The Importance of Fleet Safety and Ergonomics

As a fleet manager, the safety and health of all employees are a top priority. Regardless of how trained your workers are, accidents do happen and they may become injured on the clock.

The good news? Most on-site injuries and accidents are preventable. An excellent employee safety program minimizes risk and is just as easy to implement. This article will review the importance of fleet safety and ergonomics, ways to set your workers up for safety and success, and provide some helpful tips and tricks along the way. Here’s what we’ll be covering:

  • Why Fleet Safety and Ergonomics Are Important
  • How to Take Care of Your Fleet Employees
  • Set Your Fleet Employees Up for Success (Ergonomics)
  • Final Tips and Tricks for Improving Fleet Safety and Ergonomics

WHY FLEET SAFETY AND ERGONOMICS ARE IMPORTANT

fleet ergonomic truck

Safety is essential to any business with workers on-site who handle tough jobs and expensive equipment. At the end of the day, your workers are completing an integral part of your business, and you want to protect them as best as possible.

Here are four compelling arguments for ensuring your workers are secure, comfortable, and keep it moving safely.

  1. Financial (All about liability, lawsuits, workman’s comp, costs, injury days, and compliance)
  2. Employee Health (Keeping employees happy, increasing retention, and decreasing early retirements)
  3. Public Relations (Avoiding negative press, hiring the best workers, and boosting customer reception)
  4. Efficiency (How ergonomics can drive efficiency)

1. Financial 

One of the most significant benefits of a fleet safety program is minimizing employee injury, risk, and associated costs. According to a Constructive Executive report, direct costs (all medical and wage replacement payments) on a typical injury such as a fracture can amount to $50,000

Beyond direct costs, however, are the even bigger indirect costs. What are some examples of indirect costs?

    • Overtime costs. (According to ADP, if you pay time and a half for every additional hour past 40 hours for an employee who currently makes $15/hour, that employee earns $22.50/hour. If they work an additional 10 hours in overtime, that’s an extra $225 in weekly payroll. Note that this is for a single employee and does not include any state overtime requirements.)
    • Legal fees. (Workman’s compensation lawyers can charge up to 15-25% of settlement amounts. So, if you’re paying a $50,000 settlement for that fracture, you could be looking at $7,500 to $12,500 in legal fees.)
    • Lost productivity and days. (This report claims up 70 million total days lost due to workplace injuries in 2019). 
    • The cost of injury downtime. (Did you know that unplanned downtime can cost a company up to $5,617 a minute or $337,020 an hour?)
    • Cost and time of hiring and training a new worker in replacement. (According to the Society for Human Resources Management, the average cost-per-hire is $4,129 and it takes about 42 days to fill a position.)
  • Cost of clean-up, property damage, and equipment replacement.

In that same Constructive Executive report, these indirect costs amount to $55,000. In all, a single workman’s compensation claim can cost your organization up to $105,000.

Your workers need to understand department safety policies and regulatory compliance to do their part in avoiding these costs. This will also keep your DOT happy. Meet those department safety goals and be recognized for protecting your organization by ensuring everyone is in compliance with your safety and ergonomic policies. 

2. Employee Health

Part of building good company culture and a great work environment is caring for employees’ health. According to Liberty Mutual Insurance, every $1 you invest in the safety and ergonomics of your employees yields a $3 to $6 return on investment. So, the more ergonomic the job, the longer these expert employees can stay on without becoming injured, unhappy, or changing careers. 

As a fleet manager, you also want to minimize early retirement or resignations by focusing on workers’ ergonomics. When an employee retires or quits due to injury and poor ergonomics, the efforts to replace them can cost up to 21% of that employees’ salary. If your worker made an annual salary of $60,000, your organization is looking at $12,000 for a single turnover.

Ergonomics both prevents new injuries AND supports workers whose bodies can’t easily access gear and equipment. With an ergonomic system like DECKED, employees will never have to jump in and out of a truck bed, risk injuries, or jeopardize their health.

3. Public Relations

An excellent reputation for safety helps you attract new employees. Prospective workers want to know they won’t suffer from a back injury or any other health issues brought on because of negative working conditions, haphazard safety training, and poor ergonomics.

Furthermore, negative press can significantly damage your business’s reputation and profits. In fact, one organization (specifically one in construction) was rewarded $750,000 in lost revenue in a lawsuit. This was because of a single defamatory review, a tarnished reputation, and the negative public relations it caused. While this company might have won the suit, not all companies can afford an attorney or the time to do so. In most cases, that $750,000 is just gone.

4. Efficiency 

A part of safety training is optimizing your routes to reduce trips and make fewer service stops, thus eliminating any extra opportunity for risk. More efficient routing means your employees also get more work done in less time. In fact, one case study shows how this company’s effective route optimization improved on-time deliveries and work orders by 12%, revenue by 9%, and saved them up to $400,000 a month.

When workers have ergonomic equipment, they get the job done faster. With ergonomic systems like DECKED, your workers will spend less time digging around for tools and gear. DECKED is the premier choice when you want to streamline workflows, optimize processes, and work more efficiently.

How to Take Care of Your Fleet Employees

Fleet employee ergonomic benefits

Now that we have reviewed some of the benefits of fleet safety and ergonomics, let’s discuss some effective methods of doing so. 

  • Identify and address any safety concerns immediately. Injuries and accidents (and in the most extreme cases, fatalities) can be prevented. Don’t wait to resolve a problem with one of your pickup trucks. Take your employees’ smaller concerns seriously as well. If one of your workers begins talking about some minimal back pain, follow up with them and address their concerns as it may cause a bigger problem later.

You can reduce injuries by implementing effective training and/or specific protocols that mitigate the hazard or simply remove the hazard itself. If you prefer the latter, consider DECKED

DECKED removes the hazard by eliminating the need to jump in and out of pickup beds. Plus, all tools are ergonomically located for injury-free access.

    • Keep all trucks and fleet vehicles in top condition. Perform regular truck and vehicle maintenance on a regimented timeline. Consistent vehicle inspections are vital to the long-term safety and success of your fleet who, day in and day out, drive their pickups to a job site. Additionally, ask drivers to report concerns, unusual sounds, vibrations, or performance issues. Consider mandating a driver training program to cover all bases.
    • Have open communication. Allow your workers to get involved in executive decisions regarding their truck upfit. Your workers are in the field and can often lead to groundbreaking discoveries that help streamline workflows, keep them and others safe, and strengthen the health of the business.
    • Say yes to small (but important) things, such as grab-handles or steering wheel covers. By accommodating one-off safety and ergonomic requests, you protect the individual employee, your organizations’ reputation as a great place to work, and your workforce. 
  • Ensure workers are using equipment for their intended purposes only. Sometimes, workers will be tempted to find ways around an issue by using tools or equipment that are not intended to be used a certain way. While it may save them time on a task, accidents and injuries can occur this way. Make sure all your employees are using their gear safely and for their intended purposes only.

Set Your Fleet Employees Up for Success (Ergonomics)

Good ergonomics is all about body posture, support, and protected movements. Working in an uncomfortable position for an extended period of time is manageable, but doing so every day for years can take a significant toll on the body.

To set your workers up for long-term success, it is critical to know and implement safe and optimal ergonomics. 

Poor Ergonomics  Satisfactory Ergonomics 
Climbing over the side or back of a truck bed to access gear and tools. (Slips and falls are the leading cause of workers’ compensation claims, especially in ages 55 and up.) The DECKED Drawer System is designed for the upper body/ergonomic zone (no bending, squatting, twisting, or extensive reaching). The DECKED drawer system increased safe access to truck bed storage space by 44%.
Jumping or crawling out of a truck bed or improperly exiting a motor vehicle. No hazardous movements such as jumping down from a vehicle. DECKED eliminates the need to jump or crawl out of a truck bed.
Twisting and any forced movement required to pull a heavy object from the back of a truck bed to the front. (36% of injuries involve a back or shoulder strain in which improper lifting or pulling occurs.) DECKED reduces the excessive reaching and flexion required to access gear that is difficult or out of reach by bringing all tools to you.
Other hazardous postures when reaching for gear such as craning your neck or back, over-stretching, and excessive bending. (Neck injuries impact over 28,000 workers annually!) DECKED carries heavy-duty, modular accessories that reduce the risk of injury by properly securing and organizing all tools. No need to crane your neck or over-stretch.

For a more detailed look at fleet ergonomics, check out our Injury Risk Reduction whitepaper. 

Final Tips and Tricks for Improving Fleet Safety and Ergonomics

ergonomic toolbox

With the importance of safety and ergonomics in mind, we’ve assembled some helpful tips for all fleet managers to implement. Any one of these ideas can improve the safety and ergonomics of your fleet.

Invest in Telematics

Telematics technology allows a company to draw the best possible routes for employees. An advanced diagnostic device can notify the fleet manager when the vehicle’s maintenance needs to be assessed. It can also recognize in real-time any issues or concerns, cutting away future costly problems.

Track metrics to increase the safety of workers and address vehicle issues while potentially saving fleet management thousands in unnecessary maintenance. Invest in a telematics solution that tracks vehicles and workers in real-time, such as:

Create a Simple Ergonomics Checklist

In addition to taking care of your vehicles, you will also have better outcomes if you take care of your workers’ physical health. Provide a simple ergonomic checklist with tips such as:

  • Practice good body mechanics whenever you reach for tools. Keeping your neck, back, hips, and feet aligned will help keep unnecessary pain at bay.
  • Don’t store anything in the backseat of the truck cab or floor of the passenger side where you have to twist and reach to retrieve it.
  • Don’t jump; it’s not worth it. Use runners when you can, and don’t jump down if you don’t absolutely have to.
  • Never climb into the back of a truck again if you can avoid it (and you can, with DECKED Drawers).
  • Follow all the rules of a job site. If a job site has specific regulations posted, make sure to abide by them to avoid any injuries (or even fees).
  • Follow all the rules of the road. Abide by the speed limits, following distances, and always wear seat belts.
  • Keep all gear and tools organized. If all your gear and tools are accessible and easy to find, you don’t have to spend any time or risk any injuries rooting around a pile of equipment.

What are some other ways you can help your employees stay injury-free? Equip their pickup trucks with lumbar supports, replace damaged tools, and perhaps offer to pay for a nationwide gym membership.

It’s all about keeping your workers injury-free, training them on best practices to ensure safety, and making sure they have the right gear (and systems like DECKED) to take the risk out of as much of their day as possible.

Get Ergonomic Equipment

Van more efficient with DECKED

How do you wrap up all the strategies and tips into one effective solution?

DECKED.

Not only will DECKED products make your workers incredibly happy, it will also meet their ergonomic needs. To save wear and tear on backs and knees, install a DECKED Drawer System and the DECKED Tool Box. DECKED lets workers reach equipment, supplies, and cargo without ever climbing, bending, twisting, or risking any other potential pains. Your most experienced workers are over 40—taking care of their bodies by providing them with modular, convenient storage solutions is an excellent way of supporting their long-term health.

With a DECKED Drawer System installed in your truck or van, all your gear comes to you at waist height, and everything inside is accessible in seconds. DECKED Drawer Systems are engineered to be easy to use. Plus, you don’t have to worry about securing the load after a long day. Lock the drawers, close the tailgate, and nothing’s getting in: not rain, not snow, not thieves.

While standard storage solutions require extensive bending, crawling, and jumping, DECKED constructed its Tool Box and Drawer System with working men and women’s ergonomics in mind.

DECKED products are also incredibly modular; you can mix and match even more compartments and fit more gear in your pickup or fleet vehicle. Add a D-Box, Crossbox, Drawerganizer, D-Bag, or our sturdy dividers to get your perfect, streamlined setup. You can even switch out your compartments to switch from job site to job site, function to function. 

Let’s Hit the Road

If your company doesn’t have a clear safety program in place, it’s time to put one together.

Consider ergonomics as part of your risk management strategy because the longer you can keep your workers in good shape, the more valuable your workforce. Their health and safety ultimately impact your bottom line, and caring about their comfort is a good economic policy. 

DECKED has innovative and effective solutions to hit all these points and keep everyone safe. To wrap, here’s a handy checklist with the most salient points.

Fleet Safety and Ergonomics

Why Safety and Ergonomics Are Important

  • Saves the costs of injury days, lawsuits, and workman’s comp. 
  • Helps you meet compliance and liability policies.
  • Improves employee happiness, employee retention, and decreases early retirements.
  • Helps to avoid negative press as well as boost your customer reception.
  • May assist you in finding and hiring high-quality employees who want to join a safe fleet.
  • Drives efficiency and helps workers get more done safely.

How to Take Care of Your Drivers

  • Identify and address their issues/concerns of any size.
  • Remove any safety hazards completely by installing DECKED systems.
  • Do regular upkeep of all trucks/conduct maintenance and inspections regularly.
  • Have open communication with workers and encourage collaboration on their truck upfit.
  • Accommodate workers’ special ergonomic requests, handicaps, etc.
  • Ensure workers are using equipment for intended purposes only.

Satisfactory Ergonomics

  • The DECKED Drawer System is designed for the upper body/ergonomic zone (no bending, squatting, twisting, or extensive reaching). 
  • No hazardous movements such as jumping down from a vehicle. DECKED eliminates the need to jump or crawl out of a truck bed.
  • DECKED reduces the excessive reaching and flexion required to access gear that is difficult or out of reach. 
  • DECKED carries heavy-duty, modular accessories that reduce the risk of injury by properly securing and organizing all tools. 

Tips to Improve Driver Safety

  • Equip vehicles with the DECKED Drawer System and Tool Box.
  • Invest in fleet management software/telematics technology.
  • Don’t store anything in the backseat/floor of the passenger seat.
  • Don’t jump—it’s not worth it.
  • Never climb into the back of a truck again if it can be avoided.
  • Follow all the rules of a job site.
  • Follow all the rules of the road.
  • Organize all gear and tools with DECKED’s modular storage boxes, dividers, and bags.