Trucking Risk Insights: Top 10 Vehicle Violations – 2016

Top 10 Vehicle Violations—2016

A roadside inspection is an examination of individual commercial motor vehicles and drivers by a Motor Carrier Safety Assistance Program (MCSAP) inspector to determine compliance with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSRs) and/or Hazardous Materials Regulations (HMRs). Serious violations result in the issuance of driver or vehicle out of service (OOS) orders. These violations must be corrected before the affected driver or vehicle can return to service.

Trucking ViolationsJonathan Belek
Risk Management Consultant
jbelek@srfm.com

Jon Belek

Trucking P&C Pro-File Newsletter – February 2017

New Study Links Multiple Health Conditions to Preventable Crashes

It can be extremely difficult for commercial truck drivers to stay healthy on the job. Drivers often work long hours without rest, stay seated all day and don’t have access to exercise or nutritious meals. However, a new study conducted by the University of Utah School of Medicine found that drivers with three or more health conditions are much more likely to get into preventable crashes.

The study, which examined the medical records of nearly 50,000 commercial drivers, tracked a number of medical conditions that could have a negative impact on a driver’s performance—such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and anxiety.

Although the study found that drivers who have only one of the conditions

could often control it while on the road, the number of crashes increased significantly when drivers had three or more conditions. The average rate for crashes that result in an injury for all truck drivers is approximately 29 for every 100 million miles traveled, but the rate is 93 for every 100 million miles traveled for drivers who have at least three of the flagged conditions.

Transportation Industry Seeks to Limit New Rule-making

Representatives from the transportation industry have petitioned the Trump administration to slow the rule-making procedures of various federal agencies by adding more steps to the process and including business representatives in future rule-making discussions.

Although agencies such as the Department of Transportation (DOT) and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) currently go through public steps in their rule-making processes, some business owners believe that the Obama administration bypassed these processes through executive orders and safety advisories. They say this could force businesses to adopt costly new procedures with little evidence of their effectiveness.

New Interstate Passenger Resource

The FMCSA recently released an online

resource to help businesses that transport passengers across state lines. The resource includes a list of requirements that have changed over the years as a result of litigation, legislation, and rule-making. Additionally, passenger carriers can determine their registration requirements, minimum levels of financial responsibility and any applicable safety and commercial regulations.

For more information on keeping your business compliant with FMCSA regulations, contact us at 203-265-0996 today.

Jonathan Belek
Risk Management Consultant
jbelek@srfm.com

Jon Belek

Construction P&C Pro-File Newsletter – February 2017

New OSHA Beryllium Standards

On Jan. 9, 2017, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued a final rule to amend its beryllium standards for the construction, shipyard and general industries.

The final rule will reduce the eight-hour, permissible beryllium exposure limit from 2.0 micrograms per cubic meter to 0.2 micrograms per cubic meter. It also establishes a short-term exposure limit of 2.0 micrograms per cubic meter over a 15-minute sampling period.

The rule will require additional protections that include personal protective equipment, medical exams, medical surveillance, and training.

The final rule becomes effective on March 21, 2017. Affected employers must provide newly required showers and changing rooms within two years after the effective date and implement new engineering controls within three years after the effective date.

OSHA estimates that the new rule will prevent 46 new cases of beryllium-related disease and save the lives of 94 workers annually.

Employers should become familiar with the new standards and evaluate their current workplace practices to ensure compliance with the final rule.

DOL Sues Contractor for Firing Safety Manager

According to a lawsuit filed on Dec. 28, 2016, a Tampa roofing contractor discriminated against its safety manager after he cooperated with an OSHA investigation. The Department of Labor (DOL) lawsuit was a result of an investigation by OSHA’s Whistleblower Protection Program.

Under the program, employers are prohibited from retaliating against employees who raise protected concerns or provide protected information to the employer or government. The lawsuit seeks back wages, interest, and injunctive relief as well as compensatory and punitive damages.

Construction Workers at Highest Risk for WMSDs

According to a recent Occupational and Environmental Medicine report, U.S. construction workers are at a higher risk of work-related musculoskeletal disorders (WMSDs) than all other industries combined. The back is the primary body part affected, with overexertion named as the major cause of WMSDs.

Employers should adopt ergonomic solutions at construction sites, such as training employees on safe lifting practices, in order to reduce the number of WMSDs and prevent lost wages.

Jonathan Belek
Risk Management Consultant
jbelek@srfm.com

Jon Belek

High blood pressure — A hidden danger for your truck drivers

Doctor with patientIf you’re running a logistics business or division, you know how important it is to have reliable and healthy truck drivers. Although most health conditions are easy to diagnose and treat, there’s one in particular that’s tricky to spot — High blood pressure. That’s because high blood pressure (also known as hypertension) often doesn’t show any symptoms, and that’s a real problem.

Left untreated, high blood pressure can lead to significant problems for your truck drivers including:

  • An enlarged heart, a big risk for heart failure.
  • Aneurysms in blood vessels, which can be fatal.
  • Kidney failure.
  • Vision problems and blindness.

It’s estimated that over 65 million Americans (around a third of the adult population) have high blood pressure, and one in three of those people aren’t aware they’re affected.

Why high blood pressure is a real issue for truck drivers
Truck drivers have a greater risk of high blood pressure than others, mainly due to the nature of their work. Some of the causes of high blood pressure include:

  • A poor diet with too much salt — Eating healthily on the road is a real challenge, and many truck drivers will opt for fast food. Unfortunately, the high proportion of salt and lack of other nutrients is a risk factor.
  • Too much alcohol – We hope you already have drug and alcohol testing policy and procedures in place to ensure no drinking on the job, but you can’t control what happens after hours.
  • Lack of exercise — Spending almost all of their working life behind the wheel of a truck leaves little time for exercise. Being overweight or obese significantly increases the chances of high blood pressure.
  • Stress and anxiety — Dealing with other road users can create significant stress for long-haul truck drivers.

Dealing with high blood pressure issues for your drivers
As with most health issues, prevention is much better than cure. That’s why taking a few simple steps could reduce the risk of high blood pressure in your drivers, help them stay healthy, and reduce downtime due to sickness. Some of the steps you can take include:

  • Education and training — Let your truck drivers know about the risks of high blood pressure including why and how they could be impacted. Encourage them to get tested and provide clear, simple ways for them to get training on how to avoid the issue.
  • Policy changes — Introduce policies that encourage healthier behavior. Give truck drivers a 30 or 45 minute break each day that they can use to exercise. Incentivize them to eat more healthily by providing discounts for particular types of restaurants or meals.
  • Support and resources — Get some help in place. Arrange for a nurse to come on site to provide blood pressure testing and personalized advice on what your truck drivers can do. Provide maps of where to find restaurants with healthy eating options on the popular trucking routes. Introduce a formal wellness program into your workplace.
  • Health insurance and medication — Even with all these preventative measures, you will still have some drivers who develop high blood pressure problems. In those cases, you’ll want to ensure they have the right health insurance and get access to the doctors and medications they need to control their medical conditions.

If you want to keep your truck drivers healthy and happy, you can start right now. Just using one or two of these suggestions could significantly reduce the frequency and impact of high blood pressure problems. That means healthier employees, less time off sick, and a more efficient trucking operation.

Jonathan Belek
Risk Management Consultant
jbelek@srfm.com

blood pressure trucking

Your Business Resolution — Time For a Fresh Approach

business resolutionsFor many, January is the perfect time for a new start. Resolutions to go on a diet, exercise more, pay off debt, get a new job, and otherwise improve our lifestyles are as popular as ever. But, there’s another area where a fresh start can make a big difference — Your business.

The fact is, you’re probably so involved in the day-to-day running of your organization that you don’t take a step back and get a better perspective. When you’re able to step away for just a little while and look at things objectively, the chances are you can find some good stuff to improve in your business. Here’s how to go about it.

Step 1 — Set aside the time

Get some time in the diary in early January to remove yourself from everyday operations and allow yourself to review how you could improve how your business functions, policies, and procedures. Encourage your leadership team, key managers, and a selection of employees to be involved.  Not only is their input critical, it will also remove some of the burden off your shoulders.

Step 2 — Get out of the workplace

You can’t do this with distractions. Go offsite and have an away day where you can minimize the chance of interruptions and actually get some initiatives in place, bring key members of your team along with you.  Make it engaging, fun and ensure you have white boards to capture your ideas.  Take pictures so you can save the details of your discussion.

Step 3 — Identify the main areas you want to improve

Have an honest and open discussion with your team. Let everyone bring up the main pain points in the business. What’s unnecessarily complicated or difficult to do? What policies, procedures, or functions could be improved? You’ll want to keep the discussion constructive, but don’t leave anything off the table.

Step 4 — Categorize the problems

You’ll want to split the various issues into categories, for example:

  • People related — More training needed, new team setup, staff handbook updates etc.
  • Policy related — New and amended policies to make your workplace easier to do business in.
  • Procedure related — Changes to business processes, ways of doing things, and functionality.
  • Technology related — Issues with technology, hardware, software, etc.
  • Other — Any other issues that don’t fit neatly into the previous categories.

Step 5 — Brainstorm fixes

Once you’ve got your categories, see if any of the problems are related. After you’ve done that, go through and generate ideas on how to fix the various issues, especially your policies and procedures. Don’t consider any idea to be too outlandish.

Step 6 — Prioritize

Once you’ve got your ideas, prioritize the fixes. Deliver on ideas that are easy to implement and will have a good impact. Follow that up with the harder implementations that will still make a big difference. After that, carry out the changes that will still have an impact, even if it’s minor.

Step 7 — Give people accountability

Once you have a list of ideas, get people in your business to take ownership of them. Get project management in place to deliver on the ideas and fix the broken parts of your business. Then, get regular updates throughout the year on how things are going. Give your project managers the resources and people they need to make a positive change.

This can be a great way to incentivize and fire up your people to change their working environment. Whether it’s removing bottlenecks in a process, rewriting a policy, enhancing training for team members, improving hiring methods, or replacing old technology, small changes can have a big impact.

Carry this out every January, deliver on your changes, and you’ll have a beautifully functioning, sleek, and efficient operation in less time than you think.

Matt Bauer
President
mbauer@srfm.com

Business Resolution

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

Joe Pinto Head Shot

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

Joe Pinto Head Shot

 

Can Manufacturing Overcome the Widening Skills Gap?

Can Manufacturing Overcome the Widening Skills Gap?Manufacturing has always correlated with rapid economic growth. Time and time again we’ve seen manufacturing businesses create jobs and elevate a community’s standard of living. The development of a factory is the saving grace of poor communities all over the world.

The International Monetary Fund and U.S. government projections expect our manufacturing sector to grow by 3 or 4 percent over the next two years. It’s good business for investors, too: we add $1.37 to our national economy for every dollar invested in manufacturing. Despite this optimistic future, the industry is poised to face some familiar challenges.

Like other wealthy nations, the general population of the United States is aging. By 2025, nearly 25% of all persons will be older than 60.

The manufacturing sector is experiencing this trend the hardest. In 2000, the median age of the manufacturing workforce was 40.5 years old. In 2012, the median age climbed to 44.7 years, significantly higher than other sectors.

This aging of the industry has created a skills gap that is getting wider every year. Over the next decade, two million of the available 3.5 million manufacturing jobs will go unfulfilled. Employers won’t be able to find skilled workers.

Experts believe the talent gap is caused by a number of reasons:

  1. Baby boomers are beginning to retire in tremendous numbers, leaving more positions vacant than the up-and-coming workforce can fill.
  2. Trending economic expansion continues to create more jobs (about 700,000 over the next decade) that can’t be filled.
  3. There is a negative image of the manufacturing industry among younger generations. Even though executives are willing to pay higher than market rate, positions remain unfilled.
  4. There has been a slow decline of technical education in public schools, leading to fewer graduates pursuing science, technology, engineering, and math degrees.

The Manufacturing Institute found that a majority of manufacturing executives consider talent loss their toughest struggle. They fear the skills gap will cause an inability to create and implement new technologies to meet customer demand and increase productivity. Naturally, these challenges will deter profitability and growth.

The industry has come become quite diverse. Automation, data, robotics and engineering play a big role in nearly every manufacturing facility in the United States. Manufacturing is expected to continue changing, which means the industry desperately needs tech-savvy young people who can adapt to new processes and technologies.e a long way. Instead of easy-to-replace repetitive jobs, industrial operations hav

Admittedly, attracting a new workforce is challenging. In order to maintain some manufacturing status in the global economy, we have to infuse the industry with younger talent. Companies need to feed young people’s interest and show that manufacturing can be a rewarding career.

This can be best achieved by creating partnerships with schools (at the secondary and collegiate levels) to invest in technical education and offering extra-curricular programs that inspire manufacturing-related skills.

To combat the skills gap, employers need to view training and workforce development as an investment in their company, not an inconvenient expense. They must build never-ending learning into their employees’ roles so skills can stay sharp and agile. Furthermore, they need to find effective ways to transfer the knowledge of their aging population to the young recruits or risk losing competitive advantages.

Jonathan Belek
Risk Management Consultant
jbelek@srfm.com
Spring Hazards: Worker Safety During Warmer Weather

Food Safety: How to Protect Your Franchise

Food Safety: How to Protect Your FranchiseEvery day, stories about food safety issues dominate the headlines, from Chipotle’s famous contamination crisis to Dole’s bagged salad recall to the recent CRF Frozen Foods listeria scare. Contamination and illness issues present one of the greatest risks to the food industry.

If you own a franchise, you may unexpectedly find yourself in the spotlight because of a foodborne illness event in your store or because one of your suppliers experiences a contamination that impacts your food supply.  Stringent food safety procedures are critical throughout the food supply chain process.  While bacteria don’t have memories, consumers do, and a contamination event can have a swift and major impact on your company brand and profits.

So how you can you ensure the food you’re providing in your franchise is safe for your customers and that you’re protected from any potential risks?

  • Start with what you have the most control over.  Institute stringent food safety protocols within your franchise and spend time and money training your workers and enforcing and reinforcing the importance of food safety.  From thorough hand washing, to wearing and frequently changing gloves to constantly cleaning food prep surfaces, cutting boards and utensils to prevent cross-contamination, be sure to stress cleanliness and safe food preparation.
  • Monitor your supply chain.  Make sure that you’re constantly monitoring your supply chain and conduct random food product tests.  It won’t matter if you have stringent food preparation practices in place if the products you’re serving are contaminated.  Also make sure that imported and domestic fruits and vegetables are properly scrubbed and sanitized and, if they’re being cooked, heated enough to kill any E.coli bacteria.
  • Prepare for the unknown.  A crisis can hit at any time.  Make sure that you have a crisis communication plan in place to quickly respond to an issue through all channels to all audiences – from the media, to social media, to consumers, to government officials and regulators, to employees.  Don’t wait for a crisis to hit to think through what you would do.
  • Protect yourself. Manage your liability by meeting with your insurance agent to discuss risk management and the right type of insurance to adequately protect your franchise if a contamination event were to occur.  Often, general liability insurance will not cover all aspects of a food safety issue, which may require Food Contamination Insurance. Make sure you work with a firm that specializes in the food industry and takes the time to sit down and discuss your unique needs to customize the right level coverage for you.

Consumers trust the restaurants they frequent to ensure the food they’re purchasing and eating is safe for their families. However, 74% of consumers feel that fast food restaurants should monitor food safety more closely and the headlines speak for themselves when it comes to the importance of food safety procedures.  Make sure you’re protected by demanding stringent food safety practices and insuring yourself against any potential issues.

Kathy Douglas

kdouglas@srfm.com

Sinclair Risk & Financial Management

Sinclair 7-22-15-3

 

 

Spring Hazards: Worker Safety During Warmer Weather

Spring Hazards: Worker Safety During Warmer Weather Spring signifies the end of winter and a season of new beginnings.  It ushers in budding trees, blooming flowers and warmer temperatures.  It can also bring with it quickly changing conditions and hazards that employers and workers need to be aware of and prepare for to ensure safety.

 While, overall, workplaces are safer today, many people are still seriously injured on the job, especially in industries like manufacturing, construction, transportation, warehousing and oil and gas extraction.  While accidents happen, many are preventable. In fact, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) found that more than 10,000 severe injuries were caused by workplace conditions in 2015.

 What top three hazards do employers need to be aware of during spring? 

  1. Severe Weather and Flooding- Floods and tornadoes are the most common hazards in the United States during spring.  From melting snow to sudden spring showers, flooding can happen quickly and with little warning.  Not only should workers and employers be aware of weather forecasts, but workers should be trained on severe weather plans and have emergency supplies with them to be prepared if severe weather strikes.  OSHA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) have partnered to provide a comprehensive resource aimed at helping businesses and workers prepare for severe weather, like flooding
  2. Outdoor Work – From construction workers on scaffolding to flagmen helping to direct traffic at highway work zones, outdoor working conditions in the warm spring weather can naturally cause hazards for workers. In fact, more than 100 workers are killed and more than 20,000 are injured in the highway and street construction industry each year, with over half of the fatalities resulting from vehicles and equipment operating around the work zone. It’s imperative that employers put controls in place and train employees to protect workers from injury in outdoor settings.  The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health provides guides for many industries.
  3. Driving and Pedestrian Safety – As the warm weather approaches, more people get out to enjoy the warm weather – from people walking dogs to motorcyclists enjoying a ride to children riding bicycles.  Naturally, this means that there are more incidents of accidents involving driving and pedestriansIt’s important that drivers properly maintain their vehicles, exercise caution, travel at a reasonable speed, pay attention and avoid distractions like texting.    

Employers are required by law to provide their workers with a workplace free from serious recognized hazards and to comply with standards, rules and regulations issued under the OSH Act.  In addition to ensuring safety protocols, plans and training take place to prevent workplace accidents and injuries, each industry has its own nuances and risks.  At Sinclair Risk & Financial Management, we take the time to understand your company and individual situation and work with you to help you minimize your company’s risks. 

Jonathan Belek
Risk Management Consultant
jbelek@srfm.com

Spring Hazards: Worker Safety During Warmer Weather