Magazine

Oil Spill Cleanup and Shuttle Requirements Lower Your Insurance Costs

By Kathy Phillips

As operators of parking facilities, you should have plans to clean up oil spills caused by vehicles and equipment that may have leaked for various reasons. Plans should include:
• Daily inspections
• Assembly of a cleanup kit
• Written safe practices
• Employee training
• Documentation of activities
The following will outline items suggested and methods for safe cleanup and disposal of materials used to mitigate minor oil spills, drips and leaks.
Materials needed:
• Oil-absorbent pads
• Natural or commercial oil- absorbent material
• Push broom
• Water
• Liquid detergent or environmentally friendly hydrocarbon mitigation agent
Cleaning Up an Oil Spill
1. Contain the spill as soon as possible. If the spill is still spreading, place absorbent pads around the outside edges to stop it. Absorbent pads also help wick oil out of the spill area.
2. Remove as much of the oil as possible. Many methods can be used. The easiest two are to place absorbent pads over the spill area or to pour kitty litter, vermiculite, sand, sawdust or straw over the oil. These materials will absorb oil out of the spill area.
3. Place the oil-soaked material you used in Step 2 in plastic bags and place in designated hazardous waste containers, and have them disposed of by licensed hazardous trash removal companies. ­­
It is illegal to direct or wash any oil, fuel or hazardous material into the storm drain. Care must be taken during the cleanup and mitigation process to ensure that these practices are done safely and in compliance with local, state and federal laws and regulations. Failure to meet these compliance standards may result in employee injury, environmental contamination and/or significant fines from health, safety and environmental regulatory agencies.

Shuttle Van Requirements, Practices and Driver Tips
Licensing
Although driver licensing is a state matter, states must follow federal standards for commercial drivers. These standards require that drivers of shuttle vans designed to carry at least 16 occupants have a commercial driver’s license (CDL). Please note that individual state requirements differ, so be sure to check for appropriate requirements in your state.
Concerns
Licensing and training requirements for shuttle van drivers are of concern because some van drivers may not operate such large vehicles on a regular basis. They may be unfamiliar with the way the vans handle and how they should be maintained.
Safety Belts
During 2004-08, only 26% of fatally injured shuttle van occupants were restrained. Among fatally injured van occupants who were not restrained, 62% were fully ejected from the vehicle. In comparison, among fatally injured occupants of other passenger vehicle types, belt use ranged from 29% in pickups to 46% in cars and minivans. The rate of ejection among unrestrained occupants ranged from 37% for cars and minivans to 64% for SUVs. Current federal rules require lap belts or lap/shoulder belts at all seating positions in all new passenger vehicles, including shuttle vans.
Driver Tips
Shuttle vans require special considerations because the weight distribution of passengers and the high center of gravity make them more difficult to control. When you’re behind the wheel, keep the following safety tips in mind.
- Be aware of how the van’s height and width affect its stability.
- Load/unload passengers in a safe place. Check doors to ensure that they are closed.
- Driver and passengers must always use seat belts.
- Before setting out, check the position of the mirrors to ensure that they are adjusted properly for maximum vision.
- Use mirrors or spotters when merging or backing up to ensure adequate clearances.
- Allow longer stopping and following distances.
- Plan turns in advance to allow adequate space.
- Drive defensively and keep alert in order to respond quickly and safely to unexpected situations.
- Use extra caution when driving in bad weather conditions.
Maneuvering tips
Making a lane change or merging into traffic can be challenging when driving any vehicle, but even more so with a 15-passenger van.
- Create more space around the van by reducing or increasing speed.
- Signal intentions by engaging turn signals early.
-Use the merge lane as intended and designed.
- Use the mirrors as needed.
- Yield the right-of-way, when necessary.
Stopping & following distances
A 15-passenger van weighs more and takes longer to stop than a car, especially when loaded with passengers and/or equipment.
- A three to four second following distance between the van and the vehicle in front of the van is a recommended minimum.
- Observe greater stopping distances when traveling in bad weather conditions.
Safety program
Maintaining a safety program that includes the items below will, at minimum, greatly reduce your chance of accidents, as well as reduce your property and liability associated with transporting clients. Your program must include:
- Executive management support and enforcement.
- Safe driver qualification and maintenance practices.
- Vehicle purchase, maintenance and inspection procedures.
- Driver training, coaching and instruction.
- Written safe practices and instructions, including accident investigation efforts.
- Passenger instruction and enforcement.
Kathy Phillips, CIC, CPP, is First Vice President of Alliant Insurance Services. She can be reached at kphillips@alliantinsurance.com.

Article Abstract from January, 2011




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