Protecting Workers from Sun Exposure

sun workers
The number of skin cancer cases in the United States continues to increase, with nearly 5 million people treated for it every year, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). Outdoor workers are especially at risk, as they are constantly exposed to ultraviolet (UV) rays, even on cloudy days when they may think they are safe from the sun.

According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), UV rays, which are a part of sunlight, are an invisible form of radiation. There are three types of UV rays: UVA, which is believed to CDC advicedamage connective tissue and increase the risk for developing skin cancer; UVB, which doesn’t penetrate as deeply into the skin, but can still cause some types of skin cancer; and natural UVC, which is absorbed by the atmosphere and does not pose a risk.

One of the dangers of being out in the sun for prolonged periods is that sunburn is not immediately apparent, NIOSH said. Symptoms usually start about 4 hours after sun exposure, worsen in 24 to 36 hours, and get better in 3 to 5 days. They include red, tender and swollen skin, blisters, headache, fever, nausea and fatigue. Another danger is that eyes can also become sunburned. They become red, dry, painful and feel gritty. Chronic eye exposure can cause permanent damage, including blindness.

The CDC advises organizations to add sun safety to their workplace policies and training programs, as well as to:Include sun-safety information in workplace wellness programs. For example, programs designed to help employees avoid heat illness can be adapted to include information about sun safety.
• Teach outdoor workers about risks of exposure to UV radiation and the signs and symptoms of overexposure.
• Encourage outdoor workers to be role models and discuss the importance of sun protection with clients, and coworkers. Visit the National Cancer Institute’s RTIPs website for more information about sun safety.

NIOSH’s advice to workers:

Protect Yourself

  • Avoid prolonged exposure to the sun when possible.
  • Wear sunscreen with a minimum of SPF 15.
    • SPF refers to how long a person will be protected from a burn. (SPF 15 means a person can stay in the sun 15-times longer before burning.) SPF only refers to UVB protection.
    • To protect against UVA, look for products containing: Mexoryl, Parsol 1789, titanium dioxide, zinc oxide, or avobenzone.
    • Sunscreen performance is affected by wind, humidity, perspiration, and proper application.
    • Throw away sunscreens after 1–2 years (they lose potency).
    • Apply liberally (minimum of 1 oz.) at least 20 minutes before sun exposure.
    • Apply to ears, scalp, lips, neck, tops of feet, and backs of hands.
    • Reapply at least every two hours and each time a person gets out of the water or perspires heavily.
    • Some sunscreens may lose their effectiveness when applied with insect repellents. You may need to reapply more often.
  • Wear clothing with a tight weave or high-SPF clothing.
  • Wear wide-brimmed hats and sunglasses with UV protection and side panels.
  • Take breaks in shaded areas.

First Aid

  • Take aspirin, acetaminophen, or ibuprofen to relieve pain, headache, and fever.
  • Drink plenty of water to help replace fluid losses.
  • Comfort burns with cool baths or the gentle application of cool wet cloths.
  • Avoid further exposure until the burn has resolved.
  • Use of a topical moisturizing cream, aloe, or 1% hydrocortisone cream may provide additional relief.

If blistering occurs:

  • Lightly bandage or cover the area with gauze to prevent infection.
  • Do not break blisters. (This slows healing and increases risk of infection.)
  • When the blisters break and the skin peels, dried skin fragments may be removed and an antiseptic ointment or hydrocortisone cream may be applied.

Seek medical attention if any of the following occur:

  • Severe sunburns covering more than 15% of the body
  • Dehydration
  • High fever (greater than 101 °F)
  • Extreme pain that persists for longer than 48 hours

P&C Insurers Face Lower Profit Margins

High insured losses from natural catastrophes, challenges from the personal auto business and pricing competition will make it more difficult for the property and casualty industry to maintain the favorable underwriting results it has seen for the past three years, according to S&P Global Market Intelligence.

In its U.S. P&C Insurance Market Report, S&P predicts an increase in the industry’sDown chart2 statutory combined ratio to 99.5% in 2016 from 97.6% in 2015 and reduction of pretax returns on equity to 8.7% from 10.8%—or to 7.5% from 9.9% when adjusting for the impact of prior-year reserve development.

“Profit margins are projected to be much narrower than they have been in the last few years, unless something dramatic happens,” report authors Tim Zawacki, senior editor and Terry Leone, manager of insurance research at S&P Global Market Intelligence said in a statement. “While insurers have wisely accounted for the fact that they haven’t been able to depend on investment gains to subsidize underwriting losses, they still need to practice restraint as they seek growth.”

Commercial Lines
The commercial lines combined ratio is projected to increase to 95.1% from 93.4% for 2015, which represented the third-consecutive year that the measure of underwriting profitability had ranged between 93.3% and 93.5%.

According to the report, premium growth in the commercial lines has benefited from factors such as slow, but steady macroeconomic growth and rate increases in commercial auto business, offset by continued downward pressure on commercial property rates. The outlook anticipates that the 93.9% combined ratio in the workers compensation line in 2015—which marked the first sub-100% result in that business since 2006—will not be repeated and that historically favorable results of the past three years in commercial multiperil and the fire and allied lines will begin to normalize over time.

Factors such as abundant reinsurance capacity, favorable underwriting results and relatively high levels of capitalization have contributed to downward pressure on commercial lines rates. The outlook assumes that carriers will continue to exhibit discipline in their underwriting, as recent contractions in Treasury yields in the aftermath of the U.K.’s June Brexit vote offer a reminder of the reinvestment risk the industry continues to confront, in what remains a low-for-long interest rate environment, S&P said.

Key observations
• Reduced Profitability: The P&C industry’s pre-tax ROE is projected to decline about 2 percentage points in 2016 while its combined ratio, which measures expenses incurred relative to premiums earned, is projected to increase to 99.5%, the highest level since 2012.
• Increased Investment Risk: Declining Treasury yields in the aftermath of the U.K.’s Brexit referendum have reinforced the challenges the industry faces to earn reliable, low-risk investment income, putting additional pressure on underwriting discipline.
• Weak First Half: Large increases in the amount of insured catastrophe losses during the first half of 2016 will negatively impact loss ratios in several business lines that have produced historically favorable results during the past three years.
• Personal lines: Historically unfavorable results in the private-passenger auto business are projected to deteriorate further in 2016 as miles driven by Americans continue to rise due to low gas prices. They will begin to improve once broad-based rate increases fully take hold, but this will take some time.
• Financial Results Hinge on Auto Line Performance: Private auto lines accounted for 34.4% of the industry’s 2015 direct premiums and, as financials demonstrated, the performance of those lines have played a significant role on the fate of underwriting.
• Future Issues: Favorable reserve development, broad access to reinsurance capacity, and a series of benign hurricane seasons have provided tailwinds to the industry in recent years. But none of those elements will continue in perpetuity and the absence of any one of them could create additional hurdles for the industry from a profitability perspective in 2016 and beyond.

Businesses Ignore Significant Cybersecurity Risks to Proprietary Data

Knowledge assets are critical to any business remaining functional and competitive, yet this data is routinely exposed to the risk of theft and overlooked in cybersecurity risk management. According to a new report from the Ponemon Institute and law firm Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton, the organizations are increasingly ineffective at safeguarding data like trade secrets, product design, development or pricing, and other proprietary information.

As breach notification laws, regulatory requirements, and reputation considerations draw more focus to cybersecurity surrounding personal data of customers or personnel, businesses are leaving more risk on the table regarding their most valuable assets, and that risk has a notable price tag.

In the past year, the average cost of remediating these attacks was about $5.4 million, and half of respondents estimated the maximum cost would range over $250 million, with seven out of ten placing it over $100 million. What’s more, on average, respondents believe only 35% of the losses resulting from knowledge asset theft would be covered by their current insurance policies.

The primary drivers of these costs, respondents said, were (out of 100 points):

knowledge asset theft costs

Why are so many businesses failing to take action against the risks to knowledge assets?

knowledge asset data theft risk

Among the findings, the report noted:

  • Theft is rampant. Seventy-four percent of respondents say it is likely that their company failed to detect a data breach involving the loss or theft of knowledge assets, and 60% state it is likely one or more pieces of their company’s knowledge assets are now in the hands of a competitor.
  • Companies don’t know what they need to protect, or how to protect it. Only 31% of respondents say their company has a classification system that segments information assets based on value or priority to the organization. Merely 28% rate the ability of their companies to mitigate the loss or theft of knowledge assets by insiders and external attackers as effective. The great majority who rate their programs as not effective cite as the primary reasons a lack of in-house expertise (67%), lack of clear leadership (59%), and lack of collaboration between different job functions (56%).
  • Executives and boards aren’t focused on the issue and its resolution. A data breach involving knowledge assets would impact a company’s ability to continue as a going concern according to 59% of respondents, but 53% replied that senior management is more concerned about a data breach involving credit card information or Social Security numbers than the leakage of knowledge assets. Only 32% of respondents say their companies’ senior management understands the risk caused by unprotected knowledge assets, and 69% believe that senior management does not make the protection of knowledge assets a priority. The board of directors is often even more in the dark. Merely 23% of respondents say the board is made aware of all breaches involving the loss or theft of knowledge assets, and only 37% state that the board requires assurances that knowledge assets are managed and safeguarded appropriately.
  • Careless employees and unchecked cloud providers are key risk areas. The most likely root cause of a data breach involving knowledge assets is the careless employee, but employee access to knowledge assets is not often adequately controlled. Fifty percent of respondents replied that both privileged and ordinary users have access to the company’s knowledge assets. Likewise, 63% of respondents state that their company stores knowledge assets in the cloud, but only 33% say their companies carefully vet the cloud providers storing those assets.

Thanks in part to the lack of action currently, there is plenty businesses can easily do to improve.

“Companies face a serious challenge in the protection of their knowledge assets. The good news is there are steps to take to reduce the risk,” said Dr. Larry Ponemon, chairman and founder of the Ponemon Institute. “First of all, understand the knowledge assets critical to your company and ensure they are secured. Make sure the protection of knowledge assets, especially when sharing with third parties, is an integral part of your security strategy, including incident response plans. To address the employee negligence problem, ensure training programs specifically address employee negligence when handling sensitive and high value data.”

Employee Financial Stress Can Impact Job Performance

Employees stressed out by financial problems could be suffering from lack of sleep and are more prone to depression, heart issues and substance abuse than those with low levels of stress, according to a new study. This anxiety can also impact the workplace in the form of lost productivity, heightened risk of on-the-job accidents and absenteeism.

Most employees worry about their personal finances, with 25% of those surveyed indicating high or overwhelming financial stress. About one-third were assessed as vulnerable to living beyond their means and having serious debt, according to this year’s Stress in America survey, commissioned by the American Psychological Association.

The survey found that:

  • Nine percent of millennial women under age 30 reported overwhelming financial stress compared to 5% of their male counterparts.
  • Lower-income males (making under $60,000 a year) were more likely than lower-income females to report no financial stress, at 13% versus 9%.
  • Women’s stress levels seem to be impacted by the presence of minor children in the household, with 11% of women with minor children reporting overwhelming levels of stress, compared to only 6% without children. Men’s stress levels seem to not be significantly impacted by the presence of minor children, as only 6% of men with children in their household reported overwhelming levels of financial stress, compared to 4% of men without children.

Treatment for financial stress is becoming more common in the workplace. According to a report by Aon Hewitt, 89% of employers are very or moderately likely to implement or expand programs to help employees better manage their money as part of their overall benefits package. The report finds that sleep programs, financial counseling and personal coaching can help stressed employees.

Issues resulting from financial stress include:
Infographic_StressReport