For restoration contractors, auto-related claims present one of your biggest risks. A large auto accident can easily cost (or your insurance company if you have proper coverage) millions of dollars. In fact, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 1,789 workers were killed in 2012 in traffic-related accidents, which was the number one cause of workplace fatalities.
Auto exposures are an important element for restoration contractors to evaluate and implement control measures due to the fact that auto losses continue to be a driving loss factor in both frequency and severity. In fact, the average cost of an auto-related injury is twice the cost of the average workplace injury. This is largely due to the fact that if an employee gets into an auto accident in which he or she is injured, the result is not only an auto loss, but may also become a workers compensation loss due to an injury to an employee.
Implementing a solid fleet safety plan can be challenging for a number of reasons:
Unlike employees working at a jobsite, shop, or office environment, an employee driving a vehicle on a public roadway is not under direct supervision
Distracted driving issues such as eating or drinking, the use of mobile technology such as cell phones or GPS devices, adjusting the radio or CD, smoking, talking to other passengers, etc.
Unfamiliarity with effective fleet management controls by safety professionals and other business leaders
Safety professionals and business leaders sometimes aren’t aware that a company’s auto exposures take the form of company-owned vehicles, employee-owned vehicles used for business purposes, and rented vehicles used on company business
Implementing a formal fleet safety program can help identify the proper controls and is important for those who are driving on company business. The controls should be consistent with best practices to mitigate the exposures for all fleet types. Best practices for an effective fleet safety program include, but should not be limited to:
A driver selection process which includes checking all employees’ motor vehicle records (MVRs) prior to employment and at least on an annual basis thereafter
Formal MVR criteria should be established to determine when a driver has an acceptable, marginal, or poor driving record and the related actions that will be taken
Implementation of a personal use policy to limit who can drive a company vehicle (e.g., restrictions on spouse and child use), and limiting its use such as preventing hauling of personal trailers or recreational vehicles (boats, ATVs, etc.)
Fleet safety policies that include a formal seat belt requirement, specifying who can ride in the vehicle, cell phone use prohibition, the prohibition of drugs/alcohol in the vehicle, and vehicle maintenance requirements
The investigation of all accidents, including a post-accident drug test of the employee(s) involved
Spelling out insurance requirements for those drivers who are operating their vehicle on company business. These employees should be subject to the same driver selection process (e.g., MVR checks) as those who drive company vehicles
Annual (or more frequent) safety training to reinforce safe driving habits
The implementation of an effective fleet safety management program, as well as adherence to state and federal laws, is vital to controlling auto exposures and preventing auto losses. Business leaders have a duty to approach the situation proactively as this is the number one exposure to loss in the workplace. What business professional would want to field the dreaded phone call that one of their employees had caused an accident that resulted in someone getting injured or killed while driving for business purposes? The duty falls on company leadership to emphasize the importance of proper hiring practices, preventive controls, and ongoing training to reduce this exposure.
To find out more about implement a fleet management policy for your restoration company, please feel free to contact our office.