Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Time Systems in the News!

Pretty cool write up about our time and attendance division  "Time Systems".  We offer our PEO clients major discounts vs. going out and getting this on your own. Click here to see the whole article on MSN Money's website. 

You don't have to be a PEO client to get deep discounts on our Time & Attendance service. If you are interested or just want to find out more, call us Toll Free at 877.878.6463 or email 

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Working Safely In Hot Temperatures

With all the record high temps parts of the country has this summer, it's time to review how hot conditions put your body under a lot of stress. Physical activity stresses the body even more. When heat is combined with physical activity, loss of fluids, fatigue, and other conditions can lead to a number of heat-related illnesses and injuries. Death is even possible. This week's blog discusses ways to prevent heat stress and how to recognize the symptoms of heat-stress conditions.
Warm weather increases the number of heat-stress injuries and illnesses, but Heat stress can occur any time the surrounding temperature is elevated. Even if the weather is cool, you may work in warm areas, indoors or out.
The main factors that are involved in causing heat stress include:
  • temperature  &  humidity
  • movement of air & radiant temperature of the surroundings
  • clothing & physical activity
Adjusting to these factors and/or controlling them may reduce the chance of heat stress. Your body can adjust to working in a warm environment through a process known as "acclimatization". Check with your company's safety people for the exact way to properly acclimatize yourself.  Keep in mind, though, even if you're already acclimatized, conditions can change which stress your body even more. Bright sunshine, high humidity, and sources of heat in the workplace can affect your body's ability to cool itself. If conditions change, make sure you re-acclimate yourself to the new conditions.
Engineering controls implemented to reduce the possibility of heat stress include:
  • control the heat source through use of insulation and reflective barriers
  • exhaust hot air or steam away from the work area
  • use of air-conditioning & use of air-conditioned rest areas
  • use of fans to circulate the air
Administrative controls to prevent heat stress injuries include:
  • increase  frequency and duration of rest breaks
  • schedule tasks to avoid physical activity during the hottest parts of the day
  • provide cool water and encourage consumption
  • use additional jobsite workers or slow the pace of the work
  • review  the signs and symptoms of heat stress with workforce
There are a number of types of heat stress injuries. Some are annoying but not very serious. Others can quickly lead to life-threatening situations. Knowing what to look out for is important. This is especially true because the more serious heat stress conditions cause the victim to become disoriented and unaware of his/her condition. People who are overweight, physically unfit, suffer from heart conditions, drink too much alcohol or are not acclimated to the temperature are at greater risk of heat stress and should seek and follow medical advice. The major heat stress injuries and illnesses are described here:

Heat Rash is caused by a hot, humid environment and plugged sweat glands. It is a bumpy red rash which itches severely. It is not life-threatening but is very annoying.
Heat Cramps are painful muscle cramps caused by a loss of body salt through excessive sweating. To help prevent heat cramps, drink plenty of non-alcoholic, caffeine-free fluids while working in a hot environment.
Heat Syncope (pronounced "sin-co-pay") is sudden fainting caused by a reduced blood flow to the head. The victim's skin will be cool and moist and his/her pulse will be weak. Immediate medical attention is needed in the event of syncope.
Heat Exhaustion results from inadequate salt and water intake and is a sign the body's cooling system is not working properly. The victim will sweat heavily, their skin will be cool and moist and their pulse weak. They will seem tired, confused, clumsy, irritable or upset. They may breathe rapidly, even pant, and their vision may be blurred. The victim may strongly argue that they are okay even with these obvious symptoms. If you suspect heat exhaustion, don't let the victim talk you out of seeking immediate medical attention. The heat exhaustion will affect their ability to exercise good judgment. Until medical help arrives, try to cool the victim and offer sips of cool water as long as the victim is conscious. Immediate medical attention is required. Heat exhaustion can quickly lead to heat stroke.
Heat Stroke is the deadliest of all heat stress conditions. It occurs when the body's cooling mechanism has shut down after extreme loss of salt and fluids. Here, the body temperature will rise, the victim's skin will be hot, red, and dry. Their pulse is fast, and they may complain of headache or dizziness. They will probably be weak, confused, and upset. Later stages of heat stroke cause a loss of consciousness and may lead to convulsions. In the event of heat stroke, seek immediate medical attention. Until help arrives, try to cool the victim and offer sips of cool water if the victim is conscious.

Recognizing the symptoms of heat stress is very important, particularly since the victim may not realize what is happening. If you work alone in a hot environment, develop a "buddy system" so someone will check in on you periodically to look for signs of heat stress.
Preventing heat stress is a matter of controlling the factors that cause it. Use the precautions mentioned in this article, and don't hesitate to seek assistance if you suspect heat stress. Your good health depends on it!
If you have any questions concerning heat stress and how you can improve your employees safety, please contact the LL Roberts Group PEO Risk Management department (toll free) at 877.878.6463. You can even talk to us on Facebook or Twitter!

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Aetna is buying Humana ~ So what happens next?

Aetna will acquire Humana for a reported $37 Billion. The newly combined company will have more than 33 million members.

This huge deal follows other proposed or rumored moves to merge or consolidate by U.S. health insurance companies, such as: Anthem’s interested in buying Cigna, and UnitedHealth’s previously reported interest in buying either Aetna or Humana. Many fear that these consolidations will result in fewer health carriers with much greater power. Basically, fewer insurers with more clout could raise premiums and reduce the number of doctors and hospitals in network coverage plans.

The Affordable Care Act or Obamacare has been a mixed blessing for the health insurance industry. It's created more business for major insurers because more Americans now have health coverage; however many say that the law has put more pressure on health carriers to generate profits.

So how does this industry consolidation this impact insurance agents and brokers?

Obamacare had already impacted the Life and Health Insurance broker community, now as industry consolidating occurs fewer solutions exist for brokers and their clients.  Making matters more complex (if not dire) are reports that Aetna is considering a plan to eliminate commissions built into group health plan premiums.   Of course, we’ve already seen many agencies and agents move (or attempt to move) towards collecting “consulting fees” from clients in lieu of commissions.  Many of those agents or brokers have shared with us that this concept has not been well received amongst their clientele.  Is this the future for how brokers must be compensated, billing your clients separate and apart from their policy premiums?

A result of this confusion and concern might very well be, yet another motivation to affiliate with a PEO or PEO Broker.  PEO’s can provide Insurance Agents or brokers another means of addressing their client’s health care needs while providing the agent/broker with a reoccurring revenue stream. For more information on how a PEO can solve many of your client’s employee administration and health care needs please contact the LL Roberts Group at 877.878.6463 and ask one of our Professional PEO Consultants about how you can use a PEO to better serve your clients while generating commissions for you and/or your agency. To learn more about PEOs and the LL Roberts Group visit our website at  You can even talk to us on Facebook or Twitter!

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Staying Safe in Spring Weather

Now that Spring is here and several parts of the country are getting more than it's fair share of rain and might be in line to re-write water level records. This Spring has already proven to be volatile for some parts of the country and will continue to be dangerous as the weather heats up. We know that Spring weather can be very unpredictable, and just as unstable, but not everyone understands the dangers that accompany severe weather. Severe weather affects everyone with the potential for tornados, thunderstorms, lightning, flooding, and even hurricanes in some parts of the country. Severe or violent weather threatens everyone, but the truth is, the majority of people and businesses are not prepared. Having a game plan can save lives and property when Spring weather turns violent.

Some people think these are no big deal, but thunderstorms are dangerous. There are several associated dangers of thunderstorms including tornadoes, strong winds, hail, lightning, and flash flooding. The most dangerous situation arises when a single thunderstorm affects one location for an extended period of time. Thunderstorms typically produce rain for a brief period, anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour. A severe storm produces hail at least three quarters of an inch in diameter, has winds of 58 miles per hour or higher, or produces a tornado.

A “Severe Thunderstorm Watch” tells you when and where severe thunderstorms are likely to occur. Watch the sky and stay tuned to a radio or television for information. A “Severe Thunderstorm Warning” is issued when severe weather has been witnessed by spotters or by radar. A warning indicates danger to life and property to those in the path of the storm. You should take cover immediately.

Remember the 30/30 lightning safety rule: Go indoors if, after seeing lightning, you can’t count to 30 before hearing thunder. If possible, stay indoors for 30 minutes after hearing the last clap of thunder. Stay alert to your surrounding and always use good judgment when making decisions that could have lasting effects on friends, families, and co-workers.

On the average, 90 people die each year in the United States from lightning strikes. If you are caught outside in a thunderstorm, there are some things you can do to protect yourself from lightning: 

  • Get inside a building immediately. If you have to stay outside, keep away from metal objects and stay below ground level. Avoid hilltops, open beaches, or fields; most importantly, stay away from open water and tall trees.
  • Seek shelter inside your car. If you feel your hair standing on end, squat with your head between your knees. Do not lie flat.
  • Avoid using the telephone or other electrical devices. Do not take a bath, shower or stand near plumbing.

QUICK FACT: Lightning often strikes outside of heavy rain and may occur as far as 10 miles away from any rainfall. “Heat Lightning” is actually from a thunderstorm too far away for thunder to be heard. Lightning kills more Americans than tornadoes and hurricanes each year. 

We have all seen the news about vehicles which  tried to cross a flooded street, often with tragic results. Even a four-wheel drive vehicle isn’t safe in high water areas. Flash floods have surprising lifting power. Water displaces 1,500 pounds of weight for every foot it rises. If a car weighs 3,000 pounds, it takes only two feet of water to send it downstream. It only takes 6 inches of water to sweep a person off his/her feet. One foot of water can cause a compact vehicle to lose control and “float” away. Once the car is swept away, the vehicle may become a death trap because the electric windows and door locks can short out when water reaches them, trapping the occupants inside. Do not drive through high water or flooded areas. Observe all warning signs and don’t take any chances with your or life.

Spring is a prime time spawning ground for tornadoes. If a tornado is spotted in your area, here are some tips to follow and help keep you safe: 

  • Go low and get low. - Go to the lowest level of the structure you are in. If you are at home when a tornado strikes, go to the innermost part of the home on the lowest floor such as a bathroom or closet, preferably an enclosure  with no windows.
  • Crouch or lie down, cover and protect your head. If you live in a mobile home, go outside, and lie flat in a ditch or ravine.
  • If you are in an office building, go to the designated safe area for tornadoes. If you can’t get there in time, stay in an interior hallway or basement.
  • Do not take cover in your car. If you are driving down the road and see a tornado, leave your car immediately. If you have time, get inside a building. If not, lie flat in a ditch or ravine and cover your head with your arms.

QUICK FACT: A “Tornado Watch” watch means “watch” the sky. Weather conditions are right for tornadoes to form. A “Tornado Warning” means a tornado has been sighted or identified on radar. Take cover immediately. 
If you have any questions any information found in this posting, please contact the LL Roberts Group PEO Risk Management department (toll free) at 877.878.6463. You can even talk to us on Facebook!

Monday, March 2, 2015

Hearing Protection Required? Let's Find Out Why!

It doesn’t really matter if you work in an office, construction site, or somewhere in between, you will find different levels of noise everywhere you go. The industry standard dBA or decibel level is 85, but what does that mean? Any prolonged exposure to noise above 85 dBA can result in hearing loss.  If you were to whisper, that would be around 30 dBA or a casual conversation registers at 60 dBA (not accounting for the loud talkers of the world).  Riding a motorcycle is 100 dBA while using a table saw is around 105 dBA.

One more thing we can all relate to is a concert which registers at 110 dBA. Remember how your ears rings for a little while after you leave the concert? That is a side effect of exposure to loud noises. This type of hearing loss is temporary and will disappear after some time away the exposure.  However, permanent hearing loss can result due to long-term exposure to noise, with normal hearing to be impaired indefinitely.
Now that we can see everyday causes of noise and how often we are actually around it, it is one of the most widespread occupational health problems that many of us don’t really do anything about.

Hearing protection must be made available to all workers exposed to noise levels over the permissible limit in order to prevent hearing loss. Hearing protection reduces the severity of the noise level for each employee’s work environment. One of the common reasons employees do not wear hearing protection is because they say it’s not comfortable. It is important that employees are given the chance to select protection from a variety of devices to find the product best suited for them.  Not only does the employer have to provide hearing protection, they must also provide training in the proper use and care of all hearing protection provided to employees.

The first step in understanding and controlling noise levels is to identify the sources of noise in the workplace. If you are not sure what noise levels are being produced, technology has made is it even easier to find this out.  Most smart phones now have apps that can be downloaded for free that will show you how loud your environment is. Once the sources have been identified, you can determine what hearing protection is needed.  Different types of hearing protection will list the dBA exposure levels they are designed to protect you from. Remember, that if you determine that hearing protection must be used, it is always a good idea to document what areas (including decibel levels) require what type of protection.

It is important to remember that PPE is your last line of defense. Any good hearing protection plan will look to eliminate or reduce noise levels through engineering controls.  This includes using low-noise tools and machinery, isolating the noise by distance, or using sound walls or barriers to isolate the noise.  In most cases, both engineering controls and hearing protection must be implemented together to ensure the proper protection against noise-induced hearing loss. 

The employer must ensure that employees are trained as to why, when and where they should use hearing protection. This training and PPE used must be re-evaluated whenever there is a change in the work environment.

If you have any questions concerning your hearing conservation program  and how you can improve your employees safety, please contact the LL Roberts Group PEO Risk Management department (toll free) at 877.878.6463. You can even talk to us on Facebook or Twitter!

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

IRS To Scrutinize Distinction Between Employees, Contractors As ACA Mandate Takes Effect.

The New York Times reports that the IRS is expected to more heavily scrutinize the distinction between employees and self-employed independent contractors this year because of the Affordable Care Act’s requirement that employers with more than 50 workers offer health coverage. Jeffrey Saviano, Americas director of indirect tax at Ernst & Young, said, “The stakes are higher for companies and the government because of the implementation of the A.C.A. and the employer mandate taking effect in 2015.” Tax lawyer Ian Shane suggested that the desire to avoid the expense and   hassle of compliance with the mandate provides an incentive for small businesses to classify some workers as contractors.

The New York Times  also reported that people “who overcame the challenges of and succeeded in buying health insurance under the Affordable Care Act last year now face a new set of hurdles in the form of daunting tax forms.” The article offers tips for taxpayers navigating the ACA’s new requirements, noting that those with employer-based health insurance or Medicare or Medicaid coverage will only have to check a box on Form 1040. People who qualify for an exemption from coverage will “need to fill out Form 8965.”

For more updates on ACA and how it might affect your company and your employees be sure to visit The LL Roberts Group “Obamacare” page. This page is entirely devoted to providing our current and prospective clients, agents and affiliates with news, updates and opinions concerning the Affordable Healthcare Act or ACA.

If you have any questions on how a PEO can assist your company with the Afffordable Heathcare Act, please contact a LL Roberts Group PEO Consultant (toll free) at 877.878.6463. You can even talk to us on Facebook or Twitter.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

How To Handle Complainers In The Workplace

It’s seems like every workplace has that one employee (or maybe more) who just like to complain. Complainers at work can drain you and your co-workers of energy, focus, and desire, resulting in an adverse impact on moral and even your company’s bottom-line. Ignoring chronic complainers can be like sticking your head in the sand and hoping it changes over time is not a solution. Few seem to realize the actual impact that these staff members have on your company and its culture and the long term effects it can produce. In order to effectively deal with complainers, consider utilizing the following three courses of action (or steps):

Step One
As the business owner or manager assess how you feel about the complainer. Don’t get hung-up on the negative; instead focus on the positives that the employee brings to your company. Focus on having a non-emotional discussion with the complainer--be positive.  Address the complainer with the attitude that you are striving to create a positive change or solution. 

Step Two
Make a plan with the complainer on how you want to address his or her concerns or perceived issues moving forward. For instance:
  • Involve the complainer is developing a solution. Acknowledge the concerns of the complainer. During discussions with the complainer focus on solving the problem instead of just venting. Ask for solution ideas.  You want the complainer involved in the solution—they need to have buy-in. This approach with the complainer sets a good example for the rest of the staff. 
  • Make the complainer feel comfortable with offering ideas.  It may be necessary for you to throw out some ideas (prime the pump so that the complainer sees what you are looking for. Make them feel at ease.

Step Three
Be encouraging and appreciative for the complainer’s cooperation and constructive feedback. You have to avoid focusing on any negatives.  Just keep the complainer on track by acknowledging and supporting the constructive feedback from the complainer.  Be consistent in how you address the complainer or different complainers over time.

Remember, negativity breeds more negativity. So, it’s crucial to address complainers early. Strive to create a positive, professional, and productive environment at work.  Negativity is “contagious”, so it's important to recognize it, address it, and turn it around. With planning and follow-through, you'll create a business environment where positive attitudes are recognized and rewarded and where your employees can feel good about themselves and your company.

Remember that your PEO Services Provider can offer you and your managers a variety of Human Resources solutions and resources, in addition to consultative support.  So feel free to contact our HR Department or your LL Roberts Group PEO Consultant for more information or support.  Reach the LL Roberts Group (toll free) at 877.878.6463 or you can talk to us on Facebook!