Home health care employees – from personal/home care aides and companions to nursing assistants or home health nurses – typically drive their own vehicles from location to location. Depending on their duties, caregivers may also transport clients to conduct personal errands or to doctors’ appointments. As these individuals are frequently on the road, often have tight time schedules and unforeseen demands, and drive in unfamiliar areas, they can be at a higher risk for experiencing motor vehicle-related hazards. In addition, distracted driving, aggressive driving, lack of seatbelt use, driving while tired, poor weather conditions, and poorly maintained vehicles can all contribute to car accidents.
In 2014, according to the Labor Department, the leading cause of work-related fatalities involved vehicular accidents occurring on public roadways, a statistic which represented 23% of all workplace deaths. In addition, the estimated annual total economic cost to employers as a result of employee vehicular accidents is about $250 billion, which includes expenses for medical treatment, legal costs, property damage, increased premiums for insurance including Workers’ Compensation, and loss of productivity.
To help mitigate such vehicle-related hazards, home health care agencies should have a strong driver safety program that protects them, their employees, and the clients they serve. An effective driver safety program includes the following:
- Ensure drivers have appropriate insurance and valid licenses for the vehicles they operate. Make sure that the home health care agency has the proper insurance as well, including a Non-Owned & Hired Auto policy.
- Maintain complete and accurate records of workers’ driving performance. In addition to driver’s license checks for prospective employees, periodic rechecks after hiring are critical.
- Obtain Motor Vehicle Reports (MVRs) on all employees at hire and on an annual basis to monitor driving violations and accidents, and have a firm no tolerance policy and consequences for poor drivers.
- Demonstrate to the staff that their safety is important.
- Develop driving and transportation policies and set clear protocols regarding client transportation.
- Advise workers of potential and actual hazards on the road.
- Ensure employees know what to do in case of inclement weather, breakdown, accidents or illness.
- Educate employees on vehicle safety.
- Establish and enforce mandatory seatbelt use policies.
- Incorporate training into safety programs on topics such as fatigue management and the dangers of distracted driving.
- Make sure employees are trained to operate specialized motor vehicles, if applicable.
- Provide an emergency kit containing a flashlight, extra batteries, flares, a blanket, and bottled water.
- Respond promptly to complaints from other employees or clients about a worker’s driving.
In addition, employees need to play an important role in their road safety. This includes never using a cell phone for calling or texting while driving; avoiding distracting activities such as eating, drinking, and adjusting the radio and other controls while driving; avoiding driving when over-tired; using detailed maps or GPS to determine their route before leaving for the destination and allowing enough time to arrive safely; having their vehicles checked and serviced regularly; checking for tire wear and tear; adhering to speed limits (30% of fatal accidents involve excessive speed); and keeping the gas tank at least a quarter full.
Manchester Specialty offers end-to-end insurance solutions designed to protect help home health care agencies against the exposures they face along with their employees. Our solutions include a wide range of Liability coverage, including Non-Owned & Hired Auto insurance, which will protect a home care firm in the event an employee is in an accident involving his or her personal vehicle, and either doesn’t have adequate liability limits or has allowed the coverage to lapse, unbeknownst to you. We also provide Workers’ Compensation insurance to step in when on-the-job accidents and injuries occur. For more information about our suite of business insurance products for home health care providers, you or your local agent/broker can contact us at 855.972.9399.