Failure to Set Parking Brake Puts Vehicle and Chain of Events in Motion

Loss Amount: $90,000

Situation: An employee of a mobile veterinary spay and neuter clinic had parked the clinic’s truck on a slight hill at a client site. He was tending to some equipment nearby and noticed the truck began to roll. Reacting quickly, he ran and jumped into the cab to set the parking brake, injuring his lower back in the process.

The employee’s back injury was initially thought to be mild. Treatment involved anti-inflammatory medication and some physical therapy. His physician also set lifting and bending limits to aid in the healing process. Lifting animals onto and off of the truck for treatment was one of the employee’s job duties, but the employer made accommodations to account for this and there was no time lost from work. Later, however, the employee’s condition worsened. His back pain persisted and he also began suffering from shoulder pain. Instead of a quick resolution to this case, treatment continued for the next two years before the employee was finally released back to full duties.

Lesson Learned: The chain of events that led to the employee’s injury, long period of treatment and ultimate high cost was his failure to set the parking brake when arriving at the jobsite. Doing so would seem to be common sense. Unfortunately, common sense is not so common and sometimes such incidents occur among employers with company vehicles. Therefore, employers should take a couple of important steps to minimize the possibility of such an accident within their practice. This includes training new drivers on the expectation that the parking brake will always be used. A periodic ride-along with the driver is a good idea to evaluate their adherence to this policy, as well as other standards of vehicle safety. Stickers in vehicles that reinforce mandatory use of parking brakes can also help.

For further assistance in preventing all types of losses, call VISC at 888.762.3143.