January 20, 2004

When Disaster Strikes...

When disaster happens, every decision made by management is scrutinized. After a recent oil tanker crash which killed four people on Interstate 895 in Maryland, investigators opened the books on the company's safety record (below average) along with a careful review of the employee's driving and health history (inconclusive). While the primary goal of the investigation is to determine the cause, investigators are always looking for a "smoking gun" -- the crucial information management should have known but did not; the key steps management or the employee should have taken, but did not. It boils down to "what should you know? What did you know? And what did you do about it?" First, investigators try to determine responsibility (the cause of the accident). Then comes the blame. After a disaster like this one, more than a company's reputation is on the line. The company's future is at risk.

In this particular tragedy, we may never know what caused an experienced driver to lose control of his rig, plunge off a ramp and incinerate three other vehicles and their drivers. But the lessons for managers are clear: establish unambiguous standards for your employees. Document your safety and enforcement efforts. And take prompt action when standards are not met.

By the way, it appears that all the victims in this tragic accident were working. Which in turn means that all the fatalities are probably work related. Regardless of what the investigators find, there will be workers compensation benefits paid to the surviving families. In the short run, the individual employers of these victims will see their workers compensation premiums rise as the costs of these claims are factored into the experience rating. If the company owning the tanker is found in any way to be responsible for the accident, there may well be subrogation which shifts the costs away from the workers compensation policies onto the liability coverage of the tanker company. It's a tangled web indeed. Disasters usually play out in just a few horrifying moments, but the consequences are felt for years to come.

| 2 Comments

2 Comments

OK I'm just going to take A guess here AND assume that when JON WROTE THIS article

January 20, 2004
When Disaster Strikes... he was either using bits and pieces of what other people have told him or he is in some kind of Management position him self. Because that is a far fetched statement on its own to say that every decision made by management is scrutinized when disaster strikes. So I thought I share some of my own knowledge to clear that up. Indeed that would be a wonderful dream come true to know that management has to answer for anything. When this horrific accidents take place and in some far corner of the world that may be true. But realistically when an accident happens resulting in a fatality the only question management has o answer to is which spokesperson would be the best person to step into the hot seat and turn the eyes of blame off the company and around to the worker. Who has just lost his or her life to an unsafe work environment. Only to be dragged through the mud on their way out so the companies end up smelling like roses. Never fixing a thing and all the while they torment the victims families and loved ones buy dishonoring the memory of that which no dollar amount can match. Human Life. It happens all the time at the rate of approximately 660 per year in California alone. In this great state that evidently holds its fish at a higher level of value then they do our men and woman. As to date Cal- Oohs has fewer employees than fish and Game. And Is the first one to receive the cuts.
FYI In California OSHA should have 900+ employees and they are at current @135
thats all I wanted to say .
Mary Daddysbra001@aol.com

Mary's comment is well taken. All too often, worker injuries and fatalities are met with indifference and even hostility. The point of the posting is that management should assume that they will be held accountable -- indeed, they should be held accountable -- for key decisions in hiring, training and placing employees. If the managers of the trucking company were aware of any reason for not allowing the trucker on the road, they should have taken action. Good management requires attention to detail and a commitment to providing a safe workplace.
As for safety enforcement, I think it is clear that we are living in a time where outside enforcement is minimal, putting workers across the country at risk.

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This page contains a single entry by Jon Coppelman published on January 20, 2004 5:19 PM.

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