Liberty Mutual Driver Survey: Costs of Crashes on the Rise

Liberty Mutual on Aug. 1 released the results of its workers' compensation trucker survey, which provides Liberty Mutual trucking customers with benchmarks for major industry segments, best practices and industry-accepted practices.

Looking at loss sources, the study assigned an injury type based on the activity being performed when the injury occurred. The study found that the frequency of crash injuries decreased, but their total cost percentage increased. Crashes now account for more than $1 of every $5 of incurred loss. The frequency of cargo handling continued its downward trend. Handling cargo injuries accounted for 14 percent of the total costs, down from 15.4 percent in 2005.

Costs incurred for forklift injuries also was a significant source of loss. According to the Liberty Mutual study, they are some of the highest-cost injuries. Load securement injuries accounted for a much lower percentage of the total cost and frequency (both at 5 percent) compared to 2005, and trailer falls and yard falls were a lower percentage of the total compared to the previous year. The frequency of falls from trailers was flat, compared to the previous year, although the cost of injuries was down, accounting for 9 percent of the total costs, down from 11 percent.

Based on a review of the injury rates per 1 million miles and the customer survey responses, Liberty Mutual identified six key actions that companies with lower injury frequency rates have in common:

  • Selecting workers based on their ability to perform essential job functions
  • Setting and maintaining high expectations for worker performance
  • Measuring worker and management performance frequently
  • Providing feedback on performance
  • Using interventions to change behaviors associated with injuries
  • Adopting and enforcing specific policies to reduce injury and crash potential

Liberty Mutual also identified eight program areas associated with lower injury frequency rates, and identified areas that should be part of every program. Implementing these practices can help lower the injury frequency when used as part of an overall injury reduction strategy.

Liberty grouped best and industry-accepted practices into eight areas: management programs, expectations, selection, monitors performance, transitional work programs, incentive programs, injury prevention and training. Best practices were identified as those that are used by a minority of the companies surveyed that are associated with lower injury frequency rates. Industry-accepted practices were identified as program features done by most companies.

Management Programs

  • Nearly all companies share the costs of workers' compensation costs with management.
  • Those sharing costs with employees outnumbered those not sharing costs by three to one. Those sharing costs with employees had a 15 percent lower injury frequency rate.
  • Most companies measure injury frequency rates, and they have lower injury frequency rates.
  • Those conducting driver surveys had injury frequency rates 18 percent lower than those not conducting them. About half the companies conduct them “every few years.”
  • Three companies provide FMCSA training and have compliance expectations for managers for every one that does not. Those that provide the training and have expectations for managers had 14 percent lower injury frequency rates.
  • Most companies have injury investigation activities. Those that use written injury investigation forms, ask for prevention recommendations, calculate injury rates, set injury rate goals and track injury rates by customer had a 13 percent lower injury frequency rate.

Expectations

  • Four out of five companies have a written seat belt policy. Close to 50 percent of the companies have a written seat belt policy and enforcement activities. Those with both the policy and enforcement had a crash injury frequency rate that was 33 percent lower than the group that did not.
  • Companies that adjust governors based on driver performance were in the minority. They had a slightly lower injury frequency rate. Governor settings are addressed in the auto survey report.

Selection

  • Two out of three companies look into past employment and work history gaps of new drivers, and conduct criminal background checks. There was not a relationship to injury frequency rates.
  • Four out of five companies use a hiring checklist to document each step of the hiring process. Those using a hiring checklist had 30 percent lower injury frequency rates.
  • Four out of five companies have job descriptions that include essential job functions. Companies including essential job functions in the job descriptions had a 11 percent lower injury frequency rate.
  • Four out of five companies designate a medical provider. Those using designated medical providers had slightly lower injury frequency rates.

Monitoring Performance

  • Companies that provide technology for driver managers so they can verify available hours of service for drivers had a 37 percent lower crash injury frequency rate than those that do not. Providing this technology shows a management style that believes in monitoring performance.
  • One out of four companies had GPS and use it to monitor speed. Those that have GPS and use it to monitor speed had a 15 percent lower crash injury frequency rate.
  • Two out of three companies conduct road observations. Those conducting them had a slightly lower injury frequency rate.

Transitional Work Programs

  • Most companies have some transitional work program practices. One out of four companies had someone responsible for tracking employees off work and had written transitional work job descriptions. The group using both had a 7 percent lower injury frequency rate.

Incentive Programs

  • More than three out of four companies had some driver incentive program elements. Those with no incentive program elements, however, had an 8 percent lower injury frequency rate. The median injury frequency rate went up as the annual cost per driver increased. Those spending less than $300 per driver had the lowest injury frequency rate for the companies with incentive programs.

Injury Prevention

  • Most companies have some type of injury prevention activities. Those that use an injury prevention manual, provide regular training and have observations for enforcement had a tractor entry and exit injury frequency rate that was one-third of those that do not.

Training

  • Three out of four companies use written agendas for training. Using written agendas and group size had an impact on the injury frequency rate. The injury frequency rate went down as the training group size went down. Those with written agendas and one-on-one training had a 30 percent lower injury frequency rate than those not using written agendas.
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