Driving a vehicle is so ingrained in our daily routine we don’t think twice about the risk that this simple activity carries. But operators of home health care services should consider the risk that auto travel poses to your business and to your employees. By putting appropriate controls in place, employers can help their licensed medical staff arrive safely to care for clients.
Employers who provide a company vehicle can reduce the chance of an accident by training employees in safe driving practices, creating a written driver safety program and implementing a vehicle maintenance schedule.
One way an employer can gauge a responsible driver is by doing pre-employment checks when appropriate. Employers may consider requesting prior work history, doing a criminal background check and obtaining a motor vehicle report (MVR) to review an applicant’s driving history and license status. If your business obtains pre-employment checks, consult with legal counsel to ensure compliance with all applicable state and federal laws and to determine when employee releases or notices are needed.
Request proof of insurance from employees who use their own cars for work-related transportation. While an employee’s personal insurance policy is not within your control, you can require employees to carry minimum liability protection of $100,000 coverage per person and $300,000 per accident, with a preference for higher limits of $250,000 per person and $500,000 per accident.
Periodically check employees’ compliance. One effective strategy is to select one-third of your staff at random each year and run MVR reports and request certificates of insurance. As noted above, consult with legal counsel when obtaining MVR reports to ensure compliance with all applicable laws.
While patients often request that the caregiver use the client’s vehicle, it’s best to discourage this practice. For safety reasons, employees should drive well-maintained, familiar vehicles. Many patient vehicles sit idle for long periods due to the patient’s condition. Brakes, tires and other operating functions can be long overdue for service. Employees also likely would need to take time to adjust mirrors and seats and learn the locations for controls for each respective vehicle. This could be uncomfortable and unsafe.
Non-ambulatory patients present a special transportation exposure that may require you to contract a service provider. Loading and unloading patients requires special equipment. Employees should be highly trained, and lifts should be regularly inspected and maintained. Once inside the vehicle, properly securing non-ambulatory patients is paramount, as failure to do so could lead to injury even if the vehicle is not involved in an accident.
Cincinnati policyholders can contact your local independent agent to request services from Cincinnati’s Loss Control department. Auto specialists can help you implement controls to protect your employees and the patients you serve.
This loss control information is advisory only. The author assumes no responsibility for management or control of loss control activities. Not all exposures are identified in this article.