One $2 item could have prevented a claim totaling nearly six figures. This item is made of leather, comes as a pair and offers protection against cuts and abrasions. Depending upon the job, you may not want them back after they are used, but leather gloves can help prevent your customers and employees from sustaining serious hand injuries.
A young woman needed help because her drain was clogged. She did what she had always done in these situations — she called her father for help. Her father
realized that he either needed to call a professional or rent a sewer auger to clear the blockage. He opted to save a few dollars by doing the work himself. He went to his neighborhood rental house and rented the necessary machine. The father worked the auger into the drain opening in the basement floor. Clearing a drain can be a nasty job, so the man put on rubber gloves in an attempt to keep his hands clean. The rubber gloves, however, became entangled in the spinning auger and the man injured his hands. His daughter took him to the emergency room where his hands were cleaned up and bandaged.
While they were gone, the young woman’s fiancé decided he would clear the drain. He felt awful that his future wife had called her father and had not asked him to clear the drain. The man knew his fiancé’s father had been injured as he was standing next to him when it happened, but he felt he could operate the equipment.
He put on the extra pair of rubber gloves lying on his workbench and got started. Round and round went the sewer snake as it moved through the drain. Recent history then repeated itself. The younger man’s glove got caught up in the cable and his fingers were twisted backwards. His fingers were trapped in the gloves and by the machine for several minutes until a neighbor heard his yells and came next door. He was transported to the same hospital emergency room as the older man.
The younger man’s injuries were much more extensive. He sustained dislocations of the index, middle and ring fingers of his left hand. One of his fingers suffered a compound dislocation and the knuckle protruded through the skin. All three knuckles were permanently swollen and he had limited movement in his fingers. His middle finger stuck out at nearly a 45-degree angle from where it should be.
The injured young man contacted a lawyer and decided to file suit against the rental store. In the suit, he stated that the rental store had a duty to provide the owner’s manual with the rental, to verify the warning label was legible and to point it out to their renters, and to notify renters that leather gloves were required when using the machine.
The rental store owner filed a claim with his insurance company. When contacted during the investigation of the claim, the rental store employee said he did not give the owner’s manual to his customer because he did not ask for it. The renter didn’t indicate he needed instruction on how to use the sewer auger, so the rental store employee didn’t provide it. There was a warning label on the machine, but it was worn and partially illegible. So, when the younger man decided to use the sewer auger, he did so without any instruction whatsoever. All he had done was watch his future father-in-law and he had not used use the machine correctly either.
Most manufacturers recommend providing leather gloves for use each time sewer augers are rented. Whether you provide them or offer them for sale, you should inform your customers that leather gloves are a necessary piece of protective equipment when using a sewer auger. You should always include the owner’s manual with every rental and provide instruction on how to use the equipment. If the rental store had provided a pair of leather gloves in this situation, it is likely that neither of these men would have been injured. By spending a little, everyone would have saved quite a lot.
Mary Ann Gormly is risk management coordinator for ARA Insurance, Kansas City, Mo. For more information, call 800-821-6580 or visit www.ARAinsure.com.