Falls from ladders are the leading cause of death in the construction industry, and distracted driving is following fast on its heels. According to Laramie Sandquist, general manager–risk management resources for Federated Insurance in Owatonna, Minn., who hosted the session, “Accidents Happen: Do They Need To?” on the last day of the NECA 2016 show, most of these accidents are preventable.
Sandquist began his presentation with some shocking statistics regarding falls from ladders, scaffolding, and scissor lifts. For example, did you know the average fall claim costs $37,000? And this number doesn’t even include the additional costs associated with finding a replacement employee, training the replacement, completing the necessary paperwork and phone calls needed to submit the claim, etc.
Sandquist discussed how taking some simple steps could greatly reduce or eliminate the number of falls, such as knowing the specific requirement for the type of ladder you’re using on a job (i.e., weight capacity, necessary clearances, how to operate locking mechanisms, etc.).
“Accidents happen to everyone, no matter what their age or how many years of experience they have on the job,” Sandquist said.
Next, Sandquist delved into the rocketing costs of distracted driving — especially among electrical contractors, who spend a larger amount of time in their work vehicles compared to other industry workers. He began this portion of the session by asking the audience if anyone considered him/herself a bad driver. Not surprisingly, not one person raised their hand. But when he asked if anyone had recently encountered a bad driver, all hands shot up.
“Take a look at your communication practices,” encouraged Sandquist. “It’s the biggest driver of accidents.”
Communication practices include not only mobile phone use while driving, but also hands-free phone operation, GPS, and even conversation among the driver and a vehicle’s passenger(s). The audience viewed a brief video that recommended that all employers adopt a strict cell phone and hands-free ban while driving, followed by another short video that’s part of Federated Insurance’s new campaign “Please make it home safely today.”
Sandquist ended the session by warning attendees that mobile phone usage leaves evidence like a “trail of breadcrumbs,” which can ultimately lead to an auto accident being prosecuted criminally instead of civilly.