Summer 2007 Volume 36

Feature Articles

The single most dangerous place for working people to be is, strangely, behind the wheel of a car or truck. More on-the-job fatalities occur every year on America’s highways and city streets than anywhere else. However, you and your employees can minimize the risk of being in an accident by taking a few precautions when driving.

Inside you’ll find facts and helpful hints for reducing driving risks and a written test that will determine your knowledge of road safety (just like when you were a teenager).

Are you following the rules of the road? Here’s what you need to know to steer clear of accidents.

Obstacle #1 The Seat Belt
It doesn’t get any more basic than this: Seat belts save lives. Using them cuts the fatality rate by 45% in cars and by as much as 60% in trucks and SUVs. We all know it. But one in five Americans still fails to buckle up.

QUICK FACT
Illegal drug or alcohol use by truck drivers was cited as the cause of an accident in less than 1% of cases.

Obstacle #2 Distractions
Driving for commercial purposes is not a lazy Sunday afternoon pleasure cruise. You have a specific job to do and a responsibility to yourself and your employer to get it done accident free. To that end, make every effort to avoid any activity that could distract you from the task at hand. Distractions slow your reaction time and create split-second periods where your attention is somewhere other than on the road. As the estimated 284,000 drivers who are involved in serious crashes every year know, a split second is all it takes to have an accident.

Such distractions may include:

  • Fatigue
  • Talking or text messaging on a cell phone
  • Eating
  • Excessive use of the radio or loud music
  • Chatting with dispatch or other drivers for reasons other than the job
  • Reading
  • Sending email with a Blackberry or other handheld device
  • Putting on or removing articles of clothing (e.g., gloves, hats, sunglasses)

Obstacle #3 Decisions
According to a recent study, the No. 1 way to avoid an accident is to make good decisions and be aware of what’s going on around you. In fact, in two-car accidents where a truck driver was at fault, poor decision making or lack of driver recognition was cited as the cause in more than 60% of cases.

QUICK FACT
Truck drivers are over 50% more likely than drivers of passenger cars to drive at a speed too fast for road conditions.

Obstacle #4 Illegal Activities
A variety of activities and behaviors have been recognized as dangerous and have thus been declared illegal to do while operating a car or truck. Some of these are obvious and are, for the most part, taken very seriously by commercial drivers. Others, however, are things that, despite being against the law, nearly all of us do from time to time.

Illegal and Prescription Drugs
Everyone knows that operating a vehicle while under the influence of drugs or alcohol is one of the riskiest behaviors in which we can engage. As a whole, commercial drivers are aware of this fact and avoid such behaviors. In fact, a recent study shows that only 0.4% of truck drivers involved in accidents were under the influence of illegal drugs and only 0.3% were using alcohol. However, prescription drug use was present in 28.7% of two-car accidents — and many prescription drugs can be just as damaging to your judgment and reaction time as illegal drugs.

Everyday Violations
Speeding, failure to use a blinker and driving with a taillight out are minor violations for which most of us are occasionally guilty. But these minor violations have a dramatic effect on the number of accidents on America’s highways. Speeding, for instance, raises the chance of an accident by 300%. And 57% of Americans recently admitted to not using their turn signals when changing lanes. These types of “minor” violations may not be things that get you a ticket from the police, but they do put you and other drivers at risk of accident and injury.

QUICK FACT
Men and young drivers are more likely than any other groups, 62% and 71% respectively, to not use their turn signals when changing lanes.

Obstacle #5 Non Accident Safety Concerns
Not all safety hazards occur while the vehicle is in motion. Because they often carry valuable cargo, commercial vehicles are prime targets for theft or carjacking. Below are a few tips to protect you and your load when on the job:

  • Maintain regular contact with your dispatcher.
  • Plan your route and switch up your routine.
  • There’s safety in numbers. Park in well-lit areas near other truckers.
  • Look confident, like you know where you’re going and what you’re doing.
  • Never discuss your cargo over the radio or when stopped. Thieves may be monitoring your conversations.
  • Lock your vehicle at each stop and check it before re-entering.
Now that you’ve learned some driving facts and tips, take the written road test to see how well you score.
Do you know your stuff?

Answer these eight multiple-choice questions to determine just how much you know about road safety and risk control.

  1. The most common cause of two-car accidents where truck drivers are at fault is
    1. alcohol or drugs.
    2. adverse road conditions.
    3. poor decision making.
    4. fatigue.
  2. The most common type of accident is
    1. rear-end collision.
    2. side swipe.
    3. ran off road/lane.
    4. “T-bone” collision.
  3. Speeding ________ the odds of crashing.
    1. doubles
    2. triples
    3. quadruples
    4. reduces
  4. As opposed to the average car, which weighs 3,000 pounds, a fully loaded truck can weigh up to
    1. 15,000 pounds.
    2. 30,000 pounds.
    3. 50,000 pounds.
    4. 80,000 pounds.
  5. Traffic crashes are the leading cause of on-the-job fatalities.
    1. true
    2. false
  6. The safe distance to allow when driving in front of a truck is
    1. 5 car lengths.
    2. 10 car lengths.
    3. 20 car lengths.
    4. 30 car lengths.
  7. Driving with a blood alcohol level of more than _______ is illegal in all 50 states.
    1. 0.06%
    2. 0.08%
    3. 0.12%
    4. 0.15%
  8. The simple act of wearing a seat belt cuts the incidence of death in truck and SUV accidents by
    1. 20%.
    2. 40%.
    3. 60%.
    4. 90%.
# of Correct Answers Rating
  • 8 — Baby, you can drive my car!
  • 6-7 — Safer than most.
  • 4-5 — If you must drive, wear a helmet.
  • 3 or fewer —Stay off the road!

Answer Key — 1)c  2)a  3)b  4)d  5)a  6)b  7)b  8)c

OSHA, the National Highway Safety Administration and Network for Employers for Traffic Safety have developed new guidelines to help employers and employees reduce motor vehicle crashes. The 32-page Guidelines for Employers To Reduce Motor Vehicle Crashes offers information to help you design an effective driver safety program in your workplace. It features a 10-step program outlining what you can do to improve traffic safety performance and minimize the risk of motor vehicle crashes. The document also includes success stories from employers who have benefited from effective driver safety programs. The guideline is available as a PDF at www.osha.gov/Publications/motor_vehicle_guide.pdf. You can also order this publication by calling 202-693-1888.

Other Topics:

To assist you in hiring, EMC has created the Employment Practices Guide. This valuable document should serve as a guide for various measures that can be used to achieve a balance between the competing interests during the hiring process. The document contains information in the following areas:

  • Truth-In-Hiring Claims
  • Negligent Hiring, Retention & Supervision
  • Noncompetition Agreements
  • Workplace Violence
  • Job/Position Advertisements
  • Sample Hiring Criteria
  • Employment Applications
  • Evaluating & Interviewing Applicants
  • Unacceptable Discriminatory Questions
  • Reference/Background Checks
  • Pre- & Post-Job Offer Testing
  • New Employee Orientation Checklist
  • Employee Handbooks
  • Employee Warning Notices

You can find the Employment Practices Guide and many other loss control resources at emcinsurance.com. Count on EMC to help reduce the stress associated with hiring qualified employees for your organization.

Identify potentially violent employees during the interview process by asking behavior-based questions that test how applicants would react in a given situation.

A flick of the television switch is all it takes to see how violence has permeated the workplace. As an employer, it is imperative that you understand the magnitude of the problem and implement methods to minimize violence in the workplace. You have a number of options within your control to help combat workplace violence — become a better hirer, train employees in violence avoidance methods and recognition of early warning signs, and develop companywide violence prevention procedures. All can have an impact on violence. The following tips from EMC’s Employment Practices Guide will help you maintain a safe environment for your workers.

Becoming A Better Hirer
Unfortunately, you cannot in all circumstances select nonviolent employees, but you can take proactive steps to minimize the selection of such persons. These steps include checking professional references, performing background checks and becoming a better interviewer. You must become adept at identifying potentially violent employees. Interviewers can ask behavior-based questions that test how applicants would react in a given situation.

Early Warning Sign Training
Managers should be trained to recognize warning signs and to defuse potentially violent situations. Warning signs include, but are not limited to, direct or veiled threats of harm; numerous conflicts with supervisors and other employees; bringing a weapon to the workplace or demonstrating a fascination with guns; statements indicating desperation; and extreme changes in behavior. It is crucial that managers document these types of behavior because proper documentation will support any responsive management action.

Violence Prevention
Employers should develop policies and procedures that specifically address violence in the workplace. These policies should convey that all employees are responsible for maintaining a safe work environment; that the policy covers not only physical acts but also harassment, intimidation and disruptive ridicule; and that the employer will act promptly to stop inappropriate behavior. Additionally, you may want to consider offering an employee assistance program to give employees an outlet to express their frustrations as well as give some measure of control over the work environment.

How human resource policies may help prevent workplace violence is just one of the many topics addressed in EMC’s Employment Practices Guide. Check with your EMC agent or visit emcinsurance.com to obtain a copy of this valuable resource.

Remember that certain areas of inquiry must be avoided on an application, during an interview or at any time during the preemployment process. The following questions are considered unacceptable and must be avoided to maintain hiring practices that are free of discrimination:

  • What does your spouse do for a living?
  • Are you planning any additions to your family?
  • How will you get to work?
  • What was your mother’s maiden name?
  • Do you own a car?
  • Have you ever received workers’ compensation benefits at a former job?
  • When do you plan to retire?
  • Do you have a bank account?
  • To what clubs/organizations do you belong?
  • Have you ever been arrested? (You may ask if they have ever been convicted of a felony or a major misdemeanor if it is related to the position in question.)
  • What nationality are you?
  • Who will take care of your children after school?
Safety Poster

The National Safety Council sets aside one month of the year to stress safety messages for the workplace, for communities and for the home. This June, National Safety Month is “Celebrating Safe Communities.”

Workplace injuries are on the decline, but the number of off-the-job injuries continues to rise. Since a person inhabits many different communities throughout the day — work, home and every stop in between — the National Safety Council encourages businesses and individuals to take advantage of safety education materials and reduce the risk of injury and death in everyday life.

Join the National Safety Council and EMC in promoting safety this June and every month of the year. You will find a selection of safety materials at www.nsc.org or in the Loss Control section of emcinsurance.com.

ERGONOMICS IN THE PRINTING INDUSTRY
A new eTool from OSHA provides information for printers on industry best practices to reduce work-related musculoskeletal disorders. To access this eTool visit www.osha.gov/SLTC/etools/printing/.

PANDEMIC FLU GUIDELINES
Guidance on Preparing Workplaces for an Influenza Pandemic is a new publication available from OSHA. Learn more about the nature of a potential pandemic at www.osha.gov/Publications/influenza_pandemic.html.

OSHA RELEASES NEW “IT’S THE LAW” POSTER
Required to be displayed in every American workplace, OSHA’s “It’s The Law” poster has a new look. Copies are available online from www.osha.gov. Free printed copies may be obtained at any OSHA office.

Contractors

If you are not using protective systems or equipment while working in trenches or excavations, you are at risk.

A 45-year-old construction “lead man” was shoveling loose dirt from the bottom of a 21-foot-deep unshored, vertical-walled excavation to accommodate placement of a fabricated trench shield. Soil began falling from a side wall; as the worker attempted to leave the site, the soil gave way, entirely covering and killing him.

excavator

This is just one of many cases noted in the Fatal Accident Circumstances and Epidemiology Project of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. In case after case, none of the excavations were found to incorporate the following protective measures specified in applicable OSHA Standards:

  • The walls and faces of all excavations in which employees are exposed to danger from moving ground should be guarded by a shoring system, sloping of the ground or some other equivalent means.
  • Sides of trenches in unstable or soft material, five feet or more in depth, should be shored, sheeted, braced, sloped or otherwise supported by means of sufficient strength to protect employees working within them.
  • Excavations (including trenches) adjacent to backfilled areas or subjected to vibrations from railroads, highway traffic or operation of machinery should be reinforced with additional shoring and bracing.
  • Those working with excavations from 5 to 24 feet deep in Type A or Type B soils or 5 to 15 feet deep in Type C soil should either equip the trench with a shoring system capable of supporting the lateral soil pressure, cut the trench back to the steepest allowable slope for the type of soil or use a combination of both measures.

All excavations are hazardous because they are inherently unstable. If they are restricted spaces, they present the additional risks of oxygen depletion, toxic fumes and water accumulation. If you are not using protective systems while working in trenches or excavations at your site, you are in danger of suffocating, inhaling toxic materials, fire, drowning or being crushed by a cave-in.

The following checklist from the Montana Department of Labor may help you prevent cave-ins and other excavation disasters:

  • Has a competent person tested the soil to determine the proper classification as a basis for determining
  • Are materials and equipment used for protective systems free from defects that might impair their function?
  • Are members of support systems securely connected to prevent falling, sliding, kickouts or other predictable failure?
  • Are support systems installed and removed in a manner that protects employees from cave-ins or structural
  • Are employees prohibited from working on faces of sloped or benched excavations above other employees at lower levels unless there is adequate protection from falling, rolling or sliding material or equipment?
  • Are employees protected from the hazard of cave-ins when entering or exiting areas protected by shields?
  • Are employees prohibited from being in shields during installation, removal or vertical movement of them?

Prior to worker entry, a “competent person” — defined as one who is capable of identifying existing and predictable hazards in the surroundings, or working conditions that are unsanitary, hazardous or dangerous to employees, and who has authorization to take prompt corrective measures to eliminate them — must be on site.

Local Governments

Assess security procedures at substations and make needed changes to help provide your community with a safe and secure source of electrical energy.

electical substation

Although electrical substations are in many ways the “neuron” of your electrical network, allowing effective monitoring and control of electric energy in a particular area, they are attended for very short periods of time. Unlike control centers and most power plants that are staffed around the clock, there is typically no staffing and limited or no roving security patrols. Therefore, it is important that security policies or procedures are in place to manage and control access into and out of critical substations.

Evaluate Your Substation Security Program

Answer the following questions to determine if your substation security program is up to the standards defined by the National Electric Reliability Council:

  1. Does your substation security policy clearly define roles, responsibilities and procedures for access and is it part of an overall critical infrastructure protection policy?
  2. Are all physical access points through each perimeter clearly identified and documented?
  3. Are physical access controls implemented at each identified perimeter access point?
  4. Is access into and out of critical substations monitored with security personnel and/or electronic authorization?
  5. Do you have records that identify all contractors, vendors and service personnel who have unescorted access privileges to substations?
  6. Do you require all contractors and vendors with critical substation access privileges to pass a background screening before being issued an entity-provided contractor ID badge?
  7. Do you have a substation incident response program that, at a minimum, would provide a rapid assessment of events in the substation in order to differentiate normal electromechanical failures from malicious acts?
  8. Do you eliminate or restrict the use of the substation secure area for noncritical activities such as equipment storage, noncritical asset storage, contractor staging and personal vehicle parking?

If you answered “yes” to all of the questions, you are operating with a consistent “systems approach” to protecting critical assets. EMC loss control experts suggest prioritizing substations based on factors such as prior history of incidents, threat warnings from law enforcement agencies, loss of load consequences, response time, recovery time and overall operating requirements. Then, inspect and assess existing security policies at substations and make appropriate changes to help provide your community with a safe and secure source of electrical energy.

The Water Environment Federation (WEF), through a cooperative agreement with the EPA, is now offering a training and technical educational program to assist publicly-owned treatment works in reducing vulnerabilities to human-made threats and natural disasters. The WEF program focuses on vulnerability assessment and emergency response training. It also presents the 14 features of an active and effective security program developed by the National Drinking Water Advisory Council. Some of these features include promoting security awareness, defining security roles and employee expectations, threat-level-based protocols, contamination detection, emergency response plans, intrusion detection and access control.

The WEF is pleased to sponsor these programs that emphasize emergency response readiness and include tabletop exercises that can help better position wastewater systems to restore vital services in the event of an emergency.

The three-day workshops are offered at no cost to publicly-owned treatment works treating 2.5 million gallons per day or greater. For more information on dates, times and registration, visit www.wef.org/watersecurity.

Petroleum Marketers:

Surveillance cameras can not stop crime. However, they may make it easier for law enforcement professionals to identify, capture and prosecute criminals.

surveillance cameraTrue or false? A simple camera system, properly installed, may protect the employees, customers and assets of any sized convenience store. You might be surprised by the answer.

According to a study conducted by the National Association of Convenience Stores, closed-circuit television systems do not appear to have a consistent or dramatic effect on crime reduction. The study looked at 189 stores where closed-circuit television systems were in place and for which one year of preinstallation data and two years of post-installation crime data were known. In the sample, there was a statistically significant reduction in robbery rates during the first year after installation. However, data for the second year showed an increase in robbery rates, although not quite to preinstallation levels. The simple truth of the matter is this — surveillance cameras can not stop crime. They do, however, provide high-resolution footage, making it easier for law enforcement professionals to identify, capture and prosecute criminals once a crime is committed.

Surveillance Cameras Are Just One Component Of A Comprehensive Crime Prevention Program

In its Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design program, the National Association of Convenience Stores recommends a three-prong approach to improving the overall safety and security of convenience stores.

  • Territoriality — Use physical features to show ownership of your property. You can accomplish this by using landscaping, fencing and signs to define your territory, showing that your store is well-managed, and by keeping the store and parking lot clean, neat and free of litter.
  • Access Control — Limit the number of suspicious people on your premises by limiting the number of entrances and exits to the store, closing off some parking lot entrances and doors at night, and installing gates, locks or turnstiles.
  • Surveillance — Maximize visibility for employees and customers by limiting the number of signs on windows; moving displays, making it easier for people outside the store to see in; and encouraging employees to be more aware of their surroundings and to report problems as quickly as possible. Remember, the watchful eye of your employees may be your best form of crime deterrence.

Robberies Heat Up With Warmer Weather

It’s more important during the warmer months to make certain your staff knows how to identify suspicious behavior and respond to potentially dangerous situations. Why? The Federal Bureau of Investigation reports that more robberies take place during warmer weather. Be prepared for the season with more than a surveillance camera.

Remember, store safety and security is vital to providing an atmosphere to which your customers want to return, and also for creating a good work environment for your employees. A comprehensive crime deterrence program that involves employee training and changes to your physical space can help improve the safety of your customers and staff.

Your employees may be your best source of surveillance. Train them to identify suspicious situations that may lead to criminal activity. Remind them that if something seems wrong, it probably is.

Be On The Watch For:

  • Cars parked for an unusual length of time in or near the parking lot
  • People coming into the store but not making purchases
  • People returning to the store after having been there earlier
  • People seeming agitated or raising their voices

Know What To Do:

  • Take every threat seriously
  • Call management to report any suspicious activity
  • Call the police if necessary
  • If a threatening note, sign or message is left at the store, save it and report it to the police

Employee Training Is Crucial

Beyond knowing what to look for, make certain employees know:

  • How to avoid violence during a robbery
  • What to do after a robbery occurs
  • How to respond to other potentially dangerous situations

Schools:

Do you know where your roof warranty documents are? In times of reduced budgets, roof warranties may provide covered roof repairs for little or no out-of-pocket expense.

Warranties seem to be a standard part of roofing life. Almost all public and most private sector roofing projects have requirements for some kind of manufacturer’s labor and material warranty. These warranties are issued at the completion of a project, filed away and, in many cases, never seen again. Many times owners either don’t know they have a warranty or they fail to capitalize on the warranty benefits.

The cost of a standard 10-year no-dollar limit (NDL) labor and material warranty ranges from $0.05 to $0.07 per square foot. A long-term warranty (20 years) can be as high as $0.10 to $0.20 per square foot. On an average size roofing project (10,000 sf), this equates to an out-of-pocket warranty cost of $500 to $2,000. If you never use a warranty’s leak repair service, these funds end up in the manufacturer’s warranty reserve fund. The average cost of a leak repair is $500 to $1,000. So the repair of only a few leaks can recoup the cost of most warranties.

Warranties do not cover repairs of leaks caused by abuse or mistreatment of the roof. In addition, warranties do not cover the repair of defects that do not leak, regardless of how severe they might be. Warranties cover the repair of labor or material deficiencies to manufacturer-supplied materials that cause leaks. Manufacturer-supplied materials may include the roof membrane and flashing, but generally do not include insulation or sheet metal.

Warranties generally require that you notify the roofing manufacturer in writing within 30 days of an observed leak. Failure to do so may nullify the manufacturer’s obligation to perform repairs.

These contracts have some value and can provide relief from leaks. Owners need to be aware of these documents, especially since they paid for them. In times of reduced budgets, warranties can provide covered roof repairs for little or no out-of-pocket expense.

[This article courtesy of Curtis Liscum, RRC, and Benchmark Roofing and Pavement Consultants.]

Most comprehensive roofing manufacturer warranties provide labor and materials to repair leaks with the following general exclusions:

  • Acts of God (hail, lightening, tornadoes, earthquakes)
  • Abuse or neglect
  • Fire
  • Winds in excess of warranty limit
  • Damage caused by ponding water
  • Repair, alterations and additions to the roof without prior approval of the manufacturer or performed by a nonapproved contractor
  • Failure to perform reasonable maintenance
  • Failure to notify manufacturers of leaks in a timely manner
  • Failure of owner to make repairs to leaks not covered by the warranty
school bus

The adopted regulation specifies that a driver who passed Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA)-approved knowledge and skills tests for a Commercial Driver’s License school bus endorsement before September 30, 2002, has met the requirements for a school bus endorsement. The compliance date for states to administer knowledge and skills tests to all school bus drivers was extended to September 30, 2007, along with an expiration date for allowing states to waive the driving skills test.