When Kendra Crandell, CIC, ARA Insurance preferred agent with Mount Pleasant Agency, Mount Pleasant, Mich., walks into one of her client’s rental operations, she immediately looks for how many fire extinguishers, first-aid kits and eyewash stations are easily accessible and whether safety procedures are posted as well as the phone numbers for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), her state’s OSHA and other emergency contact numbers that everyone can see quickly and easily.
Why is this so important? “No one wants to see anyone get injured. It is so important for the safety of your employees and customers to have the right equipment and knowledge so you can quickly respond to a situation. Because even a small cut on a finger could turn into something serious if not looked at right away. You don’t want a small situation to turn into a big problem,” she says.
Those “big problems” can cover a range of areas, from having an injury turn severe if not treated quickly to incurring fines if an incident is not reported to the proper authorities in a timely fashion and/or dealing with workers’ compensation claims and even lawsuits.
For instance, “if there is a death resulting from an incident at your operation, you have eight hours to contact OSHA and MIOSHA [the Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration] before you start getting fined. These fines aren’t cheap either. If there is an amputation, loss of an eye or hospitalization, you must contact OSHA within 24 hours,” Crandell says.
“I would say the most important thing is to report an incident ASAP. The quicker the response the better off everyone will be in that situation. Plus, if you have proper procedures in place and have done everything by the book, that will relieve some liability off the owner of the business,” she says.
Crandell also stresses the importance of letting “your insurance agent know ASAP of any injury. Once we know, we can get our claims specialist on it and help everyone. If there is an employee injury, we want to help them get healthy and back to work,” she says.
While accidents can occur, it is always best to prevent them from happening in the first place. That is why Crandell talks with her clients about measures they can take to be a safe operation, including:
- Communicating with your staff as far as what to do if something happens and posting emergency numbers so everyone knows where they are.
- Having regular safety meetings and implementing safety procedures.
- Training employees on everything from first-aid procedures to proper operation of the equipment, safe driving and slip-and-fall prevention. Training resources are available through the American Rental Association’s (ARA) RentalU website — ARArental.org/rentalu.
- Installing fire extinguishers and first-aid kits throughout the operation so they are easily accessible.
- Onboarding new employees so everyone is working in the same way when it comes to operating in a safe manner, including knowing first-aid and injury-prevention techniques.
- Talking with rental peers to see what measures they are implementing in their operations.
“It is so important for ARA members and their staff to have procedures in place. In case something happens, then everyone is on the same page and can respond properly. ARA offers so many safety resources. I tell all my clients to use them because preventing an incident will prevent having higher workers’ comp premiums and will help you in case you are sued,” Crandell says.
It’s also about cultivating a safe work environment. If you don’t, serious consequences can occur. “You can have a serious injury to your employee and to other people, including your customer. Besides the injury or, worse yet, death, you might have someone come back and sue you. With a customer, that is where the general liability will come up. If it is an employee, that is where the workers’ comp would trigger. If you get sued, that will increase your insurance premiums,” she says.