Reducing safety risks for a returning and deconditioned workforce

Reducing safety risks for a returning and deconditioned workforce

The pandemic-era trend toward layoffs and early retirement means today’s workforce has less training and experience than in March 2020. On top of that, a year at home has physically changed our bodies, resulting in what experts call a “deconditioned workforce.” Unfortunately, this less trained and deconditioned workforce poses new safety risks for companies, particularly in more risk-prone industries like manufacturing, trucking, and construction. It is important for businesses to consider the safety risks associated with this trend and what they can do to help reduce workplace injury as employees return to work. 

With an accelerated vaccine rollout and the President’s expectation of getting “closer to normal” by July 4, 2021, many companies are thinking about moving back to regular operations before the end of the year. Despite this progress, it’s clear that the pandemic has made a lasting impact on our workforce—and the safety implications of returning to work need to be carefully considered.

Early retirement makes an impact

As a result of the pandemic, many older Americans working in heavily impacted industries retired sooner than planned. According to a study by The Schwartz Center, more than 1 million workers left the workforce between August 2020 and January 2021. In the last year, the unemployment rate for older workers has been significantly higher than mid-career workers—a rare occurrence in the job market.

For companies that laid off a large percentage of their workforce during the pandemic, this means that new hires will have significantly less training and experience than their predecessors. Compounding this problem is the fact that many workers are joining new industries due to COVID-19; according to a study by McKinsey, more than 100 million workers globally, or 1 in 16 people, will need to change occupations because of the pandemic.

All of these factors equate to increased risk for companies—especially those in certain sectors. According to David Perez, chief underwriting officer of Global Risk Solutions at Liberty Mutual Insurance: “In any job with a high safety risk, like construction, trucking, or manufacturing, untrained workers present tremendous exposure for accidents to occur.” In high-risk industries where training and experience prevent workplace injury, there is now a much more significant burden on employers to help keep untrained employees safe. 

A deconditioned workforce

Even for experienced employees returning to work, there is a greater risk of workplace injury when they come back to their jobs, post-pandemic. This is the result of worker deconditioning, or the degeneration of physical fitness and flexibility from lack of use. Bottom line? After more than a year of sitting at home, many of us simply aren’t as prepared to do physical labor as we were before the pandemic.

How bad is the problem? According to HumanTech, every day that we don’t use our muscles, we lose 1-3% of our strength. Months of sedentary behavior changes our bodies—and we can’t rebuild that strength overnight. Other factors, like reduced cardiovascular fitness and reduced flexibility, also contribute to workplace injury, particularly in the construction and manufacturing industries. It will take weeks or even months for workers to regain the strength they had before the pandemic. In the meantime, companies need to be aware of the increased risk and adjust their insurance policies to reflect that change.

Reduce risk, invest in training

Click here for the rest of the story...

Read More
Pandemic’s Bolstered Claims Technology Shield Insurance Blog

Pandemic’s Bolstered Claims Technology

Workers Expect Savvy Claims Technology: Here’s How the Pandemic’s Bolstered Claims Technology During Uncertain Times

The COVID-19 pandemic sped up the adoption of claims technology, but many tools were already in place and poised for growth.

Even apart from the COVID-19 pandemic, 2020 was a significant year. According to the NOAA, 22 separate weather events including severe storms, wildfires, and cyclones totaled $95 billion in damages.

While many types of insurance bear the brunt of these disasters, workers’ compensation carriers, tasked with critical care needs that affect workers and their families, need special strategies to deliver care when catastrophe strikes.

For many organizations, these strategies utilize technology, built-in redundancies and, stepped-up conveniences like a direct deposit to ensure continuity of care, no matter the weather.

“We have to be ready for it all — hurricanes, floods, fires,” said Mark Bilger, CIO of One Call.

“In general, disaster recovery and business continuity are a staple of well-run IT management for any organization. Specifically, in claims and insurance, it’s heightened because of the critical care for injured workers.”

Especially in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis, workers’ comp claims teams were challenged with the immediate expansion of remote work, resulting in necessary changes that are likely to endure even after the pandemic concludes.

“Before work from home, One Call had a few concentrated contact centers,” Bilger said.

“After work from home, we look a lot more like the internet. We’re dispersed and we had to make major upgrades to our virtual private network, essentially 10-fold. We went from 1 gigabit to 10-gigabit capacity. We strengthened our endpoint protections and it went from firewalls in our locations to everybody’s home becoming the One Call network.”

This growth in gigabit capacity is not isolated to the workers’ comp industry; reports indicate that pandemic-related growth has resulted in an estimated global wireless gigabit market size of $19 million in 2021 and is projected to reach $70 million by 2026.

In tandem with the global wireless market, gigabit size is the growth of cloud computing. Gartner forecasted 18.4% growth in a 2020 report to a total of $304.9 billion, noting that “the proportion of IT spending that is shifting to the cloud will accelerate in the aftermath of the COVID-19 crisis, with cloud projected to make up 14.2% of the total global enterprise IT spending market in 2024, up from 9.1% in 2020.”

Workers Expect Claims Tech

Expectations have been set by regulation and digitization in the 21st Century that even in the wake of a natural disaster, services will continue.

“One of the technology solutions that we have had for a few years but that we pushed during COVID and any other type of catastrophic event is our claimant app, MyCare,” said Michael Jamason, SVP, business operations at CorVel.

“It gives the injured worker the ability to manage their pharmacy information, phone numbers for points of contact regarding their claim, information about payments being made to their accounts, and they can even establish their direct deposit in the app.”

Pharmacy information is especially important during disaster when medications are destroyed due to property damage or lost in an evacuation.

“We were able to utilize our partnership with our PBM to allow people to get early refills, and with mail order, we were able to even change the amounts of medication given,” said Melissa Burke, head of managed care and clinical, AmTrust.

“We expanded into other needs like telemedicine, ensuring that we have different types of providers available. We were able to expand that and ensure access in all of our states where allowed by regulatory governance, including digital doctor networks. Something important there too is transitioning injured employees. Typically a telehealth solution would be either on the frontend or the backend of a claim. We wanted to make sure that we could go back and forth depending on the state of the catastrophe,” Burke added.

Indeed, telemedicine expansion is at the forefront of many workers’ comp claims organizations’ radar. According to Mitchell’s “The Future of Technology in Work Comp 2020” industry survey, “many respondents believe that telemedicine will have the biggest impact on the industry within the next five years (32%), followed closely by artificial intelligence (30%) and predictive analytics (20%).”

The survey was conducted before the COVID-19 pandemic, which likely would have boosted telemedicine’s impact on the results due to significant expansions.

For many industry leaders though, the specific technological solution is not as significant as the strategy behind the solutions. “We have to ensure continuity of care and benefits,” said Michele Tucker, CorVel’s VP of EC operations.

“Any interruption — whether it’s a natural disaster or anything else — impacts many lives and families. We’ve been doing some regular testing with payments and system recovery so redundancy is set up, and if we have an office impacted, our system allows for immediate replication and the pickup of services by another office.”

Growth Brings Security Risks

Click here for the rest of the story

Read More

Stop by the Farmers Market in Hudsonville!

TODAY June 2, 2021 9am to 1pm

at the Terra Square

Stop by to meet Joe, Sean and his wife Kat, and register to win a robot vacuum or local gift cards!!

All the details can be found at the Chamber website be sure to check it out and visit the market!


TERRA SQUARE FARMERS MARKET Shield Insurance Agency

The home of Hudsonville’s Farmers Market.
Hudsonville farmers are passionate about bringing the community together over farm fresh produce they have been growing for generations. The Terra Square Farmer’s Market will be a place where we inspire healthy, full, and abundant living. Growing together, food and community.

Click here to visit the web site for all the detais !

Read More
Shield Insurance Nominated for Business Excellence Award

Shield Insurance Nominated for Business Excellence Award

Shield Insurance Nominated for Business Excellence Award by Hudsonville Chamber of Commerce

Big News from the Hudsonville Chamber of Commerce!

It’s Awards Season!


The Chamber is SO excited to be hosting the Chamber Awards once again this year!

Here are our nominees for the 2021 Awards!

::::: drumroll :::::

Business Excellence Award

  • Hudsonville Physical Therapy
  • Advent Physical Therapy
  • Shield Insurance Agency

Leadership Award

  • Dr. Therese House-Vereeke
  • Patrick Waterman
  • Mary Jane Schreur

Spark Award

  • Hand 2 Hand Ministries
  • Meijer
  • Joy 99

The winners of the Awards will be announced at our official Awards Ceremony MEAL. June 17th at noon at the Pinnacle Center.

Make sure to get registered, we hope to see you there!

Read More
Michigan Tornado Shield Insurance Agency Blog

Michigan Tornado: Be Prepared

Michigan Tornado

On average Michigan has 15 tornadoes per year. Tornadoes are known to develop rapidly, with little advanced warning. The average lead time for a Michigan tornado warning is 10 to 15 minutes and winds can reach over 200 mph, which is why Michigan residents are encouraged to prepare and make a plan before a tornado strikes.

Each year during Severe Weather Awareness Week, a statewide tornado drill is held so you can practice your plan.

BE PREPARED:

Terms:

Michigan Tornado Watch: Tornadoes are possible. When there is a Watch, move near enough to a shelter or sturdy building to be able to get inside quickly if there is a Warning or if you see signs of a tornado approaching. Remain alert for approaching storms. Watch the sky and stay tuned to NOAA Weather Radio, commercial radio, or television for information.

Michigan Tornado Warning: A tornado has been sighted or indicated by weather radar. Take shelter immediately.

Supercell: A system producing severe thunderstorms, featuring rotating winds sustained by a prolonged updraft that may result in hail or tornadoes.

Enhanced Fujita (EF) Scale: Rates the strength of tornadoes in the United States and Canada. There are six categories for the EF scale and are in order of increasing intensity. *It is based on wind estimates of a 3-second gust.*

  • EF0: Tornadoes with an estimated wind speed of 65-85 mph and leads to light damage.
  • EF1: Estimated wind speed of 86-110 mph with the potential of moderate damage.
  • EF2: Estimated wind speeds of 111-135 mph with significant damage potential.
  • EF3: Estimated wind speeds of 136-165 mph with severe damage potential.
  • EF4: Estimated wind speeds of 166-200 mph with devastating damage potential.
  • EF5: Estimated wind speeds of over 200 mph with incredible damage potential.

Before a Michigan Tornado:

  • Identify safe rooms built to FEMA criteria or ICC500 storm shelters or other potential protective locations in sturdy buildings near your home, work, and other locations you frequent so you have a plan for where you will go quickly for safety when there is a Warning or an approaching tornado.
  • For schools, malls, and other buildings with long-span roofs or open space plans, or many occupants, ask the building manager to identify the best available refuge. 
  • Build an emergency kit and make a family communications plan.
  • Sign up for your community’s warning system.  The Emergency Alert System (EAS) and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Weather Radio also provide emergency alerts.  If your community has sirens, become familiar with the warning tone.
  • Listen to NOAA Weather Radio or to commercial radio or television newscasts for the latest information. Meteorologists can predict when conditions might be right for a tornado.  In an emergency, always listen to the instructions given by local emergency management officials.
  • Be alert to changing weather conditions.  Look for approaching storms.
  • Look for the following danger signs:
    • Dark, often greenish sky
    • Large hail
    • A large, dark, low-lying cloud (particularly if rotating)
    • Loud roar, similar to a freight train.
    • If you see approaching storms or any of the danger signs, be prepared to take shelter immediately.

During a Tornado:

  • If you are under a tornado warning, seek shelter immediately!  Most injuries associated with high winds are from flying debris, so remember to protect your head.
  • If you are in school, nursing home, hospital, factory, shopping center, high-rise building then:       
    • Go to a pre-designated area such as a safe room built to FEMA criteria, basement, storm shelter, or the lowest building level. If there is no basement, go to the center of a smaller interior room, such as a closet or hallway, that is away from corners, windows, doors, and outside walls. Put as many walls as possible between you and the outside. Get under a sturdy table and cover your head and neck with your arms and cover your body as best you can e.g., with a heavy coat or blankets, pillows.
    • In a high-rise building, go to a small interior room or hallway on the lowest floor possible.
    • Do not open windows.

After The Tornado

Click here for the rest of the story

Read More
Shield Insurance | construction industry

How technology is transforming the construction industry

In today’s construction industry market, there’s little doubt that technology holds transformative power.

Not only have new technological advancements led to greater efficiency in day-to-day operations, but they’ve also created new opportunities for companies to gain a competitive edge and focus on strategic growth.

There are several ways technology is making positive impacts on key priorities within the construction industry, including workforce, safety and risk management, and operational efficiency.

Finding solutions for construction industry labor challenges

Labor shortages in the construction industry remain significant and widespread. A new survey by the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC) found that 80 percent of construction companies report having a tough time filling hourly craft positions, representing the bulk of the construction workforce. On top of that, 56 percent also are finding it difficult to fill salaried positions. According to AGC, preparing, attracting, and re-skilling the future workforce are necessary steps in reducing that figure – and technology can help bridge the gap.

How can technology help with labor shortages? First, investing in cutting-edge approaches can help recruit and retain more young adults from tech-savvy generations into construction careers. Second, technology can streamline labor needs. By adopting tech methods to reduce on-site work time, such as using virtual construction tools like Building Information Modeling (BIM) and automating inventories and the ordering process, a contractor can better manage productivity levels and its workforce.

Addressing construction industry safety and risk

According to the latest Construction Technology Report by JBKnowledge, almost 50 percent of today’s contractors now have dedicated IT departments, and more construction companies are using technology solutions to internally manage workflows like estimating, project scheduling, and project management as well as to improve safety. Here are some of the ways technology is helping with efficiency and safety:

  • Wearables.

With wearable technology’s popularity and growth in consumer markets, the construction industry is now considering how to use different features to improve worksite safety. Some potential applications for wearable technology include monitoring an employee’s movements or vitals and providing real-time alerts if work conditions become dangerous. Smart helmets, for example, turn traditional hardhats into on-the-ground safety systems that can detect a worker’s level of fatigue or a worksite’s carbon monoxide level or temperature.

Smart helmets turn traditional hardhats into on-the-ground safety systems that can detect a worker’s level of fatigue or a worksite’s carbon monoxide level or temperature.

As another example, gear like augmented-reality glasses can provide workers with real-time guidance and detect errors before an accident, which, along with the proper training, could help improve productivity and safety.

Plusses like these will likely fuel more experimentation with wearables and research on their effectiveness at improving safety. Nearly two-thirds of insurers, for example, expect wearable technologies to have a significant impact in coming years, according to a survey of more than 200 insurance executives.

  • Mobile devices.

The importance of mobile capabilities has soared, the JBKnowledge report shows, with 83 percent of firms surveyed saying mobile is “important” or “very important” to their operations vs. just 59 percent who thought so in 2012.

The daily use of laptops in the construction field also has increased, from 64 percent in 2015 to 78 percent in 2017. And the use of smartphones, tablets, and other portable devices is quickly streamlining much of the construction process, from creating and approving blueprints to post-construction monitoring.

In terms of safety benefits, the adoption of mobile technologies enables real-time communication with all members of a construction team as well as faster incident reporting and injury documentation, all of which can help reduce the risk of injuries and the cost of worker’s compensation claims.

Boosting worksite efficiency with labor-saving strategies

Click here for the rest of the story

Read More
Chipotle gift card winner for Shield Insurance Agency GIve A Way

Shield Insurance Gift Card Winners!

Friday July 30, 2021

Every week, Shield Insurance Agency draws a winner from its clients and social media followers. Be sure to LIKE our Facebook Page to get yourself entered to win and see who the winners are!

Read More
Send us a referral and receive cash or choose to donate to Roslyn

Shield Referral Program Supports Roslyn

Shield Referral Program

Community Minded Referral Program

Your referral can make a difference for Roslyn. Shield Insurance is helping Roslyn by donating $25 for each non-client who gets a quote from us! No purchase necessary! CLICK HERE to get a quote and we’ll donate $25 to her! (Be sure to mention Roslyn in the comment section!) You can also call or text the office and one of our agents will take a few minutes of your time to offer up a quote. Don’t forget to mention Ros!

“The highest compliment we can receive is the referral of your friends, family & business associates. Thank you for your trust!”

Meet Roslyn
Roslyn and Shield Insurance Agency Referral Program

More great stories featuring Roslyn…

Read More
shield insurance agency educational video cover

Insurance Terms

Shield Insurance Agency & Foremost Insurance Company present Insurance Terms

Every industry has its own unique language – and insurance is no exception. Here are some key insurance definitions and terms you might come across as you consider insuring yourself or your stuff.

Read More