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Businessowners: Use Past Performance to Avoid Future Accidents

Posted by on Jul 13, 2015 in Blog, Small Business Safety

Your favorite sports team spends hours reviewing game film so they can improve their performance. It’s important for business owners to review their company’s past performances the same way a sports team does because in any business, things don’t always go according to plan. Does your company have an accident investigation program that can provide you with information so your company can avoid future accidents?

Workers and management will be more competent in dealing with the effects of an accident or emergency if you have effective plans in place to review and evaluate accidents and incidents. By reviewing accidents and incidents, your company can identify ways to prevent accidents from occurring in the future. The goal of a good accident investigation program is to uncover the basic causes of the accident or incident. A basic cause is the action or condition that resulted in an undesired event. A good accident investigation program also reviews near misses. An incident is a near miss and should also be investigated as it may prevent a future injury to an employee or damage to your property.

Make sure the accident investigation is used as fact finding and not fault finding. Eliminating one or more potential causes of loss can prevent most accidents from happening. Your accident investigation will not only determine what happened, but also why and how.

When conducting the accident investigation, it helps to have created an accident investigation kit. Some items needed in the kit might include:

  • Guidelines and forms on how to conduct an accident investigation
  • Clipboard
  • Pens and pencils
  • Protective gloves
  • Safety goggles
  • Barricade tape
  • Flashlight
  • Tape measure

The benefits of accident investigation include the following:

  • Investigating your accidents and reported cases of occupational ill health will help you uncover and correct any breaches in health and safety legal compliance you may have been unaware of.
  • The fact that you thoroughly investigated an incident and took remedial action to prevent further occurrences would help demonstrate to a court that your company has a positive behavior toward safety.
  • Your investigation findings will also provide essential information for your insurers in the event of a claim.

All it takes is a little thought and planning to create an accident investigation plan that will keep your business prepared for the unexpected!

James
Loss Control Manager

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Music Makes You Smarter

Posted by on Jul 8, 2015 in Blog, Happy Together

Music is an international language used every day all over the world. Music has become a vital part in everyday life, whether it is used for entertainment, therapy, career, or religion. The evolution and study of music has also become more prominent in today’s society.

I have two sons, both involved in music. My oldest son, a senior at Southern Illinois University – Carbondale, is majoring in music education. He would first like to be a high school band director, then continue on for his master’s and doctorate degrees. He currently plays 14 instruments.

My youngest son, a junior in high school, is part of the saxophone section in band. He also plays electric and acoustic guitar and competes yearly in Battle of the Bands.

There is so much more to music than people can imagine. So many people only think of the popular music on the radio, but my son has taught me to appreciate different types of music.

Before the era of “pop” music, there were many genres, ranging from classical to jazz. A popular thing to do was to take your spouse to an orchestra concert or a classy jazz club to dance. But over time, it seems classical music is still popular among music students, but pop music is rising in popularity more and more over the years.

But here is the interesting thing: it turns out being a musician has more perks than just a good hobby. Scientific research shows music “makes you smarter.” Studies show that since musicians use both sides of their brain more, being a musician helps in other fields of study, such as math, science, and reading.

A study published in Psychology Today states: “Boston Children’s Hospital found a correlation between musical training and improved executive function in both children and adults. Previous studies have identified a link between musical training and cognitive abilities, but few have looked specifically at the effects of early musical training on executive function.”

Other studies revealed:

  • Musicians have an enhanced ability to integrate sensory information from hearing, touch, and sight.
  • Beginning training before the age of seven has been shown to have the greatest impact. This is the age at which musical training begins to affect brain anatomy as an adult.
  • Brain circuits involved in musical improvisation are shaped by systematic training, leading to less reliance on working memory and more extensive connectivity within the brain.

Even Albert Einstein’s mother was a talented musician and made it part of her family’s daily life. This lead to Albert himself becoming an accomplished violinist.

You may not become the next Einstein, but there is no doubt that music makes you smarter. The earlier you expose yourself or your children to the wonderful world of music, the better.

Read more about the Psychology Today study here: https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-athletes-way/201406/does-playing-musical-instrument-make-you-smarter

Angela
Financial Products Underwriter

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A Cloud of Confusion

Posted by on Jul 2, 2015 in Blog, Happy Together

How safe is “vaping,” really?

You’ve seen them around—you might even use one. We’re talking about electronic cigarettes, of course. E-cigarettes, or vaporizers, were popularized several years ago as a tobacco-free source of nicotine for smokers. Unlike regular cigarettes, vaporizers don’t burn, eliminating much of the danger caused by traditional smoking. They often look like the real thing and can deliver a similar experience to smoking, affectionately referred to as “vaping.” The term “vaping” comes from the vapor that’s produced by the device, similar to a fog machine at a rock concert. There are three main types of vaporizers, each with varying levels of nicotine and vaping control. Some even offer vapors with no nicotine at all.

If you’re like most people, you want to know one thing—is it safe? With 480,000 deaths each year caused by tobacco smoke, experts agree that vaping is certainly the lesser of two evils. “There’s no question that a puff on an e-cigarette is less toxic than a puff on a regular cigarette,” says Stanton Glantz, director of the Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education at the University of California (U of C) in San Francisco. But does that mean it’s safe?

Recently, many studies have emerged highlighting the potential risks associated with vaping. One major concern is the production of formaldehyde, a carcinogen found in regular cigarettes. One study has concluded that a vaporizer running at a very high voltage can produce dangerous levels of formaldehyde, putting users at risk of cancer. However, this concern is contestable, due to the fact that most users would never vape at a voltage high enough for this to be a real concern. Vaping at a high voltage creates a burning taste that’s been found to be unbearable by users. This causes users to stop far short of the voltage needed to produce the carcinogen.

Another study completed by the U of C did highlight some risk, claiming that e-cigarettes deliver high levels of nanoparticles, which can sometimes trigger inflammation linked to asthma, stroke, diabetes, and heart disease. While regular cigarette smoke produces far more dangerous nanoparticles, there’s still some amount of risk in vaping, especially for those with a history of heart disease.

So what’s the answer—yay or nay? Safe or poison? The truth is, at the end of the day, we still don’t really know. No doubt vaping is a smarter alternative to smoking, but it would be difficult to call it “safe” just yet. Because of the risks to young people by nicotine, children and teens should still definitely abstain from using vaporizers. Fun candy-like flavorings can make vaporizers appealing to kids, so parents should be aware and talk with their children about the dangers of nicotine during their development, as well as its ability to cause addiction. As for adults, be mindful when making a decision about vaporizers—there are no inherent health benefits to vaping and some potential risks. More research is needed to draw an accurate conclusion, and only time will tell. But for now, the jury is out on this one.

Follow Pekin Insurance on social media or subscribe to this blog to get more health and safety tips!

Sources:
http://www.nytimes.com/2015/01/27/opinion/joe-nocera-is-vaping-worse-than-smoking.html?_r=0
https://www.sciencenews.org/article/health-risks-e-cigarettes-emerge
http://listverse.com/2014/11/12/10-facts-that-everyone-gets-wrong-about-vaping/

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Five Tips to Prevent Water Damage to Your Home

Posted by on Jul 1, 2015 in Blog, My Favorite Things

Torrential rains and flooding continue to impact many parts of the country, causing a big jump in water damage claims. Mechanical breakdowns are also culprits when it comes to these types of losses. But there are many ways you can protect your home from these unfortunate events, including the following.

  1. Your home’s drainage system should be checked to verify that proper water drainage occurs. For example, gutter downspouts should extend the proper distance from the foundation.
  2. Your yard should be properly graded to slope away from your home to allow surface water to adequately drain. French drains can also assist in this process.
  3. A sump pump system should be considered in your basement to keep unwanted water out of this vulnerable part of your home.
  4. Periodically check your washing machine hoses since these hose failures cause millions of dollars of water losses each year. Hoses should be replaced at the first sign of wear. Consider upgrading to the heavy-duty wire mesh hoses or stainless steel hoses during this replacement.
  5. Ascertain the location of your main water shutoff valve. Water shutoff valves should be installed on water lines under toilets and sinks and water lines leading to outside faucets.

It is also a good idea to procure flood insurance, even if your home is not in a high-risk flood zone, as many of these losses occur in moderate- to low-risk flood zones. For high-value homes, also look into excess flood insurance available from private insurers.

Taking these precautions now, before disaster strikes, will help keep your home safe from damage and decrease the need for expensive repairs.

Copyright 2015, International Risk Management Institute, Inc.

Stafanie, CPCU, API
Personal Lines Underwriting Specialist

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Wild, Untamed Workplace

Posted by on Jun 29, 2015 in Small Business Safety, Uncategorized

10 Most Common Workplace Hazards

Strap in your seatbelts and grab your helmets; it’s a dangerous world out there. No, we’re not talking about jungles or the outback. This blog is about somewhere much closer to home—your workplace.

Did you know the average company receives more than two fines per inspection by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) with the average fine costing about $1,000? That’s a lot of unplanned dough rolling out the door. But what’s even more significant is every day an average 6,000 people die as a result of work-related injuries. That’s over 2 million workplace deaths per year!

When it comes to workplace safety, there’s quite a bit at stake. That’s why we’ve compiled a list of the top 10 Most Common Workplace Hazards, as cited by OSHA.

  1. Inappropriate Fall Protection: We all know that heights can be dangerous, but at what point should you consider a height hazardous? It’s federally mandated that any employee on a leading edge 6 feet above a lower level must have appropriate fall safety systems in place. This can include safety nets, guardrail systems, or personal fall arrest systems such as harnesses or other approved tethering equipment.
  2. Poor Hazard Communication: Number 2 refers not to the hazard itself, but rather the lack of communication regarding hidden chemical hazards. For example, if an office manager stores bleach for cleaning purposes that employees might be exposed to, the employer is required by law to communicate this to employees, as well as the risks associated with exposure to bleach products. And rules are much stricter for workplaces that produce or import chemicals.
  3. Scaffolding: When you see the name, it’s no surprise that scaffolding would make the list. There are many rules and regulations that accompany the use of scaffolding in the workplace.
  4. Poor Respiratory Protection: Some workplaces produce dusts, fumes, and other atmospheric contaminants that can be harmful when inhaled. Employers are required to provide appropriate equipment and control processes to protect employees from coming to harm from these substances, including appropriate personal respirators where necessary.
  5. Powered Industrial Trucks: They may look like fun, but industrial vehicles can also be dangerous. Employers should know the rules and regulations associated with the use of industrial trucks including, but not limited to, fork trucks, tractors, lift trucks, and several other vehicles a seven-year-old boy might drool over.
  6. Lack of Control of Hazardous Energy: Electricity is dangerous. This hazard applies to heavy production machinery that contains some degree of volatility in its energy use.
  7. Ladders: There’s a reason your dad told you to be careful around ladders. When ladders are required in the workplace, it’s important to ensure that a ladder is of appropriate strength for its use, as well as inform employees about good ladder safety.
  8. Electrical Wiring Hazards: This one probably goes without saying, but devices should be wired properly. Anytime electricity is involved, care should be taken to ensure safety and protection. Wiring should be checked and rechecked to guarantee OSHA compliance.
  9. Machine Guarding: Use of machinery always carries a certain degree of hazard, from rotating parts to sparks and flying debris. Employers should provide appropriate guarding to protect employees, such as barrier guards, electronic safety devices, etc.
  10. General Electrical Risks: If we’ve said it once, we’ve said it … well, three times now. Electricity is dangerous. But it’s not just faulty wiring or big machines that create risks for employees. Outlets, office equipment, and even bundled cables can create hazards in the workplace. The entire workplace should be examined to ensure that all electrical risks receive adequate care and attention.

And that’s just the top 10! Workplace hazards go far beyond this list, from workplace stress to emotional stimuli. Whether you’re the owner, the CEO, or a part-time employee, it takes a team to improve workplace safety. Every one of us has the responsibility to make our workplaces safe, positive environments for the people we encounter throughout our workdays. To learn more about these hazards and how you can make your workplace safer, visit the OSHA website.

[Steps off soapbox] Now let’s go have some fun practicing workplace safety!

Source:
http://www.pomsassoc.com/6-sobering-facts-workplace-safety/

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Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of … Your Car?

Posted by on Jun 26, 2015 in Blog, My Favorite Things

8 Tips to Prevent Car Theft

Today is the most important day of your life. Today is the day you fight back against the thieves and scoundrels of America’s underbelly. It’s the day you hold fast our resolve and defend your unalienable right to mobility. That’s because today is the day … that we teach you about auto theft.

So that was a bit of an exaggeration. But in all seriousness, you probably don’t spend much time thinking about car thieves. Whether you’re thinking about it or not, auto theft is a real possibility for many Americans, especially in urban environments. In 2013 alone, almost 700,000 cars were reported stolen. But did you know that there are some really easy steps you can take to minimize your risk? Below are 8 easy steps to reduce your risk of auto theft.

  1. Store your car in a garage: You don’t have to leave home to have your car stolen. A car can be stolen right out of a front yard. To make your car more difficult to access, store it in a closed garage. This means renting if you live in the city, but it’s an investment worth considering. If you can’t park your car in a garage, park it as close to your home as possible, preferably under a streetlamp. Which brings us to number 2…
  2. Park your car in a well lit area: Obviously, you wouldn’t want to leave your car in a seedy part of town, but car theft can happen anywhere. It’s important to remember that thieves don’t like to be seen doing their thieving. To make your car a less likely target, park among other cars, preferably near a door or window. A car on its own is more tempting, but if it is stolen, being near a door or window will allow for more witnesses. You should also strive to park in an area that’s well lit. Cars parked under streetlamps are far less likely to be stolen than cars parked in a dark alley behind a roadside cafe. If you have the option to park your car under a streetlamp during the day, do it. That way, if you end up leaving it longer than expected, you’re still covered.
  3. Keep your car looking nice: You might be thinking, “But if my car looks nice, won’t someone be more likely to steal it?” Not necessarily. By keeping your car looking nice, you alert would-be thieves that you care about your car. If an owner cares about his or her car, he or she is much more likely to install an alarm and much more likely to notice its absence. To a thief, the worse a car looks, the less chance of being caught.
  4. Have an alarm sticker: Like number 3, this is an obvious way of stating, “I care about my car. Leave it be.”
  5. Actually have an alarm: It’s not all about looks after all. If the sticker doesn’t stop a car thief, loud screeching will certainly help.
  6. Hide your valuables: Never leave anything tempting in plain sight. A thief would much rather steal a car with a laptop in the front seat than an old fast food bag.
  7. Don’t leave your windows open: You might think leaving your windows open just a crack will let a little more air in, but that crack may be just enough for a thief to pry the window and unlock the door. Leaving that window open “just a crack” might let a little more than air into your car.
  8. And last but not least…

  9. LOCK YOUR CAR: This one goes without saying, but we’ll say it anyway. Locking your car is your first line of defense. Don’t do the thief’s job for him. If you use a fob to lock your car, make sure to double check that the doors have locked. Occasionally key fobs can malfunction, leaving your car unprotected—or worse—thieves can actually jam the signal, preventing your doors from operating properly.

So there you have it—8 easy tips to help prevent auto theft. Start building safe habits now, and reap the benefits in the long run. For more safety tips, subscribe to our blog or follow us on social media!

Sources:
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/cars/advice/how-to-prevent-car-theft/
http://jalopnik.com/5937504/the-ten-best-ways-to-keep-your-car-from-getting-stolen/
http://abcnews.go.com/Business/things-car-thieves/story?id=20938096

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