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R&R Insurance Blog

Federal Court Reinstates OSHA Vaccination Mandate for Private Employers With 100 or More Employees

Posted by Pete Frittitta

legalupdate

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration's (OSHA's) vaccine-or-testing Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) is back on again. 

On Friday, December 17th, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals lifted the stay of OSHA's emergency temporary standard (ETS) requiring private sector employers with at least 100 employees to ensure workers are either vaccinated or tested weekly and wear masks. With the stay lifted, employers must comply with the requirements outlined in the ETS.

Click here to download R&R Insurance's summary of reinstatement with important dates for employers.

In response, OSHA stated that it “will not issue citations for noncompliance with any requirements of the ETS before January 10 and will not issue citations for noncompliance with the standard’s testing requirements before February 9, so long as an employer is exercising reasonable, good faith efforts to come into compliance with the standard. OSHA will work closely with the regulated community to provide compliance assistance.” 

KEY TAKEAWAY ON THIS CHANGE: Affected employers now have until January 10th, 2022 to comply with the requirements that were initially slated to begin on December 6th, 2021. Also, weekly testing requirements for unvaccinated employees with an original deadline of January 4th, 2022 is now delayed until February 9th, 2022.

ETS opponents have already filed an appeal with the U.S. Supreme Court challenging the Sixth Circuit’s decision. R&R will continue to monitor developments and provide you with updates and resources that pertain to these compliance requirements as they occur. For more information and resources, click here to navigate to our dedicated OSHA Vaccine Mandate Compliance webpage.

Click here to view the full Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals opinion to dissolve the stay order as well the dissenting opinion.

Topics: OSHA Compliance, OSHA, regulations

The Power of Positive Thinking

Posted by Taylor Hahn

New Mindset

Thanksgiving has officially come and gone. The holiday is typically a time where we reflect on things in our life we are grateful for. However, why should we limit gratitude to just one day? Let’s keep it going past the holiday season because gratitude has specific health benefits and effectsthat those around us and ourselves included need.

The power of positive thinking can be make such a difference. A research study indicated that a group was instructed to write five things they were grateful for once a week. After ten consecutive weeks, the experiment showed that the individuals also increased their daily exercise time and were more likely to attend regular health check-ups than those who did not participate in the journal reflection.

What are ways you can bring gratitude to your life past the holiday season? We’ve listed some options below:

  • Utilize a gratitude journal
  • Practice meditation
  • Write or verbalize three things you’re grateful for each night
  • Smile more often
  • Notice nature’s beauty
  • Post positive quotes or images
  • Focus on your strengths
  • Volunteer

It is important to remember that reflecting on gratitude can be big or little things. Whatever it is, allow yourself a moment to enjoy the positive experience despite any negative feelings. You can’t escape stress, but you can shift your perspective.

Happy Holidays!

Topics: Wellness

Top 10 Questions We Received on the OSHA ETS & Vaccine Mandate

Posted by Mike Paddock

michaelbestthumb2

“We’re Hiring: Less than 100, NO Vaccine Required,” is the latest lawn sign spotted in a Wisconsin industrial park.

The ramification for companies employing over 100 individuals by the OSHA Emergency Temporary Standard & Vaccine Mandate are beginning to unfold. Regardless of the fact that the ETS is momentarily tied up in the courts, HR and leadership teams are watching a ticking clock on new regulation deadlines and are beginning to fix their attention on the situation.

On November 11th, R&R Insurance hosted a webinar featuring Michael Best attorney, and OSHA specialist, Chuck Palmer. The webinar attracted over 300 c-suite individuals who asked a total of 90 questions. Below are 10 of the best questions asked during the webinar.

For a more comprehensive compliance guide to the OSHA ETS, see the HR Vaccine Compliance Guide from Best Workplace Solutions, which will be continuously updated as the regulations change.

 

Q: Does the standard only apply to full time employees or do you need to include seasonal and part time employees in your count?

A: When calculating the total number of employees, you need to include seasonal and part time employees. If you were at 100 employees on November 5th, 2021 but drop below that number, the standard still applies to your organization. If your organization was under 100 employees on November 5th but afterward grows, the standard applies once your organization reaches 100.

 

Q: Does the standard apply to multiple entities with common ownership?

A: Yes, if the organizations share common safety management.

 

Q: Can an unvaccinated employee test using an at-home test kit? Are COVID-19 antigen tests acceptable by the standard?

A: An at-home test kit is considered acceptable, but it has to be proctored by a third party or the employer. The employee cannot self-test and self-verify. COVID-19 antigen tests are considered acceptable.

 

Q: Does the employer need to keep a record of unvaccinated employee testing?

A: Yes. Should OSHA request it, the employer would be required to produce proof. This needs to be kept as a confidential medical record, possibly as long as 30 years.

 

Q: Is there a maximum penalty for non-compliance?

A: There is a maximum penalty for each individual, but no maximum for the number of violations.

 

Q: Are employees working remotely at home excluded from the vaccine, testing and masking requirements? Are employees working exclusively outdoors excluded from the vaccine, testing and masking requirements?

A: Employees exclusively working from home are excluded from vaccine, testing and masking requirements. Employees working exclusively outside are also excluded from the requirements provided they are inside for only a “de minimis” amount of time. “De minimis” is not defined in the standard, but likely refers to 15 minutes.

 

Q: Are employers required to keep a copy of the vaccine card?

A: Yes. Should OSHA come on site and request it, you would need to produce a spreadsheet of vaccinated and unvaccinated employees within 4 hours.

 

Q: Are local government municipalities subject to the mandate? Public schools?

A: No

 

Q: If you work in an office environment and you are not vaccinated, does the standard require you to wear a mask at your desk?

A: If you have walls and a door (office) you can remove the mask. If you are in a cubical, you would need to keep a mask on.

 

Q: How is a religious exemption documented? Are religions treated differently by the standard?

A: We would suggest you use the government’s own religious accommodation forms (EEOC). To claim a religious exemption requires a deeply held religious belief and is not dependent on the religion.

 

Click here to view the full November 11th webinar featuring attorney Chuck Palmer hosted by R&R Insurance Services, Inc. Many more questions are addressed in the webinar.

Financial and Physical Wellness Go Hand in Hand

Posted by Taylor Hahn

Health & Wealth Scale

We all know that financial stress can be a burden, but it can also have a negative effect on your health. Understanding the relationship between financial and physical wellness can help you improve both areas of your life.

In fact, employees who struggle from financial stress are often more likely to have less focus at work, an unhealthier lifestyle and higher medical costs.

 

Financial problems are consistently rated among the highest source of stress for people, and can cause anxiety, frustration and feelings of hopelessness.

This stress can also contribute to the following physical problems:

  • Heart Disease
  • High Blood Pressure
  • Insomnia
  • More frequent colds and minor illness
  • Unhealthy habitssuch as smoking, drinking and over-eating

Many employees have surprisingly little knowledge about managing finances, so simply offering education can be a huge benefit. If you have a wellness program, work to include the financial component with the overall program.

For more in-depth information on financial and physical wellness and how to recognize the signs of financial stress and ways to cope, click here.

Contact a Knowledge Broker, today, for more information.

Topics: Wellness

5 Ways to Support Your Employee's Mental Health

Posted by Taylor Hahn

Mental Health

Sunday, October 10th was World Mental Health Day. The COVID-19 pandemic has really highlighted the need for understanding mental health in the workplace. Therefore, now more than ever, employees are seeking mental health resources and understanding from their employer.

As an employer, there are ways you can begin to support employee mental health:

  • Promote Mental Health Awareness in the Office: open dialogues and reach out to managers or co-workers if they’re struggling. Don’t make these important conversations taboo.
  • Offer Flexible Scheduling: without work-life balance, it can greatly affect employees’ mental health
  • Address Workplace Stress: it won’t be possible to eliminate it all, but work with employees to manage stress effectively.
  • Evaluate Benefit Offerings: ensure mental health services are being met with various vendors and coverage.
  • Train Managers: work to eliminate the stigma around mental health and train managers to recognize the signs of mental illness, stress, fatigue, bullying.
Lastly, the mobile app, Headspace offers a checklist to continue the improvement around how leaders can create a supportive workplace, how to support your team’s wellbeing and how to stay centered and strong for yourself. Check out pages 12-13 for that important checklist.

Let’s continue the dialogue around mental health and show employees they matter and end the stigma!

Topics: Wellness

Wellness Mental Health Resources - Train Your Brain Into Positive Self-Talk

Posted by Taylor Hahn

mindfull image

COVID-19 has changed the world in many ways.  When it comes to mental health in the United States, the CDC reports 31% of adults have had symptoms of anxiety or depression over the past year.

  • 13% reported having started or increased substance use
  • 26% reported stress-related symptoms
  • 11% reported having serious thoughts of suicide in the past 30 days
These numbers are nearly double the rates we would have expected before the pandemic.

Closer to home, according to the American Heart Association, 23% of Milwaukee County adults report having a mental health condition. During this time, it is crucial we take care of our entire well-being but especially mental health.

One thing you can control and take action on, to improve your mental health, is positive self-talk. Dr. Alan Chu, from the University of Wisconsin Green Bay, has three steps to train the brain into positive self-talk: recognize, re-frame and refocus.

  1. Recognize the negative self-talk occurring in your mind
  2. Re-frame those emotions
  3. Refocus to control your own outcome.
There are also apps such as Headspace and Calm that can help with guided meditation and deep breathing techniques. Even 5 minutes a day will make a tremendous difference but remember the key is practice.

 For more in depth mental health information see resources below:

Topics: Wellness

COVID-19 Vaccine Surcharges, Mandates and Incentives: What Employers Should Know

Posted by Taylor Hahn

vaccine card

In a tight labor market, the inability to find talent could sink a company faster than having workers fall ill due to COVID-19. Yet, employee wellness is still of critical concern to employers. How can organizations protect workers while still respecting employees’ rights to make their own health choices? For many, the answer has been to encourage—rather than to mandate—vaccines through various methods.

What Are Companies Doing?

Getting employees vaccinated is a top priority for many organizations. In fact, it’s so important that companies are charging un-vaccinated employees fees in some cases and firing them in others.

However, any vaccine-related workplace policy comes with inherent legal risks. Employers considering any vaccine policy—whether it’s related to incentives, penalties or mandates—should first consult with legal counsel.

For more information on vaccine surcharges, mandates and incentives, read more here.

Topics: Wellness

11 Things Employers Can Do to Mitigate the Spread of Covid-19 at Work

Posted by R&R Insurance

On August 13, 2021 OSHA put out a release designed to help employers protect workers who are unvaccinated or otherwise “at-risk” individuals. It is important to note that OSHA did not create a new standard as these are only guidelines (for companies outside of Healthcare).

When the pandemic first emerged, all companies were forced to make adjustments to protect their employees. As the first wave of the pandemic began to lessen, there was an understandable desire to return to “normal operations”. Unfortunately, as the case rate begins to rise again we need to once more take precautions using the information that is now available to us. That being said, it is a good time to look at what your organization is doing to minimize the potential for spread of the variant of Covid-19. This time around is different than when the pandemic first started. Besides dealing with a very contagious variant, we now have vaccines in play and know more than we originally did about how Covid-19 is most often spread.

To that end, OSHA published "Mitigating and Preventing the Spread of Covid-19 in the Workplace."

11 Things Employers Can Do to Mitigate the Spread of Covid-19 at Work

  1. Facilitate employees getting vaccinated-OSHA has several ideas on how to best do this.

  2. Instruct any workers who are infected, unvaccinated workers who have had close contact with someone who tested positive for SARS-CoV-2, and all workers with Covid-19 symptoms to stay home from work.

  3. Implement physical distancing in all common areas at work for unvaccinated and otherwise at-risk workers. This is a reboot of the six foot distancing rule.

  4. Provide workers with face coverings or surgical masks as appropriate, unless their work task requires a respirator or other PPE.

  5. Educate or train workers on your Covid-19 policies and procedures using accessible formats and in languages they understand.

  6. Suggest, or require, that all visitors wear face coverings when present on your company grounds.

  7. Maintain ventilation systems - this has been a key way to help prevent the spread of this virus.

  8. Perform routine cleaning and disinfection.

  9. Record and report Covid -19 infections and deaths, if the cases are work related.

  10. Implement protections from retaliation and set up an anonymous process for workers to voice concerns about Covid-19 related hazards.

  11. Follow other applicable mandatory OSHA standards including PPE, respirators, Bloodborne pathogens, and others.

The entire article can be found at https://www.osha.gov/coronavirus/safework

Coronavirus Resources from R&R Insurance

From the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, R&R Insurance has been providing updates of the ever evolving mandates and guidelines.  All resources to get businesses back to business can be found at https://www.myknowledgebroker.com/coronavirus-resources-back-in-business.

Topics: Safety

Stress Testing Your Insurance Program

Posted by R&R Insurance

pressure guages iStock-525501302(1)

In response to the financial crisis in 2008 and 2009, financial institutions of a certain size are required to undergo regular stress tests. These financial simulations were designed to determine a bank’s ability to withstand an economic crisis and support economic activity.

The pandemic of 2020 and current variant strains in 2021 have dramatically reshaped business and changed the way business operates and manages risk.

For many, their business is their largest financial asset. Should business owners feel comfortable their pre-pandemic approach to their insurance program will perform under a post-pandemic environment?

A few insurance simulations for consideration:

  • Phishing, Ransomware Demands, Social Engineering and subsequent lost income, cripple your business. How does your policy respond for each loss scenario?
  • Key components to your product are being delayed overseas, orders are backing logging and customers are cancelling orders? Is your business covered for these supply chain risks?
  • Does my policy contain virus, bacteria exclusions or limitations?
  • Have nuclear verdicts and social inflation rendered my limits of insurance inadequate?
  • Do my employees understand the value of tele-medicine options now offered?
  • Would a Wellness program improve employee morale, while help manage costs?
Insurance buyers should demand more than a low price quote or two from their agent or broker. If you broker is not asking these questions, along with many others, to “stress test” your current program, you are placing your largest asset at risk.

Real time insights, client focused solutions, custom designed around your business is what R&R does best. Please give us a call, or send us an email, and let an R&R Insurance Knowledgebroker stress test your current insurance program.

Exercise and Health Care Costs

Posted by Taylor Hahn

Yoga Mat Computer

A new study regarding exercise and Medicare claims found that those individuals who are exercising before middle age save anywhere from $824 to $1,874 annually on health care after retirement. With people living longer in our society, think of the effects that could save an individual long term!

It’s no secret that physical activity lowers risk for serious chronic conditions, but despite knowing the significant benefits only half of Americans are exercising. Currently, chronic diseases are causing $0.75 of every $1 to be spent on healthcare. This could be avoided or reversed by being active, not smoking, not drinking, getting quality sleep, eating properly, etc.

Another past study shows that physically active older people spend less on health care than those retired due to needing fewer doctor’s visits and medication. While individuals who reported exercising moderately throughout their adult lives saved about 16% on healthcare costs compared to those who are sedentary, and those individuals in their 20’s that significantly focused on daily exercise saved an average of $1,874 on health care after age 65.

There is much more data in this article; however, we cannot deny the data concludes being active while young might have significant impacts on health care costs later. But remember, it is never too late to start!

Topics: Wellness