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Protect your most important assets
Garry Bartecki
Garry Bartecki

Every business owner needs to protect their most important assets: their employees, their physical assets, their cash accounts.

By employees I am including ALL employees......outside sales, techs, clerical, parts department and all other internal folks.

By assets I am referring to having adequate insurance, both liability and asset coverage that will provide replacement value and at the same time cover any claim issues without depleting other corporate assets.

By cash accounts I mean the cost of replacing an employee or having one on extended leave or the costs incurred beyond what your insurance policy covers and/or the expenses incurred to defend a lawsuit.

By assessing and mitigating risk a business owner can reduce exposure to costly events or potential liabilities. But in this day and age there is a cost of managing risk because it may require training, additional equipment, legal expense and possibly all of the above.

Let's talk about employees who represent the company while outside of the office.  These would be product sales people, product support sales people, outside service personnel, truck drivers and all other employees using their cars for some sort of company business. From a safety standpoint what could you do to protect these valuable assets?

How about a Phone and Texting Policy.

A Phone and Texting Policy will protect all three categories of assets noted above.  It will help avoid auto or other accidents from occurring, it will reduce shop incidents when techs are working on equipment, it will reduce liability exposure if there is a claim resulting for improper use of a phone or computer.

Every state has their own set of rules regarding phone use.  Truck drivers are subject to more stringent regulations.  In short, there are both phone and texting restrictions to be considered as part of a company policy to be followed by ANY employee on company business.

So let's review the phone and texting restriction rules that pertain to truck drivers:

Restricts the use of ALL hand-held mobile devices of commercial vehicles.

Restricts driver from holding mobile device to make a call, or dialing by pressing more than one button.

Drivers who use mobile phone while driving can only use hands-free phone located in close proximity.

Drivers are in compliance if while following the restrictions noted above they utilize an earpiece or speaker phone function, or use voice-activated or one-button touch features to initiate, answer or terminate a call.   

As far as texting is concerned:

Restricts texting of any kind while driving.

Texting means entering text or reading text from electronic device.

Texting includes short message service, email, instant messaging, a command to access a web page, pressing more than one button to initiate or terminate a call using a mobile phone.

From a risk assessment standpoint I don't see any reason not to apply these restrictions on every company employee while on company business. It is the smart thing to do and a win-win for both the company and the employee (and their families).

If you don't have a formal written Phone and Texting Policy you should prepare one and have it distributed to each and every employee. Better yet I would have each one of them sign off on the policy noting that they read it, understand it and will abide by it while on company business. I assure you, your insurance company will compliment you for recognizing a very serious risk. In fact, send them a copy for their input before you make the document public. They will be glad to help.

Is adopting this policy going to eliminate all auto or truck accidents? I don't think so, but what I know is the first thing the police will look at is the mobile devices in the vehicle at the time of the accident to determine if the driver was on a call, texting or dialing a number. Hopefully there were not because they are following company policy.

As far as other safety issues are concerned I would remind you that employees that walk into the shop area should follow whatever safety features your insurance company requires. .....whether it be safety glasses, head gear, ear plugs, etc.  New employees should be introduced to the shop area and the risks associated with that environment.

We all need to protect our most important assets. We need to keep our good employees working. We need to reduce our risks related to employees out in the field for whatever reason. We need to protect our assets which in turn protects or employees. We need to understand our exposure for claims we are not covered for because of not being in compliance with the terms of the insurance policy.

I suggest you sit down with a rep from your insurance company to review your risk management and ways to reduce further.

Garry Bartecki is a CPA MBA with GB Financial Services LLC. E-mail to contact Garry.