We spend a great deal of time at work. Therefore, it is reasonable to expect that our working environment will be safe and that we will be able to perform our duties without damage to our health. Unfortunately, workplace injuries do occur. When they do, it can be hard for employees to find clear information on how to protect their rights and receive the compensation that they deserve.
The Right to Work in a Safe Environment
When one person enters another person’s property, the latter has a legal duty of care to the former, even if the two people do not interact or come into a formal contract. Duty of care is a concept based on harm prevention, where a reasonable person is expected to undertake every possible measure to avoid causing harm to another person.
In the workplace, businesses and employers are legally responsible under their duty of care to ensure that their employees have a safe working environment. Although every workplace is different, all employers need to foresee problematic issues and take the appropriate steps to protect their employees and mitigate the unnecessary risk of harm.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is a federal agency under the United States Department of Labor. Part of its job is to develop and enforce nationwide workplace health and safety standards. The OSHA operates according to the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 (OSH Act) which requires employers to adhere to all OSHA standards.
A significant stipulation of the OSH Act is that employers reduce or eliminate workplace hazards by making tangible changes instead of relying on stopgap solutions such as personal protective equipment. For example, if a workplace is constantly exposed to dangerous fumes, the company needs to switch to less toxic chemicals or improve ventilation systems instead of merely providing their employees with respirators.
What is Workers’ Compensation?
Workers’ compensation is a program instituted by the US government. It is designed to provide benefits to workers who get injured or fall sick while they are working or as a result of their job. Under the workers’ compensation program, workers receive cash or healthcare benefits when they get injured or fall ill because of their job.
Unfortunately, while OSHA is adopted uniformly across the nation, workers’ compensation is governed at the state level. Thus, these laws vary widely from one state to another. In addition, many states have outdated workers’ compensation laws that predate the OSH act. This means that the amount of coverage you receive in the event of a workplace injury can differ greatly depending on the state that you are in.
Texas is the only state in the country where employers do not have to maintain workers’ compensation insurance. In other states, small businesses are exempt from purchasing workers’ compensation coverage. Certain types of employees such as real estate agents, musicians, or farm laborers may be excluded from workers’ compensation coverage as well.
Workers’ compensation insurance is mostly provided by private insurers. Individual businesses pay a premium to these insurers for coverage. Some states have state-run workers’ compensation programs or public-funded insurance pools. Additionally, each state has a Workers’ Compensation Board or Commission that oversees the workers’ compensation program.
When an injured or ill employee files a workers’ compensation claim against their employer, they will receive a sum of money that is intended to make up for their loss of income and their medical expenses. In return, the employee waives the right to pursue further legal recourse against their employer. While this is meant to benefit and protect both parties, employees can find themselves at a disadvantage.
Regardless of whether you’re in a high-risk job as an ice road trucker or oil derrick worker, or are involved in a more day-to-day work accident at Amazon, you owe it to yourself to become familiar with the requirements, standards, and common issues that arise in workers’ compensation cases.
Workers’ Compensation Issues
It can be exceedingly difficult to pursue a workers’ compensation claim. More often than not, this is due to weak communication between the employee and the employer in the early days of the injury or illness. In some states, workers must submit a written report about their injury or illness to their employer within the first thirty days.
Failing to obtain the appropriate medical documentation is another issue that is faced by employees who seek compensation. Some employees try to save on medical costs by attempting to recover through home rest. However, compensation claims must be supported by official medical evaluations that document your symptoms and injuries and outline a treatment plan. This way, employees can make compensation claims that cover the future costs of treatment.
Dealing with insurance companies can be another nightmare. Insurance companies will often require claimants to allow them access to your medical records. After receiving your authorization, they could retrieve your past medical history and use it to deny that your current condition was caused by the workplace.
A workplace back injury is particularly tricky to prove. Claim administrators are adverse to back injury claims due to the potential lifetime cost of medical treatment. Sometimes, insurance companies will assert that your injury is a result of a pre-existing condition. In certain states, repetitive motion injuries are not covered under workers’ compensation, thus insurance attorneys will allege that your injuries are from cumulative trauma and not a singular incident.
How to Get Fair Compensation
Because insurance companies and third-party claim administrators try their best to pay out minimal sums, employees seeking to claim compensation can find themselves overwhelmed and pushed to accept a lower amount than they deserve. To navigate the complex claim process, injured employees should engage an experienced workers’ compensation attorney.
Having an attorney on your side who has handled numerous work injury and compensation cases means that you will have helpful advice at every stage of your claim. Your attorney can also protect your privacy and ensure that insurance companies do not obtain more than the necessary medical records to administer your claim.
In some cases employees who receive a workers’ compensation settlement are required to voluntarily resign. If you are in a similar circumstance, your attorney can help you to find out if you are eligible for any employment law claims and negotiate for a higher pay-out at the same time.
The workers’ compensation process is meant to protect employees who get injured or fall ill at work. Unfortunately, the complex claim process can lead to thousands of less informed workers having to shoulder their loss of livelihood and medical bills on their own. If you have been injured on the job, seek immediate help from a workers’ compensation lawyer to get the just benefits that you deserve.
Any digital marketing professional knows that keeping on top of all the trends across the many digital marketing mediums is tricky. Things move quickly in marketing, and those who stay ahead of the curve gain the best reach and influence. When it comes to content marketing, here are the six things you need to hone in on.
Content marketing is a strategic approach to marketing. Veering away from marketing tactics that favor a hard sell, content marketing is all about showcasing a brand’s knowledge and expertise on a subject. The idea is that prospective customers will engage with a brand and regard it in a good light, and eventually become actual customers. This is all done through the creation of content, which could be blogs, white papers, social media posts, infographics and videos.
When it comes to the very latest trends in effective content marketing, these are the ones to watch.
It’s no secret that people want to feel more engaged with content and the personal experiences they have when they are browsing websites and social media. Now that an increasing amount of technology is available to create interactive online experiences, your prospective customers are expecting them to be delivered to them more and more. Polls and displaying content in a clickable question and answer format are still very popular, so digital marketers can always rely on these for a bit of extra engagement. However, try to think more broadly than this too, such as creating interactive infographic material and videos.
2. Natural Language Processing
Powered by artificial intelligence (AI), Natural Language Processing (NLP) is technology that is able to read, analyze and understand written content as a human would. This is why NLP is becoming an increasingly powerful tool for digital marketers who want to help their content marketing perform better. NLP works by crawling content and fixing issues that relate to its findability, which includes titles, metadata and descriptors. This can help marketing professionals ensure their content goes further from the outset. Added to this, NLP technology can also search, categorize and organize content assets from shared file systems, which can make digital marketing easier when you need to pull together content in different ways.
3. Video First
As the power of video continues to be realized across digital marketing professionals, thanks to the increased engagement with this content form, an emerging trend is to plan content from a ‘video first’ perspective. This means that when marketing strategies are being crafted, video is fast becoming the primary content format. That’s not to say written and audio content is not just as important. But switching the mindset to ‘video first’ creates space for all kinds of new written content ideas to help support video.
4. Infographics in the Driving Seat
Although marketing professionals have used infographics for many years, they are often another afterthought after more traditional marketing approaches have been exhausted. However, the power of infographics is now making this a key part of any starting marketing pack. Infographics are great for getting across information in a digestible way, and engagement with content is always higher when infographics are involved. With a variety of infographic-creating software out there, this is no longer something that only marketers with easy access to a graphic designer can do. There is also increasing understanding of how infographics can do well on social media too. While it was common for marketers previously to post a whole infographic on social media, there is new realization that posting teaser sections of infographics is a great way to get click-throughs to websites too.
5. Audio Content
With video, smart visuals and well-crafted written content capturing most of the engagement in content marketing for a number of years, audio content has often struggled to keep up, with engagement rates lower than other options. This is finally starting to change, particularly given the upsurge in podcast listeners since the Covid-19 pandemic started. There has been a shift in habits among people, as they have downloaded podcasts and audio to accompany them on socially distanced walks and hours spent working from home alone. Marketing professionals are jumping onto this trend, by planning more engaging, audio-only content to gain brand recognition and customers.
6. AI-Powered Solutions
While NLP is the top AI technology that digital marketers are jumping on, there are various other AI solutions that are helping to serve marketing content. Chatbots is one area that helps digital marketers enormously, as frequently asked questions can be answered quickly and easily, while new leads can be generated at the same time. Website searches using AI technology are also helping marketing professionals give customers a highly personalized experience. By learning the search terms, habits and preferences of users, AI technologies can serve up increasingly personalized website experiences. This means that the right content is reaching the right customers in a seamless way, which is incredibly powerful for both content marketing strategies and customer loyalty.
For a while there it seemed like QR codes were falling out of fashion. Some years ago, scanning QR codes often required an additional application and was prone to problems due to poor data connections. Many brands found that their customers thought of the codes as more of a nuisance than a convenience.
Then, the Covid-19 pandemic happened. All of a sudden, contact became taboo. Consumers wanted to avoid talking to others and touching things that might be contaminated. Technology companies put the pedal to the mettle and took advantage of this trend, putting QR codes back on the tech map and everywhere we go.
Contact tracing was a major requirement that rose from the pandemic. In the beginning, it was important for disease controllers to find and notify people that might have been in contact with Covid-positive individuals. Today, check-ins for malls, restaurants, and more have become a way for administrators to implement vaccination-based entry measures.
Some facilities require pre-registration via QR code to ensure compliance with social distancing and maximum capacity guidelines. Other events may need guest information to be filled in before they can secure the relevant permits. Whatever the motivation, using QR codes is an easy way to collect visitor information without multiple physical exchanges of pens and paper.
Using QR codes for venue registration and check-ins can help businesses to record valuable information about their customers. Peak visitor times and average visit lengths are just examples of the data that can be gathered from a QR registration system. Since this data is already in digital format, it can effortlessly be analyzed to improve service performance.
Digital menus and ordering systems are other features of the post-Covid retail environment. Not restricted to food and beverage operators, digital menus can be applied in a variety of businesses such as beauty salons, hospitals, bookstores, and karaoke bars. Customers simply scan the menu QR code to view the list of offerings and submit their order through the digital ordering system.
Since most consumers are now familiar with the online shopping experience, using a digital menu in a physical setting is not a challenge. Customers can enjoy a more relaxing shopping environment because service staff are not hovering around. Best of all, customers use their own devices to access the QR codes, meaning that there is no tablet or physical menu to disinfect when they leave.
Digital in-store shopping carts can be expanded to produce invoices to expedite payment or to lead directly to contactless payment options. These contactless payment options often use QR codes as well. Payment information such as the amount and transaction ID is automatically generated and encoded into dynamic QR codes that customers can scan.
China’s mega digital wallet apps WeChat Pay and Alipay fueled the rise of contactless QR payments and created the model that other digital wallets such as Google Pay and PayPal are following in the West. Country-focused offerings have proven successful with India’s Paytm and Southeast Asia’s GrabPay capturing a large market share.
The appeal of digital wallets and paying via QR code is clear—users can pay merchants without having to make physical contact or even take out their wallets. The benefit for small businesses and individual traders is huge as well. Dynamic QR codes can be used to pay any transaction, big or small, from on-the-spot plumbing services to donations for an animal shelter.
Finally, QR codes are an elevated version of the boring ‘read more’ link. Print ads, name cards, and television commercials can all be accompanied by a QR code that users can scan to find out more about a given promotion or product. Instead of having to manually enter a web address, potential customers just scan and go.
Because QR codes are so convenient, consumers are more likely to engage with brands. Furthermore, the QR code can lead to a specialized campaign landing page designed to capture data and convert leads. The beauty of integrated advertising is that the customers that scan the codes are already interested in the offering, allowing brands to convert with ease.
In art galleries, QR codes can let visitors read detailed information about each piece and submit their bids. On open house signs, QR codes can allow real estate agents to display image galleries of the property’s interior. You could have an ad on YouTube with a QR code for a discount subscription or a QR code for customers to submit feedback. The possibilities are endless.
Since Apple and major mobile manufacturers enabled native QR reading through their camera apps, the use of QR codes has become significantly simpler and more intuitive. It is now incredibly easy to create a custom QR code. Powerful QR code generators such as QrCodeChimp are at our disposal to create codes for event sign-ins, personal vCards, discount coupons, dynamic payments, and more.
QR codes are very current. They are a sign of better, modern customer service and are well-suited for the digital consumer. Brands should make the most of this technology and leverage the power of contactless services for their success.
Fire is responsible for many of our modern comforts, yet is also one of the biggest dangers that we face. According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), there were 1,291,500 fires in the United States in 2019, leading to over three thousand deaths and a loss of $14.8 billion. Thankfully, there are ways that we can prevent fire hazards and significantly reduce the risk of becoming a victim of an accidental fire.
1. Keep Out of Reach
A devastating fire can easily be started with an innocent strike of a match. Always keep matches and lights in locked drawers or out of reach of children. Educate your children about fire safety and the dangers of playing with fire. If you have a stove or oven with built-in ignition, lock the oven doors and install purpose-built stove guards and knob covers to prevent children from starting a fire in the kitchen.
2. Smoke Outside
Smoking outside the home is the best way to avoid a house fire. However, if you must smoke in the home, never leave a lit cigarette unattended. Make sure that you use large, deep ashtrays with water inside to fully extinguish cigarette butts. Stray cigarette embers can smolder for hours before igniting. Do not smoke indoors if you are sleepy, drowsy, or intoxicated as you will be more likely to be careless.
3. Cook with Care
Many home fires start on kitchen stovetops. Never leave your stovetops unattended when you are cooking, especially if you are cooking on high heat. Keep flammable items such as curtains, bottles of oil, oven mitts, and paper towels far away from burners. If oil or grease in your pan catches on fire, remember not to splash water on it as that will cause the fire to spread. Cover the pan with a lid to suffocate the flames.
4. Clean Your Dryer
Dryers are responsible for almost 90 percent of appliance fires and 34 percent of these fires occur due to a failure to clean them. Remove all lint from the lint filter and the back of the dryer before and after each cycle. Keep flammable items away from the dryer area and check that the venting system is unobstructed. Never overload your dryer or attempt to dry items containing foam, rubber, or plastic.
5. Heat Safely
Heating equipment such as fireplaces and heaters are implicated in one out of six home fires. Ensure that you keep children and any flammable items at least three feet away from heating equipment. Put out fires and turn off heating appliances when you leave the room or go to bed. If you have a fireplace, use a fireplace screen, clean your firebox after every fire, and have your chimney maintained once a year.
6. Clear the Junk
A messy home can have the potential to become a fire hazard. Clutter such as old furniture or cardboard boxes can catch a spark and start a fire. Piles of leaves, woodchips, or coal stored in warm, damp conditions can even spontaneously combust by self-heating. Toss out or give away any items that you do not need. Make sure you store flammable items far away from heat sources and clear debris away from fire escape routes.
7. Check Your Wiring
Many older homes have less than ideal electrical wiring systems. Issues like deteriorated insulation, lack of ground wires, or aluminum wiring can cause electrical malfunctions that lead to serious house fires. The best way to avoid this is to hire a qualified electrician to thoroughly check and update your property’s wiring. In addition, make sure you inspect your electrical cords and be sure not to overload your electrical outlets.
8. Test Smoke Alarms
According to FEMA, 51 percent of deaths from residential fires occur at night when people are sleeping. You should install smoke alarms on each level of your home, particularly inside bedrooms and in their adjoining corridors. Smoke alarms can be interlinked to sound in unison so the whole house is alerted in the event of a fire. Test your smoke alarms monthly and replace any low batteries.
9. Buy Fire Extinguishers
Fire extinguishers can stop a small fire from growing out of control. There should be at least one multipurpose fire extinguisher for each level of your property. However, it is important to know how to use it correctly. Local fire departments often provide basic fire extinguisher training for minimal cost. Be sure to have your fire extinguishers checked and tested by professionals, and replaced if they are too old.
10. Create a Fire Escape Plan
Despite all your efforts, accidents do happen. A fire escape plan is essential to help you know what to do in case of an emergency. Avoid sleeping in windowless rooms and ensure that every member of your household knows of two possible exits for each room (a window and a door). Keep your escape routes clear and set an outside rendezvous point a distance from the house. Practice your fire escape plan twice a year and at different times of the day and make sure everyone knows how to dial 911.