By Cheryl Higley
Is your team prepared if an employee is injured while working for your snow & ice management company? Despite everyone’s best efforts, accidents are bound to happen. Your company must be prepared to manage the incident not only to protect your employees’ health and well-being but also to ensure proper documentation for your insurance, workers’ compensation (if applicable), human resource management and perhaps even your client.
While each organization’s plan may vary based on company size, types of equipment in play, types of clients, etc., it is imperative that every company has an established emergency protocol in place.
Emergency best practices
1. Train your team on the protocol before the season begins, including reporting requirements, emergency actions, etc. Dominic Chiarella, a former snow & ice management company owner and current industry consultant, says every team member must be trained not only on the protocol but also how to complete accident reports properly and why the protocols are in place.
2. Keep a first-aid kit in your trucks. If your company falls under Department of Transportation regulations, they are required. Click here for a related story on building the perfect first-aid kit.
3. Provide first-aid and CPR training for team members. Robert Young, owner of KEY Property Services, says not only are his team members trained in basic first-aid and CPR, many also are “OSHA 10” certified. That training focuses on general safety, including walking and working surfaces, hazardous materials, emergency action plan, personal protective equipment, electrical safety, hazard communication, safety and health programs and more. Learn more about OSHA 10 here.
4. Know your clients’ requirements. Young says he is required to follow his customers’ regulations in addition to those he has established. “I have a large manufacturing facility that I plow and I am bound by their rules. On a couple of my sites I have to have the same training that they require of their employees, whether it’s CPR, first responder or AED training.”
5. Immediately report every incident per the established protocol, “no matter how small or insignificant,” Key says. The extent of the injury determines the next step, whether it’s treatment in the field, a trip to the emergency room or doctor for evaluation, or calling 911.
6. Document every incident. These reports can be customizable but Chiarella recommends each include the following specifics and that it be kept on file for insurance/workers’ compensation/legal claims, as part of the workers’ employment record, etc.:
- Date, time and location of the incident
- Description of the incident
- Names and contact information of any witnesses
- Listing of team members who also were on site
- Weather conditions at the time of the incident
- On-site treatment provided
- Any company-specific information you want to include
7. Make it easy for your team to report and document incidents. Dean Outhouse, CSP, of Crescent Plowing Services, says the company has trained its site managers on how to complete the paperwork and a placard in the truck binder outlines the process in an easy to understand format.
8. Obtain backup documentation if possible. Outhouse says he services a few sites that have security cameras. He must report any incidents and provide copies of the paperwork to the clients, but he also can gain access to the security footage when needed.
9. Know your workers’ comp rules. Workers’ compensation has strict rules that must be followed in the event of a workplace accident. Make sure you and your team knows the rules and abides by them.
“The safety of every employee and client must be a primary consideration in every snow & ice management company. There must be a process in place to report accidents not only to allow for an adequate investigation into the incident but also to track the cause and implement any measures to prevent it from happening again,” Chiarella says.
Cheryl Higley is editorial director of Snow Business magazine.