Tag Archives: chris machut

Adopting New Standards of Safety

The duty of insurers is not to deny the need for new standards but to dedicate themselves to standardizing new—and superior—levels of safety. Why should they insist on doing otherwise, when the technology exists to heighten safety and lower costs; when the cost of doing business as usual looks safe but is far more dangerous than it appears to be; when cameras can reveal—and record—what workers cannot see for themselves?

Why should insurers resist what trial lawyers will soon insist be the exclusive standard of safety, by way of multimillion-dollar settlements and verdicts? Why should insurers persist in their wait-and-see attitude, when they can see what lies ahead?

The questions speak for themselves.

If insurers do not like the answers, they should remind themselves that sometimes the refusal to answer a question is worse than acknowledging that an answer is true. Which is to say nothing is static; technology can make change easy to adopt or extremely hard to avoid.

Take my column about workplace safety.

Consider this piece, then, a continuation of my conversation with Chris Machut of Netarus, whose company develops innovative solutions for overhead cranes, tugboats and construction sites.

See also: Let’s Open Our Eyes to Work Safety Issues  

Machut is a visible—and vocal—advocate for using cameras to help workers see everything that matters. He says what matters most is what insurers can do now: champion the adoption of crane cameras so “policies can be more expansive without necessarily being more expensive; because safety translates into saving lives; because life-saving tools facilitate success; because success is more than the sum of even the largest sums of money.”

I agree with Machut, not because I think or hope he is right, but because I know he is right. I know that knowledge of a danger—and the construction industry is, if nothing else, a study in danger—is often the key to liability.

If real estate developers know how dangerous it is to add a chapter to the story of the history of a city, to measure that chapter not in pages but in stories, if they know the dangers of including another building to the skyline of their city; because they do know these things, insurers should seek to lessen the number of payouts by lowering the probability that they will have to pay out in general.

If awareness is a given, how do we give workers the ability to see farther, thanks to an aide that neither weakens nor tires, that neither succumbs to the tedium of the task nor surrenders to the trials of exertion, that neither leaves the job site nor loses its sight?

The answer is visual technology.

In a word: cameras.

Cameras represent a new standard in safety.

See also: Awareness: The Best Insurance Policy  

To debate that fact is to miss the point—and to possibly drop the beam or steel girder, injuring workers and pedestrians alike. To doubt the urgency of this point is be vulnerable to lawsuits and bankruptcy.

To adopt this standard is for insurers to mitigate risk and to minimize danger.

It is too dangerous for insurers to ignore this standard.

Let’s Open Our Eyes to Work Safety Issues

Beware of those who seek to revise history by erasing or rewriting it altogether. This rule applies to the study of history, as well as the history of a subject such as consumer or construction safety. Indeed, for all the safety features that are now standard features in automobiles, from airbags and anti-lock brakes to seatbelts and side impact beams: If we look at how much safer it is drive, it is even more shocking to learn the history of resistance by car manufacturers to the most basic forms of safety.

The same is true within the construction industry, not because of opposition by workers, but because of challenges by insurers; which is to say that, just because a new type of technology increases safety—just because cameras allow a crane operator to see an entire job site—does not mean insurers want to champion the power of sight.

This is not an indictment against insurers, but a reminder that change is a matter of small steps rather than a series of giant leaps. It is a matter of education and engagement by the advocates of change, of attendance at seminars large and small, of speaking to convention-goers and going to conferences of regional influence and national importance, of listening, always, and never failing to answer questions.

See also: Bridging Health and Productivity at Work  

Take Chris Machut of Netarus, whose company develops innovative solutions for overhead cranes, tugboats and construction sites.

I mention his name, and commend him for having made a name for himself regarding safety, because too many otherwise avoidable crane accidents happen—like the one on the 17th anniversary of 9/11, at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center in New York City—in which the inability to see what is necessary puts workers and pedestrians at an unnecessarily high degree of risk.

While that accident was not deadly, it was nonetheless responsible for traffic delays and gridlock along the West Side Highway. It was also a reminder that a few degrees separate the safe installation of a steel beam and its collapse against a crane, costing lives and the livelihoods of workers.

How, then, can insurers get behind a movement, whose members want to avert danger and stay ahead of possible threats?

In so many words: Pay attention.

Pay attention, not to perceived problems but to certified opportunities to improve safety.

Pay attention to technology that expands visibility and enhances accountability.

Pay attention to the agents of change, be they vendors or those who want to better protect a venue, so you can lower costs and boost confidence with current and prospective clients.

See also: Agents Must Become ‘Discussion Partners’  

Above all, do not mistake an asset for a liability. Not when the technology that ensures safety deserves support from insurers. Not when we can save lives by acting together. Not when the consequence of inaction is a burden we cannot bear and a hardship we cannot meet, based on a pledge we cannot keep.

Let us open our eyes to safety.