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Spring/Summer 1999 Volume 5

Feature Articles

Invented in 1874 to protect a piano factory, fire sprinklers have become a standard for public, worker and property protection and, in some states, are a requirement for new residential construction. Why should your business incorporate a fire sprinkler system? Simply put, sprinkler systems save lives and property.

Sprinkler impact on life safety chart - deaths per thousand fires

By hindering the advance of fire through a building, occupants are allowed the opportunity to evacuate with less panic or confusion. Sprinkler systems don't always put out the fire, but they do minimize the fire’s effect and “provide extra time” necessary to save lives and limit damage.

Research shows, that when comparing the impact of fire to similar buildings of the same industry, sprinklered facilities sustain only half the property damage as nonsprinklered buildings. Because property sustains less overall damage, businesses are able to be up and running sooner and at less cost.

Sprinkler systems usually reduce property insurance premiums. In general, unsprinklered property can cost twice as much to insure than sprinklered property of the same size and value.

Another advantage of a sprinklered building is that it will naturally attract tenants. When given a choice, most occupants want a facility with more protection. In fact, the federal government is required to rent only sprinklered facilities.

Sprinkler impact on property damage chart- average in thousands of dollars

Many people argue that sprinkler systems are expensive and may discharge accidentally. The following demonstrates that this is far from the truth.

The Savings Associated With A Sprinkler System Outweigh The Cost Of Installation
Installation costs of fire protection sprinkler systems in new construction range from $1.50 to $2.50 per square foot. When retrofitting, per square foot costs can approach $4.00. With annual insurance premium savings, the costs of installing a sprinkler system may be recovered in a matter of a few years.

Accidental Discharge Is Rare And Can Be Prevented
There is only a one in 16 million chance of accidental discharge due to a manufacturing defect from a sprinkler system. Nearly all accidental discharges can be prevented by proper maintenance. In the case of water damage from a sprinkler system as a result of fire, the damage is far less than the water damage caused by fire fighters attempting to extinguish a blaze.

When properly designed, installed, and maintained, automatic fire sprinkler systems are the most effective means of controlling fire in a building. The resources and expertise of EMC risk improvement professionals can help your business get the most out of its fire protection system. Using state-of-the-art computer systems, EMC can analyze the performance of your sprinkler system, determine the capabilities of your water supply and provide installation guidelines to assure that your system meets all of your protection needs, today, as well as, in the future. EMC can also train your personnel on step-by-step procedures and techniques to inspect and test your system on a regular basis.

For assistance with the specification, design and installation of your proposed fire protection system, your independent agent can refer you to EMC or call 1-800-247-2128, Ext. 2480.

There is ample evidence that properly designed, installed and maintained automatic wet sprinkler systems are safe to use in computer facilities.

  • Systems protect computer components as well as the remainder of the facility.
  • Computer equipment can be quickly restored after smoke or water damage. Equipment damaged by fire, however, is not quickly or easily returned to service.
  • Wet sprinkler systems are less complex and more reliable than gaseous systems.
  • Modern solid state computers are not prone to destruction by water.
  • Water is used as a cleansing agent, when equipment is subjected to smoke or corrosive contamination.
  • Sprinkler systems utilize relatively inexhaustible water supplies.
  • Sprinkler systems successfully control fires that involve large amounts of fuel.
  • Sprinkler systems provide protection to the entire facility.
  • Sprinkler systems can be adapted to extinguish gaseous fires.
  • When properly designed, installed, and maintained, automatic fire sprinkler systems are the most effective means of controlling fire in a building.

Prevention of workplace injuries is the most effective method of reducing workers’ compensation costs. But what do you do to control costs once an injury has occurred?

One of the most trying situations you may face may not be the occurrence of an on-the-job injury, but the questions that follow. How much medical care is required? How soon should an injured employee be back on the job? How do I manage workers’ compensation claims?

The answer is the Designated Physician and Return to Work Program. “When policyholders began implementing this program, they saw a dramatic reduction in the number of claims, the amount paid out for claims and the amount of time injured employees were away from the workplace,” said Joe Carr, EMC Resident Vice President and Lansing Branch Manager. “It’s been a simple solution to a complicated workplace issue.”

The central purpose of EMC’s program is to help workers injured on the job to get back to work as soon as possible. “99.9 percent of employees want to be working,” said Marlene Milligan, Workers’ Compensation Coordinator. “Helping them get back to work is like telling them, ‘We believe in you and depend on the work you do.’ ”

Crucial to the success of the Designated Physician and Return to Work Program is assigning a primary contact person with your business. This person acts as a central source for claims reporting, billing and overall communication. The contact person works with EMC’s medical management and claims staff to choose medical providers and to communicate to these providers the return-to-work philosophy, the anticipated volume of cases and the types of injuries occurring. Developing communication channels with all employees is also important.

With EMC’s Designated Physician and Return To Work Program, your employees know exactly who to contact and trust that the process will work. Even when returning to work on an adjusted or limited capacity, individual employees are still encouraged to believe that they are making a positive impact in the operation of their employer.

By connecting insurance carriers, providers and the people receiving care, EMC is striving to avoid misunderstandings, over billings and inadequate care for you and your employees.

Please note that your state may not allow employers to designate the workers’ compensation physician. In these states, a “preferred provider program” can be used.

For assistance, contact your independent agent or call 1-800-247-2128, Ext. 7371.

With modern HVAC systems, there is no end to the unseen indoor air quality hazards lurking about. You can’t see them and, unless you have the right training and equipment, you can’t find them. But everything from dust mites to mold fungi are hanging about. Making the temperature inhospitable for typical mold fungi would mean also making it inhospitable for building occupants. What can you do to limit the existence of such pests?

  • Maintain relative humidity at 30 percent.
  • Regularly clean HVAC filters.
  • Repair leaky roofs, walls and plumbing.
  • Inspect HVAC system for leaks, cracks or high moisture.
  • Allow sufficient time for cleaned carpets to dry.
  • Adjust dampers on air handling system to increase the volume of outside air.

Another source of hazardous indoor air is carpets. If you clean your own space, make sure your vacuum doesn’t raise dust or leak from its bag. If you outsource your cleaning services, inspect your space for proper cleaning.

Controlling every aspect of indoor air is nearly impossible. By following the above suggestions however, you can limit the degree of allergic and respiratory impact.

The same sunshine and warm weather that allow us our outdoor fun during the summer months can become dangerous when the temperature climbs. Hot weather not only makes us feel tired and uncomfortable, but too much heat can lead to serious, heat-related illness and even death. Here are some precautions your employees should take to avoid heat-related problems this summer:

  • Wear clothing that is loose and light.
  • Wear a hat that covers the maximum amount of skin. Baseball caps don’t provide much protection.
  • Drink plenty of water.
  • Rest frequently, preferably in the shade.
  • Avoid hot surfaces, if possible (pavement, concrete, storage tanks).
  • Adjust slowly to working in heat.
  • Alternate tasks or activities or trade off with other people, when possible.
  • Watch for signs of heat exhaustion - fatigue, weakness, profuse sweating, and pale, clammy skin.

When heat exhaustion occurs, get the person to a cooler environment, apply cool packs and keep them stable.

Although most companies across the United States are actively testing systems for Y2K compliance and subsequently assuring customers that everything is all right, it’s wise to be prepared for interruptions in your business. Your investments are too critical to do otherwise. A Y2K contingency plan is the answer. Here are several steps your organization should take in developing such a plan.

IDENTIFY Y2K OPERATING RISKS — Identify internal and external sources of risk that may impact your capability to sustain reliable operations into the Year 2000 and beyond. For each risk source, identify the probability level and consequence of possible failures.

CONDUCT SCENARIO ANALYSIS — Analyze potential Y2K operating scenarios. It is not possible to identify and analyze all possible Y2K operating scenarios. Therefore, the recommended approach is to identify representative “more probable scenarios” and representative “credible worst case scenarios.” The “more probable scenarios” should be analyzed and prioritized based on probability and consequences.

DEVELOP RISK MANAGEMENT STRATEGIES — Develop strategies to mitigate the consequences of each of the “more probable scenarios” and the “credible worst case scenarios” Risk management strategies can make use of staff resources, additional equipment and facilities, special operating procedures, training and drills.

GENERAL PREPARATION — Prepare for and implement your risk management strategies. Preparations include developing special procedures, conducting training and drills, procuring, installing and testing of backup capabilities, reviewing and adapting restoration plans, and otherwise getting systems ready for operation during Y2K transition periods.

IMPLEMENTATION OF Y2K OPERATING PLAN — Implement the plan in the final days and weeks leading up to the critical Y2K transition periods, and continue through these critical periods.

A well-developed Y2K contingency plan, in conjunction with your Y2K compliance efforts, is an excellent way to assure you and your customers of uninterrupted operations as we make the Year 2000 transition.

On December 1, 1998, OSHA finalized its updated forklift training requirements in the Federal Register. The new requirement includes 22 specific topics that are to be addressed in training such as vehicle stability, operation, limitations, refueling and material handling. The standard goes into full effect on March 1, 1999. See our Web site or contact your local EMC Loss Control Representative.

OSHA plans to develop several major regulations that will have an impact on a broad range of employers. Leading the agenda are an ergonomics standard and a safety and health program rule.

Low-priced torchiere-style halogen lamps consume high levels of energy and operate at high temperatures, posing a fire hazard. According to industry estimates, approximately 15 million of these lamps are sold each year!