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R&R Insurance Blog

Scott Brookes

Recent Posts

R&R Partners with Arrowhead Robotics for 2nd Consecutive Safety Award Win

Posted by Scott Brookes

cyberhawks.jpgR&R Insurance is proud to congratulate the Arrowhead High School Robotics Team, Cyberhawks Team 706, on their win at the 2017 FIRST Robotics Wisconsin Regional competition. The Cyberhawks took home the Industrial Safety Award for the 2nd consecutive year. Sponsored by Underwriters Laboratories (UL), this award recognizes a team that progresses beyond safety fundamentals by using innovative ways to eliminate or protect against hazards. The UL Safety Advisors focus on the combination of individual and team safety behaviors and safe physical conditions, along with safety outreach to other teams. By winning this award over the 53 other teams, the Cyberhawks demonstrated continued safe practices in all aspects of the team operation.

R&R’s own Scott Brookes acts one of Arrowhead's Lead Robotics Advisors. Scott was recruited by his son two years ago, who saw the need for a Team Safety Advisor. Scott's background in engineering and his experience in the insurance industry enable him to bring safety education and risk management training to the robotics environment. Together, the Cyberhawks are working to become an OSHA compliant organization.

With the help of R&R and Community Insurance Corporation (CIC), Scott educated the Cyberhawks on top ten OSHA industry losses. They identified which of the OSHA industry losses applied to the industrial machine shop setting in which the team works. The Cyberhawks studied information from R&R's Risk Management Center (RMC), which provides detailed training on relevant safety concepts. In addition, Scott implemented training processes for common cause of loss, including Slip Trip & Fall, fall from height, machine usage and guarding, auto fleet safety, lifting/bending, and PPE usage. All of these training techniques educated the team to properly implement and act out correct safety procedures.

R&R uses a very similar approach with businesses when implementing safety procedures. The process of safety training and utilization of resources, such as the RMC, are used to educate employees to enhance the safety culture of their organization.


Topics: Risk Management Center, Safety Practices

Teacher’s 3-Step Guide For Classroom Safety

Posted by Scott Brookes

Across the nation, schools work diligently to provide a safe learning environment for students and a safe workplace for teachers. Prevention is an essential component to classroom safety, and learning to recognize potential dangers in the classroom is often the first step. With the right tools and guidance, teachers can advocate for prevention and promote a culture of safety.

We have outlined below some basic steps that teachers can take to help ensure safety in the classroom, for themselves and their students.

Consider Weapons of Opportunity

In the heat of an argument, many common classroom objects have the potential to become dangerous weapons. Common classroom items such as sharp scissors, heavy rulers, vases, letter openers, and paperweights could pose a safety risk. Consider storing these items out of site, in a drawer or covered shelving unit. Art, science and vocational teachers should also exercise caution with the variety of items in their classrooms. Sharp tools and instruments should always be safely stored and it is important that all classroom tools are accounted for and safety returned at the end of each class.

Avoid Cleaners and Chemicals In the Classroom

While most household cleaners are relatively non-hazardous, extra caution is needed in the classroom, especially in elementary schools. Students should seldom be exposed to cleaning agents and chemicals; moreover, students should never be asked to use hazardous items in the classroom without proper instruction. Schools should provide all cleaning agents and ensure that they are properly labeled with current material safety data sheets (MSDS) as required by federal safety laws. Specialized personnel should be responsible for all cleanups following the school’s outlined safety policy rules.

Use Extension Cords Safely

Extension cords can present many hazards in the classroom. Aside form the obvious tripping hazard they present; improper use of extension cords is the number one cause of fires. Here are few safety recommendations for proper extension cord use:

  • Inspect each extension cord carefully before each use and before placing in storage. Ensure that the insulation is in good condition and that the grounding prong has not been damaged. Return any damaged cords to building services for repair or disposal.
  • Extension cords should only be used on a temporary basis. Extension cords should not be used for long periods in place of adequate outlets.
  • In your safety policy, ensure there is a provision about acceptable extension cords. All extension cords should be provided by building services and be of commercial grade. Cords must have a grounding prong plug.
  • Never run extension cords under rugs, over ceiling tiles or hang them from nails or staples. This can cause damage to the insulation, making the cord a safety and fire hazard.
  • Avoid using excessive power strips that can overload the circuit and create a fire hazard.

With prevention in mind, these simple steps can help you promote safety in your classroom each day. Learn to recognize potential dangers in the classroom and foster a culture of safety by encouraging others to do the same.

Interested in learning how R&R Insurance can improve safety in your school and reduce your costs? Request our free safety resources and case studies or schedule a call with one of our School Group Experts, today. At R&R Insurance, we are committed to helping schools minimize their risks, offering solutions and resources to help build safe environments for staff and students alike.

Topics: Safety, Loss Prevention, Risk Management, Schools, Risk Management Center, Business Insurance, School safety

Interim Rules For Affordable Care Act Retaliation Claims

Posted by Scott Brookes

Health_Care_ReformNew Interim Rules for Affordable Care Act Retaliation Claims
By Daniel Finerty, Lindner & Marsack, S.C., Posted with permission

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) created a new retaliation claim for employees to file with the Department of Labor, and in federal court, against their employer. Because of the relatively short timeframes associated with these claims, it is critical for employers to carefully document the reasons for any adverse employment decision which affects an employee who may be engaged in activity the ACA views as protected.

This summary provides additional information regarding these ACA retaliation claims, the Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) procedure, and the employee’s option to withdraw the complaint and proceed in federal court and and the employee’s option to proceed in federal court.

The “Protected Activity” Component

The ACA provides incentives to both individuals without health insurance, and to employers who do not provide health insurance, to obtain or provide health insurance. In order to carry out these mandates, Section 1558 of the ACA prohibits employers from retaliating against any employee for engaging in any activity that is protected by the ACA.

Generally, to establish a claim for retaliation under the ACA, an employee must establish (1) that s/he engaged in protected activity, (2) was subject to an adverse employment action by the employer, and (3) that the protected activity, alone or in combination with other factors, affected in some way the outcome of the employer’s decision. An employee can bring a claim for retaliation if they have suffered some adverse employment action because: • The employee receives a subsidy to purchase health insurance; •The employee provides information to an employer or a government agency regarding a real or perceived violation of the ACA; •The employee testifies in a proceeding regarding a violation of the ACA; •The employee assists or participates in an investigation of a possible violation of the ACA; or •The employee objects to or refuses to participate in any activity, policy, practice or assigned task which the employee reasonably believes to be a violation of the ACA.

The “protected activity” element may be established by the employee in a number of ways, as explained in the following examples:

Example 1: After reviewing the health insurance plan benefits offered by the employer, an employee informs the employer that s/he does not believe any of the plans offer the minimum required coverage. The employee has likely provided information to the employer regarding a real or perceived violation of the ACA and, in doing so, engaged in protected activity. If the employer subsequently disciplined or terminated the employee adverse shortly after protected activity, the action may create an inference that the protected activity was a contributing factor in the adverse action.

Example 2: After informing the employer that its health insurance plans do not provide the required minimum coverage, the employee informs the employer that s/he will secure coverage through the state’s health insurance exchange and obtain the tax credit for doing so. Because the employee has informed the employer of his or her intent to seek the subsidy, if the employer subsequently disciplines or terminates the employee as a result of a belief that the employee will seek and receive the subsidy, a finding of retaliation may result.

Example 3: After the employee obtains the tax credit and the employer is charged a penalty for failing to provide minimum coverage which pushed the employee toward the exchange. After receiving notice of the tax penalty, the employer attempts to “charge back” the penalty to the employee by reducing the employee’s wages. The employer may have just violated the ACA retaliation provision because the employee’s receipt of the tax credit is protected activity and the receipt of the tax penalty caused the employer’s decision to “charge back” the penalty against the employee’s wages.

The Department of Labor regulations specifically note that the area of employee’s receipt of the tax credit may be fertile ground for retaliation claims. Because some employers who do not offer affordable health insurance may be assessed a tax penalty by virtue of an employee’s receipt of the tax credit, “the relationship between the employee’s receipt of a credit and the potential tax penalty imposed on an employer could create an incentive for an employer to retaliate against an employee.” 78 Fed. Reg. 13,222 (Feb. 27, 2013).

The OSHA Procedure

OSHA has issued interim rules establishing the procedure for bringing these claims. To pursue a claim, an employee must file the complaint with OSHA within 180 days of the alleged violation. After filing, OSHA will share the complaint with the IRS, the Treasury Department, the Department of Health and Human Services, and/or any other relevant branches of the Department of Labor.

Initially, retaliation complaints are screened to determine if the employee has made a plausible argument that retaliation has occurred. If OSHA believes a violation may have occurred, it can issue a preliminary order reinstating the employee. Regardless of whether such an order is issued, employers typically will have twenty (20) days to submit a position statement. Sixty (60) days after filing that position statement, OSHA will issue its findings and conclusions.

If OSHA determines a violation has occurred, it can order reinstatement, back pay, compensatory damages (for emotional distress), interest on the damages awarded, attorney fees and costs. Alternatively, OSHA may find that no relation occurred and can dismiss the claim. Within 30 days of either finding, the losing party can file objections or a request for a hearing. Employers should note that OSHA may order reinstatement, even when the employer has filed objections to a finding of a violation.

An appeal of an adverse decision, including retaliation claims on which OSHA found no violation to have occurred, will lead to a hearing before an administrative law judge. At this hearing, the employee must prove that protected activity was a contributing factor in the challenged adverse employment decision.

If the employee establishes that the protected activity was one of several factors leading to the challenged employment decision, the employer then must prove, by clear and convincing evidence, that the same employment decision would have been made regardless of any protected activity.

After the hearing, the ALJ will issue a written decision. This decision becomes final unless either party files objections with the Department of Labor’s Administrative Review Board (ARB) within 14 days of the decision. The ARB has the right to accept or reject the request for review. If the ARB does not accept the request for review, the parties can appeal the ALJ’s decision to the relevant federal court of appeals. If the ARB elects to review the decision, it must issue its own decision within 120 days after all briefs have been submitted. After the ARB issues a decision, the parties then have 60 days to appeal any aspect of the ARB’s decision to the court of appeals.

The Federal Court Option

Employees also have the right to go into federal court any time before a final decision has been issued by the Department of Labor. Employees simply dismiss their administrative claim and pursue it in federal court.

One reason an employee may elect to go to federal court is that an ACA retaliation claim, if it survives an employer’s attempts to dismiss, will be tried to a jury. A jury can award the employees the same remedies in federal court, along with those the court can order, including reinstatement, back pay, compensatory damages, attorney fees and costs.


The retaliation provisions of the ACA create another avenue for current and former employees to challenge discharge, discipline, or any other employment decision with which they disagree. Because of the relatively short timeframes associated with these claims, it is critical for employers to carefully document the reasons for any adverse employment decision which affects an employee who may be engaged in activity the ACA views as protected.

Daniel Finerty of Lindner & Marsack, S.C. can be contacted at (414) 273-3910 or by e-mail to dfinerty@lindner-marsack.com. For more information, employers can visit the Department of Labor’s website, where the Department has posted information on filing ACA retaliation complaints at http://www.osha.gov/Publications/whistleblower/OSHAFS-3641.pdf.

© Lindner & Marsack, S.C. 2013. All Rights Reserved. The foregoing is a general discussion of a legal issue and is not intended to be, nor should it be construed as, legal advice.

Topics: Business Insurance

LGPIF: Overview of Property Insurance Changes

Posted by Scott Brookes

floodmapThe Local Government Property Insurance Fund (LGPIF) has implemented a number of coverage changes to the property insurance coverage form. These changes include:

In addition to these coverage restrictions, we have been seeing large property rate increases. The combination of these changes now enables other insurance carriers to be price and coverage competitive.

For more information please contact knowledgebroker Scott Brookes.


Free LGPIF Webinar

Topics: Schools, Business Insurance, Municipalities LWMMI

LGPIF: Restrictions to Flood Coverage

Posted by Scott Brookes

floodmapThe LGPIF form now excludes loss from Flood, water below ground, back up of sewers and drains outside of the building.

Coverage is now excluded:

  • If you are in a flood zone as defined by FEMA, National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) – Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRM)
  • If water below ground exerts pressure on or flows into your facility
  • If sewer, septic system, and storm or sewer drains outside your building overflow and the water enters your building from a source other than your drains

At R&R Insurance, we have the ability to help you evaluate your exposure. We know how to research and read the NFIP – FIRM data. We can help you understand your exposure and offer alternative solutions. Please contact me to see if your building is in a flood zone.

Free LGPIF Webinar

Topics: Schools, Business Insurance, Municipalities LWMMI

LGPIF: Restrictions on Surface Water Coverage

Posted by Scott Brookes

floodmapThe LGPIF now restricts surface water to $1,500,000. Previously, coverage was provided up to the total values on the policy.

The number and severity of summer storms has been increasing. With this increase, the amount of rain water has also increased leading to the inundation / overflow of the current storm drain systems. This runoff is considered surface water and is now restricted.

If you are in an area that is prone to inadequate storm water drainage, in an area that storm drains have not been updated to today’s standards, or in an area that cannot handle heavy rain flow, then you may be susceptible to Surface Water loss.

At R&R Insurance, we have the ability to help you evaluate your exposure. We know how to research and read the NFIP – FIRM data. We can help you understand your exposure and offer alternative solutions. Please contact me to discuss your exposure.

Free LGPIF Webinar

Topics: Schools, Business Insurance, Municipalities LWMMI

LGPIF: Reduction in Ordinance and Law Coverage

Posted by Scott Brookes

Loss Control VisitIf you have an older building that is not up to the current building codes and a covered cause of loss occurs, you may have to provide upgrades to your facility to comply with the current building codes. The building codes could require you to install a fire sprinkler and alarm system, update electrical and plumbing, install elevators, remove asbestos, and make your building ADA compliant.

Ordinance and Law coverage is designed to provides insurance coverage to a facility in the event of these code changes.

Coverage under the LGPIF form has been reduced to $2,000,000. Previously, coverage was provided up to the total values on the policy.

At R&R Insurance, we have the ability to help you evaluate your exposure. We know how to research and read the NFIP – FIRM data. We can help you understand your exposure and offer alternative solutions. Contact me today to ensure your facility is properly insured.


Free LGPIF Webinar

Topics: Risk Management, Schools, Business Insurance, Municipalities LWMMI

LGPIF: Addition of an Anti-Concurrent Causation Coverage Restriction

Posted by Scott Brookes

surfacewaterFrom the LGPIF notice:

  • "Anti-concurrent causation language now applies to certain losses that are excluded in Section VI of the policy. The language applies to exclusions related to nuclear; fungus; virus; flood and surface water; war; and excluded water losses such as those that arise from water pressure below the surface of the ground. Anti-concurrent causation language means that these losses are excluded even if another covered peril contributes to a loss arising from these excluded perils."

Example – Flood is now excluded under the policy. If your loss comes from flood, then the resultant loss from the flood – MOLD, is now excluded.

At R&R Insurance, we have the ability to help you evaluate your exposure. We know how to research and read the NFIP – FIRM data. We can help you understand your exposure and offer alternative solutions.

To get the latest information on updates to the LFPIF form, please contact me.

Free LGPIF Webinar

Topics: Schools, Business Insurance, Municipalities LWMMI

The Top 13 Risks to Restaurant Operations

Posted by Scott Brookes

Dirty_KitchenCintas Corporation, a restaurant facility solutions, has named its top 13 hidden risks to restaurant operations, as well as tips on how to avoid them. Full article as appearing on QRSWeb.com

  1. Slips and falls
  2. Broken doors and locks
  3. Dirty restrooms
  4. Cooking fires
  5. Identity theft
  6. Cuts and burns
  7. Unfocused employees
  8. Ugly floors
  9. Untrained workers
  10. Norovirus
  11. Missing fire extinguishers
  12. Improperly mized chemicals
  13. Natural disasters

For more information about risks to restaurants and food processing manufacturersplease contact a knowledgebroker.


Topics: Safety, Loss Prevention, Risk Management, Business Insurance

Business Disasters: Reducing Down Time

Posted by Scott Brookes

In the event of a business-halting disaster, one main onjective would be to get back up and running as quickly as possible. There are multiple extenuating circumstances that could help reduce down time for your busiess, should an unfortuneate event occur that could halt any fraction of your operations.

Variables that could help reduce down times:

  • Ability to temporarily relocate
  • Availability of spare stock, raw materials, dies, designs, and programs for production. These should be stored off premises at a different location.
  • Redundant equipment/production lines
  • Excess capacity at sister plants/other locations
  • Ability to outsource/sub-contract portions of operations
  • Arrangement with vendors for product/production replacement
  • Numerous (dependent property) suppliers and the ability to easily replace these suppliers. No single critical and/or major supplier
  • No building codes and ordinance issues

Knowing what these are, your ability to make them happen is a key component of your business continuation/contingency plan.