How to Protect Farms from Frigid Winter Weather

Posted November 15, 2018 by Administrator

Last winter saw record low temperatures across the Midwest. In Embarrass, Minnesota, the temperature sank to -45°F while the rest of the Midwest experienced temperatures more than 25°F lower than the usual average. While there are obvious dangers to cold temperatures, particularly exposure, there are several implications for agribusinesses.

How Cold Weather Affect Fields and Livestock

Winter wheat is at increased risk when temperatures plummet below normal. Limited snowfall can compound the problem since the snow insulates crops against the frigid temperatures. The news is not all bad, however. A deep freeze can penetrate the soil well below the usual depths. This helps the soil retain more of the nitrogen farmers apply in the fall. When the soil begins to thaw, it may be softer as well. Lastly, extreme cold can eradicate more insects, reducing their effect on crops the following spring.

Livestock can also take a hit so farmers need to take care to ensure water remains thawed and feed is available. During cold months, animals eat more than usual to account for the calories burned trying to keep themselves warm. Farmers will need to consider this when purchasing feed. Livestock will also need shelter against freezing winds and winter storms. Cattle and sheep are content to live outdoors all year round, but they still require refuge from extreme winter weather. Farmers need to ensure any animal shelter can withstand the weight of snow and ice.

Taking Care of Farmers

Many farmers focus their attention on their fields or their livestock and forget to ensure their own comfort during the winter months as well. Farmers need several pieces of attire to ensure they can function comfortably while tending to their farm in freezing temperatures. Some winter gear farmers should consider keeping on hand includes:

  • Hand and feet warmers
  • Gloves
  • Hat
  • Warm boots
  • Boot dryer
  • Wool socks
  • Insulated overalls
  • Winter coat

While many of these things may seem obvious, many farmers overlook the simple things while tending to their agribusiness. Keeping warm and dry is vital to properly tending to fields and livestock. Being cold or uncomfortable can cause farmers to rush and miss signs of problems in their operation. Farming has its risk, but this doesn’t mean farmers should take unnecessary ones. To learn more about managing farming risk, contact the experts at Cline Wood.

This document is not intended to be taken as advice regarding any individual situation and should not be relied upon as such. Marsh & McLennan Agency LLC shall have no obligation to update this publication and shall have no liability to you or any other party arising out of this publication or any matter contained herein. Any statements concerning actuarial, tax, accounting or legal matters are based solely on our experience as consultants and are not to be relied upon as actuarial, accounting, tax or legal advice, for which you should consult your own professional advisors. Any modeling analytics or projections are subject to inherent uncertainty and the analysis could be materially affective if any underlying assumptions, conditions, information or factors are inaccurate or incomplete or should change.

Veterans Day – Honoring All Who Served

Posted November 12, 2018 by Erin

Cline Wood, a Marsh & McLennan Agency LLC company, wants to be the first to thank our many Military men and women for their years of Military Service.  We are blessed to have many clients and associates as members of our family that have served in the military, are currently serving in the military, or have a close family member serving in the military.

We also want to recognize the family members who held the home front down while each of these men and women were away serving our country.

Without all their efforts we as Americans would not have the Freedom we have today!

Sunday, November 11, 2018 is Veterans Day – and also observed November 12, 2018.

We truly hope everyone shows you and all your family members the appreciation you deserve for our freedom, not only on this day but for the rest of your life.

Again, THANK YOU for our freedom, and for being part of our Cline Wood Marsh & McLennan Agency Family.

 

 

How to Combat Driver Fatigue in 6 Simple Steps

Posted November 6, 2018 by Administrator

Truck driving isn’t an easy job. With difficult deadlines, limited parking, and ever-changing safety regulations, it’s easy for drivers to become stressed and exhausted. This is a recipe for fatigued driving, which reduces the driver’s ability to perform due to low energy. When drivers are groggy, they can’t react physically or mentally as they could when at maximum alertness. Fleets can use the following methods to battle driver fatigue:

  1. Get adequate sleep. A good night’s sleep is imperative for safe driving. Truck drivers need to stop driving for the day to give themselves enough time to rest to resume work the following morning. Drivers should also avoid getting behind the wheel during hours they would naturally be sleeping. In particular, truck drivers should avoid operating their vehicle between midnight and six in the morning.
  2. Take naps. If a driver begins to feel tired, he or she should take a quick nap if possible. Aim for 15-30 minutes for an optimal energy boost. Any more or less, and the nap may make the driver feel more drowsy, a condition known as sleep inertia.
  3. Avoid medication that causes drowsiness. Most people know allergy medicines can make them feel drowsy. However, a plethora of medications include warnings not to operate heavy machinery while taking them. Muscle relaxers, cold medicine, and sleeping pills are all no go’s while driving a commercial motor vehicle (CMV).
  4. Practice good diet and hydration habits. Drivers should aim to eat their meals at regular hours and intervals to ensure good quality sleep. Going to bed hungry or after gorging on fast food can result in poor rest. Proper hydration is also key to remaining alert. Keep water bottles in the cab for easy access during the day.
  5. Avoid alertness tricks. Turning up the radio or rolling down the window may provide a small initial jolt of energy, but fatigue will quickly take over again. Drinking caffeinated beverages can help, but those can prevent drivers from sleeping later or cause more drowsiness when the driver experiences the inevitable caffeine crash.
  6. Know the signs. Drowsiness can sneak up on drivers, but, if they know the signs, they can pull over and rest before causing an accident. Some of the hallmarks of drowsiness include yawning, heavy eyes, blurry vision, slower reaction times, and impatience.

Following the above tips can help drivers stay alert when operating their CMV. To learn more about improving transportation safety, contact the experts at Cline Wood.

This document is not intended to be taken as advice regarding any individual situation and should not be relied upon as such. Marsh & McLennan Agency LLC shall have no obligation to update this publication and shall have no liability to you or any other party arising out of this publication or any matter contained herein. Any statements concerning actuarial, tax, accounting or legal matters are based solely on our experience as consultants and are not to be relied upon as actuarial, accounting, tax or legal advice, for which you should consult your own professional advisors. Any modeling analytics or projections are subject to inherent uncertainty and the analysis could be materially affective if any underlying assumptions, conditions, information or factors are inaccurate or incomplete or should change.

Cyber Security Awareness

Posted October 31, 2018 by Erin

Cyber Security is big news these days, and for good reason.  Many large companies have been hit by hackers, and unfortunately some trucking companies have been victims as well.  Take this scenario for example:  Your server is hacked.  The hackers send an email to one of your office workers that purportedly comes from your Chief Operating Officer, and requests a large sum of money be wired to a bank account.  This is a deviation from normal protocol, but the office worker hasn’t been trained in what red flags to look for in emails, and hasn’t been encouraged to question anything suspicious.  So unfortunately the office worker proceeds with the request and wires the money.  The scam isn’t discovered until later that month when your Bookkeeper sees the entry in your bank records.  At that point you call your IT service provider to investigate where the hack originated, if any personal and/or proprietary information was also stolen, and re-install proper security measures to prevent future hacks, but by that time the damage has been done.

Fortunately there are measures your trucking company can put in place to prevent these types of scenarios.  Click HERE to learn about 15 Best Practices to Protect Your Website from Malware & Cyberhacking.  We also encourage your company to review your insurance coverages and speak with your Producer or Account Manager regarding available coverages to help reimburse your company in the event of a loss.  Below is a chart showing types of insurance coverages that may come into play depending upon each unique cyber scenario:

Source: http://www.gccapitalideas.com/2018/07/04/chart-the-cyber-insurance-matrix-explained/

 

For more information or assistance, please contact us at safetrucking@clinewood.com.  We appreciate your safety efforts!

This document is not intended to be taken as advice regarding any individual situation and should not be relied upon as such. Marsh & McLennan Agency LLC shall have no obligation to update this publication and shall have no liability to you or any other party arising out of this publication or any matter contained herein. Any statements concerning actuarial, tax, accounting or legal matters are based solely on our experience as consultants and are not to be relied upon as actuarial, accounting, tax or legal advice, for which you should consult your own professional advisors. Any modeling analytics or projections are subject to inherent uncertainty and the analysis could be materially affective if any underlying assumptions, conditions, information or factors are inaccurate or incomplete or should change.

 

 

Safety Committees: A Valuable Tool for Business Success

Posted October 31, 2018 by Erin

The value of a workplace safety committee is often debated between those leaders tasked with operational assignments and those tasked with safety performance. The arguments against utilizing safety committees usually include comments related to operational inefficiencies (waste of time, slows production, etc.) or committee ineffectiveness (doesn’t accomplish anything, nothing changes, etc.).   However, when a safety committee is properly established and utilized, the financial and cultural benefits to a company far outweigh any actual or perceived negative consequences. Most companies which effectively utilize safety committees will argue that said safety committee is a vital component of the overall success of the organization.

What’s In It For My Company?

There are many advantages to establishing and utilizing a safety committee, including but not limited to:

  1. Potential reduction in Workers’ Compensation premiums (varies by state).
  2. Pursue and secure high-value contracts with more lucrative customers.
  3. Reduction in out-of-pocket expenses due to injury and illness reduction.
  4. Reduction in out-of-pocket expenses due to property damage reduction.
  5. Participation by front-line workers in identifying risks to the company.
  6. Reduction in your overall injury and illness rate (OSHA Recordable).
  7. Validation of senior leadership’s commitment to a safe workplace.
  8. Increased awareness and appreciation for the company’s safety culture; and
  9. Invaluable feedback to senior leadership to aid in decision-making.

Other Considerations

While from a federal regulatory standpoint safety committees are not required for most companies, several states do require the use of safety committees if you participate in the state Workers’ Compensation Program. However, since such requirements vary from state to state, please verify any such requirement via the agency which manages your state’s Workers’ Compensation Program.

In addition, if your company holds certain state or federal contracts you may have a regulatory requirement to establish a safety committee. You may also be required to establish a safety committee if you participate in any of the most recognizable national or international safety certification programs such as the OSHA Voluntary Protection Program, the American Chemistry Council’s Responsible Care Program, or ISO 45001.  You may also have a contractual obligation to establish a safety committee by certain customers, particularly those in highly-regulated industries such as chemical or nuclear processing, oil and gas refining, hazardous materials manufacturing, and furtherance of intermodal transportation.

Final Thoughts

All that said, the ultimate decision to establish and utilize a safety committee is first and foremost a function of senior leadership, who must be fully onboard from the outset in order to successfully develop a safety committee, grow a safety culture, and successfully reduce accidents.

Be on the lookout for future articles, where we’ll drill down into the details, including: how to establish a safety committee, selection of committee members, how to conduct a safety committee meeting, and utilization of safety committee recommendations. In the meantime if you have questions about safety committees or other safety-related topics, please contact your respective Cline Wood Risk Consultant or email us at safetrucking@clinewood.com.

 

Kenny Ray, Cline Wood Risk Consultant

 

This document is not intended to be taken as advice regarding any individual situation and should not be relied upon as such. Marsh & McLennan Agency LLC shall have no obligation to update this publication and shall have no liability to you or any other party arising out of this publication or any matter contained herein. Any statements concerning actuarial, tax, accounting or legal matters are based solely on our experience as consultants and are not to be relied upon as actuarial, accounting, tax or legal advice, for which you should consult your own professional advisors. Any modeling analytics or projections are subject to inherent uncertainty and the analysis could be materially affective if any underlying assumptions, conditions, information or factors are inaccurate or incomplete or should change.

The Holidays are approaching fast – beware of CARGO THEFT!

Posted October 31, 2018 by Erin

While you’re making preparations for company gatherings and thinking about holiday shopping, be sure to take some time to review the processes and checks your company has in place to prevent cargo theft – because thieves are already making their plans to take their presents early.  In fact, according to a Dec., 2016 Commercial Carrier Journal article, approximately $5.8 million in cargo losses were incurred during the holiday season between 2012 and 2016.1

If you’re ever been the victim of cargo theft, you’re likely very familiar with what that terminology means.  However, the Criminal Justice Information Services Advisory Policy Board developed the following legal definition: “The criminal taking of any cargo including, but not limited to, goods, chattels, money, or baggage that constitutes, in whole or in part, a commercial shipment of freight moving in commerce, from any pipeline system, railroad car, motor truck, or other vehicle, or from any tank or storage facility, station house, platform, or depot, or from any vessel or wharf, or from any aircraft, air terminal, airport, aircraft terminal or air navigation facility, or from any intermodal container, intermodal chassis, trailer, container freight station, warehouse, freight distribution facility, or freight consolidation facility….”2

Much of this cargo theft occurs at truck stops, parking lots, and warehouses – or in other words where most commercial vehicles can be found.  There are a couple common theft scenarios.  First scenario involves a thief following a driver from the warehouse until he stops, then stealing the cargo at that location.  Second scenario involves what’s generally called “fictitious pickups”, or pickups where a thief impersonates a legitimate carrier and fraudulently secures a contract to transport cargo.  The cargo is taken in this scenario with typically no trace of the thief upon discovery of the crime.3

So what can your company do to help prevent this kind of theft?  In his Dec. 2017 webinar (which can be viewed on our Recorded Webinars page HERE), NICB Special Agent Steve Covey suggests: vetting potential business associates by way of internet checks (Safersys.org, FMCSA) and word of mouth/calling other companies; contacting local Cargo Security Councils and national associations to access the latest information and resources; and, make friends with the police before your problem happens (the police want to help you prevent theft and are happy to give their input).  Other measures that can help include high visibility lighting, secured yards, high security locks, and confirming receiving facilities holiday hours to help prevent unnecessary layovers with loaded trucks.1

For more information or assistance, please contact us at safetrucking@clinewood.com.  We appreciate your safety efforts!

1source: https://www.ccjdigital.com/cargonet-freightwatch-warn-against-holiday-season-cargo-theft/

2source: “Cargo Theft, 2016”, pg. 1, 2016 Crime in the United States, U.S. Department of Justice – Federal Bureau of Investigation – Criminal Justice Information Services Division

3source: “2014 NICB Identified Cargo Thefts: NC, SC, VA”, pg. 1-2, Data Analytics Forecast Report

 

 

This document is not intended to be taken as advice regarding any individual situation and should not be relied upon as such. Marsh & McLennan Agency LLC shall have no obligation to update this publication and shall have no liability to you or any other party arising out of this publication or any matter contained herein. Any statements concerning actuarial, tax, accounting or legal matters are based solely on our experience as consultants and are not to be relied upon as actuarial, accounting, tax or legal advice, for which you should consult your own professional advisors. Any modeling analytics or projections are subject to inherent uncertainty and the analysis could be materially affective if any underlying assumptions, conditions, information or factors are inaccurate or incomplete or should change.

5 Crops That Perform Well in the Fall

Posted October 23, 2018 by Administrator

As temperatures start to drop lower, many farmers stop their planting efforts. This is unsurprising since many crops don’t fare well in cold weather. Freezing temperatures, frost, and snow cripple most crops, but not all of them. Root vegetables perform well despite the change in season; farmers can also take this time to jump-start their spring planting efforts. While fall planting isn’t for every farmer, the following crops offer farmers a prolonged planting season:

  1. It’s easy for farmers to obtain onion bulblets in the fall. Before temperatures drop to below freezing, farmers can reap fresh scallions. Once winter hits full force, the onions will remain dormant until temperatures increase. The crops will pop up in the spring, giving farmers a head start on the season.
  2. As a member of the same plant family as the onion, leeks perform well in the fall and winter. They perform best when planted in the early fall.
  3. Strawberries. Most farmers that cultivate strawberries purchase them for spring planting. However, farmers can increase their productivity by getting started in the fall. Most farmers pinch off the blossoms during the initial season to allow the plant to better develop its roots. By doing this in the fall, farmers can harvest the fruit at the start of the main season.
  4. Radishes. These plants grow much faster than most. Within four weeks of planting, farmers can begin harvesting. Because they thrive in cooler temperatures, farmers can plant and harvest them multiple times during the fall and winter. It also helps that cold weather enhances their flavor.
  5. Greens. Lettuce, kale, and spinach are great fall crops as cooler temperatures make the leaves taste sweeter. Like onions, farmers don’t need to fear planting them too late to harvest. They’ll sprout back up once temperatures begin to rise after winter.

Even though the above crops are excellent for fall planting, farmers do need to take steps to protect them from extreme winter temperatures. This means sprinkling a loose layer of straw over them to protect them from frost heaving. To learn more about how to protect fall crops, contact the experts at Cline Wood.

This document is not intended to be taken as advice regarding any individual situation and should not be relied upon as such. Marsh & McLennan Agency LLC shall have no obligation to update this publication and shall have no liability to you or any other party arising out of this publication or any matter contained herein. Any statements concerning actuarial, tax, accounting or legal matters are based solely on our experience as consultants and are not to be relied upon as actuarial, accounting, tax or legal advice, for which you should consult your own professional advisors. Any modeling analytics or projections are subject to inherent uncertainty and the analysis could be materially affective if any underlying assumptions, conditions, information or factors are inaccurate or incomplete or should change.

3 Technologies That Will Define the Future of Trucking

Posted October 16, 2018 by Administrator

For the past several years, the IAA Commercial Vehicles shows have circled around the themes of electrify, automate, and connect. Now, the trucking community is getting a glimpse into what those elements will mean for the industry’s future.

Electric Trucks

In previous years, the shows placed a premium on connectivity over electrification, but they’ve since swapped their focus. This is unsurprising given the rise of Nikola and Tesla electric vehicles as well as the positive public perception for electric transportation. As urbanization continues to spread across the country, the transportation industry has to address problems such as congestion, air quality, and more. Trucks made for an easy target; going electric means no emissions, less noise, and an easier path to creating autonomous processes to reduce traffic problems.

Automation Before Autonomous

The IAA made it a point to stress the preference for automation over fully autonomous vehicles. This is in large part because there is no reliable timetable for when autonomous vehicles will be ready for deliveries in every situation trucking can present (i.e. weather, terrain, human drivers, etc.). However, automating functions for safety and productivity are well underway. Some existing examples of automation already in use include automated emergency braking and systems that adjust trucks to keep them in their lanes.

Understanding Connectivity

Connectivity used to be at the forefront of the IAA, but its descent to the bottom of the list is unsurprising. Connectivity is already flourishing in the trucking industry after years of advancements. In fact, the progression of connectivity is what paved the way for innovations in electrification and automation. Telematics represented one of the biggest breakthroughs in connectivity and now drivers can interface with their vehicles and the vehicles around them for predictive maintenance, platooning, etc.

The presentations and displays at the past few IAA shows paint a clear picture of the future of trucking. Trucking companies need to embrace the message of electrify, automate, and connect if they want to remain relevant. To stay up to date with the latest trucking innovations and how they will affect your trucking business, contact the experts at Cline Wood.

This document is not intended to be taken as advice regarding any individual situation and should not be relied upon as such. Marsh & McLennan Agency LLC shall have no obligation to update this publication and shall have no liability to you or any other party arising out of this publication or any matter contained herein. Any statements concerning actuarial, tax, accounting or legal matters are based solely on our experience as consultants and are not to be relied upon as actuarial, accounting, tax or legal advice, for which you should consult your own professional advisors. Any modeling analytics or projections are subject to inherent uncertainty and the analysis could be materially affective if any underlying assumptions, conditions, information or factors are inaccurate or incomplete or should change.

Assessing Risk in the Farming Industry

Posted October 9, 2018 by Administrator

Running a successful farm takes hard work and careful risk management. Farms face several unique risks that don’t affect other industries. However, assessing those risks follows the same process. While the degree of acceptable risk and the approach to handle it will differ from person to person, the framework for identifying risks remains unchanged.

Develop a Risk Heat Chart

A heat chart provides a simple visual tool to identify if a risk is significant enough and likely enough to address. The chart below is a simple illustration comparing the potential effect of a risk on the left and the likelihood of the risk occurring on the bottom. The darker the color, the more damage the risk can cause to the business.

To make a usable risk heat chart, farmers need to perform the following:

  1. Pinpoint things that can go wrong. This includes external and internal risks. This step is critical because many farmers overlook risks they think are unlikely, which can come back to haunt them later. Some external risks include fluctuating markets, law and regulations governing farming, and weather events. Internal risks can be a loss of employees due to failing health or quitting, damage to assets such as a barn fire, personal debt, and more.
  2. Estimate the potential effect. Once farmers identify risks that can affect their farm, they need to determine how much it can hurt their operation. Farmers will want to seek input from employees to gain a balanced view of the risks. Using the above heat chart, farmers can assign five categories ranging from negligible to severe for the potential effect the risk can exert on the farm.
  3. Estimate how likely the risk is. Similar to the above step, farmers need to look at their risks and determine how likely they are to happen. From there, they can assign them to one of five categories ranging from remote to probable.

Once farmers know their risks and decide how much they can affect the business and how likely they are to occur, they can plug them into the various slots on the heat chart. For example, if a farmer estimates that a drought it possible this year (category 3 risk) and the potential effect is severe (category 5), this creates a risk score of 15—one of the hottest risks on the heat chart. This tells the farmer he or she needs to develop a risk management strategy to protect their farming operation. All farms have risks they need to address, but they don’t need to do it alone. The experts at Cline Wood can help you identify all risks that could affect your farm as well as implement strategies to mitigate them. Contact us to learn more.

This document is not intended to be taken as advice regarding any individual situation and should not be relied upon as such. Marsh & McLennan Agency LLC shall have no obligation to update this publication and shall have no liability to you or any other party arising out of this publication or any matter contained herein. Any statements concerning actuarial, tax, accounting or legal matters are based solely on our experience as consultants and are not to be relied upon as actuarial, accounting, tax or legal advice, for which you should consult your own professional advisors. Any modeling analytics or projections are subject to inherent uncertainty and the analysis could be materially affective if any underlying assumptions, conditions, information or factors are inaccurate or incomplete or should change.

Keeping Truck Brakes Safe Year Round

Posted October 2, 2018 by Administrator

Following the recent Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA) Brake Safety Week, brake maintenance remains a priority. With colder weather rapidly approaching, truck drivers and fleet managers need to ensure truck brakes are operational before hitting the roads in less than optimal conditions.

Brake Safety for Drivers

Truck drivers can take several steps to improve their brake safety. Some suggestions include:

  • Inspect the vehicle to identify safety risks to the driver and other motor vehicles on the road. Pre-trip inspections should last 10-15 minutes and include the truck, trailer, cab, and all equipment.
  • Go over the CSVA’s Brake Inspection Checklist. Drivers should check for damaged or missing components, worn or cracked brake pads, etc.
  • Check tire pressure regularly. When truck drivers use their brakes, it accelerates wear and tear on tire tread. By making sure tires aren’t over or underinflated, drivers can prolong the life of their brakes.
  • Practice defensive driving. Hard braking tears brakes. Sometimes, it may seem impossible to avoid hard braking when other motorists suddenly hit their brakes. However, if truck drivers maintain a good following distance, they can circumvent the situation. Other ways to avoid hard braking are to follow the speed limit, obey traffic signs, and slow down in work zones.

Brake Safety for Fleet Managers

Managing driver safety is a top priority for fleet managers, but this can be hard to do without being in the trucks with the employees. The following are several ways fleet managers can monitor and control brake safety:

  • Utilize telematics data. This information can inform fleet managers if drivers are braking hard, speeding, or other behaviors that affect brakes.
  • Create a culture of safety. Emphasize the importance of pre- and post-trip inspections to identify potential issues with brakes before they become a major problem.
  • Implement preventative maintenance. Consistent maintenance can prolong the life of brakes as well as increase driver safety.

Brake safety is an issue that concerns drivers and fleet managers alike. By making it a company-wide issue, fleets can extend the lifespan on their brakes as well as reduce the risk of a brake-related accident. To learn other ways to reduce risk in your fleet, contact the experts at Cline Wood.

This document is not intended to be taken as advice regarding any individual situation and should not be relied upon as such. Marsh & McLennan Agency LLC shall have no obligation to update this publication and shall have no liability to you or any other party arising out of this publication or any matter contained herein. Any statements concerning actuarial, tax, accounting or legal matters are based solely on our experience as consultants and are not to be relied upon as actuarial, accounting, tax or legal advice, for which you should consult your own professional advisors. Any modeling analytics or projections are subject to inherent uncertainty and the analysis could be materially affective if any underlying assumptions, conditions, information or factors are inaccurate or incomplete or should change.

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