OPINION: This holiday season, don’t add an insurance claim to your list – Orange Leader

With the holiday season fast approaching and another unpredictable Texas winter, you can make sure your business and employees are properly prepared for what can be a fun — and challenging — time of the year. The Nitsche Group has served communities across Texas since 1949, and as experts in commercial insurance, we know how important it is for business owners to have some best practices on our minds as we transition into the festive party season and cold weather.

Safety is a full-time commitment, especially with temporary employees
Although their tenure in your business may be short, temporary employees need to receive the same level of training that permanent employees receive. From day one on the job, it is important to develop safe work behaviors in temporary employees. You should also provide a clear and concise safety policy for employees and temporary managers that is friendly and open to all employees’ comments and concerns. Getting home from a job safely is just as important as working hard and being efficient.

Decorations light up the workplace, but can be dangerous
Decorating the workplace can help employees — and clients — get into the holiday spirit. However, before decorating the halls, be sure to check all holiday lights and other decor that uses electricity or batteries. Ensure that smoke detectors and other fire safety equipment are working properly. Don’t overload electrical outlets with holiday lights or displays, and be sure to turn off decorations when the office is closed. Outdoor lamps must be rated for outdoor use. Never use pins or nails to secure light leads or extensions and power cords. Make sure to keep all entrances clear of exits, hallways, and sprinklers.
If you have a newly cut tree, hire an employee to give it plenty of water and remove any dry limbs. You can also use a fire retardant spray on it. Make sure the artificial trees are flame retardant. Keep trees or other flammable decorations away from stoves or heat sources, and although beautiful, plants like mistletoe, raspberries, and some ivy are poisonous. You should keep out of the reach of any children or pets who may visit your job site. If you do everything, remember that artificial snow spray can be harmful to the lungs if inhaled, so it is best to use a mask and follow the instructions carefully.

Safety while driving in winter conditions
Snow and slick conditions are some of the toughest to drive. Ensure that all employees who drive on company business charge cell phones in case of emergency. You should also ensure that company and personal vehicles are safe to drive, which means checking your fleet routinely and keeping up with routine maintenance. Every driver should keep an emergency kit in his car and remember to beware of ice, which is not always visible to the naked eye. If you begin to lose control of the vehicle due to the ice, turn toward the skid.

Finally, talk to your insurance agent and make sure you have the right type and amount of coverage for your company should something go wrong. Doing so gives you and your employees peace of mind knowing that in the event of an accident, your business and your employees will be taken care of. Following these steps will keep your holiday happy and bright – and your correspondence with your insurance agent is limited to holiday cards!

Julie Schatt is the Director of Sales for the Nitsche Group. She has more than 28 years of experience in the insurance field.

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