Monthly Archives

June 2019

FireExtinguisherChecklist x

Creating a Portable Fire Extinguisher Checklist

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It is reported that nearly 80%[1] of fires could have been extinguished by a portable fire extinguisher. Unless employees are tasked with fire safety, they may never actually notice the thoughtfully placed fire extinguishers around the building.

Fire extinguishers are designed to fight small, early-stage fires that present a relatively small hazard to the operator. “Portable fire extinguishers can save lives and property by putting out a small fire or containing it until the fire department arrives…”[2] Fire extinguishers are designed for small, slow to grow fires with minimal smoke and heat.

Portable fire extinguishers require monthly visual inspections to help ensure the extinguisher is in proper operating condition. The best practice is to create a checklist for managing regular visual inspections. The below items should be included on the monthly checklist:

  • The extinguisher is easily located in a conspicuous, designated, and unobstructed location
  • The locking pin is in place
  • Tamper seal is unbroken
  • Extinguisher feels full when lifted
  • The pressure gauge is within the operable range
  • Legible operating instructions are facing outward
  • Check the last professional service date is within 12 months

Annual inspections may require additional time and more maintenance or testing to be completed by a certified fire suppression professional.

Protect your employees and business by ensuring you have the right fire prevention and protection in place. From fire extinguishers to automatic sprinklers secured overhead, these are your business’s best bet for extinguishing small, controllable fires.

Contact Harbor America to discuss preparing a unique safety plan specific to your business to reduce risks and keep your employees safe.

[1] Fireline: The Importance of Fire Extinguishers
[2] National Fire Protection Association: Fire Extinguisher

Ladder Safety Tips

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Not only are falls one of the top three most disabling workplace injuries, but ladders are also sixth on OSHA’s Top 10 Most Cited Volitions list.[1] Most of the ladder-related workplace incidents occur due to basic ladder safety rule violations. Proper use of ladders including ladder storage and adequate training can significantly reduce related injuries and accidents. Contact Harbor America to inquire about OSHA compliance resources, online training manuals, or compliance posters as an extension of your total package of safety and risk management resources.

What Employers Need to Know

  • More than 700 ladder injuries occur every day.
  • The most common ladder accidents include missing the last step/rung when climbing down or overreaching.
  • Choose the right ladder by thinking about the task, the size or style of the ladder, and the ladder can handle your weight.
  • Avoid climbing the ladder if you feel dizzy, if it is too windy, or the ladder is not in proper operating condition.
  • Always remember to take your time and never rush to finish a job.

Contact Harbor America to bolster your total safety and risk management resources.

GoodAgriculturalPractices x

Implementing a Good Agricultural Practices Program

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Good agricultural practices (GAP) is a voluntary audit used to “verify that fruits and vegetables are produced, packed, handled, and stored as safely as possible to minimize risks of microbial food safety hazards.”[1]

GAP programs are emerging as a standard practice for most agricultural producers. Developing a GAP program will help to increase the chances your products will be safe for consumption while outlining the general policies and procedures that should be used to ensure the safety of the products. Additionally, GAP helps to monitor producers “in terms of their environmental impact, labor practices, and possibly ‘carbon footprint’.”[2]

A great resource for producers is the National Good Agricultural Practices Program website hosted by Cornell University. Here users can access educational materials, research, take GAP-related online courses, or schedule in-person GAP training sessions.

GAP focuses on specific areas of the FDA guide that should be given special consideration including:

  • Water quality
  • Employee health and hygiene
  • Sanitation
  • Transportation
  • Bio-solid treatment
  • Field sanitation
  • Parking facilities

These areas receive special attention due to the “public concern over the safety of produce…due to well-publicized outbreaks of [E. coli], Salmonella, and listeria, among others.”[3]

To ensure your products maintain the highest levels of safety and are free from dangerous microbes, a GAP audit checklist is recommended. The checklist should mirror the USDA checklist, which includes, but is not limited to, the below sections:

  • General farm review
  • Harvesting and packing activities
  • Packinghouse facility
  • Storage
  • Transportation
  • Distribution

Establishing a well-thought-out program to minimize the risk of foodborne illness benefits not only your business but the people consuming your products. To learn more about GAP and how we can assist in promoting workplace safety, contact Harbor America today.

[1] USDA: Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) & Good Handling Practices (GHP)
[2] North Dakota State University: Market Forces—Good Agricultural Practices
[3] University of Nevada Cooperative Extension: Good Agricultural Practices

Exploring Qualifying Life Events

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While open enrollment happens only once per year, qualifying life events can occur unexpectedly, in the blink of an eye. Qualifying events, such as having a baby, losing health coverage, or becoming a citizen, can change the eligibility status for a person allowing them to enroll in health insurance coverage outside of the normal enrollment period. This period is called a special enrollment period (SLP).

An SLP is triggered by a qualifying life event and can last up to 60 days from the date of the qualifying event.

Other than those listed previously, qualifying life events can include any of the below, and more:

  • Change in coverage of the employer’s plan.
  • FMLA leave of absence
  • COBRA qualifying events, such as employment termination, reduction in employment hours, death of a covered employee, or employer bankruptcy, among others.
  • HIPAA special enrollment events, which include marriage, birth, or adoption. (Read more here.)
  • Medicare or Medicaid entitlement

Children of covered family members could lose coverage due to:

  • Turning 26 years old
  • No longer being a dependent of the covered parent or guardian
  • Death of covered parent guardian
  • Family member cutting benefits for dependents

In the event an employee experiences a life-changing event, it is important that they reach out to their human resources representative as early as possible to ensure there is little to no interruption or error in benefits.

Qualifying life events do not cover situations like the insurance carrier dropping the insured due to nonpayment or voluntarily discontinuing coverage.

It is always preferred that a person elects benefits during open enrollment, however, qualifying life events can happen, changing the person’s circumstances making their election eligibility open outside of the normal enrollment period. Contact us to learn more about qualifying life events, improving your employee benefits options, or to speak with one of our licensed administrators.