Grow Driver Headcount While Controlling On-the-Job Injury Rates

[fa icon="calendar'] Jan 19, 2016 8:00:00 AM / by Deborah Lechner

Expanding your trucking business generally means hiring a significant number of new employees. Over the long run many of those new employees will, if your hiring and training processes are efficient and well-designed, become assets to your growing business.

However, over the short term, new drivers can be a significant liability, since new hires account for a disproportionate number of workplace injury cases. According to research, this is especially true in the trucking industry. For instance, in a study that reviewed Oregon workers' compensation data collected over a period of seven years, drivers on the job less than a year were found to be responsible for 51 percent of claims related to vehicular accidents.

Of course, rising accident and injury rates among your workforce will cost you in higher workers' comp costs, lower productivity, lower morale, higher administrative costs, and lower profitability. So, is there any way to prevent a spike in these incidents as you expand your business and grow your driver headcount?

A well-designed Physical Abilities Testing program can help in preventing workplace injuries – even among those high-risk new hires – by ensuring that those new drivers are well-matched to the physical demands that will be placed on them as they perform the essential functions of their new jobs. To illustrate the impact such a program can have on your on-the-job injury rates, we'll detail a case study specific to the trucking industry.

In 2009, an Alabama-based company that provides flatbed truckload transportation and logistics began to expand their business. Over a period of 5 years, their number of drivers increased from 300 to nearly 1000. In the early stages of that growth in their driver headcount, injury rates also began to rise significantly. On the advice of their workers' compensation insurance carrier, the company sought professional help in preventing workplace injuries and the high workers' comp costs those climbing injury rates generated.

Grow Driver Headcount While Controlling On-the-Job Injury Rates

The company's safety director chose to work with ErgoScience, an international leader in injury prevention and rehabilitation services. This partnership resulted in the implementation of a pre-employment Physical Abilities Testing program beginning in February of 2011. The results of that program in preventing workplace injuries over the following three year period were substantial. Even as the company continued to grow driver headcount, eventually tripling their number of drivers, their injury rates fell from 15 percent in 2009 to 5.96 percent in 2014. Additionally, in 2009 the company was paying out $4,420 in injury costs per injured worker. By 2014, that average per injury cost had fallen to $1,417. The ROI on this company's investment in pre-employment Physical Abilities Testing, as of 2014, was 36 to 1.

So, yes, employers in the trucking industry can indeed prevent the typical injury rate spike that comes with significantly increasing driver headcount. As this case study shows, with the help of a well-designed and properly implemented pre-employment Physical Abilities Testing Program, those rates – and the corresponding worker's comp costs – can not only be controlled during a company expansion; they can also be reduced.

Physical Abilities Testing ROI Whitepaper

Topics: Workplace Safety

Deborah Lechner

Written by Deborah Lechner

Deborah Lechner, ErgoScience President, combines an extensive research background with 25-plus years of clinical experience. Under her leadership, ErgoScience continues to use the science of work to improve workplace safety, productivity and profitability.