Colorado workers' compensation insurer Pinnacol Assurance issued a news release last week urging employers to reconsider their employee's use of electronic scooters. It seems that use of these now ubiquitous urban nuisances not only make your employees look damned ridiculous, they can also present a workers' compensation risk for your company.
Jim McMillen, Pinnacol's director of safety services, said in the statement, “As more riders zip around our city centers amid pedestrian and vehicle traffic, it's important that employers evaluate the use of these scooters as part of their risk management plan and make clear the circumstances of their appropriate use. If employers have concerns about employees getting injured on scooters in the course of work-related duties, they need to update their policies and clearly communicate this guidance to their workforce.”
Allow me to clarify this for you: Your scooter riding employees are a hazard to society. For God's sake, ban their use now or terminate the morons who ride these annoying things before they kill someone.
I hope you found that helpful.
E-scooters are the one of the latest phenomena to symbolize the sharing or gig economy. Essentially thousands of these devices are dumped on the streets of unsuspecting cities, where people with an app can unlock them and use them as they see fit, dumping them wherever they happen to end up when they no longer need them. At night people (read: independent contractors) locate the scooters using GPS technology, round them up to charge them, and in the morning return the scourge to facilitate transportation and general havoc for another day.
Pinnacol, which has not dealt with any scooter-related claims at this point, simply seems to be issuing a clarion call that bad things may be on the horizon if companies do not pay attention. They note in their published release, “If an employee opts to use a motorized scooter for a work-related purpose and is injured, under certain circumstances a workers' compensation claim could result. Pinnacol also notes that helmets are not always easily available to riders using these scooters, which increases employees' risk of a severe injury.”
We can only hope.
I was in Austin, Texas a few months back, and was generally appalled at the dozens and dozens of scooters I saw laying around on sidewalks and street corners. I am amazed that pedestrians don't fall over the damn things and break their neck.
Oops, this just in; Pedestrians are falling over the damn things and breaking their necks. And riders are, as Pinnacol warned, crashing into things as well. Records obtained by Consumer Reportsindicate at least 470 electric-scooter injuries were reported to Bird and Lime, the two largest e-scooter ride-share companies. These were a result of accidents through July 2018.
By the way, it seems to be a budding trend to name these youth driven hi-tech ventures with a single syllable. Bird, Lime, Skype, Digg, Lyst, Lyft, Yelp, Herb, Bud, Fritz, Mush, Pie and Cake are just some examples of this (Cake is a service of Pinnacol Assurance). I am not at all comfortable leaving this economy in the hands of a generation of people incapable of uttering two syllables as part of a collective word – but that is a topic for another day.
So here is what the Pinnacol advisory did not tell you. Your employees look like idiots when riding these scooters, and they make your company look like a cheap and careless concern. You should be embarrassed if any of your employees is completing company business on a scooter. And not only might you end up liable for a work-related injury, you could be liable for any damage or injury your dipwad employee caused to whoever or whatever they hit.
Ban the scooters now. Issue strict usage guidelines. Tell your urban operatives that anyone who has an accident while ride-sharing one of these electric hog wannabes will be beaten to death with their own scooter. I know it sounds harsh, but you'll only have to do it once.
Not to mention death claims in many jurisdictions are often cheaper.
Don't fall victim to this ride share curse. The time to act is now, or before you know it, there will be no tomorrow for your company. And heading into the sunset on a ride share scooter is not the exit strategy you likely envisioned.
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Robert Wilson is President & CEO of WorkersCompensation.com, and "From Bob's Cluttered Desk" comes his (often incoherent) thoughts, ramblings, observations and rants - often on workers' comp or employment issues, but occasionally not.
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