Intoxication and workers' comp: What every employer should know

Keeping the workplace as safe as possible should be a top priority for all employers. But accidents can happen even when you’ve taken steps to prevent them. When employees don’t follow safety procedures, injuries on the job are more likely to occur, but even more so when intoxicating substances are involved. Here, we share what every employer should know about workers’ comp and intoxication.

The injured worker will still receive benefits

The state of Colorado doesn’t deny workers’ comp benefits to injured employees, and this includes workers who were under the influence during work hours. But if the injury was caused by the employee’s intoxication, he or she may be penalized with reduced benefits. If you have reason to believe that your employee was injured due to intoxication or use of a controlled substance, you’ll need to submit proof of the individual’s failure to follow workplace procedures.

You have the right to request blood alcohol testing

While it’s uncomfortable for everyone when intoxication in the workplace is suspected, employers have the right to ask for a blood alcohol test. Keep in mind that you should only request additional testing if you’ve noticed the glaring signs of intoxication: slurred speech, staggering or a sighting of drug or alcohol use at the worksite.

Post workplace rules in an easily visible location

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In the best working environments, each team member knows what’s expected of them. It’s good policy to post workplace rules in a prominent place. When everyone’s on the same page and there’s a written record of clear expectations, it’s easier to avoid mishaps. For best results, try implementing a training program for each new hire, and hold workshops occasionally to refresh seasoned veterans. Offering an Employee Assistance Program can head off a variety of emotional and health-related problems that can lead to substance abuse.

The use of drugs and alcohol can play a major role in causing work-related injuries. While intoxication on the job is relatively rare, it’s a must to ensure that everyone involved is covered.

When you’re ready, we are here to help. To get a quote please call, email, or stop by either of our locations. We’ll work with you to get your company cost contained with the state and, when possible, enrolled in our Safety Group.

As the temperature drops, prepare your business for winter in Colorado

The calendar says October, but already parts of Colorado, including Denver, have experienced the first snowfall of the season. The onset of this winter weather brings new safety concerns and hazards. 

Snowstorms can cause costly damage to businesses — remember the blizzard of 2003? It dumped up to six feet of snow on some parts of the state, and according to the Rocky Mountain Insurance Information Association, it resulted in tens of millions in insurance claims. 

Winter worries include an increase in slips, trips and falls; travel complications; illnesses; and exposure leading to hypothermia and frostbite. However, by incorporating the right precautions, you can decrease your employees’ chances of being injured on the job by these seasonal hazards.

Here are some tips for proactively preparing for the most common winter weather risks:

  • Slips, trips and falls: Encourage workers to wear footwear with slip-resistant treads. Clear ice and snow from places your employees walk and use deicer to eliminate slush buildup. If you must clear snow from rooftops, employ caution on a ladder, and always use a fall-protection system.

  • Hypothermia and frostbite: Encourage employees to dress in layers if they will be outside, including waterproof clothing as the outer layer. Have them remove wet clothing as soon as possible when coming indoors, double up on socks and choose mittens over gloves. Watch for frostbite signs such as lost feeling in extremities or blistering of skin. 

  • Winter travel: Stay informed and check road conditions before driving. The Colorado Department of Transportation has a handy websiteto gauge weather wherever you’re headed. Remind employees not to use cruise control, which can trigger skids in wintery conditions. If you become stranded on the road, tie brightly colored cloths to the side-view mirrors, door handles and the antenna if you have one. Stay with your vehicle, turning it on for a few minutes every hour to generate heat, but keep the windows open to avoid carbon monoxide buildup. Don’t forget to make sure the exhaust pipe isn’t blocked. 

  • Blizzards: Identify and patch any pipe and insulation leaks before a storm. If you have inventory, take pictures of it for reference afterward. Review evacuation plans with employees. If you do not have time to evacuate, keep employees inside. Buy a battery-powered radio for storm updates in case you lose power. 

  • Avalanches: Before undertaking work-related trips to the backcountry, look up local conditions via the Colorado Avalanche Information Center. An avalanche is more likely to occur in an area that has already had one. If employees must venture into such a place, make sure they’ve received training, and provide them with avalanche beacons along with probes and shovels. Read the Colorado Division of Homeland Security & Emergency Management’s list of recommendations for people caught in an avalanche.

  • Illness: During the winter flu season, encourage employees to wash their hands frequently and get their flu shots.

Watch Pinnacol’s winter weather pointers video for more suggestions on readying for cold weather.

Winterize your vehicle like a safety professional

 Idling your car to warm it may harm your engine.

Idling your car to warm it may harm your engine.

In addition to winterizing your work vehicles, you should encourage your employees to get their personal cars ready for winter. Try these suggestions safety consultants use for their own cars:

  • See if your lights, battery, brakes, wiper blades, antifreeze and heater/defroster work.

  • Make an emergency kit for the car that includes a flare, ice scrapers, tire chains, a tow rope and jumper cables. 

  • Install snow tires and/or measure the tread on your all-weather tires to see if they need to be replaced.

  • Store kitty litter or salt in the trunk to help with traction on slippery roads.

  • Stow a warm blanket, water and dried fruit in the trunk in case you get stranded on the road.

  • Check the exhaust pipe for clogs caused by snow or ice, which can lead to carbon monoxide leaking into the vehicle.

  • Always keep the gas tank above half full to prevent gas line freezing.

  • Don’t idle the car to warm it up; this wastes gas and may harm your engine.

8 Ways to Minimize Damage After a Hurricane

The howling winds and torrential rain has died down. But just because the hurricane has passed doesn’t mean you’re in the clear yet. With the danger of dangling power lines, fallen trees, flooding and more, you’ll want to keep these 8 things in mind when safely returning to your home or assessing it for damage.

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  1. Check your power lines
    Beware of loose or dangling power lines and report them immediately to the proper authorities. If you see a power line that’s down, move away from it and beware of any water or other objects touching the lines.

  2. Don’t use your water
    Use your emergency supply of water or boil water before drinking until officials have given word that it’s safe.

  3. Operate a generator safely
    If you’ve lost power, make sure to operate your generator outside your home in a well-ventilated area. Do not operate generators or gas, propane or charcoal grills indoors or near your home’s ventilation areas.

  4. Protect the exterior
    If your home has sustained damage, cover the roof with tarps and your windows with plywood if it is safe for you to do so.

  5. Clean items left indoors
    Dust items with a soft brush and wipe metal objects with a soft, lint-free cloth.

  6. Assess interior damage
    If you have wet or damaged artwork, blot off excess moisture, remove wet backings, mats and frames and keep them in an air-conditioned room. Take pictures of any damage and contact professionals for assistance.

  7. Inspect your car
    Wash any debris from your car and take photos of any damage.

  8. Use caution while driving
    Be aware of fallen power lines, debris on the road, missing signs, or broken traffic lights. Be cautious of any moving water before driving through it, and make sure you have a spare tire.

    What to do if your suffer damage
    If you have suffered damage from a hurricane or severe storm, please call your agent or insurance carrier and get a claim filed immediately to get the process started.

    If you’re our client, please call and we’ll work quickly to make your home whole again.

    For more tips on what to do before, during, and after a hurricane, check out these resources from