This article originally appeared in Transport Topics.
A software company that specializes in training people to adopt safer work habits is expanding its executive ranks as it targets reducing on-the-job mishaps that can cause serious injuries and potentially increase motor carriers’ insurance rates.
San Francisco-based Worklete has hired four new executives and doubled its size in one year, according to CEO Ben Kanner. Its new chief operating officer, Curtis Kroeker, is a former executive with Google subsidiary Wildfire Interactive, while its new vice president of customer success, Annie Dean, formerly worked for companies including LinkedIn, Cisco and Bed Bath & Beyond.
The hirings show an aggressive strategy as the young company of 35 people adds clients eager to train people to avoid slips, falls and pulled muscles. For trucking companies, that amounts to training drivers and freight workers on proper ways to lift, pull and enter the trailer. And these types of musculoskeletal injuries are unfortunately not uncommon in the industry.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the freight industry led in 2015 in nonfatal occupational injuries and illnesses involving days away from work. The report found 59,010 incidents that year involving freight-related workers, including stockers and movers. The median time away from work was nine days. Kanner said that equals about $1 billion in direct costs.
Lisa Gonnerman, the national chairwoman of American Trucking Associations’ Safety Management Council, said injury costs for motor carriers have been rising.
“We have seen our frequencies reduced slightly, but costs have gone up,” said Gonnerman of her own company, Transport America. “Even small incidents can cost more.”
Gonnerman, the vice president of safety and security at the Minnesota-based fleet, told Transport Topics that her company has developed its own safety program, and it includes reflective vests for drivers. Drivers and freight workers also are taught the “three points of contact” a person has to simultaneously make before trying to enter a truck cab or a trailer.
Worklete, which counts Nestle, Penske Logistics and Hub Group as clients, teaches truck drivers and freight workers healthy habits including stretching, methods for properly entering a truck, how to safely and repeatedly lift 40-pound items and even how to lift water bottles, Kanner said.
The company’s instructional method is brief learning “modules,” as opposed to hours-long presentations. The workers regularly access their lessons via a tablet or smartphone.
Kanner said it takes about 30 days to gain or lose a habit, and that is key to how Worklete educates and trains workers. The training keeps the employees at work and away from hospital beds, he said.
“Anything these [companies] can do to retain [workers] is something they really want to invest in,” said Kanner. “It does make sense financially to invest in employees.”
Worklete also has hired Scott Crawford, who previously worked at Pantheon, to be vice president of sales, and Kristin Hersant as vice president of marketing. She held the same post at Livefyre, which was acquired by Adobe, Worklete said in a news release.
Kanner declined to share his company’s revenue numbers with TT, but said the company doubled both its client base and revenue from the end of 2017 to the end of 2018. The firm was founded in 2015.