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Do Employers Really Need Job Descriptions?


Developing job descriptions can be one of the most daunting tasks for a construction company. Where do you start? What needs to be included? Are they really that important anyway?
Read on and you will find the answers to these questions and more.

Start with a few simple lines of the basic job, special licenses required, computer program knowledge, and management skill necessities. Enlist the employee themselves and/or their supervisor to help with a brief outline of the job. Now on to the most important area, the essential functions of the job.

The essential functions of the job section is the most important, and the real nuts and bolts of the job will be included here. You need to address everything from length of time each day the individual will sit, stand, bend, stoop, kneel; to how often they will need to climb a ladder and how high the highest ladder would be. An important item to include, especially in the Construction industry, but really in any industry is lifting requirements.

How heavy are items they need to move or carry, and how often do they perform this function? Do they operate manufacturing or heavy equipment machines? Any duties that are usually done by the employee in that position or that can only be performed by the employee in that position are essential!

So, why is this important? First of all job descriptions greatly assist the physicians and claim adjusters with returning an injured construction worker to the job. If the employer does not provide the physician with a list of the essential functions of the job, all the physician can go by is what the injured worker is telling them!

In addition to assisting with returning an injured worker to the job, there are ADA(Americans w/Disabilities Act) regulations to deal with. Employers with 20 or more employees are subject to ADA.

Under the ADA regulations employers must provide "reasonable accommodation" to those individuals who qualify under ADA. Amending an essential function of the job may not be a reasonable accommodation - unless of course it can be modified. But how will you be able to make the decision about a "reasonable accommodation" if you don't have the job description with the essential functions listed?

The final statement on any job description should be a disclaimer clause. It should read something like this: "This job description is intended to describe the general nature and level of the work being performed by people assigned to this job. This is not an exhaustive list of all duties and responsibilities. Management reserves the right to amend and change responsibilities to meet business and organizational needs as necessary."

Hopefully now you realize the importance of having job descriptions, how they can actually assist the employer and have some idea of where to start!

Are you a Connecticut Construction Company Owner that would like some more guidance on developing job descriptions for your employees?  The pros at Construction Risk Advisors would be happy to help.  Please give us a call or drop us an email.  Don't let the workers in that picture be yours!

Should Connecticut Contractors pay medical only claims out of pocket?


Still paying small medical only Workers' Comp claims? You could be wasting your construction firm's hard-earned money!

Years ago, you were advised to pay your small medical only Connecticut Workers' Compensation injuries. This idea, and potential savings changed in 1998 when significant changes were made to NCCI's calculation process of the Experience Mod. One major one was that the total amount incurred on medical only claims would be reduced by 70% when entered into your mod calculation! So, if these claims only go into your calculation at 30% of the dollars incurred, why are you still paying the bills?

Simply put, if you have an injured worker who incurs a $500.00 bill at the local occupational health clinic, you are billed and would pay the full $500.00. That same bill, if processed through your insurance carrier, would be reduced by the fee schedules agreed upon between the carriers and the providers and would probably end up being $350.00. When that claim is entered into your mod calculation it is included at $105.00 (reduced by 70%). So you would have paid $500 for a claim that would be included in your mod at $105.00! Where's your savings?

The dollars you are spending on paying the small medical only claims would be much more beneficial if you invested them in ways that truly would help reduce your experience mod and save you premium dollars. Invest them in training, additional safety measures, create modified duty programs for injured construction workers with restrictions and get them back to work. 

Are you one of the many Connecticut contractors with workers compensation issues?  Don't hesitate to call the contractor insurance experts at Construction Risk Advisors.  Whether your question is as easy as "how should I pay this claim?" or as complicated as figuring out if your payroll was calculated correctly for that Contractor Controlled Insurance Program you were enrolled in, we have the answers and expertise to get you back on track!

Contractors: Is your Experience Mod accurate?


At least 50% of the NCCI mod worksheets we review for our clients are in error. The most likely error is missing payroll. Not from your standard program but if you are a contractor engaged in OCIP(Owner Controlled Insurance Program) and CCIP(Contractor Controlled Insurance Program) jobs, that's where the errors occur!

A few years ago we had a large contractor that was hovering at a 1.00 mod - and we all know what that can mean! While verifying their mod worksheet we noted that all the payroll and Workers Comp claims under the standard program were included, but realizing a high percentage of work had been done under OCIPs and CCIPs we wondered why that wasn't reflected on the experience modification worksheet. After several months of tracking down the individual at each carrier responsible for filing the data and finally having that data provided, the mod went from 1.00 to .97!

Missing payroll is not the only error that can occur. Incorrect payroll, misclassification of construction workers, or duplication of claims also cause many, many errors. Your experience mod rate is only as good as the data that is entered into the system!

So, if your mod hasn't been verified lately now is the time to do it! Who knows, you may be able to reduce your mod by several points!

Need someone to verify your experience mod?  The claims team at Construction Risk Advisors has been successfully recovering misallocated premium and experience mod dollars for Connecticut contractors for a long time!  

Connecticut Employers: Workers Compensation & Modified Duty --Worthwhile or a Waste of Time?


We've all heard of it - light duty, modified duty, restricted duty, and transitional duty. Regardless of what you call it, you have an injured worker who can't do their regular job and the claim adjuster is asking you to bring them back to work!

Employers and HR personnel struggle with this daily, and it seems construction companies usually have the most difficulty in developing jobs within the worker's restrictions. So should you even bother to try? The answer is absolutely Yes!

First and foremost it has been proven that keeping an injured construction worker in their normal routine (getting up, going to work, etc) helps in the recovery process. Next is the fact that by providing modified duty work you are sending the message to employees that having a work related injury does not automatically result in time off from the job. Finally, by bringing the injured worker back it is helping to reduce the claim costs and thus have a more positive effect on your experience mod.

It's a good idea to have pre-developed modified duties or jobs. We all have things we would like to accomplish, if we only had some extra time. Start keeping a running list of these and you have started your modified duty list!

So the next time the adjuster asks if you have modified duty available, don't sigh and roll your eyes - pull out your list, say yes and get that employee back to work!


Need help developing a Return to Work program for your construction firm?  We can help!  There are other options than just having your injured worker counting paperclips and shredding paper. Get in touch with one of the Construction Risk Advisors and we can guide you as well as help prevent the injury in the first place!

How to Ruin Your Construction Company’s Safety Reputation Overnight


Would Massey Energy have lost twenty-nine workers in a mining accident on April 5th if safety training was a strong cultural value? Would Toyota have recalled 2.3 million vehicles in January of 2010 if safety was of paramount concern in the design of their cars?

I think the answer to both these questions is, "No". These companies were not focused on safety and it cost people their lives.

Google either one of these safety disasters and you'll get tired of hitting the "Next" button after the 10th page. In the short run, and maybe forever, both these companies have seriously tarnished their image. The public thinks company profit was more important than human lives. Who wants to be known for that?

Connecticut Contractors of all types are involved in dangerous work every day. If there was an unfortunate disaster on one of your jobsites, would your safety training practices stand up to the scrutiny of the press? How much would your reputation suffer? How long would you be on OSHA's "hit list"? How well would you be able to document your company's safety practices?

Unfortunately, many Connecticut construction firms don't consider safety training in their strategic plans. Nor do they consider the safety training capabilities of the insurance agent or insurance company they choose each year. Far too often the focus is on price and risk management is ignored.

Who is protecting your company's reputation? Risk management is not about buying cheap insurance. If you have an insurance agent whose only focus is selling you cheap insurance, you've hired the wrong one. Don't wait to see your name in the paper before getting a risk advisor who helps make safety your highest priority.

Independent Contractor or Employee?


Today's Post comes from another one of the Risk Advisor Allstars at CRA, Debbi Kuhne, our Director of Client Services

 Many companies hire what they deem to be Independent Contractors and not employees. This is now being scrutinized more and more by both the Department Of Labor and the Connecticut Workers Comp commission and more lawsuits are being filed every day in both areas. So, how do you make the decision? It isn't necessarily an easy one as you can see from the information below.

Connecticut Workers Compensation Statutes do not give a definition of an Independent Contractor. They offer guidelines to follow and each case is reviewed individually. The Commission suggest you review Behavioral Control (where the individual works, who provides the tools and supplies) Financial Control (is the workers given a check based on an hourly rate or a per job basis) and finally, Type of Relationship (is there a written contract, is there an assumed permanency of the position).

The DOL is much more definitive of those individuals to be considered an independent contract. The following tests must all be met in order for the individual to qualify. 

1. Must be free from control and direction

2. His/her service must be performed outside of any place of business of the     employer

3. Must be customarily engaged in an independently established trade, occupation, profession or business.

So, what does it matter if you misclassify a worker? Here are some of the laws under which you could be fined and/or sued:
• Wage and hour laws
• Minimum wage law
• State overtime law
• Law on keeping payroll records
• Withholding taxes and payment of social security benefits
• Willful understatement of payrolls for workers compensation insurance
• Violation of laws on discrimination.
• Whether you're a Connecticut construction company, distributor, or restaurant owner, seek legal advice before determining an individual is an Independent Contractor and not an employee!


Please join me in congratulating Debbi as the newly elected Regional Vice President for Region I of the National Association of Insurance Women. She was elected on April 10th at The Regional Conference and will be installed at the National Conference in Washington, DC this June. Her official term will run from July 1, 2010 - 2011.

The Regional Vice President is the ranking officer in the region and is the direct representative to the National Board of Directors of NAIW, International for the Region. Region I consist of - NJ, CT, RI, PA, MA, VT, NH, ME & NY. Debbi will be responsible for communicating with members in the region on news from the National level, presiding over the Regional Conference, formulating plans for the region (growing the membership, establishing new associations), building a team relationship with all members in the region, providing leadership direction, answering questions and concerns of the Council Directors from each State.

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