It is said that moving is as traumatic as a divorce! Whether it is or not, there are certain common sense guidelines we like to share with our clients about moving; moving the facility, changing office assignments or just “moving things around.”
1. There is a tendency for employees to lift boxes and move furniture that they would not ordinarily lift or move. This activity often results in back sprains and other work related injuries that can negatively impact your Workers Compensation rates and premiums.
Recommendation: Do not allow employees to move anything except perhaps those personal or comfort items best not trusted to movers.
2. Employees become used to their working environments. The move to new quarters and new surroundings commonly creates new and unfamiliar hazards and resulting injury caused by tripping over boxes that have been left in the move, or over extension cords that were not there before. Knee injuries from the re-positioning of workstations, overhead cupboards or bookcases and furniture that takes some getting used to.
Recommendation: Create a safety or moving committee to review all offices, desk areas and workstations as employees move into them to minimize and eliminate hazards.
3. Business personal property, furniture, computer equipment, printers, copy machines are all susceptible to damage during the move from the old to the new location. Your insurance may not respond well to property that is on the move since property insurance is generally location specific.
Recommendation: Purchase specific insurance for the move for your property which may be damaged (during the loading and unloading process), lost, or stolen. Watch out for limiting wording that may let the mover of the hook for the damage to your goods, such as “improper packing,” “acts of God or nature (flooding or earthquakes,” “acts of public authority (seizure or confiscation).”
4. And on another note, office and working hours have become a matter of concern to employers and their insurers; most particularly the providers of Workers Compensation insurance. The increased frequency of assault claims against employees who arrive early at their places of business, and/or who work late into the evening and night hours, is staggering. Of most concern is the growing number of claims against employees leaving work late, exiting their work places and/or walking to their vehicles or transportation. Whether responded to by Workers Compensation or not, these assault claims are alarming for the employee and the employer, whose responsibility it is to provide a safe place to work. The potential resultant increase in the cost of Workers Compensation insurance and/or Health and Medical insurance is also unwelcome.
Aside from the issue of assault, there is also the risk of personal theft from the employee. Employees who enter their places of business early or who leave late substantially increase their exposure to theft and assault. The Insurance Information Institute cites an alarming increase in the urban areas of this type of crime; not contemplated in customary insurance actuarial statistics, underwriting or rating.
Recommendation: Effective security during working hours and customary alarm systems during closed hours are obvious solutions to part of the problem. However, an increasing number of employers, supported by their insurers and risk management specialists strenuously recommend employers implement and enforce strict policies regarding business/office open and closed hours, comings and goings (accompanying employees to their cars) and permitted working hours.
Download: A Brief Guide to Controlling Risks in the Workplace