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Guarding Against Equipment and Materials Losses on Transportation Projects

Equipment and materials used for transportation projects are subject to a variety of exposures before they even arrive onsite. The size and type, origin and destination, and special handling requirements of the equipment or material may necessitate the use of a hauler with specialized knowledge. Understanding and safeguarding against three of the most common risks—collision, overturn and theft—should be considered when developing a project plan. Asking the right questions in advance will help ensure each team member has the same expectations for the protection of assets.Collision
The United States Department of Transportation (DOT) estimates more than 500,000 truck accidents occur every year. Ensuring the right materials and equipment arrive on location on time is crucial, as a collision can derail the project timeline. Take time upfront to ensure the shipper has the management practices, experience and staff to be entrusted with the project’s equipment and materials.

Consider the following questions when contracting with a shipper, heavy equipment transporter or self-propelled modular transporter.

  • How much work does the company subcontract (and to whom)?
  • What is the company’s experience in moving these types of equipment/materials?
  • Are the roads reviewed beforehand for bridges/overpasses or other conditions that can increase collision hazards, especially with large equipment?
  • Does the company have the type of equipment needed to manage load requirements of items such as lowboys and step decks?
  • Does the company provide employee driver training in handling heavy-haul or over-dimensional loads?
  • Are drivers trained in on-loading and off-loading at construction sites?
  • Is the company financially sound enough to maintain its equipment/vehicles and provide proper management practices?

Overturn
Overturn is a common risk factor when transporting oversized equipment. The driver’s experience should be paired with the development of a route plan that considers the weight or height of the unit or materials being shipped. Make sure there is thorough discussion and a strong understanding of these challenges to minimize the risk of an overturn.

  • Confirm the route with the motor carrier. Does the company have routing and scheduling expertise?
  • Use a criteria checklist to specify unique needs, such as load security.
  • Consider how geography and the presence of infrastructure elements (such as bridges and overpasses) come into play depending on the size and weight of the vehicle and its load. Are the roads driven in advance to gain firsthand knowledge of elements that can increase overturn and collision hazards?
  • Work with government officials for DOT regulations/permits as needed and to confirm the best times and routes for safe transport.
  • Confirm the vehicle’s driver has received the proper training specific to weight and load requirements.

Theft
According to the 2010 Equipment Theft Report, published jointly by the National Equipment Register and National Insurance Crime Bureau, 13,374 pieces of equipment were reported stolen in 2010.

During transit, it’s important to take precautions to avoid theft at rest stops, overnight stops or when equipment is temporarily stored. Once equipment arrives at its destination, theft remains an exposure. Consider the following to protect against theft from the jobsite during work hours and down time.

  • Develop a written plan to manage access to items on the construction site, as well as the practices of all onsite employees. Top-down prioritization from senior executives reinforces the importance of activating the plan.
  • During down time, move equipment to a secured site (when practical), or disable and park equipment in a way that deters theft, such as a camp wagon style (heel to toe) in a circle.
  • Employ measures to make equipment or materials less appealing to thieves and more identifiable if stolen. For example, double stamp ID numbers, or even the company name or other distinguishing mark, on all equipment and tools. Make sure one ID is conspicuous and the other is well hidden, and place warning decals indicating that ID numbers have been recorded.
  • Take extra precautions to protect materials or equipment subject to high-frequency theft, such as copper, solar panels and loaders.

The need to upgrade the nation’s highway infrastructure represents a tremendous growth opportunity for the construction industry; however, with this opportunity comes increased risk of loss associated with moving equipment and materials to the jobsite. Work closely with an insurance agent to understand the risk exposures and implement proactive measures that will help protect valuable assets.

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