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

Published 12:49 am Saturday, December 11, 2021

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As we approach the holiday season and another unpredictable Texas winter, you can ensure that your business and employees are properly prepared for what can be a fun—and challenging—time of year. The Nitsche Group has been serving 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 top-of-mind as we move into a season of holiday parties and colder weather.

Safety is a full-time commitment, especially with temporary employees
Even though their stint with your business may be brief, temporary employees need to receive the same level of training that permanent employees receive. From their first day on the job, it is important to develop safe work behaviors in temporary employees. You should also provide a clear and concise safety policy to temporary employees and managers that is  approachable and open to feedback and concerns from all employees. Returning home from the job safely is just as important as working hard and effectively.

Decorations brighten the workplace, but can be a hazard
Decorating the workplace can help employees—and customers—get into the holiday spirit. However, before decking the halls, be sure to inspect all holiday lights and other decorations that use electricity or batteries. Make sure smoke detectors and other fire-safety equipment are in proper working order. Do not overload electrical outlets with holiday lights or displays and be sure to turn off decorations when the office is closed. Outdoor lights should be rated for exterior use. Never use staples or nails to secure light strands or extension and power cords. Be sure to keep clear all access to exits, hallway passages and sprinklers.
If you have a freshly cut tree, assign 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 artificial trees are flame resistant. Keep trees or other flammable decorations away from fireplaces or heat sources and, although pretty, plants like mistletoe, holly berries and some ivies are poisonous. They should be kept out of reach of  any children or pets who may be visiting your worksite. If you’re going all out, remember, artificial snow spray can be harmful to lungs if inhaled, so it’s best to use a mask and follow instructions carefully.

Safety while driving in wintry conditions
Icy and slick conditions are some of the most difficult conditions to drive in. Ensure all employees who are driving on company business have charged cell phones in case of an emergency. You should also make sure that company and personal vehicles are safe to drive, which means routinely inspecting your fleet and keeping up with routine maintenance. Every driver should keep an emergency kit in their vehicle and remember to beware of ice which is not always visible to the naked eye. If you do start to lose control of the vehicle because of ice, turn into the skid.

Finally, talk with your insurance agent and ensure that you have the proper type and amount of coverage for your business in the event something does happen. Doing so will give you and your employees peace of mind knowing that if an accident happens, your business and employees will be taken care of. Following these steps will keep your holidays merry and bright—and your correspondence with your insurance agent limited to holiday cards!

Julie Schatte is the director of sales for The Nitsche Group. She has more than 28 years of experience in the insurance industry.