Caution: Never Too Safe

Posted on November 1, 2008 by - Also by this author

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Safety meetings are a way to bring all employees together as a group for a common purpose that benefits everyone in your business. You instill unity, team spirit, and delivering company messages while educating and training. It allows time for dispatchers and other office personnel to interact with chauffeurs who seldom spend time in the office. Most importantly, regular safety meetings will save you time, money, and heartache. Your employees will take that seriously and work to follow good examples.

Safety classes can lower your insurance premiums when considered by an insurance underwriter, says Dennis Easley, a loss prevention manager for Praetorian Insurance, a major provider of livery industry insurance. It can significantly reduce the chance of a workers’ compensation claim being filed by one of your employees through reduction of accidents and injuries. It certainly impresses impressive corporate clients when you present your annual calendar of safety meeting topics. Being safe equals good business management.

Nuts and Bolts

Putting the meeting together presents many questions: When should you have it? Where? How long should it last? Do I have to pay the employees to attend? Who should put it on? How do you find a speaker?

The best day of the week for a safety meeting in this industry is on a Sunday, when the fewest number of rides occur. But this can impose on employees’ religious practices, so you must be sensitive to this issue. Alternate days could be Tuesday and Wednesday, or you might even consider doing two sessions to accommodate everyone.

Choosing when to have it determines your meeting space. You may need a restaurant banquet room or hotel meeting room. You may consider serving pizza during the meeting, or even something more formal if the topic involves an outside speaker. If you are on a budget, skip the extravagance but don’t skip the meeting.

A garage or yard often is our work environment. The meeting can be short and sweet in about 15 minutes with some important safety topics such as changing a tire or loading passengers. You will need to pay your employees for their time. If you make the meeting mandatory, you are compelled to pay two hours of pay for showing up. You may want to make it a voluntary meeting but offer to compensate those in attendance for the actual time by adding it to their next trip.

Consider the expense of this as a tax deductible business expense as necessary and important as replacing a set of tires. Speakers can be outside sources, yourself, or a rotation of chauffeurs who can present topics they know well. You can easily find outside speakers in law enforcement or the fire department by calling the public information officer of each department and asking for a speaker. Most departments will bend over backwards to provide such a valuable community service.

Other ideas: Pay for a Red Cross representative to do a basic first aid class; contact a loss prevention manager with your insurance carrier for a presentation. Loss prevention managers such as Easley can help operators develop safety programs and identify potential areas of loss. Since this is their primary job, it is usually easy to arrange. Lancer Insurance, a leading insurance provider in the industry, distributes a monthly safety bulletin for chauffeurs. This newsletter could be used as a guideline for holding safety meetings, says Lance Gentry, a loss prevention manager for Lancer.

Finding Topics

EACH MEETING SHOULD have a single topic. Some topics such as summer and winter driving will become annual meetings. Three key elements to focus on are the safety of chauffeurs, passengers, and vehicles.

We typically encounter certain situations such as dealing with intoxicated passengers, so we should discuss it regularly. Occasionally, we may be called upon to help a passenger out of a wheelchair and into our vehicles. Knowing the best way to do this without causing injury to the chauffeur or the passenger is vital. We drive high-profile people who pose a risk. All employers require workplace violence training in most states. Personal health and wellness is a relevant topic in an industry where inconsistent sleep patterns may cause a chauffeur to become drowsy although he had eight hours of sleep, Easley says.

Getting the Maximum

Whether you hold one meeting per month or a meeting each quarter, maximize this time by sharing upcoming company promotions, changes in procedures, plans to buy new equipment, and anything else significant. You may want to consider incorporating a post-meeting event such as lunch or dinner. This can be paid by the company or by every person who attends. This increases bonding and team-building time.

Looping in Insurance Companies

Informing the insurance companies of your safety meetings may help reduce your premiums. To have an underwriter consider your meetings when getting a quote, you must make the insurance company aware of your program. There are a few ways that you can do this. During your renewal time, submit a copy of your safety meeting calendar to your agent. Your agent will include this as a supplement to your application.

Another method is to share the information during a site visit. Once you have secured insurance, a loss prevention manager usually will visit your premises within 60 days to analyze the risk as you reported on your application. This is the best time to share your program. This is usually the only face-to-face time you will have with the insurance company. The loss prevention manager can present to the underwriter the true commitment you have to safety. Make sure you keep an attendance roster for each meeting, and have employees sign their name to show they attended. Present this to the insurance company as well.

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