Specialized Business Insurance & Risk Management Blog

April is Safe Digging Month – Tips to Help Your Contractors Control Exposures and Claim Costs

iStock_000013069217_MediumAn underground utility line is damaged every six minutes because someone decided to dig before calling 811. All states have laws that require utilities be pre-located by an appropriate locator service, which can be reached by calling 811 – the national “Call Before You Dig” phone number.
The following steps can help contractors control exposures, avoid losses, or contain losses that do occur:

Take daily photos of the work site

Check utility marks to help ensure all known utilities have been located

In the event a strike does occur, once site safety is established, gather detailed documentation of where the marks were in relation to the excavation; documentation can include photos, diagrams and witness statements

Not collecting these facts immediately could seriously damage your contractor’s defense. The average utility damage claim is approximately $25,000, and as such, implementing an effective incident investigation plan containing the elements above can help you defend your contractor.

Keeping Your Greenhouse Operational While the Snow Melts

Winter greenhouseThe weight of snow can change based on whether the snow is wet or dry, as wet snow can be up to four times heavier than dry snow.  Dry snow can mostly be found in the middle of the country, while wet snows are more typically found on coastlines or by large bodies of water. When melted, three inches of wet snow or twelve inches of dry snow is equivalent to one inch of water. How can this water weight affect your greenhouse? In order to lighten the load of the snow, the best method is to melt it before it starts to pile up. Here’s a list of some snow melting tips to help you as this winter comes to a close.

  • Energy Blanket: Before the storm starts, lay out the energy blanket and turn the heat on BEFORE the snow starts to fall. This will warm up the glazing so the snow will melt on contact. Even if the snow does start to pile up, it will act as a good insulator, which will reduce heat loss.
  • Reducing Air Pressure: Double layered greenhouses are less effective at melting snow, as the second layer slows the heat transfer. By reducing the air pressure, you can deflate the greenhouse to a single layer.
  • Snow Rake: If energy blankets are not available, you can manually remove snow from the greenhouse with a snow rake. Be careful not to build the snow up too high around the sides, as it may crush the walls in.
  • Heating Cables/Water Piping: The effects of these methods are limited due to the small concentrated area of the tools and their small heat output. However, these methods can help if used with other tools.

As always, you should be sure to develop a complete plan before a storm starts. Be sure to check up on snow accumulation throughout the storm’s duration. Also, check all heating equipment before the storm, to make sure it is operational.

Safety Tips for Handling Cleaning Chemicals

Cleaning productsThe US Department of Labor continually lists cleaning and custodial work as one of the most dangerous jobs in the country. This is due mostly to the high probability of accidents involving chemicals that occur each year. Here at NIP Group with our MaintenancePro program, we encourage cleaning professionals to develop a safety program for their cleaning chemicals. Some key components include:

• Be sure to document all cleaning chemicals used on site. This list should include details of how many gallons are stored, where they are stored, and the potential hazards of, and necessary precautions for, each specific chemical.

• Create Safety Data Sheets for each chemical used, and never mix chemicals even if they are the same type of chemical.

• All chemicals should be stored in well-ventilated areas far from HVAC intake vents. This helps to prevent any fumes from spreading to other areas.

• Safety signs are very important to have on site. Consider having signs that use images, not words. If this is not possible, the next best option is to have signs in multiple languages. All signs must follow OSHA’s standards.

• Cleaning workers should know exactly what the following “signal words” mean:

  • Caution: product should be used carefully, but is relatively safe.
  • Warning: product is moderately toxic.
  • Danger: product is highly toxic and may cause permanent damage to skin and eyes.

ALL INFO FROM http://www.cleanlink.com/news/article/Six-Tips-on-the-Safe-Handling-of-Cleaning-Chemicals–15549#

Tree Safety Tips

An arborist cutting a tree with a chainsaw

Now that winter is coming to a close, it’s time to start trimming trees. Trees can be a cause of danger for some obvious reasons, and here at NIP Group with the LandPro and/or TreePro program, the commercial insurance for landscapers, arborists, and tree services, we want to ensure your safety. OSHA, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, has compiled a few safety tips to help both tree care professionals and private citizens to stay safe.

• Never trim trees in dangerous weather conditions. You should also, be sure to perform a hazard assessment of the work area before starting work.

• Those who operate chainsaws should be trained properly and know how to keep the equipment properly maintained. Always wear protective equipment such as gloves, safety glasses, hard hats, hearing protection, or anything else recommended in the equipment manufacturer’s operating manual.

• Determine the tree’s felling direction, as well as the proper amount of hinge wood to safely guide the tree’s fall.

• Inspect tree limbs for stability and strength before climbing. When the tree has been determined safe to climb, be sure to climb with no tools in hand. If a tree is under pressure, make sure to determine the direction of the pressure and make small cuts to release it.

• Be alert at all times. Never turn your back on a falling tree and watch for any objects that may be thrown back by a tree while it falls.

Info from: https://www.osha.gov/Publications/3301-10-05-english-06-27-2007.html

Severe Weather Tips for Greenhouse Growing Businesses

Now that the weather is finally starting to warm up, we can begin to enjoy all of the wonderful things summer has to bring. However, summer comes with some pretty unpredictable storms and weather patterns. While we can’t always predict when, where, or how hard these natural disasters will hit, there are a number of precautions that can be taken to ensure your business stays safe. By following these tips, one can help mitigate the risk associated with greenhouse structure and business.

Prepare: Always have an emergency procedure in place for the protection and safety of all employees and property. Instructions, safety guidelines, and the chain of command must be clear. All drills should be reviewed and practiced every quarter.

Tornadoes and Heavy Rain: If you are located in a heavy tornado area, be sure to consult with a structural engineer before buying new structures. While your building codes may fit your state’s standards, it may not be offering you the most protection. Rain storms also pose as a serious threat to greenhouses. High winds and flash floods can cause a great deal of damage.

Hail: Polyethylene film roofs that are hit by hail may break due to impact, which can cause a number of problems. Broken glass may fall and cause injury, so it is vital to remove the glass as soon as possible, as well as repairing any holes in the roof’s structure.

Greenhouses are especially susceptible to damage, as they are large structures covered in glass. While these is nothing we can do to control the weather, knowing how to react is one of the most effective tools to helping prevent or minimalize damages. Make sure you’ve done everything to protect your business by visiting GrowPro.