Five Tips for Saving on Commercial Insurance

Can one really save on commercial insurance? Is this for real?

Insurance savings are real and can be had, but like anything else worthwhile, require both time and effort. Larger companies devote departments full of risk managers to help lower their risks (and costs) of doing business.

But there are things smaller operations can do to lower their insurance premiums. These are neither extraordinary nor extraneous actions, but usually things you don’t know about, things no one has told you about, or things one learns after repeated batterings or sometimes failures.

These tips are from a series published on LinkedIn. Their purpose is to help save you money (if that’s your goal).

Please note: I am not an insurance agent. I do not sell insurance. This blog is for information purposes only. I am not an attorney. This blog is not legal advice. Please use your discretion in applying any information to your particular situation and circumstances. Results may vary. 

Today’s Five Insurance Saving Tips

2021 Insurance Saving Tip #9

Have a safety “elevator speech” for your company or organization.

An elevator speech is a brief overview of what you or your organization are about, short enough to present during an elevator ride. It is a means to introduce yourself or organization to new career and/or business connections

A safety elevator speech is talking points about what you or your organization are currently doing in the area of safety. It could include activities in the last year, current initiatives, or those planned for the near future.

Many times company representatives or owners are:
—shy or hesitant when talking about their safety program(s)
—often forget to bring up key points they would like to present

Use your brief safety elevator speech with:
■ Insurance agents, brokers, loss control inspectors or risk management representatives, Underwriters
■ Your staff, safety personnel, company superiors, and others

Memorize your safety elevator speech. It can come in handy when you least expect it.

New: Digi-Tip

This next one is a new insurance tip for our digital age. Insurance companies are streamlining operations, dropping agents, or selling directly. As such, what is missing is the human touch. Beware! In this tip I cover a potential risk you need to be aware of in filling out online electronic forms.

2021 Insurance Saving Tip #10

Use Extreme Caution When Filling Out or Using Online Insurance Forms

There is a big push by insurance companies to automate and digitize their business processes. As there is less and less face contact, insurance companies are using a new suite of tools to determine, when filling out online forms, if their customers are lying or engaging in fraud.

It’s called behavioral signaling. It’s not only what you put down, but how you do it.

Do you hover over a question before answering it? Do you cut and paste information? Is information later changed or deleted?

When filling out e-forms I recommend to first read the form, gather the required information, then fill out the form as accurately (and quickly) as possible. Then proof read it, again, and make any necessary changes.

Anything else could result in potential additional scrutiny or even a possible decline in issuing a quote.

2021 Insurance Saving Tip #11

Investigate all accidents and incidents, no matter how small.

Accident/incident investigation can identify workplace hazards and help in creating corrective action plans to prevent future occurrences. In some jurisdictions, it’s the law.

In today’s safety environment, the terms accident and incident are used interchangeably, as it is felt most accidents are preventable.

We want to investigate the small stuff because: a.) it can be an indicator or predictor of future events, and, b.) staff needs to be made aware of the importance of workplace safety.

Be sure to follow a checklist. Your insurance agent may have an investigation checklist and/or other helpful forms. A generic checklist can be found in the link below.

If a safety event happens, don’t wait. Get as much information as soon as possible. Try to determine the root cause. Then follow up with any corrective action, if appropriate.

2021 Insurance Saving Tip #12

Make a good-faith effort to answer all of your insurance company’s questions and keep them informed of any changes.

Sometimes things change quickly. Assets are added or deleted. New drivers are hired. Losses occur. The list goes on.

A policyholder (insured) has a duty and obligation to disclose any information a reasonable person should have known would have been relevant to the decision of the the insurance company (insurer) whether to accept the risk.

For example, when filling out an application, if it is known that a company driver has lost their driving privileges, but the company doesn’t inform the insurance company (or continues keeps the the driver on the road), this could be considered a failure to make a reasonable disclosure.

For serious non-disclosures, insurance companies have a provision in their policy to add on additional premiums on past or future policy years, or even cancel the policy outright.

Always make a ‘reasonable disclosure’ when providing insurance information.

2021 Insurance Saving Tip #13

Have an organizational policy which encompasses safety events from start to end.

What’s in a good company “accident policy?”

■ Staff need to be trained what to do in the event of an accident.
■ There should be accident kits in all vehicles and updated first aid kits on site or on location.
■ Staff should know what to do or not do when taking photos.
■ Annual refresher training is a must.
■ Keep a list of regulatory contacts, if any government reports are later required.
■ Some companies immediately do a legal review with their counsel, if appropriate. From time to time this possibility should be reviewed with counsel, as well as your policy.
■ Accident policies should aim to preserve life, property, and evidence.
■ When others are at fault, know what your insurance company needs to pursue a possible subrogation claim, so your insurance does not go up.

2021 Insurance Saving Tip #14

Check with your agent if you can get a “shareholder discount” on your insurance for owning any stock in the insurance company or its subsidiaries.

It could be worth your time and effort to buy a share or two.

Bonus Tip 1: It’s always a good idea to check with your agent and broker for any and all available discounts. Sometimes, in the wacky world of insurance, doing little things like this can result in huge savings over time.

Bonus Tip 2: Sometimes you can get discounts for doing things that seem counterintuitive, like adding drivers to get into a different category. For example, a key driver has some points and you can’t fire him. Adding additional drivers to your driver pool with stellar driving records might actually lower your premiums.

Thank you for reading this. What ways have you found to save money on your insurance?

Managing Your Risk in Trucking

rollawayManaging Risk in Trucking

On Oct. 17, 2018 the Transport Topics’ LiveOnWeb program, “Managing Risk in Trucking” was broadcast.

Panelists included:

  • Joe DeLorenzo, director of the Office of Enforcement and Compliance at FMCSA.
  • Lisa Gonnerman, vice president of safety and security at Transport America.
  • Bert Mayo, director of transportation risk solutions for TrueNorth Companies.

In a Nutshell

Delorenzo talked about changes in the works on how the DOT will score trucking companies in the area of safety. The DOT will be taking a more data-based, evidence-based approach in how haulers are assessed, with the goal of prevention of safety incidents.

Gonnerman spoke on how Transport America (over 1,300 trucks and 1,500 drivers) uses the latest safety tools and technology to recruit, train and develop their workforce, from the use of driving simulators to collision avoidance technology. Her tips included the advice to invest in new safety technology, especially in the area of rear-end collisions, “There are some great products out there.”

Mayo covered some of the recent insurance industry changes in how CSA has been used in rating motor carriers. “It’s a ‘hard market.’ By that I mean, insurance premiums keep going up.”

Mayo said there are a few things companies can do to keep their premiums down:

  • Manage your ‘cost of risk’ (how much you pay out of pocket)
  • Do a better job of managing safety
  • Take on more risk (higher deductibles)
  • Look into the captive insurance market (shared losses), if your fleet’s size runs into the hundreds of trucks

Watch the Program

This is the one presentation in 2018 you do not want to miss. (Starts at 8:50)

Kudos to our good friends at Transport Topics and Protective Insurance for their sponsorship of this program. Even if you are not in the market for insurance at this time, be sure to check out all their valuable safety information and insights.

Thank you for reading this.

Picture of John Taratuta

John Taratuta, Safety & Risk Engineer, 989-474-9599

Out-of-State Garnishment Orders

Garnished wages

Out-of-State Garnishment Orders

In the last year I have been seeing more repeat requests from credit issuers (through their collection attorney) for trucking companies to execute garnishment judgments. Frequently these are out-of-state garnishment orders. Usually the judgement is for several thousand dollars. Some employers are ignoring the wage-garnishment requests. This can be at their own financial peril.

Certainly, it’s not the fault of the company that their employee has an old debt or a bad debt.

But experience suggests small problems can later turn into big problems.

Ignoring or refusing to implement a creditor garnishment order simply because it is from another state or because the employee works in a state that does not issue creditor garnishments may very well result in the company’s becoming liable for the entire judgment debt.

Martin Brook, Esq.

Be aware that if a company sits on a garnishment order long enough, that old debt may become their financial responsibility . . . plus any interest, attorney fees, collection fees, court fees, etc. . . .

Create a policy letting your employees know your organization needs to follow applicable laws regarding wage garnishments.

Garnishment Policy

Garnishment refers to a legal requirement for an employer to withhold portions of an employee’s earnings to satisfy an outstanding debt. Other terms used to refer to such a procedure are “wage attachment,” or “wage deduction procedure,” or “income execution.”

Our company (or insert your company name) is required by law to follow the garnishment order.  Common types of garnishment and wage assignments are: creditor garnishment, court order for a federal bankruptcy, court order for child support, federal or state tax levy, student loan, or employee wage assignment.

Upon receipt of a garnishment notice, the Payroll Dept. will notify the employee when the garnishment will take effect and any other necessary information.  A deduction from pay will commence and continue until we receive notification from the court or government agency that the garnishment is discharged. A garnishment order will be kept confidential and will not be held against any employee. Contact the Payroll Dept. with any of your questions about garnishments or wage assignments.

For detailed information on out-of-state garnishment orders, please see the informative article by Martin C. Brook, Esq., Compliance Rules for Out-of-State Garnishments.

Picture of John Taratuta

John Taratuta, Safety & Risk Engineer, 989-474-9599

Don’t Gamble

deadly crash

That’s How I Roll

Last week I attended a Risk Management webinar. Management of risk should be a primary consideration in reaching one’s goals, be they business or personal, when the outcome is uncertain.

Not everyone is familiar with nor cares about managing risks. In many instances, by virtue of experience, education and training, they feel comfortable with their planned outcomes, because they are aware of all of the risks involved. Depending on your outcomes, this level of expertise can be gained in a short time, or is the accumulation of a lifetime. In a number of instances having a structured risk management framework serves no purpose. The potential “gain” is too small, or the loss will not be that big. It’s not a matter of life or death.

What happens at the enterprise level is the potential for change. Change is a constant, but the rate of change can vary. In business, an organization can quickly grow. Without constant active management, the risks can grow faster than the organization. Even with active management, risks are always present. A key employee or customer can leave unexpectedly, resulting in a gap that can’t be easily filled. A new technology can result in a boom—or a bust.

One good reminder I gained from the risk management webinar is this: Don’t gamble.

Gambling in transportation is deadly. Gambling can take the from of the driver who does not use G.O.A.L. (Get-Out-And-Look), damaging property or lives. Gambling can take the form of not properly vetting a driver or not waiting for the results of a drug screen, or taking any number of shortcuts. Taking shortcuts, skipping procedures, or taking unnecessary risks will come back to haunt you. When you roll the bones, sooner or later you will turn up a set of snake eyes . . .

Gamblers never win.

There’s no place in transportation or business for gambling.

Thank you for reading this.

Your Loss Control Plan (Part 2)


Loss Control to Major Tom . . .

In Part 1 we reviewed inherent risk and the duty of a business to engage in reasonable diligence or due diligence in the conduct of daily operations. Not all risks are apparent. Every business faces risks that can be hidden. Reasonable diligence is about the management of risks. In business one effective tool to manage risk is a Loss Control Plan.

A good Loss Control Plan goes beyond a simple checklist. Some key elements would include:

Safety Policy — sets the expectation that it is the responsibility of all personnel to create and maintain a safe work environment. The Safety Policy should include a Safety Policy Statement:

  • Safety and health in our company must be a part of every operation. Without question, it is every employee’s responsibility at all levels.
  • We will maintain a safety and health program conforming to the best practices of organizations of this type. To be successful, such a program must embody the proper attitudes toward injury and illness prevention on the part of supervisors and employees. It also requires cooperation in all safety and health matters, not only between supervisors and employees, but also between employees and their co-workers. Only through such a cooperative effort can an effective safety and health program be established and preserved.
  • The safety and health of every employee is a high priority. Management accepts responsibility for providing a safe working environment and employees are expected to take responsibility for performing work in accordance with safe standards and practices. Safety and health will only be achieved through teamwork.  Everyone must join together in promoting safety and health and taking every reasonable measure to assure safe working conditions in the company. OSHA

The next part of the Loss Control Plan should detail everyone’s (Management, Supervisor’s and Employees’) responsibilities in meeting these goals. Additional topics should include:

• New Employee Orientation
• Training
• Safety Meetings
• Incident Reporting, Investigation & Analysis
• Standards & Procedures
• General Safety Information

Depending on the type of operations the following areas of concern may need to be covered:

• Hazard Communication Program
• Safety Data Sheets  (SDS)
• Lockout/Tagout Program
• Hearing Conservation
• Confined Space

Start With a Template

There are many templates (models or examples) available from sources as your insurance company and/or industry associations that can help in putting together a Loss Control Plan and all of its associated components.

Other Loss Control Planning tips:

Get inputs from staff, especially line staff. They know the risks.

Review your Loss Control Plan, especially in times of change.

Contact your insurance company for assistance. Many insurance companies have a loss control department. (It may be known as risk management, risk engineering, or a number of other names.) Usually there are no charge or fees for this help.

Thank you for reading this.

Your Loss Control Plan (Part 1)


A successful dairy farmer buys a tractor-trailer for his son-in-law to haul steel. Nothing unusual about that. Then the son-in-law breaks his arm. He can’t drive, but knows a friend who can. On the friend’s first trip he brakes hard, loses a steel coil and the coil takes the cab off of the truck. No one is hurt, but the trucking venture closes.

A potato farmer buys a tractor-trailer to make deliveries to a major city about 250 miles away. His son will drive the truck and is advised to get some experience. “What for?” he responds. “Any idiot can drive a truck.” On his first trip, in an exit ramp, the newly-minted driver rolls the fully loaded truck on its side. The truck is damaged and later sold after it was repaired. Fortunately, no one was hurt.

An 18 year old tractor-trailer driver takes a friend with him. Seven miles from the origin of the trip, he shows off how fast he can take an S curve around the “devil’s punchbowl,” a naturally occurring sinkhole. He rolls the truck in the curve and his friend is fatally injured.

Inherent Risk

All of the above disasters happened to people I know. All of these stories are examples of the inherent risk in trucking operations.

Inherent risk — the probability of loss arising out of circumstances or existing in an environment, in the absence of any action to control or modify the circumstances.

Every business has its share of risk. Without risk there is no reward. Most businesses share their risk with a risk partner — their insurance company. They have no choice. It’s the law.

The agreement to share risk is commonly known as an insurance policy. It is a contract. Its purpose is to protect the assets of the insured.

Being a contract, both parties to the contract have certain duties and obligations. One of the presumptions of any contract is that the parties act in good faith — that is honestly and fairly, so both can receive the benefits of the agreement.

Another presumption (at least on part of the insurance company) is that risks are controlled — reasonable efforts are made to prevent losses and/or harm to others. The contract language may call for commercially reasonable efforts, reasonable best efforts,  every effort, or even commercially reasonable and diligent efforts in this area.

What does this mean?

The standard of care would be reasonable diligence (due diligence).

— It means the care and attention that is expected from and is ordinarily exercised by a reasonable and prudent person under the circumstances.

It’s no coincidence that one legal definition of reasonable diligence arose from lawsuits involving transportation . . .

“A fair, proper, and due degree of care and activity, measured with reference to the particular circumstances; such diligence, care, or attention as might be expected from a man of ordinary prudence and activity.”

Due diligence in the prevention of losses (loss control) can mean to your business, depending on the level of risks involved, having a loss control plan.

To be continued . . .

Thank you for reading Part 1.

Clays Ferry Bridge Incident Report Released

Clays Ferry Incident

Clays Ferry Bridge Incident

The Known Unknowns

On March 21, 2016 , the Kentucky Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation (FACE) Program released their report on a fatality involving a 52 year old truck driver.

FACE is a research arm of The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), which in turn part of the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

Most of this FACE report on what actually happened is based on speculation.  Whether the driver nodded off (cited as Rec. No. 3) or was distracted (Rec. No. 2) is anyone’s guess.

Nobody (perhaps, thankfully), saw exactly how the fatality occurred. For reasons still unknown, the driver braked hard and his truck jumped the wall, resulting in a fuel fire. All that is really known about the incident is the driver’s body was found several hundred feet below the bridge.

The Facts

The company was about a year old and had two trucks.

The report determined, “The employer did not have any written employee safety programs or provide any training . . .

Many startups and small companies do not, in my experience. By definition, they lack a mature safety culture.

What is Safety Culture?

Safety Culture is a value within organizational culture such that safety is never compromised.

The “maturity model” concept that says an organization’s safety culture is not developed (or remains negative) in a new company or organization until it passes a certain stage of maturity, generally with the passage of time.

The opposite of a mature safety culture or negative safety culture is based on makeshift or improvised (ad hoc) safety policies, procedures, and practices, if any.

Some safety researchers have suggested that an organization doesn’t really have a safety culture until it has met and overcome a difficult safety challenge (or sometimes a series of challenges).

There is plenty of anecdotal evidence to back this up. Organizations are never the same after loss of someone’s limb or life. By then, however, its too late . . .

Risk Maturity

Eight dimensions of “risk maturity” have been identified by Martin Loosemore, who has researched Risk Management for over 20 years and has published over 200 books and articles in risk management, crisis management, OHS, etc.. . .

  • Risk management awareness;
  • Risk management culture;
  • Risk management processes;
  • Risk management skills;
  • Risk management image;
  • Application of risk management;
  • Risk management confidence; and,
  • Resources invested in risk management

These eight dimensions have been fit by Loosemore into four “maturity levels:”

Level One Risk Management

  • Efforts are largely on an ad-hoc basis, unstructured and reactive.

Level Two Risk Management

  • There is still no structured approach except for a small number of people on selected projects with little consistency.

Level Three Risk Management

  • Risk management is integrated into business processes on most projects, through a formalized and generic risk management process, including specific processes and tools also integrated into quality management processes.

Level Four Risk Management

  • While difficult to achieve, level four requires a significant investment of time and resources. It is characterized by a proactive culture of risk management which is inextricably integrated into every project, organizational function and supply chain. Risks are analyzed by state-of-the-art techniques; there is top-down commitment to risk management.

The key benefit of having achieved proactive risk management (and a positive safety culture) is that proper resources are assigned to areas where the greatest risks are, not in “damage control.” As one risk expert said, “Firefighting is exciting, but not very efficient.”

Thank you for reading this.

Marsh: Most Truck Crashes From Drivers Being Sleepy or Distracted

Fatal hard braking

On Friday, April 22, a single-vehicle accident took the life of this truck driver when he slammed on the brakes and his load shifted forward in Angola, Indiana.


“We have seen some nuclear verdicts, large liability claim settlements, many of them coming from the vantage that the driver was fatigued.” Richard Bleser,  Marsh Risk Consulting.

“Sometimes, I work . . . until 10 or 11 at night. Then I have to get up at 2 AM for trucking.”  Steel hauler

The DOT wants all truck drivers to be tested for apnea, a sleep disorder which can affect safety, if untreated. On March 8th, 2016 the FMCSA, along with the FRA, opened a ninety day period for public comments on its advanced notice of proposed rulemaking (ANPRM) for sleep apnea.

Nuclear Verdicts

A nuclear verdict has been defined as a verdict in excess of $10 million, or perhaps less than $10 million, but still high considering the injuries and damages. The majority of the recent nuclear verdicts, involve not only driving while fatigued, but some form of distracted driving according to Marsh.

Distracted Driving

Distracted driving occurs any time you take your eyes off the road, hands off the wheel, and mind off your primary task: driving safely. Any non-driving activity you engage in is a potential distraction and increases your risk of being involved in a motor vehicle crash. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

Distractions are classified into the types: visual, manual, and cognitive.

distractionsThe CDC cites studies showing some type of distraction is present during 52% of normal driving, be it engaging in a conversation, talking on a hands-free cell phone, eating, or even simply daydreaming.

Distraction was present in 68% of crashes that involved injury or property damage, according to one study. CDC

The highest-risk driver by age, most likely to be involved in a fatal collision due to distracted driving, are between ages 20 to 29, followed by those between the ages of 30 to 39 says the CDC.

What Smart Companies Do

Safety experts agree the best way to avoid liability or potential nuclear verdicts is to not have the collision in the first place. As the nature of the risk is changing, so must organizational efforts to mitigate or even eliminate the risk.

Tip: Space + Focus = Collision-free Driving  Marsh

• Smart companies start with a comprehensive Distracted Driving Policy: Avoid driving when distracted, including, but not limited to, when eating, drinking, smoking, or emotional /stressful conversations. A formal policy serves as the foundation of your distracted driving prevention program.

Fact: Most people (86% according to a survey by Coalfire) use their smartphone for both personal use and work. Your Distracted Driving Policy should limit, and preferably eliminate, both uses while driving. In many jurisdictions cell phone/smart phone use while driving is already illegal. And doing illegal things while driving is never helpful . . .

• Train everybody (drivers, managers, and staff) on your Distracted Driving Policy. Once is not enough. Reinforce training with emails, newsletters, bulletin boards, and notices in vehicles to communicate your policy.  Update your Disciplinary Action Policy in the Employee Handbook.

• Hold management and staff accountable. Enforce the policy. Monitor and review your efforts. Use new technology to augment your safety efforts. Set the example.

• Have a fatigue management program. Fatigue Management Programs (FMPs) are interventions intended to assist in reducing driver fatigue. New technology can help here.

Thank you for reading this.

Preventable Accident Guidelines

collisionControlling Preventable Collisions and Claims

Preventable collisions can be controlled and managed. But like anything that is managed, preventable collisions need to be tracked and measured.

When an accident occurs, the events leading up to the accident, the causes and responsible conditions, the collision and the post accident events leading up to the accident events must be carefully evaluated. Driver errors are one of the factors that should be considered. The standard, which should be applied, is the concept of accident preventability. The Hartford

Although severity (average cost per claim) can be variable, claims frequency is a better number to work with from a risk management perspective. To get to that number, you need to have some easy-to-understand guidelines to follow.

Non-Preventable Collisions: Include the following circumstances:
• Struck in rear by other vehicle
These are Non-Preventable if the collision occurs:
– While proceeding in proper lane of traffic at a safe and legal speed
– While waiting to make a turn from a proper lane
– While stopped in traffic due to existing conditions or in compliance with a traffic sign, signal or officer
• Struck while legally and properly parked.

All collisions should be investigated with regards to preventability. Here is a set of generic Preventable Accident Guidelines . . .


It is the responsibility of drivers to approach, enter, and cross intersections prepared to avoid accidents that might occur through the action of other drivers. Complex traffic movement, blind intersections, or failure of the “other driver” to conform to laws or traffic control devices will not automatically discharge an accident as “not preventable.” Intersection accidents are preventable even though the driver has not violated traffic regulations. The driver’s failure to take precautionary measures prior to entering the intersection are factors to be studied in making a decision. When a driver crosses an intersection and the obvious actions of the “other driver” indicate possible involvement either by reason of his/her excess speed, crossing the lane and turning, or coming from behind a blind spot, the decision based on such entrapment should be preventable.

Vehicle Ahead

Regardless of the abrupt or unexpected stop of the vehicle ahead, Drivers can prevent front-end collisions by maintaining a safe following distance at all times. A safe following distance is one that allows the driver sufficient time, distance, and vision requirements to avoid an accident to reduce traffic conflict. This includes being prepared for possible obstructions on the highway, either in plain view or hidden by the crest of a curve of a roadway. Overdriving headlights at night is a common cause of front-end collisions. Night speed should not be greater than that which will permit the vehicle to come to a stop within the forward distance illuminated by the vehicle’s headlights.

Struck From Behind

Investigation often discloses that drivers risk being struck from behind by failing to maintain a margin of safety in their own following distance. Rear-end collisions preceded by a roll-back, an abrupt stop at a grade crossing, when a traffic signal changes, or when your driver fails to signal a turn at an intersection, should be charged preventable. Failure to signal intentions or to slow down gradually should be considered preventable.


Failure to pass safely indicates faulty judgment and the possible failure to consider one or more of the important factors a driver must observe before attempting the maneuver. Unusual actions of the driver being passed or of oncoming traffic might appear to exonerate a driver involved in a passing accident; however, the entire passing maneuver is voluntary and the driver’s responsibility.

Being Passed

Sideswipes and cut-offs involving a driver while he/she is being passed are preventable when he/she fails to yield to the passing vehicle by slowing down, moving to the right where possible, or maintaining speed, whichever action is appropriate.


It is extremely important to check the action of the driver when involved in a head-on or sideswipe accident with a vehicle approaching from the opposite direction. The exact location of a vehicle, prior to and at the point of impact, must be carefully verified. Even though an opposing vehicle enters the driver’s traffic lane, it may be possible for the your driver to avoid the collision. For example, if the opposing vehicle was in a passing maneuver and the your driver failed to slow down, stop, or move to the right to allow the vehicle to re-enter its own lane, he/she has failed to take action to prevent the occurrence. Failing to signal the opposing driver in an appropriate manner should also be taken into account.

Fixed Objects

Collisions with fixed objects are preventable. They usually involve failure to check or properly judge clearances. New routes, strange delivery points, resurfaced pavements under viaducts, inclined entrances to docks, marquees projecting over traveled section of road, and similar situations are not, in themselves, valid reasons for excusing a driver from being involved. A driver must be constantly on the lookout for such conditions and make necessary allowances relative to speed and vehicle positioning.


Traffic regulations and court decisions generally favor the pedestrian hit by a moving vehicle. An unusual route of a pedestrian at mid-block or from between parked vehicles does not necessarily relieve a driver from taking precautions to prevent such accidents. Whether speed limits are posted or the area is placarded with warning signs, speed too fast for conditions may be involved. School zones, shopping areas, residential streets, and other areas with special pedestrian traffic must be traveled at reduced speeds equal to the particular situation. Bicycles, motor scooters, and similar equipment are generally operated by young and inexperienced operators. The driver who fails to reduce speed when this type of equipment is operated within his/her sight distance has failed to take necessary precautions to prevent an accident. Keeping within posted speed limits is not taking the proper precaution when unusual conditions call for voluntary reduction of speed.

Private Property

When a driver is expected to enter unusual locations, construction sites, or driveways not built to support heavy commercial vehicles, etc., it is the driver’s responsibility to discuss the operation with the proper authorities and to obtain permission prior to entering the area.

Passenger Accident

Passenger accidents in any type of vehicle are preventable when they are caused by faulty operation of the vehicle. Even though the incident did not involve a collision of the vehicle, it must be considered preventable when your driver stops, turns, or accelerates abruptly. Emergency action by the driver to avoid a collision that results in passenger injury should be checked if proper driving prior to the emergency would have eliminated the need for the evasive maneuver. The driver is responsible for the utilization of passenger restraint devices.


Many accidents, such as overturning, jack-knifing, or running off the road, may result from emergency action by the driver to preclude being involved in a collision. Examination of his/her driving procedure prior to the incident may reveal speed too fast for conditions or other factors. The driver’s action prior to involvement should be examined for possible errors or lack of defensive driving practice.


Protruding loads, loose objects falling from the vehicle, loose tarpaulins or chains, doors swinging open, etc., resulting in damage to the vehicle, cargo, or other property or injury to persons, are preventable when the driver’s action or failure to secure them are evidenced. Cargo damage, resulting from unsafe vehicle operation, is preventable by your drivers.


Unconventional parking conditions, including double parking, failure to put out warning devices, etc., generally constitute evidence for judging an accident preventable. Roll-away accidents from a parked position normally should be classified preventable. This includes unauthorized entry into an unlocked, unattended vehicle and/or failure to properly block wheels or to turn wheel toward curb to prevent vehicle movement.


Practically all-backing accidents are preventable. A driver is not relieved of his/her responsibility to back safely when a guide is involved in the maneuver. A guide cannot control the movement of the vehicle; therefore, a driver must check all clearances for him/herself.


It is impossible to describe in detail the many ways a driver might prevent an accident without being primarily or legally responsible. The above guide merely emphasizes the most frequent occurrences. The following definition of Defensive Driving should be applied to all accidents involving drivers:

A Defensive Driver is one who commits no driving errors and makes all reasonable allowances for the lack of skill or improper driving practice of the other driver. A Defensive Driver adjusts his/her own driving to compensate for unusual weather, road, and traffic conditions, and is not tricked into an accident by the unsafe actions of pedestrians and other drivers. By being alert to accident-inducing situations, he/she recognizes the need for preventative action in advance and takes the necessary precaution to prevent the accident. As a Defensive Driver, he/she knows when it is necessary to slow down, stop, or yield his/her right-of-way to avoid involvement.

Once it is determined a collision was preventable, a driver can be held accountable.

Tip: To fairly hold drivers accountable they should be trained in the concepts of preventability and in defensive driving. Drivers will not understand the process unless they understand why and how they are held accountable. The Hartford.

Thank you for reading this.


Loss Run Lollapuzzoola

loss run

A Harvest of Sorrows

A motor carrier’s loss run report can say a lot about where they are at when it comes to safety. A loss run is a report that offers a history of claims that have been made on a commercial insurance policy.

Here are a few incidents from a loss run I recently viewed . . .

1.) Description of Collision: The tractor-trailer was turning right when the driver realized he did not have enough space to execute the turn, so he backed up in the turning lane and backed into the vehicle in line behind him.

Claims for injuries, as a result of this collision, were presented and the insurance company settled for $100,000.

2.) Description of Collision: Tractor-trailer was making a right and misjudged the turn and said he had to back up to make it. The vehicle behind was slightly bumped while the truck was backing.

The other vehicle left the scene and no police report made.

3.) Description of Collision: The  tractor-trailer missed its turn, stopped and reversed without looking, striking the left front of the other vehicle.

The insurance company paid $6,600 in damages.

4.) Description of Incident: After pulling the loaded trailer from the dock, the driver could not find an empty parking space to drop the trailer. He dropped the trailer on side of driveway where other trailers and rigs had previously parked. After he pulled out from under trailer and went around to pick up an empty, he witnessed the trailer tip over onto its right side. Ground under right landing gear was soft.

The insurance company paid $3,200 in damages to the trailer and the freight, for unloading the trailer, and for tow trucks.

5.) Description of Incident: The driver was backing under trailer. He did not realize the trailer was too high. Damage resulted to the bunk extenders and brackets.

The insurance company paid $6,440 for repairs.

The driver said, "“I didn’t see nothing," after backing into this $250k Ferrari FF.

The driver said, “I didn’t see nothing,” after backing into this $250k Ferrari FF.


One thing that can stand out on a loss run report is the fact that some of the same drivers keep having “bad luck.” About ten percent of a fleet’s “high-risk” drivers can result in one third of all claims, according to some studies.

This is why it pays to investigate each and every accident and incident and have an accident preventability program in place and “score” each and every safety event. Was it really a case of the driver being in the wrong place at the wrong time? Or was it simply the bad judgment of the driver that resulted in the collision or incident? We know driver error is responsible for most collisions.

  • Backing in traffic is a major no-no. There is simply no excuse for it. Having a number of these same incidents over time tells me this mid-sized carrier does not care about training or safety (as was the case).
  • Backing under a trailer and ramming the back of the cab is . . . dumb. The driver rolled the dice on that one . . . and lost.
  • Sure . . . they might drop empties along the driveway . . . not fully loaded trailers. Why didn’t the driver find a plank to put under the landing gear if he wanted to set a loaded trailer on bare earth? Why not indeed . . .

In final analysis, in my opinion, this carrier wants to keep expanding, but doesn’t want to bother with investing in safety. They don’t determine accident preventability. They don’t have safety meetings. Their next loss run most likely will be much like their last one . . . if they can find a risk partner to underwrite their losses . . .

Thank you for reading this.

Rollaways . . . Runaways . . . Driveoffs . . .

Anthony Dellegrazie kneels over the covered body his dad, in Brooklyn on Monday.

The Case of the Unsecured Vehicle . . .

A truck driver stopped his tractor-trailer to drop off lunch to a fellow worker. Noticing the truck had started to roll away, he attempted to get back in the vehicle and during the attempt, the 26 year old father of two was fatally injured.

While these type of collisions are sometimes referred to as “freak accidents,” they are not that uncommon. An online search for “driver killed trying to stop rolling truck” shows over 27 million results . . .


A countermeasure is defined as a measure or action taken to counter or offset another one.

Drivers should be in the habit of a following what some call the Cockpit Exit Routine.

(1) Set the brakes or check that the brakes have been set. To set or check the air brakes,pull the yellow knob on the dash. This will also automatically deploy the trailer air brakes.

(2) Ensure the ignition key is in the “off” position. On average, a truck key is left in the “on/ accessory-position” at least once a year, resulting in a drained battery (and about a $225 average service call).

(3) Check that the turn signal or emergency lights are off.

(4) Check a second time that the air brakes have been set  by pulling on the yellow knob again.

(5) Once outside, take a final glance back at the truck, making sure no lights have been left on. Set wheel chocks if the vehicle is parked on an incline.

Drivers should not attempt to chase or stop a rolling truck. I am not aware of any situations where such an attempt made the situation better. More than likely, a panicked attempt to stop a truck already in motion will result in a serious injury or worse.

Stay cool. Stay calm. Follow the Cockpit Exit Routine.


The NY Post reported a tragedy occurred early this week when someone stole Phil Dellegrazie’s brand-new flatbed truck while he was loading it by his metal shop in Brooklyn. After confronting the man at an intersection, the suspect ran over and killed Mr. Dellegrazie, who was well-liked and respected by the local community.

If your vehicle is being stolen, it’s hard to stop yourself from reacting. But the key thing is to respond, not react.

The best response is to call the police, then your insurance company. They deal with this everyday. One vehicle is stolen every minute, nationally.


According to NHTSA  up to half of stolen vehicles are a result of oversights or mistakes made by the driver . . .

  • Always lock the vehicle, taking the keys with you
  • Avoid keeping a spare key hidden in or on the vehicle.
  • Always lock the door and roll up the windows.
  • Never leave the vehicle running.

Thank you for reading this.



Gary Flaherty: Making Motor Carrier Insurance Pay

controlling costs


Making Insurance Pay

On Thursday, March 17, Gary Flaherty, head of Canal Insurance Group’s Risk Management Services, partnered with the Vertical Alliance Group and presented a webinar on how to make motor carrier insurance pay.

Canal, a privately held company with assets in excess of $1 Billion, and an A.M. Best rating of A- (Excellent), specializes in trucking insurance, especially for smaller, independent long-haul owner-operators (about 80%) as well as intermediate-haul and local firms. They insure all kinds of cargo, including petroleum products, but don’t insure anything that’s designed to explode (Class 1 Explosives). Canal operates in most states.

Loss Control as Cost Control

One sure thing, the more losses (crashes, collisions, and claims) your company experiences, the more your insurance premiums will increase.

But it doesn’t end there . . . increased DOT violations can also drive up insurance premiums.

Why? Because in many cases DOT violations can be controlled by having solid policies and procedures (P&P) in place, strong hiring standards, and an actively involved management.

Insurance should be considered an investment. “You have to put in what you want to get out,” said Mr. Flaherty.

And the investment is not just in writing a premium check when it is due. No matter which insurance carrier you deal with, you need to communicate well with your insurance team.

Who is on your insurance team?

  • Agent
  • Outside Consultants
  • Insurance Carrier
  • Claims
  • Your company

Each team member has a role to play. The Agent, for example, knows stuff and may have resources he can provide. His job is to help you and to make you more appealing to your risk partner.

Compliance vendors can assist your company get its safety and regulatory house in better order.

Your insurance carrier may have Risk Management or Loss Control people, both in-house or outsourced who can point out areas of improvement (at no additional cost to you).

You, the Motor Carrier, however, have to hold up your end of the log by actively participating in the Risk Management/Loss Control process. Your involvement never really ends, “if you want to get anything out of it.”

The Loss Control Engagement

When will insurance Loss Control people contact you? Anytime:

  • Pre-bind
  • Post-bind
  • Prior to expiration
  • Throughout the Policy Life-cycle

Tip: This is your time to shine— not shell up.

Nothing happens without people: introduce key staff members. Show your policy and procedures, as well as safety practices. Have you invested in any new technology as on-board cameras or electronic logging recorders?

Ask questions: How can I improve? What are any weak spots?

Push back— if necessary.

Have a dialog with the risk consultant.

Things To Talk About

What new and creative solutions can Loss Control provide? What kinds of data and analysis can they provide? New ideas?

What best practices do they recommend.Keep in mind each insurance company does things a little differently.

The Value Proposition

How do you get the most value from a loss control visit?

React quickly.

• Treat any recommendations with due attentiveness (especially those classified as Critical, or Important).

Communicate often.

• It’s a two-way conversation. Sometimes information is not available at the time of the visit. Don’t be afraid to follow-up later.

Tip: Get the risk consultant’s contact information!

Be transparent.

• Okay, so you haven’t been keeping good records on drivers or vehicle maintenance. The worse you can do is side-step or evade providing an answer. Every five years or about 1 million miles or so, a safety event may occur. If so, the regulators or litigators may see anything missing as a blatant attempt to evade safety regulations. It costs nothing to be transparent.

Experience lower costs/premiums.

• Expect a return on investment (RIO) on your efforts resulting in lower overall costs. Many safety initiatives result in additional productivity and other intangible benefits that cannot be easily measured.

Q & A Session

Gary Flaherty finished his talk with a question and answer session.

Q. What are the top three mistakes Motors Carriers make?

Hiring: standards may be too loose, or high, but not enforced.

Collisions: lack of a preventable collision program in which all collisions are investigated on the question of preventability.

Lack of proper investments: for example, now is the time to get on-board with Electronic Logging Devices (ELDs), not near the deadline.

Look upon your relationship with your insurance people as a partnership, communicate frequently, and see your premiums go down.

Thank you for reading this.

Disclaimer: One company that I work with in the area of Loss Control does business with Canal Insurance Group. Any expressed opinion’s are the author’s own and do represent any advice or suggestions of any particular group, person, or organization.

John Taratuta is a safety advocate and Risk Engineer. (989) 474-9599

NC Insurance Commissioner Wants to Purge ‘Nonresident’ Truckers

Night loading at papermill

Cheap Shots . . .

North Carolina has some of the lowest insurance rates in the U.S. and North Carolina Insurance Commissioner Wayne Goodwin wants to keep it that way according to WRAL.

Calling the nonresident truckers ‘liars’ and posers, Goodwin, is drafting legislation to distinguish between NC based trucking companies and those who operate out of another state.

NC once had out-of-state car drivers signing up for the lower auto insurance rates but changed the laws. NC has the cheapest insurance in the U.S. as NC residents pay 41 percent less than the national average, according to Fox8. (The most expensive state for auto insurance is Michigan.)

While there are a number of reasons NC insurance rates are lower (including good drivers subsiding the bad drivers), the main reason, according to  Stuart Powell, Vice President of Technical Affairs at Independent Insurance Agents of North Carolina, Inc., is that personal injury lawsuits are difficult to win in North Carolina, if the driver contributed to the collision.

The Facts . . .

As noted in Friday’s blog, personal injury claims involving trucks are over $1 million, on average, and rising.

Other facts:

In 2013 Heavy Vehicle Registrations included:

  • 8,126,007 single-unit trucks (straight trucks)
  • 2,471,349 combination trucks (tractor-trailers), and
  • 864,549 buses

There are about 5.8 million CDL drivers and millions of commercial motor vehicle (CMV) drivers.

Motor vehicle crashes are on the increase. In the first half of 2015 there was a 14% increase in fatal accidents according to the National Safety Council (NSC).

Fatal truck accidents occur 11 times every day and are on the rise.

More than 100,000 people are injured every year in truck crashes. Multiply each truck injury by $1M and the annual cost would be over $100,000,000,000. That’s One Hundred Billion Dollars. At one time you could run the whole country on that and have spare change.

The cost of a fatal crash involving a tractor-trailer is over $7 million.

More miles driven, more cars on the road, more accidents. Tom Wilson, CEO Allstate

Motor-vehicle deaths may exceed 40,000 for the first time since 2007, according to the NSC.

Options for Lowering Your Truck Insurance

(1.) Hold the current course.

80% of companies will not make an effort to craft their culture, according to culture design expert Maria Giudice.  There are a lot of good safety information and resources out there, perhaps more than ever before. Become safe by design, not by default. Many times business owners tell me “Well everyone knows that,” but they have not reduced their policies to a written form. Don’t ignore or fail to implement your safety plan until safety becomes an issue. Then it’s too late.

It is not necessary to change. Survival is optional.  Dr. W. Edwards Deming

(2.) Be proactive.

Being proactive means acknowledging there is a steep learning curve to deal with of the industry changes, regulatory changes, compliance changes, and changes in whatever stage your organization is in at this time. Make an effort to stay ahead of the curve. This may involve some risk, but the rewards are well worth it.

(3.) Be transparent.

Being transparent means having crystal clear policies that everyone knows— and follows because they are enforced. Simple policies, like wear your safety (seat) belt and never use your cell phone while driving, carry huge safety implications to your risk partners (insurance companies) and regulators (DOT, DPS, OSHA, etc.). Your risk partner likely has a Loss Control (LC) department that will assist you in crafting basic safety policies and procedures. There are no fees or charges for LC services.

Thank you for reading this.


Trucking—Insurance Companies’ Bad Bet . . .

betting bad

On Thursday, February 25, Dan Petrillo and Adam Harris of LaPorte & Associates’ Transportation Division, partnered with the Vertical Alliance Group and presented a webinar on how to save money on truck insurance.

The more you understand the process, the more you can exert control.

The talk started out with a review of the basics— Insurance 101. Insurance companies, like most businesses are competitive and make a 2% to 3% profit. But that’s in good times. Insurance company profits come from investment income and from business savvy underwriting. With the overall investment markets not doing so hot, that shifts most of the burden on underwriting — or vetting of risk — an arduous task in itself.

Another trend affecting insurance company profitability is the rising cost of personal injury claims . . . over $1 million on average in 2013.

Take low, “razor-thin” profit margins, rising costs and lower investment ROIs, and what do you get? Break-even or worse. When the insurance company sneezes, high-risk sectors like transportation will catch a cold.

The Transformation of Underwriting

The traditional criteria for underwriters comes from the insurance application, looking at such factors as: drivers’ age and experience, scope of operations (radius and commodities hauled), MVRs, and third-party snapshots as SAFER, CSA and CAB reports.

These criteria are historical and would be considered lagging indicators.

Underwriting, however, is changing. The emphasis is being placed on more forward-looking criteria— or leading indicators.

Leading indicators are measures of future safety performance.

Equally important as a good safety record are the measures a company takes to recruit, train, and monitor its drivers. How do these processes happen? How are drivers rewarded or incentivized?

The focus is on driver behavior.


Keep the conversation going with your insurance broker.

Invest in new technology.

Can you articulate your ‘philosophy of insurance?’ What role do you see your risk partner playing in your business? Should insurance be there for catastrophic protection or for maintenance or warranty protection? How much risk are you willing to assume?

How do you balance Revenue versus Safety? Are you willing to park your truck if you do not have the services of a qualified driver? Do you park your trucks from time to time?

Do you frequently interact with your insurance service team members — the broker, underwriters, risk management consultants and claims adjusters? Do you review claims?

Do you deploy new technology, telematics or GPS? Do you score your drivers?

What kind of training do you do?

The Out-of-Standard Insurance Market

An option for those for walk the safety talk, the “best-in-class” for safety, is to assume more risk (and rewards) by a Captive Insurance arrangement. Insurance premiums in Captives are solely based on your loss experiences and can result in savings.

It’s a Wrap

Dan Petrillo and Adam Harris warped up their talk with an informative Q&A session. Vertical Alliance Group invited attendees to learn more about their training resources.

I found the talk was highly informative on the direction in which truck insurance is heading. Nobody said the words “hard market” but it seems a transformation is taking place in the world of insurance and every carrier needs to establish a good rapport with their risk partners.

All safety metrics, Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), Key Risk Indicators (KRIs), leading and lagging safety indicators should be based on your safety goals. These in turn need to be directly linked to the organization’s high level objectives.

As one company owner said, Any mistake you make in trucking is a big mistake.

Then all bets are off . . .

Thank you for reading this.

J Taratuta


John Taratuta is a safety advocate and Risk Engineer. (989) 474-9599

Resolving Conflicts at Work

conflictHeaded for a Conflict

If conflict does arise at work, then it probably should. Conflict is not necessarily a bad thing.

Conflict can be positive or negative, constructive or destructive. Conflict is not the same as open hostility (and its attendant verbal attacks and threatening gestures) or anger.

Avoiding conflict, however, will only make matters worse.

How is conflict defined?

Conflict exists when one person has a need of another and that need is not being met.Conflict Resolution

The participants at odds with each other need to engage in constructive conflict which is similar to the negotiation process during problem solving. Ultimately, the parties at odds have (or should have) the final responsibility to resolve the conflict.

Conflicts need to resolved in a step-by-step manner. The first steps are probably the hardest:

1. Express the need.
2. Find out if the need can or cannot be met.
• Yes, means the conflict is resolved. • No, means the conflict needs to be managed (If No, then go to Step 3. Management of Conflict)

The first steps are to always express the need and then determine if the need can be met. These steps are not always done, sometimes out of misplaced respect for the other person, sometimes out of fear of triggering a bad mood or some other reaction in that person.

Common mistakes in conflict resolution are to either totally avoid resolving the unmet need, or skipping the first steps and jumping directly into the management of the conflict.

More conflict is caused by walking away than standing and fighting and sorting it out.  Jeff Muir, Consultant

The third step is to resolve the unmet need. Start by communicating. Effective one-on-one communication techniques include:

  • Using facts, not opinions (make sure you know the facts).
  • Using “I” statements (“You” statements put people on the defensive).
  • Being direct and to the point (keep it in the here and now).
  • Being consistent (repeat the same message to everyone, every time).

Step 3. Conflict Resolution/Negotiation Checklist

  • Is there communication? Is active listening occurring?
  • Is there mutual respect in the relationship?
  • What are the underlying interests? Are they shared?
  • What are the best alternatives?
  • Have all the options been brainstormed?
  • Are there objective, legitimate criteria that are fair to all?
  • Is there sufficient time to commit? Can it be done?

Putting Conflict Resolution to the Supreme Test

Based on my experience, not everyone is open about their unmet needs. If dealing with members of the public or even business people for the first time, often they may not articulate their needs. This can lead to conflict.

Staff may delay passing on crucial information or try to filter it, if it is negative or will reflect badly on them. No news is good news.

Customers may be disappointed or less than satisfied and yet say nothing about their experiences. Then one day they simply disappear and the phone stops ringing.

The simple fact is, from time to time, everyone’s needs change. Employees seek new challenges, customers seek additional value. Business is never static.

The answer is good communication. The answer is always good communication.

But keep in mind, most communication is covert, not overt. The water is often muddy, signals get crossed, emails don’t arrive, and the message isn’t received. Effective communication takes effort and practice.

The supreme test of conflict resolution is to communicate at a level that conflict resolution is a natural byproduct of communication.

The Rules of the Business Game (in Resolving Conflicts)

Thank you for reading this.

3 Tip-top Truck Driver Training Tips



Tip No. 1. Instructor’s Mirrors

Problem: The driving instructor or trainer cannot see much using the driver’s mirrors, especially in turns.

Solution: Mount large round mirrors for the instructor.

instructor mirror

Tip No. 2. Windshield “Whiteboard”

Problem: Students may be unfamiliar with a shift pattern or need a visual cue.

Solution: Use a felt-tipped pen or dry erase marker, and the windshield as a whiteboard. (Some drivers use a a felt-tipped pen on a side window to scribble notes as border mileage when crossing state lines.)


Tip No. 3. A Dual Instrument Panel for the Instructor

Problem: The driver’s instrument panel and gauges may be hidden from the instructor’s view, so the instructor cannot monitor speed, RPMs, or if the turn signal is on or off.

Solution: Mount an instrument panel on the instructor’s side.

dual instrument panel

Bonus Tip

I also like an instructor’s brake pedal, to help keep things under control at all times.

At one time a new truck driving school in town with a fancy new truck made a right turn, taking out a telephone pole. The collision cut power to a busy business district and resulted in a huge insurance claim, and, ultimately, put the school out of business. (Yes— if your company takes out a power pole on a turn, the exposure can include business losses due to the power outage. So watch those turns!)

One really bad training collision in 2004 in Climax, GA killed three students and the instructor, when the truck stopped and then pulled in front of a train. It is speculated that the student’s foot slipped off of the clutch. There was a light rain and students switched drivers before the crash.

An instructor’s brake (and instructor’s mirrors as above, on the turn) could have helped to prevent these collisions, in my opinion.

Thank you for reading this. As always, if you are not finding the answers you require, please contact us directly.


Types of Workforce Accidents


A number of transportation companies in the past few years in the Midwest have seen explosive growth. One consequence of bringing new people on-board is an increase in the number of incidents and accidents.

Some say there is no such thing as an “accident.” Things don’t just happen on their own. Many times there are indicators leading up to the actual event, a series of close-calls and near-misses. The warning signs are ignored.

Then something happens. Really quick.

One defintion of an accident is an unplanned event resulting in injury or illness, or damage to property or the environment. Some safety investigators prefer to call all accidents an incident until an investigation is completed and a cause assigned.

The U.S. Department of Transportation requires an accident register for DOT recordable accidents.  The DOT defines an accident as an occurrence involving a commercial motor vehicle which results in: (a.) a fatality (b.) Bodily injury to a person who, as a result of the injury, immediately receives medical treatment away from the scene of the accident, or (c.) One or more of the vehicles incurs disabling damage, requiring it to be towed from the scene.

The term “DOT accident,” however, does not include:
1. An occurrence involving only boarding and alighting from a stationary motor vehicle;
2. An occurrence involving only the loading or unloading of cargo.

OSHA Wants to Know, Too

Other events, where someone is injured, are covered by the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA). While loading and unloading trucks, OSHA regulations govern, including “at the dock, at the rig, at the construction site, at the airport terminal and in all places truckers go to deliver and pick up loads.” The trucking industry is addressed in specific OSHA standards for recordkeeping and the general industry. An OSHA recordable accident is a work-related injury or illness that must be reported to OSHA.

New OSHA reporting rules became effective in 2015. Starting in 2015, employers need to immediately report the following to OSHA:

  • All work-related fatalities (report within 8 hours)
  • All work-related inpatient hospitalizations of one or more employees (report within 24 hours)
  • All work-related amputations (report within 24 hours)
  • All work-related losses of an eye (report within 24 hours)

Who is covered under the new rule?

All employers under OSHA jurisdiction must report all work-related fatalities, hospitalizations, amputations and losses of an eye to OSHA, even employers who are exempt from routinely keeping OSHA injury and illness records due to company size or industry

Employers do not have to report an event or incident to OSHA resulting from a motor vehicle accident on a public street or highway. However employers must report the event if it happened in a construction work zone.  Any injuries and illnesses that occur during an employee’s normal commute to and from work are not considered work-related, and therefore not recordable for OSHA’s purposes.

Contract Workers and Temps

OSHA’s recordkeeping regulation at Section 1904.31(a) requires employers to record the recordable injuries and illnesses of contract employees they supervise on a day-to-day basis, even if these workers are not carried on the employer’s payroll. Section 1904.31(b)(2) further clarifies that the host employer must record the injuries and illnesses of temporary workers it supervises on a day-to-day basis. Section 1904.31(b)(3) states that if the contractor’s employee is under the day-to-day supervision of the contractor, the contractor is responsible for recording the injury or illness.

Here are some of the different Types of Workforce Accidents:

Struck-by: A person is forcefully struck by an object.
The force of contact is provided by the object.

Struck-against: A person forcefully strikes an object.
The person provides the force or energy.

Contact-by: Contact by a substance or material that, by
its very nature, is harmful and causes injury.

Contact-with: A person comes in contact with a harmful substance or material. The person initiates the contact.

Caught-on: A person or part of his/her clothing or equipment is caught on an object that is either moving or stationary. This may cause the person to lose his/her balance and fall, be pulled into a machine, or suffer some other harm.

Caught-in: A person or part of him/her is trapped, or otherwise caught in an opening or enclosure.

Caught-between: A person is crushed, pinched or otherwise caught between a moving and a stationary object, or between two moving objects.

Fall-to-surface: A person slips or trips and falls to the surface he/she is standing or walking on.

Fall-to-below: A person slips or trips and falls to a level below the one he/she was walking or standing on.

Over-exertion: A person over-extends or strains himself/herself while performing work.

Bodily reaction: Caused solely from stress imposed by free movement of the body or assumption of a strained or unnatural body position. A leading source of injury.

Over-exposure: Over a period of time, a person is exposed to harmful energy (noise, heat), lack of energy (cold), or substances (toxic chemicals/atmospheres).

Safety Initiatives without any Actions are only Intentions

  • Slips and falls continue to be the biggest problem area for injuries and fatalities. Enforce the three-points-of-contact rule for climbing in and out of the truck and cranking the dollies. Proper non-slip footwear is essential not only in winter, but year-around.
  • Most hand injuries arise from not wearing gloves.
  • Drivers of flatbeds and dumps need to be made aware of the danger zone around the truck when loading or unloading. Drivers of vans and reefers should not be inside the van when powered lift trucks are loading and unloading.

Thank you for reading this. Save a safe day and a great weekend.

Loss Control: Preventing Truck Repair Shop Fires

truck shop fire

Many firms with commercial motor vehicles have in-house repair shops which may engage in anything from light repair work to full frame-up overhauls. Risk of fire and loss may increase depending on the nature of repair work done. Loss of the shop may result in the additional loss of any vehicles in or around the shop. A major shop fire could truly test business continuity.

Here are a few tips to avoid risk of fire in your truck repair shop.

Perform a Waste Audit
What types of waste are produced by the shop?
Is the waste hazardous?
Are refrigerants, solvents, batteries, used oil and antifreeze recycled?
Does the shop use a reputable recycling company for assistance in its waste stream?
Is hazardous waste kept separate in properly labeled and sealed containers?
Is the waste storage area secure from the elements (rain, snow, standing water) and unauthorized personnel?
Are written records kept of any waste stored on property?
Is hazardous waste transported by a licensed hazardous waste hauler and properly disposed?
Are waste manifests and documentation kept for at least three years?

Properly Store any Flammable and Combustible Liquids 

For small quantities (containers under 5 gallons U.S.) does the shop have an approved flammable liquids storage cabinet (designed to meet the requirements of National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) 30, Flammable and Combustible Liquids Code)?

Does the shop have a policy limiting the storage and quantity of flammable liquids used and stored inside buildings?

Does any outdoor flammable liquids storage meet the requirements of NFPA 30?


Properly Store any Compressed Gases

  • Are areas posted where gases are present?
  • Are cylinders inspected (1.) Upon delivery (visual) (2.) Per manufactures’ recommendations thereafter?
  • Are cylinders examined as soon as you receive them? If you detect signs of damage or leakage, move them to a safe, isolated area and return them to the supplier as soon as possible.
  • Are gases grouped and kept separate from combustibles?
  • Are cylinders stored upright with the steel protective cap screwed on?
  • Are full and empty cylinders kept apart when stored?
  • Are cylinders secured with chains or cables (to keep cylinders from falling over)?
  • Are cylinders stored in dry, well-ventilated areas away from exits and stairways?
  • If storing compressed gas cylinders outside, are cylinders stored off the ground and out of extremely hot or cold environments?
  • Are compressed gas containers stored away from high pedestrian and vehicle traffic areas? (Containers are more likely to be damaged there.)
  • Are oxygen cylinders stored at least 20 feet from flammables or combustibles (or separated them by a 5- foot, fire-resistant barrier)?
  • Are oil and grease kept away from oxygen cylinders, valves and hoses?
  • If hands, gloves or clothing are oily, is there a written policy in place to not handle oxygen cylinders?
  • Are fire extinguishers near the storage area, appropriate for gases stored there?

Some Gas Cylinder Do’s and Don’ts
• Do not tamper with connections and do not force connections together.
• Do not hammer valves open or closed.
• Do not drop, bang, slide, clank or roll cylinders.
• Cylinders may only be rolled along the bottom rim.
• Do not let cylinders fall or have things fall on them.
• Do not lift a cylinder by its cap unless using hand trucks so designed.
• Use carts or other material handling equipment to move cylinders. Use ropes and chains to move a cylinder only if the cylinder has special lugs to accommodate this.
• Keep cylinders secured and upright. (But never secure cylinders to conduit carrying electrical wiring.)
• When transporting compressed gas cylinders, be sure the vehicle is adequately equipped to haul compressed gases safely. (Do not haul compressed flammable gases within a van, inside a car, or in the cab of a vehicle).
• Know accident procedures.

Empty Gas Cylinders

When empty, close and return cylinders. Empty cylinders must be marked with the word EMPTY or letters MT. Empty acetylene cylinders must be so labeled. Be sure valves are closed when not using the container and before returning containers. Properly label returning containers.

Fire Extinguishers

Are fire extinguishers placed near all doorways and exits and/or to local fire codes?
Are fire extinguishers periodically inspected and serviced?
Are staff trained in use of fire extinguishers?

Ensure that access to fire extinguishers is not blocked or obstructed by any object or materials.

Other Shop Tasks

Is the shop floor swept daily and clear of combustibles?
Are shop rags placed in a fire-resistant container?
Are cleaning solvents secured when not in use?
Are any spills immediately cleaned up?

“Hot Work” (Electric or Gas Welding, Cutting, and Brazing or similar Flame Producing operations, and Grinding)

Is there a written hot work policy?
Does the hot work policy prohibit hot work in or on a tank or container unless it is properly vented?
Does the hot work policy prohibit hot work in or on any vessel, tank or container which
carries or has carried flammable materials, liquids or gases until the container
has been cleaned and tested and declared safe for “hot work” by the job safety
Are appropriate ventilating devices before and during hot work? (Opening a shop door will not provide proper ventilation in most cases.)

Hot Work Do’s and Don’ts
Never strike an arc on a compressed gas cylinder.
Always wear the appropriate type of PPE for the welding or cutting, including proper PPE and eyewear for infrared or ultraviolet radiation, depending on the process being employed.
Always wear protective ear equipment as appropriate. Protection which covers
the entire ear is recommended.

Smoking Policy

Is smoking prohibited near flammables and allowed in designated areas only?

No smoking signs should posted in all areas of the building or facility.

Other Fire Prevention Steps

Automatic sprinklers, fire suppression systems, smoke and fire detectors, etc., will help protect the facility and may result in reduced insurance premiums.

To Learn More . . .

For further protection of your truck repair shop, I strongly recommend obtaining a copy of your local building fire code and becoming familiar with National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) code.

Thank you for reading this.



Putting New Safety Technology to the Test

Freightliner Cascadia

New truck safety technology is a fact. Freightliner of St. Cloud in Central Minnesota is allowing truck purchasers the opportunity to become better acquainted with the Detroit Assurance suite of safety systems with a one-week test drive on a brand new Freightliner Cascadia.

The Detroit Assurance safety system fully integrates with the Detroit engine and transmission, the truck’s braking systems and dashboard to enhance driver safety with the following features:

  1. The Radar System senses when a vehicle is too close and then enables the Active Brake Assist feature to mitigate collisions, and Adaptive Cruise Control to adjust to traffic conditions.
  2. The Lane Departure Warning (LDW) is an optional system that uses a camera to track the truck’s position and provide warnings if the truck veers out of its lane.

The St. Cloud Times covered these systems in a video of a demo drive here.

Safety experts believe these technologies will be mandated in the next five to seven years as they contribute to accident avoidance. Early adopters may be rewarded with lower insurance premiums.


Disclaimer: Reference to any specific product, process, or service by trade name, trademark, manufacturer, company name or otherwise does not constitute or imply its endorsement, recommendation, or favoring by the author.


No Driver Cell-Phone Policy? Policy Not Enforced? Not Good.


Just the Facts

3-8-2015 — Zachary Barngrover, 23, was driving a tractor-trailer and allegedly was on his cell phone when he was making a left from 43rd Street onto Ashland when he failed to keep a proper lookout and yield the right-of-way to a mother and her two kids, resulting in a triple-fatality accident.


5-13-2015 — Truck driver Miroslav Kuzmanovic, 22, was allegedly on his his cell phone and failed to reduce speed of his tractor-trailer, causing a chain reaction crash. He was charged with reckless homicide as well as four counts of wanton endangerment. and one offense for communications device violation.


July 08, 2015 — 36-year-old Jorge Espinoza of Yuma AZ was sentenced to six years in prison for second-degree murder for looking at his cellphone before an accident that killed an Arizona Highway Patrol officer, while driving a tractor-trailer.

A Growing Problem

It is believed that the use of cell phones is a factor in 25% of crashes. While many states ban cell phone and texting while driving, the effectiveness of cell phone and texting laws on decreasing distracted driving-related crashes requires further study according to the Center for Disease Control (CDC).

The use of a hand-held mobile telephone according to the FMCSA means:

  • Using at least one hand to hold a mobile phone to make a call;
  • Dialing a mobile phone by pressing more than a single button; or
  • Reaching for a mobile phone in a manner that requires a driver to maneuver so that he or she is no longer in a seated driving position, restrained by a seat belt.

DOT penalties can be up to $2,750 for drivers and up to $11,000 for employers who allow or require drivers to use a hand-held communications device while driving.

One does not have to look at CSA Violations Summary listings to see truck drivers talking on a cell phone, texting or surfing the net.

Research by Virginia Tech shows that the odds of being involved in a safety-critical event (e.g., crash, near-crash, unintentional lane deviation) are 23.2 times greater for CMV drivers who text while driving, than for those who do not

Cell Phone Use Countermeasures

Craft a crystal clear policy on the use of communication devices while driving.

Train dispatchers or supervisors not to talk to or text drivers while they are going about their business.

Encourage drivers not to communicate, call, text, or use electronic devices while driving.

Have drivers sign your cell phone / electronic device policy.

Thank you for reading this.

J Taratuta

Please don’t call 989-474-9599 while I’m driving.