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Monthly Archives

June 2012

WHAT HEALTH CARE REFORM MEANS FOR YOU

By Life and Health | No Comments

The revenue-enhancing reforms and regulatory aspects of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (better known as “Obamacare”) are just now making themselves felt. Some provisions – such as restrictions on the ability of insurers to decline covering children because of pre-existing conditions and the elimination of lifetime benefit caps have already become law. The constitutionality of the law, however, is in question. A majority of states have joined in a lawsuit challenging the authority of the federal government to impose a mandate for citizens to purchase a given product or service – an unprecedented expansion of government power, if allowed to stand. The U.S. Supreme Court is scheduled to hear arguments this spring and will rule on the issue this year.

There is a chance that the entire law will be struck down, in which case we return largely to the status quo. Another scenario is that the Supreme Court will strike down only the portion of the law that requires citizens to buy government-approved insurance or face a fine. However, since the system depends on the healthy buying into the system together with the sick, in order to contain costs versus revenues, it would be nearly impossible for the law to go into effect without the mandate. We cannot predict how the Supreme Court will rule. As things stand right now, however, here is how you might be affected by the law:

Overall Effects. The law will likely benefit the currently dispossessed, unemployed, underemployed, and those with pre-existing conditions who have trouble getting Health insurance on the individual market. The law will also potentially benefit U.S. companies that do business abroad, on the theory that exporters can offload a significant part of their current health care expenses to the government – thus making them more competitive against competitors from countries with socialized health care systems. Those who currently have good Health insurance, including executives, managers, professionals, certain government employees, and those in established unions with generous health benefits, might see the quality of coverage and available care deteriorate substantially.

What has happened already? As mentioned, lifetime limits have been revoked. You can never exhaust your benefits. Plan members can keep their unmarried dependents on their plan until they turn 26. This will benefit college-age people without access to a student health plan, and unemployed or underemployed young people in transition. Coverage for certain preventative screenings and tests such as colonoscopies, high blood pressure, diabetes, STDs and osteoporosis has been expanded. Plans are now required to cover smoking cessation counseling.

Future Changes. As of 2014, all uninsured individuals must purchase a Health insurance plan. The government will subsidize the purchase for low-income individuals. Those who have pre-existing health conditions will be able to purchase coverage from a government-subsidized exchange, also available in 2014.

Those who remain uninsured will have to pay a penalty of as much as 1% of their income. Some might choose to pay the penalty rather than buy coverage, especially since pre-existing conditions are no longer an obstacle to obtaining coverage. Wait times to see a doctor could increase. Many more people will increase their demand for care once they have coverage – but the supply of available health professionals will not increase. The result could cause wait times to more than double in some markets.

Administrative and regulatory requirements could force many smaller practices out of business, moving patient loads to larger clinics and institutions. Medicare. In order to fund the more general benefits under the PPACA, Congress stripped roughly half trillion dollars from Medicare over the next eight years. Consequently, we are likely to see more stringent cost controls on Medicare patients. We could see a sharp reduction of costly procedures and screenings for the elderly.

Employers will cut back offered benefits. So-called “Cadillac” plans will nearly disappear, under threat of government fines, as of 2019. This could affect your access to retirement health benefits (such as those provided under some union contracts) and even private vision and dental plans. It could also make it difficult or impossible for you to see a specialist without first obtaining a referral, since the vast majority of health care will convert to “managed care” models such as HMOs and PPOs.

Benefits for Women. As of 2014, all insurers must cover maternity benefits on an equal basis with other medical procedures. Employers are also required to allow break times for nursing mothers and a suitable place in the workplace for lactating mothers to pump breast milk. Recently, regulations passed by the Department of Health and Human Services are also requiring employer health plans to provide coverage for birth control, including the RU-486 abortion-inducing pill. This provision has been hotly contested this year by some employers, including the Catholic Church and affiliated charities and hospitals. As of March 2012, the Obama Administration is still requiring this coverage. However, if Obama loses the presidential election, we expect that these requirements will be loosened for religious employers, or repealed altogether.

Higher Taxes. Beginning in 2013, a 3.8% Medicare payroll tax will take effect on certain “unearned income” for those with incomes over $200,000 a year – or $250,000 for married couples. An additional 0.9% Medicare contribution tax will also kick in for higher income individuals, unless Congress acts to repeal this provision.

The tax will also apply to gains on real estate transactions – which will become a significant planning consideration for those involved in the real estate market. The $250,000 exemption for single taxpayers and $500,000 exemption for married couples on the sale of a qualified personal residence will still apply, however, for the purposes of calculating the unearned income Medicare contribution tax. If your home qualifies, you will only be subject to the 3.8% tax on gains exceeding the exemption.

IMPORTANT FIRE SAFETY TIPS TO AVOID A DISASTER

By Personal Perspective | No Comments

In a very short amount of time, a fire can accelerate from a small flame to an out-of-control blaze. Fires destroy thousands of homes in the United States each year, so it is important for all homeowners to take steps to prevent them. It is also important to know what to do when a fire breaks out and how to control it. Research shows that almost 80% of structural fires happen in peoples’ homes or apartments. Almost all of these fires are preventable, so fireproofing a home is the most important step to take.

There is much more to fireproofing a residence than purchasing a fire extinguisher and testing smoke alarms regularly. For increased safety, consider the following suggestions:

For Bedrooms

  • Replace any mattresses made before 2007 with new ones. The Federal Mattress Flammability Standard was enacted then, and it was made to increase the manufacturing safety standards.
  • Avoid using space heaters or electric blankets that are not approved by leading laboratories.
  • Make sure electrical cords are not trapped against walls or under objects where heat commonly increases. Never put clothing or textiles on top of lamps.
  • Make sure closets and other storage spaces do not have loose papers or other flammable materials lying around.

For the Kitchen

  • Never leave food unattended in the oven, on the stove or in other kitchen cooking devices.
  • Make a habit of using timers for cooking food.
  • Avoid leaving flammable items on kitchen counters. Paper towels, cleaning supplies, oven mitts and shopping lists should be stored in safe places.

For Appliances & Electrical Outlets

  • Leaving any appliance on increases the risk of a fire, so never leave the home without making sure all appliances are off. This also includes washers, dryers and dishwashers.
  • Frequently clean stoves, change furnace filters, clean vacuum filters and empty dryer lint traps.
  • Check the cords of fixtures and appliances frequently. If they are frayed, they should be replaced.
  • Avoid plugging too many items into one electrical outlet or power strip.
  • If fuses blow several times in a short time span, call an electrician immediately.
  • Have the home’s wiring examined frequently. This is especially important in older homes, attics and crawl spaces where insulation can be ignited by sparks.

Unfortunately, even the most careful homeowners can experience a fire. Lightning could strike, and a burning tree or bush could engulf a home in flames during a dry lightning storm. For this reason, it is important to have ample insurance coverage. Homeowners and renters should discuss these options with one of our agents.

MAKING YOUR SMART PHONE “INSURANCE SMART”

By Personal Perspective | No Comments

You have the phone and the capabilities that come with it. Using the phone to manage all of your insurance affairs is not only smart, it will put you ahead of the game if you need to access your insurance information or if you end up having a claim. There is no better place than on your smart phone to store all the information and tools because it is likely with you at all times. The best news is, the resources are there and putting them in place is a snap.

The first thing you should do is to see if your insurance company has an app for your phone. If they do, downloading such an app is a no-brainer. These apps are available as a free added value service to you. The best part is that most of these apps have a number of capabilities. This includes nearly everything from accessing your policy information to submitting a claim and everything else in between. For example, if you get into an accident, some apps allow you to take photos and submit them together with a claims form you complete right on your phone. This means you can submit a claim within minutes after an accident happens, together with all the photos documenting the incident.

Although reporting a claim is probably the most valuable advantage of these apps, another advantage is having access to your policy information anytime you need it. What is your policy number? When does your policy renew? When is your next payment due? How much coverage do you have? All of this is right at your fingertips. For example, if you need your policy number and information for your job or you are driving kids on a field trip and the school needs it, these apps make it easy to access all this information.

Although most insurance carriers do have apps, even if your carrier does not have an app, the phone itself can be a valuable resource. For claims situations, the phone’s camera is just about the best mobile documentation tool you can have. Also, if you are away from home, the ability to connect to the internet to look up resources such as the nearest towing company, the insurance company’s website, and of course your agent’s phone number can be your greatest asset. Best yet, you can use the phone’s map to get directions to the closest place you may need to get to.

In addition to insurance company apps, there are a number of other applications that might be available. One example is a home inventory app that will help you to setup and organize photos or video of your entire home inventory. This can come in handy in the unfortunate event that you have a fire or are burglarized, as insurance companies will need an entire inventory to complete forms when processing the claim. Another example of a helpful app is a document storage and sharing app such as box.net or dropbox.com. These apps allow you to store and share documents and images virtually in what is referred to as a “cloud” format. This basically means that you can upload and save images from a computer to the cloud, and then you will have access to those images from your smart phone or any other computer.

Investing a little initial time to download and setup apps and other resources to make your phone “insurance smart” is well worth it. It will not only save you time when you need this information, it will allow you to be stay ahead of the game, even possibly being able to provide enough evidence to prove you are not at fault in an auto accident. You are 95% there by having a smart phone, and the benefits are too great not to take the next step in using the insurance-ready resources that are available.

IMPROVING ROAD SAFETY WITH GPS

By Personal Perspective | No Comments

There is plenty of controversy about how safe GPS devices are. Whether they increase or decrease safety depends on the driver. However, when used correctly, a GPS can be a great safety addition to any vehicle. The following reasons show good examples of why drivers are safer with a GPS system.

Drivers know where they are going. Lost drivers are usually distracted and dangerous additions to the road. They speed up, slow down and spend more time looking at signs than watching the road. When a GPS is used correctly, drivers can focus on the task of driving while the GPS navigates. If a turn is missed, the GPS will automatically recalculate the route to compensate.

Driving at night is safer with a GPS. Most people find it more difficult to drive at night or in low-visibility conditions. Fortunately, a GPS has the ability to warn the driver of upcoming turns or ramps before it is time to use them. The map previews are especially helpful for driving on dark back roads.

There is no need to deal with awkward paper maps. Juggling large paper maps and trying to refold them is a difficult task. Trying to read these maps while driving creates several hazards. Having a passenger try to read the maps might not always be beneficial. This is why it is easier and safer to get a GPS device.

There are special safety features. Hands-free features allow for calling the police while driving. There are also features for locating nearby hospitals, good repair shops and a wide variety of other destinations.

It is easy to choose the right lane. Some streets and freeways are confusing. Certain lanes may turn into exits, and congested traffic makes such situations worse. A good GPS system will tell drivers which lane to stay in, which exit to take and when to turn.

How to Turn a GPS into a Safety Aid

The first driving task any person should accomplish is to be aware of his or her surroundings. By following some simple rules, drivers can stay aware and maximize the safety features of their GPS devices.

Learn to use the device before taking off. Although most people learn the basic functions before getting on the road, very few thoroughly learn the overall system. Beginners should practice using the GPS and become comfortable with the touchscreen. Make sure the features are optimized for visibility. One mistake many beginners make is keeping their eyes on the screen too long.

Never program the device while driving. Every start-up screen and safety manual reiterates this important tip. Enter the destination prior to departing. If it is necessary to change or cancel the destination while driving, pull over to a safe place to re-program it. Fortunately, some newer devices prohibit re-programming while the car is in motion.

Mount the GPS device in a safe place. When choosing a spot for the GPS, make sure it does not conflict with important sight lines. Positioning it near the dashboard is a good idea.

Always rely on the voice directions. Although it might be necessary to glance occasionally at the map, try to rely mostly on voice directions. Avoid staring at the map. If it seems confusing, pull over to study it.

INSURANCE MIGHT NOT COVER FAULTY WORK

By Business Protection Bulletin | No Comments

When accidents happen on construction sites, the result usually involves property damage. Faulty wires cause fires, which burn the walls. Collisions often put dents in expensive equipment, and paint can be inadvertently sprayed onto nearby cars. If such incidents occur, the contractor must look to their General Liability policy to compensate for damages. Although the CGL policy covers several types of incidents, not every situation is covered.

In order for a situation to be covered, three requirements must be met. First, there must be a legal obligation for the contractor to pay the damages. The contractor’s tort liability is covered by insurance, so most negligent acts are covered. However, if the contractor fails to complete the work he or she agrees to, there is no coverage.

The second requirement is that the damage must happen out of an occurrence, which the policy defines. In a CGL policy, an occurrence is an accident that includes repeated or continuous exposure to the same harmful conditions. In order to qualify for coverage, the damage must be accidental. The insurance company will decide if the incident was accidental.

The third requirement is that an accident must result in damage to the property. Such damage is defined as a physical injury to the property. This may include loss of use of the damaged property and loss of use of any other accompanying property that the incident affects. Since computer data is not tangible property, it is one of the exclusions in this type of coverage.

Unfortunately, if a contractor is legally liable for a damage claim, the policy might not cover it if the claim is categorized as faulty workmanship. If damage results from work performed by the contractor or a hired subcontractor to “the particular part” of property being fixed, the damage might not be covered. For example, assume a contractor is fixing a wiring system for an old light fixture. If the fixture falls and damages the floor during the process, the fixture itself would not be covered. This is because the fixture was the particular part of property that the contractor was working on. However, the contractor was not working on the floor, so the damaged flooring would be covered.

In some cases “that particular part” might be difficult to define. For example, if a contractor accidentally starts a fire and burns a multi-level roof, only a portion of the roof might be covered. The language in the policy is not clear enough for a definite answer to such a situation, so outcomes can vary. However, one provision in the policy is very clear. It states that coverage does not apply to any particular part that must be repaired because of incorrect work performed by the contractor. In the previous scenario, if the light fixture did not work after the contractor repaired it, the policy would not cover a replacement.

Inland Marine policies might help for some types of losses that a regular policy does not cover. There are also other types of losses that contractors must pay for upfront. However, it is important to know what to expect before entering the job site. Discuss coverage options with our agents.

WHY YOUR COMPANY NEEDS BUSINESS INTERRUPTION INSURANCE

By Business Protection Bulletin | No Comments

For most companies, Business Interruption insurance might be as important for survival as Fire coverage. It is difficult to find a business that did not obtain insurance for windstorm and fire damage. However, too many business owners do not consider how they would continue functioning if a windstorm or fire actually did damage their property. This is especially true with small business owners. Business Interruption insurance is not sold independently. It is an additional type of coverage for a property insurance policy. In some cases, it may be included in a package policy for business owners.

Businesses that must cease operations completely while the premises are repaired often lose money to their competitors. Quickly resuming business after a disaster is essential for survival. If a company must vacate the premises because of damages from a disaster, Business Interruption coverage extends protection for lost income. It also provides coverage for the profits that would have been earned if the business had not sustained damage. The profit reimbursement is based on an average of financial records, so it is imperative to keep them up-to-date and accurate. These beneficial policies also cover operating expenses that may not be halted due to the damage. For example, electricity would still be needed for most businesses, so the insurer would provide money for electricity bills.

It is important to make sure the policy limits are generous enough to cover the business for more than a week. Keep in mind that it might take much longer than most people anticipate to resume operations. If a major disaster happens, it can take several weeks to resume operations. The waiting period for Business Interruption coverage to start is usually about 48 hours. Policy pricing is based on the risks a particular business faces. Businesses in some locations are more likely to sustain certain types of damage than others. In addition to this, the nature of the business plays a major part in determining policy pricing. For example, a restaurant would be more expensive to insure than a travel agency. This is due to the restaurant’s heated appliances and grease creating a higher risk for fires. Although a restaurant would have a hard time operating out of an alternate location, the travel agency would easily be able to do this. These are just examples of some of the issues determining premium amounts. To get a clearer price estimate for a specific business, discuss individual business details with one of our agents.

Another type of protection to consider with Business Interruption coverage is extra expense insurance. This type of addition reimburses companies for slightly more than the amount of regular operating expenses. By receiving extra money, the business is less likely to have to shut down for restoration. If any extra expenses decrease business interruption costs, they will usually be covered. Extra expense coverage alone might be enough to compensate some businesses.

DON’T IGNORE FRAUD: A FIVE-STEP DETECTION STRATEGY

By Business Protection Bulletin | No Comments

Fraud detection can be approached with a five-step strategy. Businesses of all types and sizes can use this five-step strategy to establish control systems to help detect frauds in day-to-day operations. The five steps are:

  1. Knowing the exposures.
  2. Knowing the symptoms of occurrence.
  3. Being alert for behavior indicators and symptoms.
  4. Initiating detection processes and building audit programs to look for symptoms.
  5. Following through on any detected symptoms.

It’s often step one, knowing the exposures, that stops most people from ever getting starting. After all, if you don’t know what could go wrong, then the rest of the strategy is a moot point. To help you better understand how you can use the five-step strategy to create a hostile environment for fraud, let’s begin by identifying the exposures and going through some of the most dangerous/common frauds affecting businesses of all industry types.

How often are employees offered a kickback by an employee or vendor in exchange for their participation in an embezzlement? Collusion is the involvement of at least two perpetrators in a fraud. This is a risk that intimidates accounting and finance managers, risk professionals, and auditors alike because it involves perpetrators getting around the controls designed to prevent a specific fraud.

It doesn’t take an elaborate, large conspiracy to circumvent controls. Let’s use a driver and accountant for a trucking company as an example. Inventory and warehouse operations and accounting operations are segregated from one another, but the control is circumvented. The driver steals the goods from his truck. Meanwhile, the accountant covers up the inventory shortages with false sales and un-collectible write offs.

This begs the question: How are executives and managers to prevent such a fraud when multiple people can so easily circumvent the control structures? The answer is to commit to seeking the symptoms of fraud. Begin with composing a list of what could go wrong, including potential fraud perpetrators and acts. With certain collusive frauds still in mind, here are some examples:

  • A procurement director for a business informs a vendor of what the vendor’s competitors are bidding. The vendor is able to win the business with a lowest bid and gives a kickback to the procurement director.
  • A supervisor proposes that a 13 hourly student laborers put false overtime on their timesheets. The supervisor will approve the un-worked overtime in return for them splitting the money they’re paid with him/her. The individuals are able to steal thousands of dollars before anyone detects the fraud.
  • A terminal operator, terminal supervisor, and accountant at a pipeline company conspire with two employees from the pipeline’s trucking vendor to steal one million gallons of fuel. Unsuspecting fuel service stations buy the stolen fuel. Meanwhile, the accounting clerk decreased the actual numbers on the fuel variance report and destroyed lading bills.
  • Three operation employees at a construction company begin over-billing several multi-million dollar project clients for insurance, rent, and other indirect costs. They’re able to put the extra billing money into their pockets while their company continues to collect on the legitimate charges. The company’s chief financial officer discovers the fraud, but offers his/her silence for a cut of the proceeds. Millions of dollars are over-billed before the fraud is detected.

The Symptoms. Once you know what could go wrong, the goal is to avoid the problem. This can be accomplished by listing the symptoms of the frauds, which is essentially how the frauds would appear in your records and books. Using the examples of what could go wrong from above, the following are just some examples of what could be on the symptom listing:

  • A particular bidder is always the lowest bidder, the last bid received, and/or just pennies less than their competitors.
  • Absent student employees during the time the overtime hours are supposedly being fulfilled.
  • Over budget departmental labor expenses.
  • Peculiar or suspect overtime hours, such as 80-hour workweeks by a full-time student.
  • Service stations complaining about competitors getting fuel under the market price.
  • Missing lading bills.
  • A particular area has larger than usual, unexplained, and/or miscellaneous losses.
  • Altered and/or inadequate documentation to support indirect charges.
  • An unreasonable percentage of indirect charges for a construction project, such as being 25% of more of the total billing.

In summary, notice that control weakness weren’t listed. Control weaknesses aren’t symptoms of fraud. You don’t know that you don’t have lung cancer because you’re a non-smoker, or that you do have lung cancer because you’re a smoker. It’s about the symptoms. The same can be said of fraud in that it doesn’t mean that a fraud isn’t happening just because a control is present, or that it is occurring because a control isn’t present.

UNDERSTANDING THE PURPOSE OF CERTIFICATES OF INSURANCE

By Construction Insurance Bulletin | No Comments

When stores lease real estate spaces or construction firms win jobs, the party on the other end usually has a very specific set of requirements. One of the main requirements is that the tenant, contractor or borrower must show proof that he or she has adequate insurance. Copies of insurance documents might be sufficient. However, not all companies want copies of documents sitting around. Space is valuable, and most banks do not have enough room to keep such copies of originals for every customer. A very helpful substitute for document copies is a certificate of insurance. This item is simple to create and store. Unfortunately, not all firms and insurance buyers fully understand them.

ACORD constructed the forms that are most commonly used. Their instructions show that these certificates are intended for informational purposes. When some businesses receive these certificates, they think the items are contracts. However, the certificate is simply a snapshot of insurance provisions. It does indicate that a policy exists, but it is not the document that actually provides coverage. The only document that actually provides coverage when shown is the policy itself.

Standard certificates by ACORD state that insurers must provide advance notice to holders if policies are cancelled. Although policyholders rely on these words, they do not create a legal bond between the two parties. The only thing that can obligate the companies to give advance notice is the policy’s specific provisions. Many businesses want these certificates to have specific terms, phrases or words. However, agents have legal boundaries for such requests. The only way agents can add wording to a certificate is if the listed policies contain that wording. Changes are not always allowed.

Many states prohibit agents from handing out certificates implying provisions that are not included in the policies. For example, a certificate holder might want the item to state that coverage is primary and noncontributory. However, policies that do not reflect such information cannot have certificates indicate otherwise. Agents who add language implying otherwise could be in a great deal of trouble. Only the insurer can change policies. If an agent issues a certificate implying a change, this is a violation of the individual’s contract with the insurer and a violation of state insurance law.

Before business owners sign papers for leases or construction jobs, they should verify coverage requirements with an agent. Only an agent can provide in-depth advice about the cost and availability of any missing elements. Agents can only issue certificates after coverage is in place. If certificates are used appropriately, they are valuable business tools. However, they can cause problems when they are used incorrectly.

WHY ALL CONTRACTORS NEED ADEQUATE LIABILITY COVERAGE

By Construction Insurance Bulletin | No Comments

Liability insurance is important for contractors and subcontractors. This type of coverage offers financial protection from the results of accidents, injuries and property damage caused during a project. When working on a construction project, many workers accidentally damage the property in one way or another. Mishandled tools, dropped items or misinterpreted directions are often the sources of property damage incidents. The regular standards of business require contractors to have proof of adequate Construction Liability coverage prior to starting a project on a structure. This standard is also required for subcontractors.

Commercial Contracting Insurance

Commercial contractors are usually expected to carry multi-million-dollar policies. This allows for coverage of any injuries or construction-related damages to the structure. As a rule, commercial contractors performing riskier tasks have higher coverage amounts. For example, a roofing contractor would have a higher amount than a contractor remodeling the interior of a one-story commercial structure. To finance premiums over the span of several months or one year, indemnity corporations charge contractors a down payment and monthly service fees.

Residential Building Insurance

This type of coverage is important for any worker in the building business. In many cases, homeowners decide to sue the contractor for damages sustained during the process of construction. If there are any injuries on the job site, workers might file lawsuits against the contractor or homeowner. A good Construction Liability policy will help protect contractors from loss in unexpected situations and various types of damage lawsuits. However, the contract must require every subcontracting party to have their own coverage. The contract must also state that the contractor does not claim any responsibility for damages occurring during the construction process that are the fault of one or more subcontractors. Policy amounts are related to the amount of money the contractor executes, so it is important to estimate a realistic figure. To be fully protected, it is best to have at least two or three times as much coverage as the total amount of the construction project.

WORKPLACE SAFETY TIPS FOR HAND TOOL USE & ACCIDENT PREVENTION

By Construction Insurance Bulletin | No Comments

Although employees in many workplaces use hand tools every day, they might not consider these items dangerous. Accidents happen every day, and hand tools are often involved. Screwdrivers, hammers, wrenches, saws, punches, planes, pliers and chisels are just a few of the tools commonly involved in accidents.

Improper maintenance and misuse are usually the biggest hazards associated with hand tools. Selecting the right tool for the job and using it carefully is the responsibility of the worker. These two simple tasks are the start of proper hand tool safety.

If a worker chooses the wrong tool for the job, an accident will be the likely result. It is important to inspect the item carefully before starting a job. Look for defects. If there are any, the item should be replaced or repaired before starting the job. The tool’s handle should fit tightly into the head. This is especially important with axes and hammers. If the handle is cracked or splintered, it should never be used. Items that have power cords should be inspected carefully. Cords can become frayed or loose over time. If there are exposed wires, the cord should be replaced before the tool is used again. To protect hand tools from unnecessary damage, return them to safe storage places after use.

When choosing hand tools, look for ones that are designed to keep the wrist perfectly straight. To use a cutting tool correctly, hold the handle firmly using the palm of the hand. Always cut away from the body. Cutting toward the body could result in a serious injury or even death. Never push on pliers or wrenches. It is important to pull on them instead. Avoid putting sharp objects in a pocket or tool belt. They should be carried carefully with the sharp edges facing away from the carrier’s body. Sharp tools should also be kept away from walkways or other areas where they could injure people passing by. It is important to consider the safety of people passing by and other workers.

Never toss tools to another worker. All items should be handed from one person to another. Many passersby and workers are injured every year by tools that were tossed carelessly. When working on a scaffold or ladder, obtain tools by raising or lowering them in a bucket attached to a hand line. Tools should never be carried in ways that may interfere with a worker using both hands to climb a ladder or other structure. It is also important to ensure proper safety equipment is used.

All workers should wear the correct protective equipment for the job. For example, ear plugs can protect hearing while using a noisy saw. Shatter-proof safety glasses should always be used to keep flying debris or broken tools from injuring the eyes. If gloves are necessary for a specific job, make sure they fit properly. Wearing gloves that are too small can make the hands go numb and restrict movement. If gloves are too large, they can get caught in machinery and become more dangerous than helpful. Tool handlers should always consider the safety of themselves and others. Employers should encourage workers to ask questions about tools and their uses. Knowledge is a good way to prevent accidents with tools.