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Six Myths About Workers’ Compensation Insurance

By Workplace Safety | No Comments

Workers’ Compensation Insurance is an important product for employees. There are six common myths that surround this insurance, though. Debunk the myths so you can understand and maximize your benefits.

1. Small businesses don’t need to offer Workers’ Compensation Insurance.

You may work in a small business with only a few employees. Federal and state laws dictate that most businesses with one or more employees must carry Workers’ Compensation insurance. Be sure your employer carries this valuable insurance even if you are a solo employee.

2. I don’t need Worker’s Compensation insurance because my job is low-risk.

Some jobs, like construction, farming and commercial fishing, are dangerous. However, even low-risk jobs include injury and illness risks. You could develop carpal tunnel while typing or slip and fall in the break room during lunch. Your employer will pay lower Workers’ Compensation insurance premiums if you work in a low-risk job, and you absolutely must ensure you’re covered no matter what type of work you perform.

3. I’m careful and won’t get hurt.

While you might have an accident-free employment history, it only takes a second for an accident to happen. Plus, some workplace accidents or injuries occur because of someone else’s actions. Ensure you are covered by Workers’ Compensation regardless of your careful track record.

4. My boss is like family, and I could never sue.

It’s great that you have such a good relationship with your boss and feel like family. However, you are still employer-employee. By law, your employer must provide Workers’ Compensation for you. You also owe it to yourself and your dependents to have this valuable coverage in place in case you are injured or disabled and can’t work.

5. My boss will pay my work-related injury or illness expenses out-of-pocket.

Perhaps your boss has vowed to pay out-of-pocket for your medical, living and others expenses if you’re injured or become ill on the job. Unfortunately, your boss may decide not to pay, particularly when the Workers’ Compensation claims reach thousands of dollars or affect multiple employees. Always protect yourself with Workers’ Compensation insurance so that you can ensure your expenses are paid.

6. Any pain I feel at work is eligible for Workers’ Compensation.

While assembling furniture at work, you notice that your arm hurts. Instead of rushing to file a Workers’ Compensation claim, think about when and where the pain started. If it originated from an activity or injury that occurred outside of work, don’t file a Workers’ Compensation claim.

Workers’ Compensation insurance is important. Understand these six myths as you make sure you’re covered. For more details, contact your Human Resources manager or insurance agent.

Best Ways To Protect Your Vision When Your Work At A Computer

By Your Employee Matters | No Comments

Up to ninety percent of people who use a computer at work for even as little as two hours experience eye strain or computer vision syndrome (CVS). That strain can range from minor irritations and red eyes to decreased vision. Computer use can also cause physical fatigue, work errors and decreased productivity, so take these steps and reduce eye strain.

Cut the Glare

Bright light can increase eye strain, so close curtains and dim interior lights or use low-intensity bulbs. You can also install an anti-glare lens on your monitor or eyeglasses.

Improve Your Display

Select at least a 19-inch high-resolution monitor that features a liquid crystal display rather than a cathode ray tube. This display technology reduces glare and image flicker, two factors that can cause eye strain.

Adjust the Display Settings

The settings on your monitor can affect your vision, so make several adjustments.

  • Match the brightness to your surroundings.
  • Increase the text size and contrast.
  • Use black print and a white background.
  • Reduce the color temperature to lower the blue light.

Change your Workstation

Several ergonomic adjustments at your workstation can reduce eye strain. When looking from paper to the monitor, place the paper on a raised stand so it’s even with the monitor. Then set the chair and monitor to the correct height. The computer screen should sit 10 to 15 degrees below and 20 to 24 inches or an arm’s length away from your eyes. You should also clean your screen regularly to remove fingerprints and dust that affects your view.

Take Breaks

Set your timer and look away from your computer screen every 20 minutes. Focus on something 20 feet away for 20 seconds to give your eyes a break.

Also, remember to blink. When using a computer, you’re one-third less likely to blink, but your eyes need the moisture.

You can step away from your workstation and stretch, too. These breaks reduce muscle fatigue and tension, and you will return to work ready to focus on your screen and work again.

Purchase Computer Glasses

Modified eyeglasses with lightly tinted or photochromic lenses reduce blue light exposure. Ask your optometrist about silicone hydrogel contact lenses, too, the most comfortable contact lenses for many computer users.

Get an Eye Exam

Use your vision insurance coverage to check your eye health. Tell your doctor how often you use the computer and get tips for reducing future eye strain. You may also need artificial tears to correct dry eye and reduce irritation.

As you work at your computer, take these steps to reduce eye strain. They protect your vision and improve your work productivity.

How To Handle Allergens In The Workplace

By Workplace Safety | No Comments

Numerous environmental conditions at your workplace can cause you to suffer an allergic reaction that ranges from mild to life-threatening. If you’re affected by an allergy, you may be eligible to file a Workers’ Compensation claim. Consider these tips as you reduce allergens at work and protect yourself.

Common Workplace Allergens

Depending on your job and workplace, you may be exposed to numerous allergens as you work. Consider this partial list.

  • Latex gloves or equipment
  • Ink toner
  • Cleaning chemicals
  • Floor wax
  • Perfume
  • Cigarette smoke
  • Dust
  • Food, including nuts and dairy
  • Mold
  • Asbestos
  • Aerosols
  • Paint fumes
  • Dye
  • Pollen
  • Pet dander

Possible Allergic Reactions

The allergic reaction you experience can be mildly annoying or severe and life threatening. Be aware of these possible reactions.

  • Contact dermatitis
  • Sneezing
  • Pain
  • Swelling around your mouth or elsewhere
  • Hives
  • Itching
  • Trouble breathing
  • Anaphylactic shock

What to do if you Have an Allergic Reaction

Seek medical treatment as soon as you suspect you’re having an allergic reaction. To provide the best possible treatment, your doctor or emergency medical personnel may ask for a list of possible allergens to which you may have been exposed.

How to Prevent Allergic Reactions

While you can’t always prevent allergen exposure, you can advocate for an allergen-free work environment. Ask about switching to natural cleaning supplies or banning peanut butter as you remove allergens that affect you and your co-workers.

You may also take protective measures. Wear gloves, use a respirator or open a window as you reduce exposure to your known allergens.

Request special accommodations, too, especially if you have a known allergy. According to the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA), you’re considered disabled if your allergy limits your activity level. In this case, you can request that your employer improve ventilation throughout the building or allow you to work a different shift when allergen use is limited.

What Does Workers’ Compensation Cover?

By law, your employer must provide a safe work environment. If you suffer an allergic reaction to chemicals, cleaning supplies or something else and can’t perform your job, you may be eligible to file a Workers’ Compensation claim.

Workers’ Compensation benefits could cover your medical treatment, a portion of your lost wages and other expenses. However, you must prove that the allergic reaction stemmed from something at work and not food, medication or another environmental condition you encounter at home or elsewhere.

If working conditions or environmental factors cause you to suffer an allergic reaction, you can file a Workers’ Compensation claim. Discuss your specific case with your Human Resources manager and doctor as you protect yourself at work.

What To Do When Co-Workers Act In An Unsafe Manner

By Workplace Safety | No Comments

Safety at work depends on all employees doing their part. Sometimes, though, co-workers decide to cut corners, get in a hurry, feel distracted, or otherwise neglect safety protocols. A 2010 study by the RAD group found that only 40 percent of employees intervened when they noticed safety concerns because they feared that their co-worker would be defensive or angry or that intervening would not make a difference. While you may not want to be a whistleblower, you owe it to yourself, your co-workers, customers and clients, and the company to maintain safety. Here are the steps you can take when you notice co-workers acting in an unsafe manner.

Identify and Solve the Inducing Factors

In general, safety violations occur for four reasons. Understanding why your co-workers violate safety standards can guide you in addressing the underlying issues.

1. Personal Perception – Co-workers may think they don’t need to follow safety precautions because their job is low-risk, the precautions are uncomfortable or they don’t have time. In this case, encourage your co-workers to maintain safety so they avoid injuries and model good behavior.

2. Mental Lapses – Forgetfulness, preoccupation or uncertainty may cause your co-workers to commit safety violations. A gentle reminder can correct the mistake.

3. Abilities – Your co-workers may act unsafely because they have improper tools, unrealistic expectations or other challenges. Offer insights into ways to overcome these safety risks.

4. Social Environment – Pressure to conform or fit in may prompt co-workers to neglect safety precautions. Encourage your co-workers to remain independent and do the right thing regardless of anyone else’s mindset.

Speak to the Offender in Private

When you see a co-worker breaking a safety procedure or otherwise acting unsafely, talk to that person in private. Approach your co-worker with kindness and understanding rather than accusations as you request that he or she maintains a safe work environment for the sake of everyone.

Notify Your Supervisor

If your co-worker refuses to listen to you and the unsafe behavior continues, talk with your supervisor. Share details such as the offender, dates, times, and incidents. The supervisor can then follow-up and schedule more frequent walkabouts, increase safety discussions or take other appropriate actions.

Practice Safety Procedures

Always model safety on the job site and do your part to maintain safe conditions. That means you must wear safety gear, pay attention to your surroundings and operate equipment properly.

You should also participate enthusiastically in safety meetings and encourage your co-workers to do the same. Take the presentation seriously as you promote a workplace culture that emphasizes safety.

Workplace safety protects everyone and reduces injuries and illnesses. Do your part and intervene if you notice safety violations.

9 Tips That Prepare Your Teen Driver For The Road

By Personal Perspective | No Comments

Your teen is ready to drive, and you have the privilege of preparing them for this responsibility. Use nine tips as you prep your teen to navigate the road safely.

1.Ensure Your Teen Meets State Licensing Guidelines

Teen drivers may officially get behind the wheel after they earn a learners permit. Then they will probably have to complete a certain number of hours behind the wheel while supervised by a licensed driver. Be sure your teen is properly licensed before they drive on the road.

2. Purchase Adequate Auto Insurance

Your teen driver must have auto insurance. Contact your insurance agent  to purchase an individual policy for your teen or discover how to add your teen to your policy.

3. Give Your Teen Real-World Driving Experience

Give your teen time to drive on all types of roads and in all types of weather. They can learn to parallel park in residential areas and merge with existing traffic on the highway. Real-time driving gives your teen the experience they need to drive safely any time.

4. Limit Passengers

Your teen driver should only host one passenger at a time. Otherwise, they become distracted, and their accident risk and aggressive driving incidents increase.

5. Set a Curfew

Driving at night can be tricky due to lower visibility and increased fatigue. Plus, some states limit a teen’s driving to daytime and early evening hours. Reinforce the curfew you or your state set as you encourage safety.

6. Sign a Safe Driving Contract

A driving contract outlines your expectations for your teen driver. It can include where  your teen can drive, who can be in the car, what happens if your teen breaks a law and consequences for breaking the contract.

7. Take a Driver’s Ed or a Defensive Driver Course

During driver’s ed, your teen learns the latest traffic laws, safe driving techniques and strategies to avoid accidents or traffic violations. Your teen may also be eligible for an auto insurance discount after passing the course.

8. Prepare Your Teen for an Accident

Your teen driver could be in an accident even though they’re not at fault. Be sure they know what to do if they are involved in a collision or fender bender.

9. Teach Your Teen to be Cautious but not Scared

With all the dangers on the road, it’s easy for teens to be scared, and then they’re more likely to make a mistake. Instead of scaring your teen, teach them to be cautious and confident as they drive.

Driving is a rite of passage for teens. Prepare your teen to be safe on the road with these nine tips.

Steps To Take When Your Electricity Goes Out

By Personal Perspective | No Comments

Power outages can occur during storms or because of accidents or blackouts. The next time you experience a power disruption, take these steps to protect your home, valuables and family.

Call the power company. Report the outage and any downed lines, and sign up to receive alerts when the power returns.

Check the circuit breakers. Be sure they’re turned to the “on” position so the power will automatically turn on when it’s restored.

Never touch downed lines. They’re deadly.

Use battery-operated flashlights or lanterns. Candles or oil lamps can be fire hazards, so rely on battery-operated light sources.

Stay warm during winter power outages. Bundle in layers, gather your family and pets in one room and shut the doors. You can also use your wood stove as a heat source if it’s clean and functions properly.

Stay cool during summer outages.
 Dress in lightweight clothing and hang out in the basement. You’ll also want to stay hydrated. If the power outage lasts for an extended time, drive to a mall, movie theater or other cool location.

Preserve foodIn general, food will stay safe in the refrigerator for up to four hours and in the freezer for up to 48 hours, but try to avoid opening these appliances. Wrapping these appliances with blankets might provide further insulation and food protection during short outages.

Fill your water jugs if possible. Grab your spare containers and fill them with water to sustain you during the outage.

Turn on the water. Let your spigots drip to prevent freezing water pipes during winter outages.

Unplug major appliances. Your appliances could be damaged by the surge that sometimes occurs when the power comes back on, so unplug all your appliances and electronics except your fridge or freezer. Consider keeping a single lamp or other electric device plugged in so you know when the power is restored.

Use your generator with caution. Only turn on your generator if it’s installed outdoors, properly connected to your home and fueled properly.

Don’t grill indoors. The carbon monoxide could kill you.

Check on your neighbors. Verify that your neighbors are safe, especially if they’re elderly or disabled, and share any water or food with them.

Stock an emergency supply. After the power returns, prepare for the next outage. Stock non-perishable food, water, flashlights, batteries, a first aid kit, and pet and baby supplies, if necessary.

Review your homeowners insurance coverage. Your policy may cover food losses, power surge damages, burst pipes, and even hotel expenses that you incur because of a power outage. Contact your insurance agent for more details.

A power outage can occur at any time, so be prepared. These steps help you protect your home and your family.

Ways To Make Money With Your Personal Vehicle

By Personal Perspective | No Comments

To make extra money, look no further than your vehicle. Your car or truck can become a source of income even if you’re not behind the wheel.

Wrap your Vehicle with Ads

Several companies pay you to wrap your vehicle with their advertisements. You receive payment based on the size of your vehicle and the miles you drive each day.

Become a Personal Driver

In exchange for a fee, give rides to seniors, new parents, college students, and other people who don’t have a vehicle. You can even run your own errands while driving others.

Drive for a Rideshare Service

Uber and Lyft are two rideshare services you can join. You decide where and when to drive, and your passengers pay you for each ride.

Join a Courier Service

Pick up and deliver dry cleaning, coffee, documents, and other items for a fee when you work as a courier. As a bonus, you can choose to accept jobs along your normal commute route and save time, fuel and wear on your vehicle.

Rent your Vehicle to a Peer

While you’re on vacation, at work or home for the weekends, rent your primary or spare car to a peer. Sign up at Turo or make rental arrangements with a friend, neighbor or co-worker.

Join a Carpool

Get paid to drive others to work every day. Alternatively, you can ride daily as a passenger and reduce your vehicle maintenance costs and fuel costs.

Drive Kids to School  

Whether you’re a parent, teacher or friend, offer to drive kids to or from school. Get paid per child per trip.

Deliver Groceries or Pizza

Taxi rides can cost a small fortune, so start a delivery business. Receive payment as you deliver groceries or pizza around town.

Transport Pets

Pet owners who need transportation to the vet or groomer will gladly pay you to provide reliable transportation. You may wish to purchase a sturdy crate to keep your furry passengers safe, and stock treats.

Pick up Large Objects

Put your SUV or truck to good use as a delivery vehicle. Advertise your service around town or sign up for TaskRabbit, and people will hire you to pick up and deliver large objects like furniture, bicycles and firewood.

Become a Tour Guide

Connect with tourists and other out-of-town visitors in your local area. Visit museums, attractions and historic sites during the travel season and share your expertise while making extra money.

These ideas help you earn extra cash with your personal vehicle. Before you start your endeavor, talk to your insurance agent and ensure you have adequate coverage for your new side business. Then hit the road!

Protect Yourself with Disability Insurance

By Life and Health | No Comments

In the event a disability that causes an inability to work occurs, Disability insurance works to replace a portion of your absent income. Although it should be obvious why Disability insurance is critical protection, many workers assume that they don’t need private Disability insurance since Social Security disability benefits are available. What many fail to understand is that eligibility for Social Security disability benefits hinges on the severity of the disability.

If the injury or illness doesn’t cause severe disability, the worker will not be eligible. Even if severely disabled, Social Security benefits will not begin for six-months and rarely are sufficient to fully cover living expenses. Disabilities that continue for an extended period of time can easily deplete savings before a return to work is possible. For these reasons alone, Disability insurance is the most reasonable method of financing a long-term disability.

The maximum coverage through private long-term Disability insurance is 45% to 70% of your salary, depending on how much you earn per year. The cost of the premium is largely based on how risky your job is; for example, physical labor is considered more risky than a professional employment. Age, overall coverage, and your health history are also factors that will affect policy pricing. The income provided by the policy while you’re disabled isn’t taxed if the policy is purchased on your own versus through your employer.

You might choose to supplement an employer disability plan with your own Disability policy. If so, you will want to know the amount of coverage offered, how long the benefit period will last, and what the waiting period will be so that you can coordinate the coverage appropriately.

There are six key provisions that you’ll want to look for when purchasing a Disability insurance policy:

What is considered a disability by the policy? 

Some policies might consider a disability as an inability to complete the main duties associated with your occupation. Other policies might consider a disability as an inability to perform any duties from any job. So, be sure to understand the disability provision as it relates to your specific occupation.

Does the policy have a non-cancellation clause?

A policy with a non-cancellation clause means that the provider can’t increase your premiums or cancel the policy until you’re 65-years-old. The only exception is if you don’t pay your premiums on time.

Does the policy include residual disability payments? 

These are payments that you’ll receive if you’re partially disabled and must take a lesser paying job. The benefits will be proportionate to the wage difference between your previous job and new job.

What is the benefit waiting period for the policy? 

Generally, the longer the waiting period, the more affordable the policy will be. For those that have employer disability benefits, you’ll often come out better to opt for a personal policy with a longer waiting period to reduce the cost.

How long will I receive benefits from the policy? 

The majority of private policies provide benefits until you’re 65-years-old.

Will I remain insurable?

You’ll want to make sure that the policy allows you to purchase coverage in the future without needing to be medically insurable.

Sadly, no one knows when an accident or illness will strike and cause a long-term disability. However, we do know that, if not prepared, the result is all too often financial devastation.

YOGA HELPS COMBAT STRESS IN SENIORS

By Life and Health | No Comments

Senior citizens make up the group most affected by stress-related psychological and medical conditions. For such issues, yoga might offer great relief. Recent research shows that it is effective in treating people who suffer from high blood pressure, depression, anxiety and cardiovascular disease.

The theory that researchers have might help develop mind-body practices as preventative treatments for such conditions, which are helpful when used with standard treatments. In their theory, researchers believe that stress is a contributing factor in creating an imbalance in the autonomic nervous system. The result is sympathetic over-activity and parasympathetic under-activity. In addition to this, it causes under-activity of gamma amino-butyric acid, which is an inhibitory neurotransmitter.

This transmitter’s long name is often shortened to GABA. With anxiety disorders, there is low GABA activity. Low activity is also present in people with epilepsy, depression, chronic pain and post-traumatic stress disorder. The hypothesis these researchers have could also show why vagal nerve stimulation decreases depression symptoms and seizure frequency.

Although there are differences between the two, Eastern Medicine and Western Medicine are complementary. Yoga originated in the East, but professionals in the West are embracing its benefits. Recent research contributes to the theory that seniors feel better by simply relieving symptoms that present themselves in several common disorders.

Seniors & Yoga. Fitness experts believe that yoga is one of the best tools for combating the negative aspects of aging. With seniors, it can be used to reduce health concerns and increase mobility. It reduces or helps alleviate several health challenges, which means it is easier for seniors to adopt this form of therapeutic exercise.

Yoga & Walking. Walking is a common fitness choice for the aging population. Researchers compared two groups of people over a span of 12 weeks. One group walked for fitness, and the other group participated in yoga. The results showed that there were no increases in GABA levels for the walking group. However, the yoga group showed increased GABA levels. In addition to this, their anxiety levels had decreased. In a separate study, patients suffering from chronic pain in their lower backs were studied. Over a span of 12 weeks, they also experienced increases in their GABA levels. Their pain levels were greatly reduced in comparison with the levels commonly seen in conventional treatment results.

Researchers continue to test the effectiveness of yoga on mental health, physical health and overall wellness in seniors. The results still seem to consistently indicate that yoga is beneficial. By incorporating these new mind-body therapies, medical professionals hope to continue reducing several negative aspects of aging. Although not all seniors may be physically able to perform all yoga exercises, even those with limited mobility can benefit from some.

Importance of LTC’s Equipment and Home Modification Benefit

By Life and Health | No Comments

Long-term care (LTC) insurance ensures people with disabilities, chronic illnesses or other conditions receive the daily help they need. The coverage includes a variety of benefits, including equipment and home modifications. Understand the value of these specific benefits as you determine if LTC insurance is right for you or someone you love.

What is LTC Insurance

While beneficial, your health insurance coverage from an employer or private source usually does not cover daily, extended care. Likewise, Medicare covers only a short nursing home stay or limited in-home care, and local agencies sometimes provide only a small amount of financial assistance to low-income adults.

LTC insurance can cover the expenses of the nursing and practical help you need. Equally important, it can pay for essential home modifications and the equipment you need to remain safe, comfortable and independent in your own home.

Items the LTC Equipment and Home Modification Benefit Covers   

You can use your equipment and home modification benefit to cover a variety of expenses.

  • Wheelchair ramp
  • Grab bars
  • Stair or bed rails
  • Walk-in shower
  • Raised toilet
  • Power recliner or chair
  • Accessible light switches and electric outlets
  • Wider doorways
  • Stair lift
  • Low-pile carpeting or other flooring

Each of these equipment items and home modifications improves your safety and comfort in your home. They also equip you to remain as independent as possible.

Why you need the Equipment and Home Modification Benefit   

The majority of disabled, ill or aging Americans prefer to age at home. However, you may need special equipment, such as a hospital bed, power recliner or shower seat to remain independent. Additionally, you may require home modifications like lever handles, accessible power outlets or low-pile carpeting that improve your home’s functionality and safety.

The costs of renting or purchasing the equipment you need can quickly add up, and home modifications could total tens of thousands of dollars. Conserve your personal funds for other needs like daily living expenses and medical treatment when you use your LTC insurance policy to cover a portion or all of the equipment and home modification costs.

Additionally, realize that your insurance policy funds will reduce caregiver stress. Your loved ones will gain peace of mind and experience less physical and financial challenges since your insurance benefit will pay for the equipment and home modifications you need to remain safe in your home.

How to Purchase LTC Insurance

The future is uncertain, but you can meet your daily living needs with LTC insurance. Discuss your needs, including the equipment and home modification benefit, with your insurance agent. Be sure to choose a policy that covers your expected financial needs, has an affordable premium and meets your long-term care needs.