background check will be more efficient, more valuable and less costly if the application contains certain elements, such as a statement that all information is accurate and that any untruthfulness or omissions are legal grounds for termination of the lease. A standardized format that consistently collects all necessary information will also speed the background screening process. Some other helpful elements include:

  • Detailed contact information for references, including contact information for past landlords. 
  • Any other names used by the tenant.

Using a Background Screening Provider

To simplify the task, you may find it helpful to outsource the process to a background screening service provider. For many screening tasks, such as criminal background checks, outside providers can be faster and more thorough. It is important that when selecting a provider you consider its financial statements and health, its hiring and employment processes, identity theft safeguards and, of course, its service offerings.

One way to streamline the process is to use an online application that requires certain fields necessary for the screening to be completed. The completed fields can be linked directly to the screening provider’s website, which will extract the necessary information for the background check. When a need for revision arises, the form can be easily modified.

Legal Duties

You have several obligations to the applicant under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA):

  • Any applicant on whom an institution performs a background screen must give his or her written authorization to conduct the report.
  • If you ultimately deny the application, you must provide notification through pre-adverse action and final adverse action notification letters.

For More Help

Contact Kaercher Insurance if you need more information about protecting yourself from liabilities associated with tenants. Our insurance experts can keep you covered and give you peace of mind.

04Jul 2017

The health and safety of your residents should be your top priority, so it is important that your facility is proactive in ensuring that the proper fire safety precautions are in place. According to USA Today, more than half of the nursing homes in the United States are in violation of federally-established standards for fire safety. The newspaper reports that inspectors often ignore major safety deficiencies, even in facilities that have had a fire in the last five years. In addition, government inspectors tend to overlook these indiscretions by failing to impose penalties on facilities that do not have the proper sprinkler and alarm systems in place.

Without a sufficient fire safety program, you are exposing your organization to huge losses and lawsuits that could potentially bankrupt your business.

Creating a Fire Safety Program

There are two key measures a nursing home can take to establish a sound fire safety program: installing a sprinkler system and establishing a fire safety program.

Sprinklers are essential because many residents cannot move quickly or unassisted because they are dependent on ventilators, IVs and feeding tubes. Though the equipment is costly, it is worth the extra expense. Sprinklers diffuse a fire more quickly, allowing residents and staff more time to exit the building safely.

However, a facility cannot rely on sprinklers alone to cover their risk of fire; it is also critical to have a solid fire prevention program in place. To establish a plan, consider the following three steps.

Step 1: Evaluate the Building 

First, conduct a survey examining the structure of the facility.

  • Your plan will depend on if the building has a sprinkler system. If it does not, your evacuation will need to be quicker and more efficient, so your plan should take that into consideration.
  • Evaluate the heating, ventilation and air conditioning system (HVAC) to determine if the vent system will disperse smoke. Additionally, determine if the HVAC has an automatic shut-off in place for the air handlers should the fire alarm sound.
  • Inspect the elevator to determine if it has fire-resistant gaskets, if pressurization has been used to prevent smoke from entering the elevator shaft and if the vertical utility shafts have adequate sealing.
  • Evaluate whether the facility has enough smoke detectors and determine if it has an automatic fire department notification system in place.
  • Determine if the facility has smoke barriers that will trap the fire in a certain area until the fire department can put it out.
  • Inspect the doors of the residents’ rooms. Doors that are 1.75 inches thick provide 20 minutes of fire protection. Also, door latches installed outside of the door prevent the door from opening even under the pressure of fire.

Step 2: Create Evacuation Procedures

should provide employees with specific instructions in the event that they discover a fire or hear a fire alarm. This information should be clearly posted for staff members and should also be part of your employee handbook. The procedural information should include the following:

  • Appropriate actions when discovering a fire
  • Guidelines for removing residents from the area affected by the fire
  • Explanations for how to activate the alarm
  • Guidelines for how to exit the building while assisting residents
  • Instructions for how to greet fire department staff
  • Directions for where to take firefighters in the building while residents are being evacuated
  • Instructions for how to safely remove feeding tubes, IVs, catheter drains and ventilators before evacuating residents and how to continue these functions in another designated area

Step 3: Staff Training and Drills

In order for staff members to understand the proper procedures and have the ability to perform them quickly, the facility must conduct thorough staff training and periodic fire drills.

On a frequent basis, supervisors—such as department heads and charge nurses—should conduct fire drills with their staff. While doing so, each department can determine how well the employees are prepared in the event of an actual fire. From there, each department can conduct additional training in areas that need improving.

Protect Your Residents and Your Facility

A solid fire prevention plan eliminates your risk of penalties from the government, lowers your risk of negligence lawsuits, protects your building and your business, keeps your residents safe and is a major selling point for prospective residents and their families. With the appropriate technology and procedures in place, your facility can be prepared in the event of a fire and avoid a potentially catastrophic situation.

04Jul 2017

As the workforce in the United States becomes more mobile, so do the capabilities of employers to track their employees on the road. From a distance, accurately monitoring employee productivity, working hours, injuries, conduct and company property presents a challenge. The use of global positioning systems (GPS) is an excellent way to address these difficulties. Using satellites and receivers installed in a vehicle, laptop or cell phone, these devices are able to locate an employee’s physical location and vehicle speeds with reasonable accuracy.

There are several legal considerations that employers must address before using GPS technology for their mobile workers.

Invasion of Privacy 

Employees may have a reasonable expectation that their location and actions are private from their employer.

For example: An outside sales representative attends a support group during his lunch break during working hours. Though he does not disclose this information to his employer or co-workers, the employer discovers that the employee is attending these meetings through GPS monitoring. The employer may then be held liable for invasion of privacy.

Employer Fails to Supervise Employees Properly

If an employer discovers that an employee presents a risk to others and does not act, the company is at risk for a claim of negligent supervision.

For example: A commercial driver tends to speed while he is on the job, and his employer discovers this through the GPS system installed in his vehicle. The employer does nothing about this discovery, and the driver subsequently gets into an accident because he was speeding. As a result, the employer is liable for negligent supervision.

Employee Discrimination

Though an employee’s membership with a group may be protected by federal and state discrimination laws, the employer may not always be aware that the employee is a member. Yet, with the use of GPS technology, an employer can sometimes discover their employees’ affiliations, thus supporting a discrimination claim.

For example: An employee is receiving treatment for a terminal illness on his own time. Through GPS tracking on his laptop, his employer discovers that the employee is ill. A few months later, the employee is terminated and when the he files a disability discrimination claim, his employer cannot deny knowing about the employee’s illness because his laptop was being monitored.

Inaccurate Data Collection

If an employer makes an employment decision based on data collected from a GPS and the information is found to be inaccurate, the employer may be subject to defamation, wrongful termination and employment discrimination claims.

For example: The GPS system installed in a delivery driver’s vehicle inaccurately places the driver at a gentlemen’s club near where he is actually making deliveries. Though the employee was doing his job honestly, the employer assumes that he was visiting the club on the clock. As a result, the employee is terminated. This puts the employer at risk for claims of wrongful termination.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Using GPS Devices 

Employers reap several benefits from installing GPS monitoring into their employee’s vehicles or electronic devices, such as the following:

  • Increased efficiency and improved customer service.
  • Better recordkeeping capabilities and improved business operations.
  • More contact with employees throughout the work day.

Employers should also remain cautious of these dangers of using GPS technology:

  • Employees who are monitored may feel as though their employer does not trust them and may relinquish some of their independence and individuality that they once brought to the job. This may negatively affect their independent decision-making abilities.
  • There may be an urge to implement unreasonable schedules because employees are constantly monitored.
  • The ability to monitor employees during breaks and before and after working hours can pose issues. By learning what employees do with their own time, an employer can obtain a full picture of the lives of their mobile employees. Thus, employers may breach the privacy that their employees expect and prefer.

Recommendations for Employers to Reduce the Risk Associated with GPS Monitoring

When using GPS devices to monitor your employees, consider these recommendations:

  • Limit GPS monitoring to company-owned property, as it is easier for an employee to make a privacy claim while in possession of his or her own property.
  • Develop a comprehensive written policy about the use of GPS technology, and enforce this policy strictly. It should outline how the devices and the information attained will be used. All employees who will be monitored with a GPS device should acknowledge receipt of the policy in writing.
  • Limit GPS monitoring to the confines of the policy for legitimate business operations only.
  • Employers should also not monitor any activities relating to union organizations, as that can be seen as unlawful surveillance.
  • Re-calibrate the system for accuracy on a regular basis.
  • Many states have privacy laws. Check with your legal counsel before implementing GPS technology.

Remember that while the use of GPS technology can be a powerful management tool, it can become a legal nightmare. By using this technology lawfully, you can benefit the efficiency of your business while respecting the privacy of your employees.

04Jul 2017

For businesses looking to share resources quickly and effectively, cloud computing can be an attractive answer. However, while moving operations to the cloud is an effective way to reduce hardware and software costs while keeping data readily available, it can also expose your company to certain risks that need to be taken into consideration when deciding if it is right for you.

Picking the right cloud service provider can mean the difference between a lasting success and a costly failure. Either way, you need to ask the right questions and set the right requirements to ensure that your potential cloud provider increases your productivity, not your risks.

Contracts

The most important part of moving some or all of your operations to a cloud provider is establishing a contract that will lay out, in advance, the way your data will be managed. Ultimately, your company is responsible for any data that it is entrusted with, even when that data is being stored by a third party. Without the cloud, your company has full control over its data security and Internet policy. If you make the move to a cloud computing platform, the provider you choose may not have the same high standards currently held by your company. With a contract, you can make sure your provider enforces the same level of protection that your company would on its own system.

Questions for Potential Providers 

One of the biggest mistakes a company can make is to not investigate and/or negotiate the terms of its contract with potential providers before beginning service. The less you know about your provider and what services they are willing to guarantee, the larger the room for error. When comparing cloud computing services, there are some factors that you need to consider:

  • Data recovery: What happens if a disaster destroys one of your provider’s servers? Are they obligated to replace the data stored on it? Do they even have the capability? Temporary data loss can be extremely inconvenient and costly to a company. If it is permanent and the provider has given you no guarantee to restore data, the loss can be devastating. Make sure the provider has the resources in place to back up your data to ensure that there cannot be any permanent loss. Also, make sure they can restore your data in a reasonable timeframe to avoid an extended disruption to your operations.
  • Data location: Data put into the cloud can be stored anywhere, from across town to a server on the other side of the world. Unfortunately, not all countries are as strict as the United States when it comes to data security. While your provider may be headquartered in the United States., it could utilize server space in multiple countries. Depending on the location, this could mean reduced security standards. Ask providers to guarantee your data will be stored on servers within the United States and that they will conform to all local regulations regarding data security.
  • Ending a partnership: Before you begin the partnership, it is important to consider how things will work out if it ends. Whether by your own decision or because of an unfortunate event, such as your provider going out of business or being taken over by another company, there may come a time when you will part ways with your cloud provider. To avoid loss, ask potential providers to describe the system for transferring data from their servers back into your control should your business relationship end.

New Territory

Cloud computing is a relatively new concept, meaning there may be a number of risks that are not yet apparent. This also means that most cloud providers have a limited history in the industry. Cloud computing comes with many advantages, but you need to strongly consider the types of sensitive data you are willing to risk moving to the cloud.

04Jul 2017

Elevators have come a long way in the past few decades, largely due to advancements in electronics and the addition of computer monitoring. They are no longer simple pulley systems capable of being maintained and repaired by the average technician. If an elevator in your building requires maintenance, chances are you’ll need to hire a specialized contractor.

Because of the technology in today’s elevators, fixing them can be quite costly. That’s why you should always be on the lookout for potential problems and deal with them before they become a major headache for your property.

An elevator maintenance program is an essential part of your business to keep your elevators running properly. A good elevator maintenance program should proactive, responsive and capable:

  • Proactive, to catch potential problems before an elevator is shut down
  • Responsive, to get the problem fixed as soon as possible
  • Capable, to recognize both common and uncommon problems and fix them in a timely manner

An elevator has many moving parts, so be on the lookout for these potential problems:

  • Long wait times. If the elevator seems to take longer than usual to get from floor to floor, time how long it takes and compare it to the elevator manufacturer’s specifications. If it takes longer than normal, have an elevator technician take a look.
  • If your elevator has an electrical traction system, it can easily overheat if the mechanical room is improperly ventilated. The mechanical room for this type of system is often on the building’s roof, so dirt and humidity can also cause the elevator’s traction system to overheat. Inspect the mechanical room regularly to avoid this common problem.
  • Lack of hydraulic fluid. A lack of hydraulic fluid in the elevator’s reservoir can cause a loud noise when the elevator is in use. Luckily, replacing the hydraulic fluid in an elevator is a simple and cost-effective way to keep an elevator running smoothly. A hydraulic fluid test should be performed regularly and according to the manufacturer’s specifications.
  • Door malfunctions. Elevator doors receive significant use and are vulnerable to misuse. Consider upgrading to infrared edges to eliminate physical contact with objects or passengers. The doors’ bearings and skirts should be lubricated on a regular basis.
  • Elevators are common vandalism targets, so make sure vandal-resistant interiors and control panels are installed. Elevators that have frequent shutdowns are more likely to be vandalized.

All elevators will need service work at some point. If you notice any of the aforementioned problems, do not try and fix them yourself. Simply disengage the elevator and rope the area off.

When arranging for service to be performed, make sure to find a service company you can trust. A technician should be on-site within an hour to avoid long, inconvenient shutdowns.

For more information about elevator maintenance and other strategies to help protect your assets and mitigate loss, contact us today at (702) 304-7800.

04Jul 2017

Allowing employees to work remotely from home or other off-site locations can increase productivity for workers, reduce costs for the company and create beneficial flexibility to keep operations going if something happened to your business’s primary physical location. However, remote work, or telecommuting, needs to be conducted carefully with the help of established company policies to protect workers, your clients and your company.

Balancing the Benefits

For the organization, one of the most tangible benefits of remote workers is the decrease in costs associated with having on-site employees. Workspace real estate can be reduced or kept at current levels, while still allowing your staff to grow. Companies can reduce utility expenses, reducing their overall carbon footprint. In addition, your employees can enjoy a savings on fuel expenses, vehicle maintenance and meal costs.

Many employees flourish in a remote work situation. The flexibility it allows can increase morale and help balance work and home life, resulting in increased productivity. As well, remote work options allow a company to employ talent from all over the world.

Having employees in different locations and able to work at home also increases your business’s ability to continue operations in the event of a disaster. If for some reason your physical office had to close, many business functions could still go on.

Start Small 

Begin your remote work program on a small scale using a pilot program. Present the opportunity to just one or a few established employees whose work could be well-suited for this type of environment, even if troubles are met along the way. Testing this program before a company-wide implementation will help address the inherent risks to business processes and workflows as bumps along the way, rather than wide-spread problems.

While remote work can pose many exposures, most of them can be mitigated with thorough planning and proper execution. Once policies and procedures are established, companies can take full advantage of the benefits that having remote workers offers.

Project Productivity Risk

The change in environment will mean that workflows will need to be adjusted. As well, different methods of communication and oversight will need to be used to keep supervisors and team members just as connected to remote workers as they are to the workers in the workspace next to them. Employees allowed to work remotely should already be in good standing with the company and understand what it will take from them to keep projects moving. Overall, with the right adjustments, productivity should remain the same, if not improve, for remote workers.

Safety at Home

Workplace safety and ergonomics should be just as important for remote workers as on-site workers at your company. Remote workers should attend a specialized safety training or orientation to thoroughly address all possible exposures they’ll face in their new environment, including ergonomics.

When a remote worker begins in their new workspace a site visit should occur with a supervisor or HR personnel to check that all commonsense safety measures are being addressed. Periodic visits are a good idea to ensure continued compliance. Remember that remote workers have all the same rights to workers’ compensation for injuries that occur in the course of employment that employees in your facility do. Not monitoring a remote workers workspace periodically can allow hazards to develop, putting your company at greater risk for a workers’ comp claim.

Information Security 

Information security is the largest challenge for companies with remote workers. Physical loss or theft of devices containing data or access to data is much more likely. Remote workers will usually be in possession of laptops and/or mobile data drives issued by the company to allow them to work with the same systems and information as workers located in-house. The protection of building security, key cards and the watching eyes of other employees will not be able to protect their equipment.

Another aspect of security to be cautious about is using company-issued equipment for non-work related tasks. If laptops are accessed by family members they could potentially download a virus or spyware. The same could happen if an employee got lax and used their company equipment for personal use. Companies should also be aware of how any sensitive data or documents will be stored and disposed of. Physical print outs especially need to be disposed of properly.

To protect your employee and your company’s interests, be sure that all equipment requires passwords and encryption for access. A thorough policy should be established regarding the line between personal and company property and activity for remote workers to prevent missteps from happening. When establishing the employees remote worksite, be sure that any wireless connection is secured and that your company has a policy about using unsecured connections (such as at hotels and other public spaces) for work tasks. Companies can also set up VPN (Virtual Private Network) access for connecting to the company’s networks, to ensure that access is secure.

Contact Kaercher Insurance for more information on protecting your business’s best interests and planning for business continuity and growth.