Did you know that if your movers accidentally injure a customer, the Shipper can sue your company? Normally, a judge or a jury determines the outcome. However, if the evidence of negligence is overwhelming against you, the case will probably never go to court. Instead, the suit will be settled out of court. That’s just what happened to a mover in Oregon. The defendant mover’s risk of losing the case was so great, that his insurance company and he settled without going to court. The incident occurred during a move when the defendant’s mover “blindly” ran into an elderly customer knocking him down and breaking his hip. During the discovery phase of the case, the plaintiff’s attorney focused on the crew’s lack of training before the job—there was none. Even though the movers had plenty of experience, the defendants’ case was weak because their employer never held formal training classes.
There are several takeaways from this incident:
- The best way to minimize the risk of this type of litigation and damage to your reputation is to ensure that all your employees working on the move are trained in best practices for moving furniture. With a formal training program, you’ll have a much stronger defense to offer against a potential plaintiff’s claim in the event of an accident.
- Moreover, the training should be ongoing and repeated on demand for new hires especially for the often-high turnover entry level mover/helper positions.
- OSHA recognizes that training conducted in advance is more likely to be better than OJT (on the job) approaches. If a supervisor is training during the job, then he can’t supervise effectively.
- Simply having adequate insurance is not the solution. Just like you, insurance companies are in business to make a profit. Their profit comes from keeping their costs below revenue. If your insurance claims exceed your premiums, your insurer might be forced to raise your premiums and/or significantly increase your deductible. These higher costs could in turn hurt your profit.
In sum, training in best practices—whether online or in person seminars and workshops in advance of a move, will help avert a company’s exposure to personal injury claims. Training will also serve to limit your company’s exposure for damage to furniture and property and increase productivity.
Ed Katz is head of the International Office Moving Institute (IOMI®).
IOMI® offers affordable online office moving training for estimating jobs and performing moves with best practice methods to reduce the risk of injury and damage.
For more information, see https://www.officemoves.com/training/index.html or call 404.358.2172.