Magazine

PARKING HEALTH SAFETY

By Kathy Phillips

One of the biggest struggles for owner/operators of parking services is dealing with the fallout of work injuries. A torn ligament from a slip while running to bring around a car, or a pulled back muscle from lifting heavy luggage can each create painful injuries for your employees, and unfortunate stress for you.
Not only are you concerned about your injured employee, but the ensuing loss of productivity can have a devastating effect on your revenue. The good news of this difficult event is that studies demonstrate that injured recover quickly.
The research also shows that injured workers who return to work during their healing period tend to require fewer medical treatments and incur fewer injury-related medical expenses. Working becomes part of the employee’s rehabilitation process, and allows the injured worker an active role in their recovery.
Productive modified duty can create a strong feeling of satisfaction and encourage the employee they are a valuable part of your team.
Bottom line: a Return-to-Work Program can have a positive effect on your bottom line. Establishing such a program provides your business with an effective tool for managing workers’ compensation claims and the business costs related to lost work time. Such a program also can reduce the likelihood of lingering or fraudulent claims.
A proactive Return-to-Work Program prepares employees in the event of an injury so they know what to expect and how to handle the event. Also, such a program can benefit your employees in ways not always considered or apparent. For example, keeping the employee on the job allows the worker to retain their seniority, medical benefits and vacation time. A Return-to-Work Program is good for everyone.
Benefits to the Employer – Direct Savings
• Eliminates or reduces lost work time benefits.
• Shorten­s recovery time.
• Reduces medical costs.
• Decreases loss ratio and experience modifiers, which help control premium costs.
• Maintains productivity and profitability.
• Saves wage costs for substitute employees.
Benefits to Employer – Indirect Savings
• Retains productivity of skilled and experienced workers.
• Creates continuity of company business.
• Removes expenses associated with recruiting, hiring and training replacement workers.
• Reduces lost production time or product.
• Develops a safety net to avoid dishonest or exaggerated claims.
Benefits to Employees
• Shortens recovery time.
• Provides a means to remain active and engaged.
• Continues employment.
• Eliminates or reduces associated stress, boredom and depression.
• Reduces disruption to employees and employees’ families lives.
• Helps to keep employees physically fit and prevent muscle atrophy.
• Maintains company benefits and seniority.
• Retains job skills.
• Preserves independence and feelings displacement are alleviated.
• Minimizes pain and suffering.
• Promotes overall wellness.

Driving While Distracted (DWD)
Each day, reports the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), more than 16 people are killed and 1,300 injured in car accidents caused by those driving while distracted (DWD), which is defined as doing another activity that takes your attention away from driving. Such activities can increase the chance of vehicle crashes.
On its dedicated website, Distraction.gov, the U.S. Department of Transportation notes that DWD accidents occur regardless of the driving distance. In fact, driving around the corner or when parking a car, people tend to be more casual, they pick up their phones or reach behind the seat.
A valet driver can be even more susceptible due to their surroundings. The nature of a valet is to take and return a customer’s car in a safe and timely manner. In addition, valets operate in areas where people are walking and getting in and out of other vehicles, and distractions will easily heighten the danger and the possibility of an accident.
There are three main types of distraction for drivers, says the USDOT website:
• Visual – taking your eyes off the road.
• Manual –taking your hands off the wheel.
• Cognitive – taking your mind off what you are doing.
DWD activities include things such as using a cell phone or texting, eating or drinking, and talking with passengers. Using in-vehicle technologies (such as navigation systems) and portable communication devices can also be sources of distraction. While any of these distractions can endanger the driver and others, text-messaging while driving is especially dangerous because it combines all three types of distraction, the USDOT website notes.
How big is the DWD problem?
• Texting causes five times more accidents than alcohol-related incidents.
• When asked whether driving feels safer, less safe, or about the same as it did five years ago, more than 1 in 3 drivers say driving feels less safe today. Distracted driving – cited by 3 out of 10 of these drivers – was the single most common reason given for feeling less safe today, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports on its website, www.cdc.gov/
Motorvehiclesafety/Distracted_Driving/index.html.
How can DWD be prevented? The CDC website notes that:
• Many states are enacting laws – such as banning texting while driving – or using graduated driver licensing systems for teen drivers to help raise awareness about the dangers of distracted driving and to keep it from occurring.
• On Oct. 1, 2009, President Obama issued an executive order prohibiting federal employees from texting while driving on government business or with government equipment.
• In January 2010, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration enacted an interim ban that prohibits commercial vehicle drivers from texting while behind the wheel. In March 2010, a proposed rule was announced that would make that ban stronger and more durable.
• The USDOT has launched a national campaign to encourage the public to get involved in ending distracted driving. “Put It Down” (www.distraction.gov/campaign-tools/index.html) focuses on the key NHTSA messages that drivers can’t do two things at once, and that everyone has a personal responsibility to pay attention while behind the wheel.
If your organization does not already have a policy in place specific to the new technologies in today’s society, this is one way to raise the awareness of your drivers.
Kathy Phillips, CIC, CPP, is First Vice President of Alliant Insurance Services. She can be reached at kphillips@alliantinsurance.com.

Article Abstract from February, 2011




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