Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Teens and Summer Employment: Manage the Risks

Teens and Summer Employment: Manage the Risks

As the school year comes to a close, many employers will hire teenagers for summer jobs. Although the number of employed teenagers dropped drastically since 2008, those numbers are slowly rising again. In 2011, the number of youths (16 to 24 years old) employed in the United States was 18.6 million—an increase of 1.7 million from 2010 (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics). Hiring teens can prove to be very beneficial for employers, teens and the community. With the trend on the rise, it is a great time to revisit the best ways to manage your risk.  
Higher injury ratesInjury rates are higher among teenagers. Statistics for 2011 shows that the non-fatal injury rate for employees 15 to 17 years old was double the injury rate for employees 25 and older. The higher injury rate can be attributed to a lack of experience and an under-appreciation for workplace hazards. The lack of work experience disqualifies most teenagers from more technical jobs, so they accept positions that are more hazardous by nature or involve manual labor which is inherently more risky. According to the National Consumer League, the five most dangerous jobs for teenagers last summer were:
  • Agriculture—harvesting crops and using machinery
  • Construction and height work
  • Driver/Operator—forklifts, tractors, ATVs
  • Outside labor—landscaping, grounds keeping and lawn service
  • Sales crews—traveling
Managing the riskOSHA (the Occupational Safety and Health Administration) suggests following these simple steps to prevent injuries to working teens:
  • Give clear instructions and safety precautions to take.
  • Ask for your instructions to be repeated and give an opportunity for questions.
  • Demonstrate how to perform tasks.
  • Observe tasks being performed and correct any mistakes.
  • Demonstrate how to use safety equipment.
  • Prepare teens for emergencies.
  • Ask if there are any additional questions.
Taking these simple steps can drastically reduce risk of injury while encouraging safe working habits for all employees.

  • 06/04/2012
  • Written by Brad Williamson
    Claims, MEM
  • Claims Management, Global

Friday, June 1, 2012

Balancing Cost and Performance When Purchasing Vehicles

By Mary Jo Welch 

Not that long ago, pickup trucks and cargo vans were basically “one size fits all” and making a choice was as simple as finding the lowest price. Today, with more than 100 combinations for pickup trucks and cargo vans, getting the best value requires balancing cost and performance. Often the difference between the lowest price and that of the right size vehicle is 10 percent or less, but costs for maintenance and repairs, poor fuel economy and lower resale value can end up being much greater in the long run.    

Selecting a pickup truck or cargo van should begin with an honest assessment of the weight and volume the vehicle will be hauling, including aftermarket equipment such as bins and ladder racks, as well as the estimated weight of the driver, passengers, carry-on toolboxes and other routine variables. Other factors include whether the truck will be driven mostly on the highway, off-road or in stop-and-go traffic, as well as if it will be used for towing.  

While today’s manufacturer’s warranties usually cover everything except normal wear-and-tear items like tires, brake pads and filters, failure to comply with a truck’s recommended weight can end up voiding the warranty on components that fail due to overloading.  

Manufacturers determine the Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) and tow ratings based on the rating of the axles, body/bed, frame, suspension, tires, engine and transmission. Operating a vehicle above the GVWR creates a potential safety hazard by affecting the way the truck handles and stops; it also affects performance and reliability.   

Although drivers may be tempted to continue to load materials into their trucks if there appears to be space available, it’s important to remember that the frame, suspension, brakes and tires are not designed for weights above the rating the manufacturer has established. Overloading a truck can cause premature mechanical failures on driveline components such as axles, drive shaft universal joints, transmission, and suspension parts and brakes.  

The easiest way to determine how much weight a vehicle is designed to carry is to subtract its net weight (found in the owner’s manual) from the GVWR (usually found on a placard on the door jam). The remaining number is the maximum weight the vehicle can safely carry, including the driver, fuel and cargo. Aftermarket accessories and equipment also increase the weight of the vehicle and must be added to the net weight listed in the owner’s manual. The best way to check the net weight is to take the vehicle to a certified scale and weigh it as normally loaded with the driver and passengers.  

While a truck or van certainly will be loaded to 100 percent capacity from time to time, a good rule of thumb is to spec vehicles to operate at 80 percent of their GVWR. This will reduce operating costs and help extend the service life of pickup trucks and cargo vans.     

Mary Jo Welch is assistant vice president of Fleet Operations, Vehicle Acquisition and Licensing for Enterprise Fleet Management. For more information, call (877) 23-FLEET or visit or