Trucking companies (or companies that just use trucks): Make the most of your industry associations

trucking associationStrength in numbers. The power of a team. A built-in support system.

No matter the size of your fleet, if you use trucks in any capacity, joining an industry association is a smart idea for your business. From big rig haulers to landscapers with a couple of light duty box trucks, the trucking industry has particular needs and a host of problems to solve, not to mention regulatory and legislative battles to fight.

Yes, you can go it alone, but why suffer through it solo when associations like the Motor Transport Association of Connecticut (MTAC) can help you “make things happen”?

Founded in 1920, MTAC is a fantastic, effective group that provides a host of services for its member businesses. Part of the American Trucking Associations (a federation of associations), its mission is to protect and promote the interests of the Connecticut trucking industry: In other words, your interests.

Obviously, the first step to success here is to join an organization like MTAC, but to really maximize your membership, you need to tap into the resources it provides. Consider being proactive in these five areas where an association can really benefit your business.

Education — Industry associations make it their business to know what you need to know to operate your business effectively. They can be founts of knowledge, with best practices information about issues such alcohol and drug testing, weight laws, driver qualifications, and vehicle maintenance, to name a few.

Driver Training — A best-in-class fleet has best-in-class drivers who are up-to-date on safety protocols and a wide variety of specialty areas, such as keeping cargo secure and knowing the ins and outs of braking systems. Industry associations offer the kind of training your drivers need to stay safe and productive.

Networking — Getting out of the office (and the truck!) and getting into seminars and gatherings is a great way to follow industry trends, find business partners and customers, and bounce ideas and concerns around with others who understand the industry. Trucking associations provide a full calendar of seminars, meetings, and other events that will help you make these important connections.

Lobbying — One of the most important services a trucking association will provide is lobbying on behalf of its members at the state and federal level. Though you don’t necessarily need to be climbing the Capitol’s steps, you do need to make sure your association understands your concerns. After all, they are there to represent you. Make sure your representatives know what’s on your mind!

Problem Solve — Industry associations exist to help your business thrive. They can help you work through thorny problems and they can help with things like supplying log books, driver qualification files, vehicle maintenance records and other compliance documentation.

Join your association, but don’t neglect it! Make sure you make the most of it.

P.S. Many of these offerings will help your business in one key area: keeping your worker’s compensation costs as low as possible. For more information, check out my recent [link] white paper, “How to avoid worker’s compensation claims in the trucking industry.”

Joe Pinto
Risk Management Consultant
jpinto@srfm.com

Joe Pinto

 

 

 

 

 

 

Supply Chain Management – How to Keep Your Business Running if a Supplier is Impacted by a Natural Disaster

Ordering on-line from modern warehouseAs a forward-looking business, your supply chain is vital. You rely on your suppliers to provide high-quality materials, products, and services so you can serve your customers. Your suppliers give you the ability to run an efficient operation so you can sell to businesses and individuals.

So what happens when your supply chain breaks? There are all sorts of natural disasters that can impact your suppliers — Earthquakes, floods, wildfires, tornadoes, hurricanes, evacuations. It might sound like a doomsday scenario, but it’s important to be ready for anything.

That’s why you need to have a contingency plan in place if your suppliers can’t deliver goods and services to you. This is known as “Business Continuity Planning (BCP)” and “Disaster Recovery (DR)” and taking some time now will give you confidence you can survive problems in the future.

Here’s a step by step guide to getting a business continuity plan in place.

Understand all of the products, materials, and services you rely on from your suppliers

Go through all the business processes you use to create the products and services your customers rely on. Carry out a complete audit of everything that feeds into, through, and out of your processes. Note down any materials, products, or services that you source from outside your own business. This could include:

  • Raw materials.
  • Support and maintenance services.
  • Plant and equipment.
  • Office and business services.
  • People and experts.
  • Hardware, software, and hosting.

Establish which supplier provides each of these to you and note them all down.

 Speak to your suppliers about their own disaster recovery and business continuity plans

Call each of your suppliers and talk to them about the DR and BCP they have in place. Ask them if they have recommendations for other suppliers in the event they suffer from a natural disaster. Reassure them that you aren’t planning to flee to the other supplier, but you just want to have a contingency plan in place.

 Locate suppliers in other geographic areas and speak with them

Explore suppliers located in other areas (in case the natural disaster is widespread) who can meet your needs. Make sure they can provide the goods and services you need to the quality and speed you expect. Call these suppliers and talk with them about them becoming a contingency supplier to you and see what would be involved.

 Get an agreement in place with your contingency suppliers

Once you’ve identified suppliers you want to use, get a formal agreement in place about them becoming backup suppliers. Let them know your expectations, turnaround times, amount of materials or services needed, quality, and any other key factors. In some cases you may need to provide a standby or retainer fee, so you will need to plan that in.

 Test out their products and services

Ask your contingency suppliers to provide you with samples of their goods and services so you can check them for quality. You may have to pay for these, but it’s worth it to find out if they can meet your needs.

 Share this information with other key people in your business

Ensure you document all of your contingency suppliers, agreements, and contact points. If a supplier suffers from a natural disaster you’ll want to have information easily available so you can react to the emergency quickly. Let your other key staff know exactly where to find and how to use the information.

This might seem like being over-prepared, but in business there’s really no such thing. The last scenario you want to be in is frantically searching for a new supplier because your current one can’t operate. Take care of the issues now, and you’ll be able to smoothly switch over to a new supplier in the event of any problems.

Joe Pinto
Risk Management Consultant
jpinto@srfm.com

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Reducing Your Risk and Exposure to Worker Compensation for the Sand and Gravel Industry

gravel pitWhen it comes to heavy industrial work and extraction services, the safety of your workers is paramount. It’s vital that you take every step possible to reduce the risk of injury or issues in the workplace, and limit your exposure to possible worker compensation claims for employees extracting sand, gravel, and similar materials.

We’ll start by looking at the data before sharing some common sense best practices for making all of your work sites and people safe.

Information on the sand and gravel industry

  • There are currently between 6,000 and 6,500 sand and gravel operations throughout the US, according to 2013 figures.
  • Most operations have fewer than 25 employees and only 7 or 8 counties through the US have operations with more than 200 employees.
  • There are very few fatalities across the sand and gravel extraction industry as a whole, with a total of 43 reported between 2003 and 2013 (just over 4 a year on average).
  • There are a fair number of nonfatal injuries — Between 2009 and 2013, there were an average of 370 injuries a year, affecting an average of around 1.6% of employees.
  • The most common types of injury for sand and gravel workers, in order, are:

o Handling materials — 35%
o Slip or fall — 29%
o Use of hand tools — 12%
o Powered haulage — 9%
o Machinery — 7%
o Other — 8%

If you want to reduce the risk of injury, and by extension your exposure to worker compensation, you need to make sure you have best-in-class training, safety equipment, working environments, and policies to reduce and prevent injuries.

Creating a safe work environment for sand and gravel employees
We recommend the following when you’re creating and reviewing your safety procedures.

Get a complete, independent audit of your existing safety practices
Have an independent organization come in to examine and report on how you currently operate, with a strong focus on safety. They will produce a detailed report highlighting any gaps in any aspects of your safety processes and policies.

Get very clear safety policies and processes in place and rigorously enforce them
Good health and safety starts with strong policies. Review all of your existing health and safety practices and ensure they’re reflected in the policies you share with employees. Provide plenty of practical examples and context for your policies so your employees can understand how they work in practice. In particular, you need to ensure every employee is responsible for their own health and safety.

Provide the right training on best practices and ways of working
Make sure you have an in depth onboarding and ongoing training program on health and safety for all employees. Ensure the training covers every aspect of your health and safety policies, using equipment safely, operational expectations and an awareness of the health of yourself and others.

Invest in equipment and tools that minimize the risk of injuries

  • Provide protective clothing to your workers
  • Ensure they use equipment and tools designed to minimize the risk of injury. This could include highly visible haulage machinery, hand tools designed with protectors, footwear that allows sure footing, gloves to make material handling safer, and a variety of other areas.
  • Inspect equipment and tools regularly for deterioration and replace anything that isn’t up to standards.

Make it everyone’s responsibility to report potential issues
You want your workers to be aware of their environment and any potential hazards that could affect them and their colleagues. Make it easy to report potential threats and ensure everyone knows it’s their responsibility to do so.

React to potential hazards quickly and ensure they’re fixed
Give a member of your staff accountability and responsibility for monitoring and fixing reported hazards. Measure how long it takes them to do so and use this to design better systems for identifying and fixing problems.

Make sure the environment remains as safe as possible

  • Clearly mark potentially unsafe areas (e.g. loose ground.)
  • Put proper fencing and barriers in place to keep people away from danger.
  • Make sure you control for dust pollution and storing of materials.
  • In times of severe weather, make sure you have proper processes in place to minimize risk (e.g. when people are working in slippery and wet environments.)
  • Keep landslides of sand and gravel to a minimum by regulating the size and location of materials storage.
  • Have rigorous safety controls around all blasting and explosives handling and use.

Taken together, all of these suggestions can make your site a much safer place to work, maintains the health and safety of your people, and makes sure you don’t fall afoul of worker compensation.

Joe Pinto
Risk Management Consultant
jpinto@srfm.com

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Understanding the changes in rules for Crane Operators

Construction worker talking to crane operatorBack in the year 2010 the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) implemented a rule outlining new regulations for the certification of crane operators. The new regulations stemmed from a high rate of accidents and fatalities related to crane operation in the construction industry. Since the new OSHA standards were released much has transpired regarding some specifics of the rule and the impact on both employers and employees in the construction business. This article will explain the rule, the changes, and the implications for employers.

2010 OSHA Crane Operator Certification Standard: The Basics

OSHA released a final rule in 2010 regarding operator qualification and certification for Cranes and Derricks in construction.

The OSHA rule is quite lengthy but essentially these were the three main points for debate:

  1. It requires employers to ensure that crane operators are certified  by an approved entity before operating a crane
  2. It states that once an operator passes a certification course, they are “deemed qualified” to operate a crane thus replacing the employers duty to ensure that crane operators are competent and well trained
  3. It states that operator certifications are to be based on crane load capacity (multiple certifications would be required for each type of crane; 50 ton, 100 ton, 200 ton, etc.)

Initially, the rule passed down by OSHA would require all operators to be certified by November 2014.

The rule stems from a litany of accidents and fatalities in the industry surrounding the operation of cranes. Cranes pose a significant danger to employees and OSHA has estimated that 89 workers per year are killed in crane-related accidents.

Specifically, crane-related injuries and fatalities have been caused by:

  • Electrocution
  • Being crushed by the equipment
  • Being struck by the equipment or a load
  • Falls

 Rule Appeal and Certification Extension

Industry professionals universally recognize the need for improved training and certification processes regarding crane operation, but after the final rule from OSHA was released it was received with much criticism.

A coalition of experts and industry stakeholders called out OSHA on two main points:

  1. Although necessary, third party certifications alone were insufficient in guaranteeing operator safety and should not replace the employers’ duty to ensure that operators are trained and competent.
  2. Requiring multiple certifications based on the load rating of the crane did not provide any significant safety benefit and would cause an undue financial burden on both employers and employees.

In response to these concerns, OSHA has made changes to the rule. Specifically, they have done two things:

Issued an extension of compliance: The new deadline for employers to ensure that all crane operators are certified has been extended to November 10, 2017.

Revised the crane operator certification standards: OSHA has removed the mandate requiring multiple certifications based on load capacity, and they have reworded the text surrounding “deemed qualified” to put qualification responsibilities back on the employer.

OSHA didn’t quite get it right the first time, but they listened to the feedback from experts in the industry and made changes to make the rule better. Safety in the construction industry is paramount. This new rule regarding crane operation will save lives, cut down on injuries, and keep employees safer. For employers it will keep qualified operators on the job longer, reduce the amount of workers’ comp. claims, and lower operating costs. It’s a win all around.

At Sinclair, we are committed to helping you keep your team safe, reduce risks, and save money. Our construction specialists work with clients of all shapes and sizes and fully understand the diversity of the industry. Get in touch with us today to see what we can do for your operation.

Joe Pinto
Risk Management Consultant
jpinto@srfm.com

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