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How to Prevent a Catastrophic Fire in Your Greenhouse Facility

 

Prevent a Fire in Your Greenhouse FacilityAccording to NFPA, there was $11.5 billion in property damage from fires in the United States in 2013. In a greenhouse environment, quickly spreading fires will easily destroy crops, damage facilities, and disrupt business operations that results in lost income. These blazing flames are a result of high temperature, combustible materials, and oxygen – all elements commonly found within a greenhouse.

Flammable materials exposed to high temperature sources plant the seed for a fire disaster.  Add oxygen to the mix and your whole greenhouse operations could get destroyed.   Sources of these high temperatures include poor electrical wiring, overloaded circuits, soldering or welding work, heating systems and other equipment, and discarded cigarettes. When a flame or high heat comes into contact with plastic, greenhouse covers, shade cloths, chemicals, and other flammable items, a fire can break out. Increasing the flow of oxygen, such as through a fan, only intensifies and spreads the flames.

To prevent these elements from coming into contact with one another and starting a fire, it’s important to minimize and control fire hazards within your facility.  Below are some helpful tips to protect your greenhouse, crops, and employees.

Build Your Greenhouse to Resist Fires

The first step to preventing a fire is to safeguard your greenhouse by complying with building codes and National Electrical Code (NEC) requirements. This ensures your facility is constructed to avoid fires, including installed sprinklers, proper electrical wiring and grounding, and location distance from other buildings.

The layout and design of your greenhouse also contributes to fire prevention.  Layout and design tips include but are not limited to:

  • Building a separate ventilated area, preferably outside of your facility, to store flammable liquids
  • Placing heating systems, electrical equipment, and other combustion-type equipment a safe distance away from flammable materials
  • Using non-combustible building materials for walkways and other appropriate areas

Regularly Inspect and Control Fire Hazards

Even with a well-designed and up to code greenhouse facility, safety procedures and routine inspections are required to prevent or control a fire.  These include but are not limited to:

  • Training employees in recognizing fire hazards, handling chemicals, using fire extinguishers, steps to take in case of fire, and other safety procedures
  • Storing flammable chemicals, liquids, and oily rags in proper containers
  • Making sure exit ways, aisles, and fire extinguishers are free from obstruction at all times
  • Checking the physical and working condition of equipment, including dust and leaks
  • Making sure equipment motors and flammable material storage areas are well ventilated
  • Testing the performance of fire and smoke alarms regularly

In addition, refer to OSHA standards for workplace fire safety.

Have a Plan If a Fire Does Break Out

Response by your employees can keep a fire from spreading and causing significant damage.  Create an emergency response plan with steps to take if a fire does break out, including how and when to use a fire extinguisher, emergency contact numbers to call, and where to exit the facility.

If the fire causes property damages or injuries, the right insurance coverage will protect your greenhouse business from significant financial loss.  To get the best coverage for your operational and financial needs, it’s important to know the risks your business faces and what is covered under each type of insurance policy.

For comprehensive insurance that covers losses due to fires, NIP Group offers GrowPro insurance program specifically for greenhouse and horticulture businesses.   Contact your insurance broker or visit www.nipgroup.com/programs/growpro for more information.

Resources

https://www.ngma.com/standardpdf/FireSafety2010.pdf

http://www.nfpa.org/research/reports-and-statistics/fires-in-the-us

https://blog.safetysmart.com/2014/01/12-fire-prevention-tips-workers/

 

 

 

How to Get a Business Insurance Claim Resolved More Efficiently

 

Get a Business Insurance Claim Resolved More EfficientlyAccording to a recent study by The Hartford, four out of ten small businesses will experience a property or general liability claim within the next ten years.  Knowing which steps to take when an unexpected situation happens, including theft, property damage, and injuries, can save you a lot of headache and time.  To get fair resolution of a claim through a more efficient process, prompt response and preparation are required.

Below we’ve detailed the steps that will help you move along the claims process more smoothly.

Before an Incident

Following a risk management plan, including safety procedures, can help prevent a claim from occurring. However, even the most careful businesses can face loss or damages.  For this, preparation is important to ensure you’ll be covered financially.

  • Review your insurance policies so you know exactly what is covered and if these terms fit your business needs
  • In case of a claim, store your insurance policy, including policy number and expiration date, and the contact information of your insurance provider in a safe place

Reporting a Claim

Failure to report theft, property damage, injuries, or other incidents right away drags out the claims process and, if evidence is lost, could compromise how much you’re covered financially.

  • Contact law enforcement to file a police report and request a copy of the report
  • Contact your insurance company to have a claim filed immediately
  • Have a surveillance camera or digital camera readily available for documenting evidence to support your claim
  • Make a list of any stolen or damaged items for your insurance company
  • For any damages, get multiple estimates for repair costs and confirm with your insurance provider when repairs can be made

After a Claim is Filed

Save all copies of the evidence, police reports, and claim information.  When you can, communicate in writing for documentation.  After the claim is filed, there are more steps that may need to be taken to get fair resolution.

  • If you have a business interruption insurance policy, document the length of time your operations are shut down (e.g., from building fire damage) and income lost during that time period for later compensation
  • Ask your insurance provider for a cash advancement if money is needed to get your operations running again before the claim is settled
  • Follow up routinely with your insurance provider to keep track of progress

At NIP Group, our dedicated claims expert reviews each claim routinely to ensure they are being handled properly and promptly.  Through a customer-focused network, we’ll update you about the status of a claim, assist you with loss control, and work directly with the carrier to get you fair and fast resolution.

To get comprehensive coverage specific to your business risks and responsive claims handling support, check out NIP Group’s commercial insurance programs by visiting http://www.nipgroup.com/programs/.

Related Articles:

Will Your Insurance Carrier Be Able to Pay Your Claim?  Here’s One Way to Tell

Resources:

http://newsroom.thehartford.com/releases/the-hartford-reports:-more-than-40-percent-of-small-businesses-will-experience-a-claim-in-the-next-10-years

http://www.business.com/business-insurance/tips-for-filing-a-business-insurance-claim/

How to Reduce Costly Risks in a Cleaning or Maintenance Service Business

Reduce Costly Risks in a Cleaning or Maintenance Service BusinessThe key to keeping your business costs low is preventing injuries and damages before they happen.  Slips and falls, exposure to cleaning chemicals, damage to a client’s property, and equipment hazards are common risks faced by cleaning and maintenance service employees that could leave a mark on your balance sheet and reputation.  To avoid a financial mess from a claim or lawsuit, a risk management plan should be defined and followed.

Here are some risk management tips that reduce costly risks for your business:

Make Safety Everybody’s Job

Train each employee in safety procedures that prevent damages to a client’s property, equipment breakdowns, and injuries or health risks.  With everyone involved in creating a safe environment, the risk of a costly claim is significantly reduced.  Safety tips include (but are not limited to):

  • Don’t use cell phones while driving from one site to another
  • Inspect and control cleaning site hazards before starting the job
  • Secure fragile items before cleaning an area
  • Wear protective gear that shields from chemicals
  • Warn clients of wet floors and hazard areas
  • Use proper cleaning procedures and maintain working condition of equipment
  • Lock up the building and equipment at the completion of each workday

Keep a Record of Inventory and Services Performed

Write up a contract for your client to sign before starting a new job that clearly defines services to be performed, detailed list of tasks to be completed in each area and facility, schedule, rates, and other important conditions.  Throughout each workday, record which equipment is used, where equipment and the client’s property is stored, and tasks or services that were completed.  Documentation not only helps employees stick to an agenda for a higher job performance, but it provides evidence to better defend your business if there’s ever an unexpected lawsuit. In addition, it helps to improve customer satisfaction.

Have a Backup Plan with Insurance

Insurance coverage is there to back you up financially when an unexpected claim happens.  To get the best coverage for your operational and financial needs, it’s important to know the risks your business faces and what is covered under each type of insurance policy.  Even the most basic insurance can help you avoid a substantial loss, depending on your risks.

Following a simple risk management plan that includes these components will help your cleaning or maintenance service business avoid significant financial loss and maintain customer satisfaction.  With this, you can keep your operations running as smooth as possible and continue growing your business.

To protect your cleaning or maintenance service business, NIP Group offers MaintenancePro insurance program.  Contact your insurance broker or visit www.nipgroup.com/programs/maintenancepro for more information.

Resources

https://buildingservices.insureon.com/small-business-insurance/ways-to-protect/34

https://buildingservices.insureon.com/resources/publications/risk-management

Will Your Insurance Carrier Be Able to Pay Your Claim? Here’s One Way to Tell

Will Your Insurance Carrier Be Able to Pay Your Claim?

When a large claim is made against your business, are you confident your insurance company will be able to pay it?  Your balance sheet and financial future are on the line.

An insurance carrier is not just a provider, but a long-term financial partner you rely on to keep your business out of a financial hole.  If financial obligations from your chosen partner can’t be met right away or at all (i.e., not paying your claim or slow payment), your business could be left digging for cash.  To help prevent this from happening, the financial strength of an insurance company needs to be considered before you purchase coverage.

Rating the Financial Strength of Carriers

The system used by A.M. Best, a respected rating agency, grades the financial strength of an insurance company from financially secure “A++ (Superior)” to vulnerable “S (Suspended).”  Each grade indicates how likely the carrier is able to meet its financial obligations to policyholders.

What does this mean to you?  Similar to a school system, carriers receiving a grade of “A-” and above are top performers.  They’ve shown financial stability and appear to have a positive long-term financial future, meaning they’re trusted to back you up when needed.  Carriers receiving a “B++” and below have some work to do.  They’re often dismissed by brokers and business owners because their long-term financial futures are uncertain.

A.M. Best – Insurance Financial Strength Rating Scale

 Secure  Vulnerable
 A++, A+ (Superior)  B, B- (Fair)
 A, A- (Excellent)  C++, C+ (Marginal)
 B++, B+ (Good)  C, C- (Weak)
 D (Poor)
 E (Under Regulatory Supervision)
 F (In Liquidation)
 S (Suspended)

 

To give policyholders security and peace of mind, NIP Group is only backed by “A” rated carriers. Our comprehensive insurance programs can be custom-tailored to address the unique risks of each client, helping to avoid damaging claims. In the case that a claim does occur, we’ve got you covered immediately. In other words, NIP Group is a top performer.

Need a boost of confidence for your financial future? Check out these insurance programs backed by “A” rated carriers to find one that best fits your needs.

Risk Management for Landscapers: Equipment Transportation

Trailer
Most landscapers are aware of the risks involved with landscaping work while on the job site. Employee injury and property damage tend to be the most common risks involved in the landscaping line of business. While landscapers recognized these as potential liabilities inherent with this type of work, they often ignore a major part of the process that can cause some serious business risks: traveling to and from the worksite. Traveling with all the necessary, often heavy, equipment needed to perform a job can lead to accidents leaving the business owner opened to claims being filed against them.

Take this real world example:

A Philadelphia man is suing a Maryland business over claims he sustained head injuries and completely lost his sense of smell following a chain reaction accident triggered by items that fell off of the back of a landscaping truck.

The lawsuit says that the defendant failed to adequately secure its load of wheelbarrows and other landscaping tools, causing the items to be ejected from the bed of the truck and land on the highway, which triggered the multi-vehicle accident.

The Pennsylvania Record

Accidents like this can be avoided if the time is taken to make sure that all equipment is properly and safely loaded into the truck. To help mitigate the risk, make sure to do the following:

  • Be sure to properly balance the cargo load in the trailer. Unbalanced cargo can cause the trailer to sway.
  • NEVER overload the trailer or pick-up bed.
  • For large equipment, use chains or straps with ratchet load binders to secure.
  • Double check that all straps and chains are fastened properly before driving.
  • When driving, make sure stop gradually to prevent cargo from shifting and avoid exceeding the speed limit.

The points above may seem like common sense, but it’s surprising how many landscapers forget these simple steps when they are in a rush or just following their daily routine on auto-pilot. It is important for landscapers to find a way to remind themselves and their employees to properly load and secure their vehicle; as it goes a long way in preventing accidents.

For more information on landscaping insurance and risk management, visit LandProTreePro.

Examples of Claims: Landscaper Severs Fingers

Pedro Maldonado filed a lawsuit on Oct. 5 in the Harris County District Court against Marco A. Velazquez, Eric Cervantes and Vincente E. Velazquez, claiming negligence.

Maldonado claims that on March 26, 2010, while working as an employee for the landscaping business owned by the three defendants, he was asked to tend to a lawnmower that he described as being in disrepair, and his fingers were severed in the lawnmower blade.

“In an attempt to control the bleeding, defendant Vicente thought it would be a good idea to through [sic] gasoline in the plaintiff’s face to control the bleeding,” Maldonado’s lawyer said in the suit. “Needless to say, the medical care provided by Vicente neither stopped the bleeding nor caused the Plaintiffs fingers to re-attach themselves.”

The plaintiff seeks a maximum recovery of $1 million.

http://www.ulimatetomball.com/stories/

The obvious lesson from the story above is to make sure all machines are completely turned off when beginning to work on them. It wasn’t written in the story, but from the sounds of it, the employee was working on a lawnmower that was probably jammed. While making repairs, the lawnmower blades began moving again and caught his fingers. It doesn’t sound feasible that his fingers were severed working on a machine that was completely turned off. Working on machines that are completely turned off is a topic we’ve discussed before; however, there is another topic within this story that should be brought to light.

The fact that the injured man’s supervisor attempted to stop the bleeding by pouring gasoline on the defendant’s face just sounds ridiculous. It is blatant that the injured man and his supervisor didn’t know a thing about first aid.

Being able to act quickly and correctly when an employee or anyone else for that matter is injured on a job site can make the injury less severe in the long run. If the supervisor in the story above took the necessary steps, like wrapping the severed fingers in a shirt or rag and applying pressure to slow the bleeding and then calling 911 to get help, the injuries sustained could have been less severe. Instead he poured gasoline on the injured man’s face, which if nothing else probably caused the man to panic.

Having employees and supervisors that are trained in first aid is a must in fields of work where workers are using dangerous tools. It can help keep people calm and mitigate their injuries, and in some cases, could even save someone’s life.

For more information on landscaping insurance and risk management, visit LandProTreePro.