Increasing Safety Awareness in the Construction Industry

Encouraging and enforcing safety standards on construction sites is vital to maintaining a safe and effective team. However, safety programs for the sake of safety programs doesn’t do anyone any favors. If employees don’t feel compelled to make changes for the sake of their safety, supervisors need to find ways to get them motivated.

Start with Management

Employees won’t take safety initiatives seriously if their managers and supervisors don’t. For example, if workers overhear their boss griping about the cost of safety training, they may infer this as the boss doesn’t care about safety. Another element of leading by example is responding to employee concerns as soon as possible. If a construction worker reports a safety hazard, but management takes weeks to address it, it sends a message that the business’ leadership doesn’t care about their employees’ safety. When management makes employee health and safety a priority, employees are more likely to do so as well.

Reward Good Behavior

Many supervisors take a penalty-based approach to safety, but this can backfire. When employees are afraid of accruing penalties, they are more likely to hide concerning situations like near falls. While management needs to know about unsafe behavior or workplace hazards, they should focus more on correcting unwanted behavior and rewarding safe behavior. For example, supervisors can provide an incentive or reward for employees who always wear their personal protective equipment (PPE), participate in safety meetings, make safety suggestions/identify safety issues, etc.

What Not to Do

In their zeal to foster a culture of safety, some site supervisors end up making decisions that hurt safety initiatives. These include:

  • Disciplinary action. As mentioned above, focusing on penalizing unwanted behaviors isn’t an effective safety approach. Part of the issue is it requires near-constant supervision of the site, which is unrealistic. The other half of the problem is it provokes hostility from workers, especially if they feel like management is targeting them. Supervisors can’t overlook unsafe behavior, but their approach to correcting it should be safety-centric rather than disciplinary.
  • Poorly focused incentives. Reward systems and incentives can produce great results if supervisors put the focus on the right safety elements. For example, focusing on reducing the overall number of accidents is a good goal, but a poor incentive. Workers may stop reporting incidents for fear of losing a bonus. Safety incentive should focus more on behavior such as accruing points for wearing reflective clothing, safety glasses, etc.
  • Safety signs and posters. Putting up posters professing a passion for safety is only effective if management lives up to and promotes it on a personal level. In other words, if management’s only approach to safety is to put up posters, safety signage will swiftly become a joke.

Job site safety is critical to a successful construction company. If unsafe worker behaviors or injuries plague your construction sites, The Reilly Group can help. We can help you identify risks and enhance the safety of your business. Contact us to learn more.

How to Reduce the Likelihood of Hackers Cracking Employee Passwords

Cybersecurity has been making headlines due to a number of significant data breaches. Yahoo, Target, and Equifax are just some of the biggest successful hacks to gain attention. Most data breaches are the result of human or process errors. The top five causes are:

  1. Lost or stolen paperwork
  2. Posting or sending data to the wrong individual
  3. Emailing data to the wrong individual
  4. Insecure website (i.e. hacking)
  5. Lost or stolen unencrypted device

How Hackers Obtain Passwords

By now, most businesses know their employees need to use strong passwords including a mix of uppercase letters, lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols. Some even go so far as to implement a rule requiring employees to change their password every few months. However, even the strongest of passwords are vulnerable in traditional practices.

Adding a layer of difficulty to password strength is an employee’s propensity to reuse it. An employee may believe he or she has a strong password and thus reuses it with simple alterations. This is a problem if a hacker learns the basic password. The cybercriminal can brute force their way into several applications by adding 1s, !s, and other common password variations. To help employees manage their passwords, some companies are utilizing password storage software that encrypts the passwords while giving access to the employee.

Two factor or multi-factor authentication (2FA/MFA) can help cut down on hacker success since they rely on two or more separate methods of confirming an individual’s identity. The most common methods are inputting a password in combination with a code texted or emailed to a separate account. Some companies go so far as to implement biometrics (i.e. fingerprint logins) or single sign on (SSO) systems. SSO systems allow a user to login to several applications with a single login. This makes tracking unusual activity simple and allows companies to monitor accounts better.

Employee education is the best first line of defense against data breaches. Many employees are unaware that their password is weak or that their login is vulnerable. After bringing employees up to speed on modern cybersecurity, businesses need to invest in quality cybersecurity personnel and insurance. The specialists can help keep the hackers out while the insurance can help manage the aftermath should a breach occur. To learn more about protecting your business from cyber risk, contact the experts at The Reilly Company.

4 Surprising Challenges that Impede Construction Safety

Many construction dangers are obvious, such as large machines. However, several hidden perils cause injuries on a daily basis. Construction companies need to keep their construction workers safe, which often requires them to do more than enforce the minimum safety standards. The following are lesser-known construction safety challenges that construction companies need to address to limit injuries.

Shifting Weather Patterns

Construction workers prepare for expected weather hazards. For example, if there was a recent snowfall, they will likely clear the snow to expose hidden risks and take more care when navigating fall hazards like scaffolding. However, it’s a sudden change in weather that causes the most slips, trips, and falls. When a construction worker starts the workday with nice weather, he or she will take mental notes of surrounding perils. However, if the weather takes a sudden turn, constructions workers don’t always make the mental adjustment required. Their minds may remain in fair weather mode while their surroundings evolve and the hazards take new shapes and forms.

Skewed Opinion of Hazards

Bulky or noisy threats on construction sites rarely cause accidents for the simple fact that they are easy to see and hear. Construction crews are safest when they are aware of perils on the construction site. However, over time, experienced workers become complacent regarding smaller threats. These workers stop thinking about those risks because they are not obvious, which is when they become most susceptible to them.

Limited Time for Proper Safety Training

High turnover rates are common to the construction industry. Jobs are often short-term contracts and workers are always on the alert for future job opportunities. Unfortunately, this results in insufficient time to hold safety training beyond the bare minimum set by OSHA. The challenge here is construction companies have to do more than the minimum to ensure safety. This requires figuring out how to provide OSHA’s standard training as well as human error prevention training in a small window of time. Businesses that make safety training a priority will reap the most benefits in the forms of a safe and secure site and uninjured workers.

Disengaged Construction Crews

Construction workers have lives outside of their jobs. Family commitments such as attending their children’s sports games, weekend family trips, and more can weigh on worker’s minds. When construction crews focus on getting to after-work events on time, they may rush through their work. While the urge to finish the workday early is understandable, it can cause significant injuries on construction sites.

Construction sites are inherently dangerous, but construction companies don’t have to accept injuries as par for the course. The Reilly Company can help your construction business assess its risks and develop a plan for improving worker safety and reducing construction site hazards. Contact us to learn more.

Top Risks for Small Construction Businesses

The construction industry is rife with entrepreneurs and small businesses. The allure of being your own boss, creating dream homes, and building beautiful architecture is undeniable. However, the industry itself poses several risks that can jeopardize an entire operation if not managed appropriately. Below are the most prevalent risks threatening construction businesses.

Seasonal Slowdowns

For the construction industry, there are only two seasons: winter and construction. Once the weather begins to turn, construction contracts slow to a trickle. This is because everything becomes harder and more hazardous in wintry conditions. Frozen soil is harder to penetrate, snow conceals dropped tools, and freezing winds make scaffolding work unpleasant and dangerous. Even for businesses in warmer climes, an economic downturn can result in a dearth of contracts. Construction companies have to prepare for the slow season by setting aside earnings from the busy season to help compensate for the decrease in income.

Workplace Injuries

Even with proper safety precautions, accidents can still occur on construction sites. While construction workers are the most likely to be injured, third parties can be as well (such as clients visiting work sites). When accidents happen, the injured party can hold the construction company liable for medical costs and court expenses. To help mitigate these issues, business owners should invest in Worker’s Compensation Insurance as well as General Liability Insurance. In fact, many states require it as a prerequisite to own and operate a construction company.

Damaged Equipment

Construction professionals cannot work without the right tools and equipment. While some tools are easy to replace, others take time and money. This can delay projects and harm a construction company’s reputation. Investing in Property Insurance can help alleviate the cost, but it is best to prevent damages in the first place. Business owners can ensure this by training workers on the proper use, maintenance, and storage of equipment.

Protecting Your Investment

Starting and operating a successful business is the ultimate goal for entrepreneurs. However, without proper risk management, a construction company can quickly fall into ruin. The Reilly Company can help your business manage construction risks with the proper insurance policies and coverages. To learn more, contact us today.

What Every Business Needs to Know about Cybersecurity Insurance

In the aftermath of the Equifax data breach (see our earlier post here), many businesses are scrambling to find out more about their cybersecurity insurance. Do they have enough coverage? What happens in the event of a breach? Investing in appropriate coverage is smart, but it can only mitigate some of the financial risk associated with cyber attacks. For example, there is not much cybersecurity insurance can do about the hit to a company’s reputation after a breach or the associated loss of business. Below are several other facts about cybersecurity that businesses need to know.

Businesses Cannot Insure Against All Risks

Investing in cybersecurity insurance is one way companies can manage their risk. However, there are so many cyber threats that to insure against them all would be cost prohibitive. Instead, businesses should focus on the threats most likely to affect them. They should also take a top-down approach: identify what digital assets are most important and afford them the most protection. From there, businesses can measure the remaining threats and insure accordingly.

Cyber Insurance Has Its Limitations

Like many other types of insurance policies, cyber insurance has exclusions and limitations. As mentioned above, it is not suitable for dealing with damage dealt to a business’ reputation. It is also inadequate for covering the loss of intellectual property. Business owners need to familiarize themselves with their policy’s weaknesses and invest in supplemental insurance if necessary.

The Wording of Cyber Insurance Policies Matters

Some cybersecurity insurance policies include coverage that overlaps with other standard business insurance policies. Businesses need to dig into their policies to make sure they have the coverage they need for the cyber threats most likely to happen to them. Cyber insurance policies should do more than provide financial recompense. After a cyber attack, businesses will need a legal and PR response at the least.

However, sifting through dense insurance policies can be confusing and no business wants to leave itself exposed to cyber threats. The Reilly Company can help business owners identify their specific threats as well as which cyber insurance policy would benefit them most. To learn more about protecting your business from cyber threats, contact us today.

Wearable Technology to Reduce Construction Incidents and Claims

Every construction company needs insurance. Investing in coverage is a smart business practice and can protect a company in the event of costly claims. However, many employers want to reduce workplace accidents or prevent them altogether. Because of this, many within the construction industry are turning to wearable technology to manage risks. Reducing workplace hazards has the added bonus of reducing insurance costs as well.

How the Tech Works

There are a few options for wearable tech available on the market. One such example is a product construction workers can wear on their belt. The product contains sensors that keep track of all workers. The system alerts the supervisor of any trips or falls on the site.  It also has a locator button for emergencies such as injuries. This allows employers to find and assist their injured employee in a rapid manner. Reducing the time to treatment can improve the outcome of the injury by decreasing the severity of the damage as well as recovery time.

The product uses a mesh internet system to stay connected with all workers across the construction site. Such a system allows construction managers to know how far an employee fell, where they fell, and what other employees were in the vicinity. This information is invaluable from a claims perspective, as the data is not subjective.

Similar products exist in vest form, but they serve the same purpose. The primary benefit of wearable technology is its ability to improve workplace safety as well as reduce the response time for injuries. This allows contractors to maximize their project management and employee productivity. Employees can learn from the devices as well. For example, a worker who receives frequent warnings about lifting too much weight may change his workplace habits to avoid injuries due to strain.

The Reilly Company understands that managing risks on construction sites can be difficult. That is why we strive to help businesses mitigate their risk by investing in proper insurance coverage. To learn more about reducing risk for your construction company, contact us today.

Cyber Insurance Vital to Risk Management

Business owners can handle risk management in a couple of ways. They can reduce their exposure to risk as well as invest in insurance to protect their assets against risk exposure once it occurs. Reducing contact with known risks can reduce insurance rates as well. A company’s best line of defense is to mitigate risk to avoid expensive insurance claims; however, it is unrealistic to assume a claim will never happen.

Failing to invest in insurance is an ill-advised business practice and poor risk management. While many business owners do not intentionally overlook insurance, many are not aware of the coverage they need. For example, many businesses lack the proper coverage for cyber incidents. This is an issue as cyber insurance is necessary to controlling cyber threats. Technology in the workplace will continue to flourish, as will the associated risks. Businesses that collect customer data such as medical records or credit card numbers face a heightened risk of cyber attacks as they possess highly sought after and lucrative information.

Employee Negligence Limits Insurance Protection

More often than most would like to admit, employees fall for cyber tricks that result in a data breech. Some insurance policies only go into effect for unauthorized breeches. If a breech occurs due to employee negligence, the policy may not provide coverage. Smart business owners will train employees to recognize threats and risks as well as how to avoid them. Some examples include:

  • Never leaving laptops open and unattended
  • Creating strong passwords
  • Recognizing phishing email scams

Businesses need to consider all angles of exposure for effective risk management. The Reilly Company can help businesses identify the unique risks to their industry and develop a proactive strategy to defend against them. To learn more, contact us.

Top Tactics to Manage Construction Risks

All businesses come with a certain degree of risk—some more than others. For example, the construction industry faces much more risk than a standard desk job. Loss of finances, personal injury, and property damage are just some of the upfront hazards construction companies face. After completing a project, construction businesses may experience other claims such as building defects. While these hurdles are part of doing business in the construction industry, there are several ways companies can reduce their risk.

Contract Hierarchy of Documents

Because of their length, construction contracts are prone to inconsistencies. In the event that an issue goes to court, both parties often have documentation backing their position taken straight from the contract. Without establishing a contractual hierarchy, disputes are more likely and the litigation process will be lengthy. Clarify such matters before finalizing a contract to avoid conflicts that a court cannot easily resolve.

Limitation of Liability

Most design professionals such as architects and engineers include clauses that limit their liability in regards to their services. Many project developers sign these agreements not realizing the designer may be responsible for significant economic loss later in the project. The developer will not be able to recoup the loss caused by the designer’s negligence due to this clause. Developers should read over these agreements carefully and consider the risk before signing it.

Construction Insurance

Insurance is vital to a successful construction company. Insurance flows between general contractors and subcontractors with policies providing additional coverage. However, in response to increased risk, insurance companies added endorsements. These endorsements can limit the effectiveness of additional coverage. Due to these complexities, construction companies should invest in a knowledgeable agent to ensure they have proper coverage. The Reilly Company can help your business navigate the intricacies of construction insurance. To learn more, contact us.

Executives Falling Behind on Risk Management

Most executives are aware of the risks their business faces, but they are failing to keep pace with them. One study found that 70 percent of executives believe the risks to their company are greater in number and more complicated than in previous years.

Meanwhile, only a quarter of those executives felt their risk management plan was robust enough to handle the threats to their business. This highlights the disconnect many business owners experience when it comes to business challenges and how to handle them.

Strategic Planning and Leadership

This growing issue is likely the result of failing to incorporate risk management into strategic planning for the company. If executives do not see how risk management advances company goals, it is hard to see its value. Slowly but surely, risk management drops in priority.

A lack of leadership for risk management is often another part of the problem. Less than half of surveyed executives reported having a designated senior staff member to manage risk. Given the increasing complexity of business threats and challenges, companies need dedicated managers to evaluate risks and develop solutions. Without risk management leadership, it falls on individual departments to handle hazards to their section. This results in multiple methods of managing risks with varying degrees of effectiveness.

It can be difficult for business executives to overhaul their risk management strategies. They may feel overwhelmed or unsure where to start making changes. The Reilly Company can help businesses navigate these necessary modifications. Contact us to learn more about how our risk management solutions can help advance your company.

Common Misconceptions About Flood Insurance

Homeowners and business owners alike have concerns about water damage related to flooding. This is especially true if they live in an area prone to flooding. However, there are numerous myths circulating about flood insurance that add further confusion to this type of coverage. For example, many individuals think of flood damage as a total loss, but the average flood claim is around $30,000. Below are some of the most common myths about flood insurance.

Only People Living in a Flood Plain Can Buy Flood Insurance

While mortgage companies may require people who live in a flood zone to purchase flood insurance, these individuals are not the only ones who can buy this kind of coverage. Almost anybody who wants flood insurance can obtain a policy. In general, properties in flood zones are more expensive to insure than those that are not. Even renters can obtain flood insurance to protect their belongings.

Flood Insurance is Only Necessary for Properties in Flood-Prone Areas

While properties in flood plains need flood insurance, all buildings face a certain level of flooding risk. About 25 percent of flood claims come from individuals who do not live in a flood plain. Property owners should take a hard look at the risk of flooding in their area and investigate what flood insurance options are available to them.

Individuals with Homeowners Insurance Do Not Need Flood Insurance

This myth can cost homeowners big time in the event of a flood. Homeowners and umbrella policies do not cover damage related to floods. If an individual lives in an area prone to flooding, they should invest in flood insurance. The one exception to this rule is storm damage. If a storm tears off a portion of a house’s roof, homeowners insurance covers the subsequent water damage.

Learning about your flood risk and if you live in a flood plain are vital to determining if you need this type of insurance. These factors also affect how much coverage you will need. To learn more about flood insurance, contact The Reilly Company.