It takes more than a sign reading, “BE CAREFUL!” to conduct a safety program. It may or may not be sufficient to simply preach “safety,” or warn of dangers.
“Many firefighters use the term ‘Stay safe!’ with fellow fire-fighters,” says Battalion Chief John J. Salka, Jr. of the New York Fire Department in the October 2013 issue of Firehouse, a Cygnus publication for firemen and emergency first responders. “It is a common phrase that many of us use casually, and sometimes I think we say it without actually knowing what it means.” To a great extent adjusters are a part of that industry, and are often on the scene of fires, wrecks, hazardous material spills and other disasters at the same time as emergency responders.
“What do you think ‘Stay safe!’ means?” Salka asks. When we say the word ‘safe’ we are all talking about the same thing. We are talking about firefighters [or adjusters] who are able to fight fires [or investigate claims] in burning buildings, perform extractions on busy highways and complete all sorts of other dangerous and risky assignments without being injured or killed. It’s a simple, yet serious concept.
“The problem with the phrase ‘Stay safe!’ is that it is a wish,” Salka continues. “I like to think of ‘safety’ as a destination. It’s where we want to be when the job is complete and when the shift is over. You can’t just say ‘Stay safe!’ and it happens. Make no mistake; none of us can stay safe by saying it or wishing it. There are activities and actions that can keep you safe, and without them, staying safe will be an unattainable goal.” The same principle applies to claim adjusting.
For those in emergency services, the job can be deadly, and many firemen, police and EMTs are killed in the line of duty annually, fighting everything from riots and hostage situations to high-rise building fires or forest fires. Fortunately fewer claim adjusters are injured or killed in the line of duty, but it happens more often than many may suspect. Adjusters may be killed in a highway accident or at the scene of a disaster. Claim sites, from structures damaged by wind or water to buildings gutted by fire expose adjusters to falling objects, climbing on partially damaged roofs where hidden holes exist into which they may fall, exposure to wildlife such as snakes, rats or other animals, over-protective homeowners armed with weapons of all sorts who may “shoot first and ask questions later,” [firemen are shot at frequently in some situations], not to mention the hazards on the highway that adjusters face every time they visit an insured or claimant. It is, perhaps, the highway accident that is the most dangerous, both in getting to or from the scene of a major wreck or in the process of obtaining evidence at the scene, where traffic is speeding by at 70 mph while the adjuster attempts to photograph the scene and preserve evidence.
Claims take adjusters into an infinite variety of dangerous places – storm-damaged cities, gang-ruled urban neighborhoods, even the dangers of dealing with criminals who may be involved in insurance fraud. The adjuster who has not had a touch of fear after meeting with a suspicious insured probably has not been long on the job.
An adjusting career is exciting, but it is also dangerous. Learn more about Adjuster safety through Crawford & Company Educational Services’ classes.
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This article comes from Take Note, the newsletter of Crawford Educational Services. You can subscribe here.