Loss control

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Q. Do I really have to worry about fleet safety?

A. Whether you have one van or a fleet of trucks to make your deliveries, one accident can be devastating to your HME business. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention finds that the annual cost for motor vehicle accidents in the U.S. exceeds $99 million. And the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that 40% of all worker on-the-job fatalities are the result of motor vehicle accidents.

It is a dangerous world out there and your drivers must be alert for distracted drivers, red light runners, speeders and many other poor drivers who could cause an accident--all while not committing any of these errors themselves.

Every accident has both direct costs and indirect costs associated with them.  The direct costs include medical bills for the injured parties, vehicle damage and damage to equipment or stock that may have been on your vehicle. Typically, these direct cost items are covered by insurance. There are, however, indirect costs as well. Loss of a trained worker, overtime costs, hiring and training temporary personnel, missed delivery times which may result in lost customers, potential regulatory fines or penalties and negative publicity. Imagine one of your vehicles involved in a catastrophic vehicle accident and a picture with your company's name on the vehicle on the front page of the morning paper. That certainly will impact sales. In addition, workers compensation premiums could rise as they are directly related to your claims experience.

These indirect costs could be as much as 4.5 times the direct costs, most if not all of which are not covered by insurance.

There are several things you can do to reduce your exposure to such accidents including vehicle maintenance, driver selection, driver training, driving policies, and technology, but these must be done before an accident to be effective.

Remember, once those vehicles leave your building, your business' integrity, reputation, and possibly its very future, is out of your hands, so you must take control now.

Bill Tricarico is director of loss control at McNeil & Company. Reach him at btricarico@mcneilandcompany.com or 800-822-3747 ext. 127.