Archives for October 2018
The Business of Running a Field Inspection Business
Online Course Modules for Commercial Insurance Field Inspection Businesses
Calls come into our office every week from inspectors across the nation wondering how to expand their business, grow their customer base, hone some specific skill, or position themselves to serve a niche market. The underlying, common thread to these discussions is that building a successful business requires a very specific skill set.
These calls are from inspectors and consultants of varying experience levels, most of whom have a construction and/or insurance background. They have varying levels of experience in loss control fieldwork. Many of these calls are from personal lines inspectors looking for tips on how to transition into commercial work. These callers have realized that the skills required for inspecting a property or conducting a risk assessment are not necessarily the same skills needed to build, grow, or expand a business.
In response to these requests, CRMKC has created a training division to offer business-building and professionalism training. The courses will be offered online, and are specifically and uniquely designed to promote the growth and success of commercial insurance inspectors. We are excited to introduce our initial course offering, entitled The Business of Running a Business. This course teaches the hard skills required to build a successful field consultant business.
Who should take this field consultant business course?
Any insurance inspector who is serious about building a professional business will benefit from this course. The lessons are specifically targeted toward commercial inspectors, but many of the principals and concepts presented in this training can be universally applied by personal lines inspectors and other field service vendors as well.
This course will NOT teach you how to determine construction classifications, inspect a building, or assess a hazard. It will, however, help you develop the mindset of an entrepreneur and teach you tangible, practical, business-building and customer service skills.
The goal of this course is to develop professional business-building and customer service skills, in order to increase professionalism within the industry. Those who go the extra mile will always surpass those who choose to do “just enough.” If you are looking for ways to set yourself apart from the rest, this course is for you.
Remember: No other course on the market is specifically designed to teach you business-building success habits that help you build a professional reputation, grow your vendor base, and increase your income.
When we think of material handlers, we think of warehouse workers. Certainly, that is a fitting job description for warehouse laborers who inventory and move product all day long, but materials are handled in all businesses. Even professional office exposures receive cases of paper and supplies. Restaurants handle bulk food products, commonly in 5-gallon bucket quantities. Retailers receive crated, binned, or palletized inventory shipments. Construction workers suffer frequent strain/sprain injuries from handling raw lumber and building materials. Painters, carpenters, manufacturers – all of these industries receive shipments of products, typically via common carrier.
The process of receiving products, breaking down palletized freight, moving and storing materials in warehouses, picking and packing orders, and shipping those products to customers are part of the material handling process. Much of the process is manual. Material handlers, much like mechanics, find themselves frequently bending, stooping, and lifting during the day in order to move boxed or cased products of various weights, shapes, and sizes. Best practice is to limit the weight manually lifted to a maximum of 50 pounds, and many businesses restrict that limit to 40 pounds. Repetitive motion injuries, or cumulative trauma, are also common in warehouse workers due to the continuous lifting and moving of boxes and materials.
Falls from heights and struck-by falling objects are another common reportable injury in the material handler realm, as products are lifted onto and removed from high rack storage. Safe operation of forklifts and proper inventory storage are essential to preventing injuries caused by dislodged or falling objects. Many struck-by injuries occur when pedestrians are struck by mobile equipment, including forklifts. It is important that forklift operators have been properly trained and certified.
Other common injuries experienced by material handlers include cuts and lacerations, hernias, knee and low back injuries. The risk of these injuries may be lessened by implementing a warm-up stretching protocol at the start of each shift and training workers to assess the material load prior to attempting a lift or move.
Thankfully, much of the material handling function has been automated, but there remains a great deal of manual handling and physical labor involved in the job. Beyond the 40 to 50 pound maximum manual lifting restriction, and sometimes even below that level, employees should have access to dollies, wheeled carts, hand trucks, pallet jacks, and fork lifts to assist with heavy or awkward lifting. Team lifts are an option often utilized for awkwardly shaped or sized items like airplane wings or heavy engine components. Robotics and other automated systems are also available to assist with handling, sorting, and stacking of materials. These systems, while costly, can bear huge savings over the long-term due to their ability to reduce and even prevent injuries.
Does your company have formal safety policies in place? Are you responsible for workforce safety or risk management? Email us or give us a call at (816) 349-0850 to see how we can help design a safety and risk management plan that meets your unique needs.
The gig economy has created high demand for third-party service providers. Many of these providers work at multiple customer locations. Providing services primarily off-site places an emphasis on proper training and equipment to assure worker safety.
A parking attendant service, for example, has little to no control over the physical environment in which they operate. Garage structure, pavement conditions, and lighting are all under the control of the customer. Parking service companies must equip workers with proper tools (lighted batons, fluorescent vests, orange traffic cones) to conduct work safely, in addition to any PPE (eye protection, ear protection, gloves, and footwear) appropriate to the conditions.
Formal policy and procedure is important when providing off-site services to assure workers understand the expectation, regardless of the physical environment. Supervisors should survey the lot or garage conditions upon arrival and significant potholes or trip hazards should be cordoned off to reduce risk to pedestrian traffic (both workers and guests). Lighting should be assessed; should the provider set up temporary lighting on-site?
As a third-party provider, you equip and protect your employees to the extent possible, but you cannot foresee every hazard. For example:
Parking attendant was directing traffic into the paid parking lot when a large sign, affixed to the building, came loose and fell from above, striking attendant on the shoulder and arm. Attendant suffered multiple injuries, leading to a lengthy lost-time workers compensation claim. Attendant reached MMI and returned to work after 11 weeks.
Since workers often report directly to the customer site and are not routinely at the office location, routine safety meetings are critical. Quarterly meetings should be scheduled to bring employees together at one location, assuring that a consistent message is being delivered to all workers, and providing a forum for discussion of any near-miss incidents. Provide workers the opportunity to discuss concerns, and provide them with timely industry news. Encourage employees to participate, and document attendance at each meeting. Maintain either a formal agenda or minutes of the meeting to document topics discussed.
Formal safety practices are critical when providing services off-site, with a workforce that operates at different locations, on different shifts, and in different team configurations. Establishing policy in advance sets forth specific expectations and provides staff with the necessary knowledge to perform their duties safely and consistently, regardless of conditions.
Does your company have formal safety policies in place? Are you responsible for a workforce that delivers services at multiple locations? Contact us at (816) 349-0850 to see how we can help design a safety and risk management plan that meets your unique needs.