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Commercial Lines 8 Elements of a Fleet Safety ProgramFleet vehicle accidents are among the most costly injury claims for businesses. The average cost of a loss related to vehicle accidents is approximately $70,000. This is almost twice the cost of the average workplace injury ($36,592).

Without a formal fleet safety program, you may be putting the welfare of your employees and company at risk. A generic safety program is better than none. But it is far more effective to specifically design a program for your company and your fleet. A fleet safety program establishes the policies and procedures that are needed to help ensure a safe work environment for employees. It can also help protect against liability from vehicle accidents.

For any company with a fleet of vehicles of any size, a formal fleet safety plan can provide a number of
advantages, including improved safety, employee satisfaction, and the potential to improve fleet efficiency.

8 Essential Elements of a Fleet Safety Program

An effective fleet safety program must be comprehensive, up-to-date, and instituted as a part of your company’s safety culture. It should be thorough, reaching each employee who gets behind the wheel. And the commitment has to start at the top.

  1. Identifying all of your drivers. Businesses may not be aware of the full extent of their non-owned vehicle exposure. You should identify everyone who drives on behalf of the business, even those employees that use personal and/or rented vehicles.
  2. Management commitment. Leadership support of the program can help assure that the program is used.
  3. Screening and selecting drivers carefully. This can help create a reliable, safe team. Without safe drivers, no organization is likely to have a good long-term safety record. Establish clear hiring standards and a thorough screening process for anyone who drives on company business.
  4. Training drivers. This can help to ensure that all drivers understand vehicle safety policies and procedures. All drivers should have access to information on safe driving strategies and techniques, including instruction in defensive driving.
  5. Managing drivers on an ongoing basis. This is essential in helping to ensure that drivers are following fleet safety rules and driving safely.
  6. Managing accidents, when they occur. This can help mitigate accident costs. It also helps you to understand your exposures and can reduce the potential for future losses.
  7. Establishing written policies and procedures. This sets clear consistent expectations.
  8. Formalizing a plan for vehicle inspection, repair, and maintenance. This can help reduce costly, unexpected breakdowns, and can assist in avoiding accidents due to faulty equipment.

Dave Wissel is a Client Advisor and Partner at Gulfshore Insurance who specializes in construction, landscaping, and the oil and petroleum industries. Comments and questions are welcome at dwissel@gulfshoreinsurance.com

Gulfshore Insurance is a Naples, Florida based insurance agency specializing in business insurance including liability insurance, property insurance, workers compensation insurance, vehicle insurance, business income interruption insurance, cyber insurance, commercial umbrella insurance, and more. Our insurance and risk management advisors are industry specialists for condominium associations, golf and country clubs, oil and petroleum marketers, construction, landscaping, churches and non-profits, and work comp. Navigating insurance requires an experienced and trusted insurance agent who understands your business risks and exposures. Gulfshore Insurance services Naples, North Naples, Marco Island, Bonita Springs, Fort Myers, Sarasota, Lido Beach, Longboat Key, Bradenton Beach, and Southwest Florida. We have office locations in Naples, Fort Myers, Fort Lauderdale, and Sarasota.

Commercial Lines Reducing the Risk of Work Related InjuriesFor most employers, the cost of an employee’s work-related injury is covered by workers’ compensation insurance, which pays for medical care and replaces some of the income that the injured employee lost while unable to work. There is no coverage, however, for the hidden costs to your organization of that injury, such as reduced efficiency, the cost of training replacements, and increased overtime expenditures.

On-the-job injuries or vehicle accidents aren’t limited to occupations that are obviously dangerous. In most years the top three causes of injuries in the workplace are overexertion (injuries caused from excessive lifting, pushing, pulling, holding, carrying, or throwing of an object), falls on level ground, and bodily reaction (injuries from bending, climbing, slipping or tripping without falling). Such injuries can affect workers in most environments. Whatever your industry, attention to such risks can pay dividends.

Employees should be trained to recognize hazards and to report them to the appropriate person so that the hazard can be corrected as soon as possible. Work requirements involving safety should take precedence over any other.

Any near miss, first aid incident, accident, or other workplace injury-related event should be investigated. Where possible, the investigation should be carried out immediately by a team that includes both management and hourly employees, all of whom have been trained in incident investigation. The goal of investigations is to identify the cause of the accident or injury rather than assign blame and to correct any hazards or other problems found, such as poor communication.

Supervisors and managers should also be trained to recognize and correct unsafe behaviors that can lead to injuries, including rushing, frustration, complacency, and fatigue.

Once a year a team should review all incidents from the prior year to see whether there are any patterns in the accidents and, if so, how to address the problems identified.

Each worksite should confer with its fire and police departments and hospital about plans for all potential emergencies, including fire, explosion, accident, severe weather, loss of power, and violence. Emergency drills should be used to ensure that employees know what to do and to assess the effectiveness of emergency plans.

For additional information, visit the Federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration website.

Tim Spear, is a Client Advisor and Partner at Gulfshore Insurance specializing in the construction, oil/petroleum, and landscape industries. Through his consultative and diagnostic approach, he helps clients develop customized programs to meet their risk management needs. Comments and questions are welcome at tspear@gulfshoreinsurance.com

Gulfshore Insurance is a Naples, Florida based insurance agency specializing in business insurance including liability insurance, property insurance, workers compensation insurance, vehicle insurance, business income interruption insurance, cyber insurance, commercial umbrella insurance, and more. Our insurance and risk management advisors are industry specialists for condominium associations, golf and country clubs, oil and petroleum marketers, construction, landscaping, churches and non-profits, and work comp. Navigating insurance requires an experienced and trusted insurance agent who understands your business risks and exposures. Gulfshore Insurance services Naples, North Naples, Marco Island, Bonita Springs, Fort Myers, Sarasota, Lido Beach, Longboat Key, Bradenton Beach, and Southwest Florida. We have office locations in Naples, Fort Myers, Fort Lauderdale, and Sarasota.

Commercial Lines Heat IllnessAs we approach the peak heat of the summer season and as employers begin to re-open after months of COVID-19 quarantine, workers may be out of shape, out of practice on workplace safety procedures, and may have to re-breathe hot air through face coverings. As they focus on COVID-19 efforts, employers should remain aware of risks, rule violations, injuries, and heat illness.

Dangers of Hot Environments

Those who work in hot environments could be at risk of heat stress, which can result in heat stroke, heat exhaustion, heat cramps or heat rashes. Heat stress can also result in an increased risk of other injuries as workers can get sweaty palms, fogged up safety glasses and dizziness.

The same people at higher risk of contracting COVID-19- those 65 or older, are overweight, or have heart disease or high blood pressure- are also among those at a higher risk of suffering from heat illness and may need a longer time than others to re-acclimate.

Problems with Face Masks

Face masks required for reducing the spread of COVID-19 could cause further problems as mask-associated facial heat complaints may represent any of a variety of effects, including:

  • local dermal effects
  • increased temperature of breathing air
  • elevated core temperature, or
  • psychophysiological responses.

In short, risks of heat stress can worsen with masks which function like scarves by keeping warm air near the body.

Considerations for Employers

Employers with employees susceptible to heat illness should take efforts to minimize exacerbating effects heat may have in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. Create and implement a heat illness prevention plan and consider adding additional breaks and water stations to help workers regulate their body temperatures.

Tim Spear, is a Client Advisor and Partner at Gulfshore Insurance specializing in the construction, oil/petroleum, and landscape industries. Through his consultative and diagnostic approach, he helps clients develop customized programs to meet their risk management needs. Comments and questions are welcome at tspear@gulfshoreinsurance.com

Commercial Lines Working Around Overhead Power LinesPower lines are a serious and potentially fatal hazard to workers when safety precautions are not followed. Electrocution remains a major cause of deaths in the landscaping and construction industries. Cranes, backhoes, dump trucks, drill rigs and aerial lifts are common types of equipment involved in contacts with overhead power lines. However, low-tech equipment like ladders, tools and tool extensions, and scaffolds are frequently involved.

What should employers do?

  • Initial worksite surveys should include locating and identifying all overhead power lines. The heights of the wires and distance from the worksite should be noted on site diagrams to make sure workers and supervisors are aware.
  • If work must be done near energized lines, contact the local utility company for assistance. The utility company may need to shut down the lines while you are working near them. If overhead lines cannot be shut down, the utility company can install insulation over the lines during the time you will be working near them.
  • Ensure all workers keep conductive materials 10 feet away from unguarded, energized lines up to 50 kilovolts. For every 10 kV over 50, increase distance by an additional 4 inches of clearance.
  • Workers should not operate equipment around overhead power lines unless authorized and trained to do so. Use a spotter.
  • Do not allow use of metal ladders in dangerous situations.
  • Train all workers in emergency communication and proper techniques for providing aid to someone after an electrical accident.

 

At Gulfshore Insurance, we specialize in insurance and risk management for the landscape industry. We work with hundreds of landscapers throughout Florida and we are happy to assist you with training materials, safety programs, and insurance for your business.

Nick Wichmanowski a Client Advisor and Partner at Gulfshore Insurance who specializes in construction, landscaping, and the oil and petroleum industries. Comments and questions are welcome at nwichmanowski@gulfshoreinsurance.com

General Guidelines for Working with Customers and Staff during the COVID‐19 PandemicBasic Precautions

  • Keep business units separate whenever possible
  • Wash your hands frequently
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth
  • Avoid shaking hands, hugging or other close contact
  • Cough/sneeze into a tissue or your elbow if no tissue is available
  • Stay home if you are sick
  • Wear disposable gloves when cleaning/disinfecting
  • Avoid gatherings of more than three people at work and maintain social distancing (stay up to date with CDC guidelines)
  • Avoid face to face meetings; conduct web based meetings whenever possible

 

Basic Staff Guidelines

  • Communicate to employees why the day‐to‐day products and/or services you provide are essential
  • Communicate and reinforce daily safety protocols
  • Allow employees to stay home if they are uncomfortable working and permit the use of paid time‐off, if available
  • Post the FFCRA notice at the workplace, or send via email or regular mail to remote employees

 

Landscape Customers

  • Obtain written confirmation from your customers allowing you to continue working on their property
  • Communicate, as accurately as possible, the times you plan to be on their property
  • Inform clients of the safety protocols your company has in place, including but not limited to the proximity rule of 6 feet (continue to monitor and follow up to date CDC guidelines)
  • Designate one point of onsite contact (e.g., the foreman) and ask your customers not to approach any other workers
  • Be prepared to stop work if a customer expresses any health or safety concerns

 

Field Staff and Supervisors

  • Train designated personnel (e.g., foreman) to answer health and safety questions from the public clearly and concisely
  • In instances where employees will be on one job site all day, encourage meeting on‐site rather than at the shop
  • When crews must report to the shop, stagger start times to maintain social distancing
  • Operate with the minimum number of employees necessary on any site
  • Do not rotate crew members to minimize interaction
  • Limit the number of crew members per truck and assign one truck that is not shared with other crews
  • If employee wishes to drive his personal vehicle to the jobsite, the personal auto minimum limit requirement is 100,000/300,000 and must provide proof of insurance (copy of insurance declaration page)
  • The use of a personal vehicle for work will require screening of their MVR and be determined an eligible driver
  • Make certain that all vehicles are well ventilated and sanitized at the end of each day
  • Always wear proper Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and do not share
  • Store PPE in clear plastic bags and sanitize at the end of each day
  • If crew members must work in proximity to one another for heavy lifting or similar tasks, they should wear facemasks and disposable gloves
  • Being designated an essential business is a privilege, so represent your company and the industry in a professional and compassionate way as you continue to provide much‐needed products and/or services

 

Office and Sales Staff

  • Restrict the use of restroom facilities to office personnel only and disinfect surfaces
  • Disinfect personal workspace, including phones, keyboards and desktops daily
  • Disinfect doorknobs, push bars and cabinet pulls daily
  • Disinfect steering wheels, dashboards and car door handles daily
  • Operate with the minimum number of employees onsite and allow remote working when appropriate