In the latest Weekly Wright Report:
Do Workplace Wellness Programs Work?
On April 16, 2019, the Journal of the American Medical Association published an article about the effectiveness of workplace wellness programs. After following employees of 20 separate BJ’s Wholesale Clubs for approximately 18 months, the researchers concluded that workers who participated in the wellness programs self-reported healthier behavior, such as exercising more or managing their weight better. However, the study did not find that wellness programs improved employees’ blood sugar or glucose levels, lowered health care costs, or resulted in fewer health-related absences. The full article can be found here, but requires a subscription to access.
According to Alan Kohll, author of “The Biggest Roadblock To Improving Employee Well-Being” published in Forbes on September 18, 2018, companies with a “do this” and “don’t do that” philosophy should not expect positive results from their employee wellness programs. Employees are unlikely to make any effort to change if they work for an employer that pressures them to participate in programs for the wrong reasons or where there is an existing negative workplace culture.
On the other hand, when employees work for a company that embraces total wellness, they will be more likely to practice healthy habits throughout the workday and prioritize their physical and mental health. This includes eating healthy lunches, taking mental breaks during the day, reducing daily stress and incorporating exercise into their daily routine. Companies with positive cultures that attempt to introduce new wellness programs – that focus on the whole employee –tend to have positive results. They incorporate the fun into wellness programs, making them interactive and part of the day-to-day culture of the employees.
In the end, the JAMA researchers caution employers to temper expectations about the financial return on investment that wellness programs can deliver in the short term.
Out of the Ashes— Lessons Can Be Learned
I am sure that everyone saw the horrific scenes of the fire engulfing the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, France. Apparently, the Cathedral was in the process of being renovated when the fire broke out. As I sat watching the video and images, after concern for loss of life, history and artifacts, my mind began to think about who was to blame? Of course, in France the question of blame will likely play out differently than it would here in the United States as a result of our differing legal systems and laws. But the question is still relevant to consider here. Perhaps this tragic event can serve as a wake-up call for us and our businesses. What lessons can be learned from this tragedy? What issues should we be thinking about to ensure that we are prepared in the event that the unexpected and unimaginable happens on our projects. What can the venerable Notre Dame Cathedral tragedy teach us?
I was involved with a hotel fire case in Washington, D.C. a few years back. During the construction of a new hotel, slag from a welder fell several stories below and smoldered in some flammable materials before destroying a portion of the new construction by fire later that evening. As a result, there were investigations, recriminations, finger pointing, delays, damages and, after the insurance company paid the loss, subrogation claims by the insurer. A whole new, unanticipated layer of administrative time had to be added to the project participants’ bottom lines to deal with the fallout from the fire.
- The first lesson to be learned is that disaster can strike at any time and it can take many forms. Best practices dictate that from the top of the project (owner/G.C.) to its lowest tier (one person shop with a pickup truck), everyone should be periodically reviewing and studying their insurance policies and coverages to make sure they adequately cover not only the type of work you are performing, but the project in which you are performing the work. A one-size-fits-all policy is a non-starter. The amount of damage that can be caused by your work is not directly proportional to the size of your contract or the amount of work you are performing on the project. At Notre Dame it was reported that the renovation project was $6 million. The damage to the building and its contents is so large that costs of repair are difficult to calculate.
Does your policy cover you for damage caused by your subcontractor to your work? Do you have the proper endorsement to your CGL policy? Do your policies and coverages match what is required in the contract documents? If you are supposed to be an additional insured on another’s policy have you been properly added? Set up a meeting with your insurance broker to go over all the issues.
- The second lesson is to make sure your contract terms are in order to address such issues. Review your contracts to determine if you are requiring the proper types and amounts of coverages and that you have specified the right endorsements and riders to standard policies. Work with your insurance broker to drill down on the specific coverage form that works best for you. Make sure you include a proper subrogation waiver so that the insurance company that pays the loss won’t be able to harass the project participants with subrogation actions to recover its losses. Make sure your indemnity provisions fully protect you. Make sure you require your subcontractors to flow-down the critical provisions to the contracts they have with the lower tiers. Specify safety protocols, plans, policies and procedures and make sure they are enforced for the protection of everyone.
- The third lesson to be learned is make sure you have the proper licenses, permits, and certifications to be performing the work. If the unthinkable happens and it turns out that the license had expired, that there was no permit or that the workers were not certified, liability will be impacted and there may even be criminal liability.
- The fourth lesson to be learned is keep your records in order. When disasters strike, inevitably the finger pointing will start. The last thing you want is for it to be your word against theirs. Keeping accurate records will help demonstrate the facts with contemporaneous information and will help with your defense. Conversely, detailed and thorough records can also help with any claim for damages. Photos, videos, daily logs, signed tickets, documented approvals, written confirmations and notices are a must. Oh, and make sure there is a backup copy of your records off site in case the disaster is a fire like at Notre Dame.
WCS can help with risk assessment and management. We regularly work with our clients to identify and address these issues before disaster strikes. Let us put our skills to work to help you.
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