Do You Know the Risks of Renting Equipment?

Accidents involving rented items such as lifts, forklifts, trailers, tents and chairs posed the greatest risks for consumers and were associated with the highest numbers of fatalities, injuries and damages in the equipment rental industry, according to the findings of a recent St. Paul Travelers study.

Most people are unaware of the risks involved in renting equipment. Anyone can go into a rental dealer and rent equipment that can be dangerous if misused. Most of the injuries and fatalities have been the result of consumer and operator error. Without proper information and training provided by the rental dealer, equipment rental can lead to serious and deadly consequences.

Among the study’s key findings:

  • Accidents associated with rental lifts were the leading cause of fatalities. Five of the 18 rental equipment related fatalities were attributed to personnel lifts. Of those fatalities, four involved power line contact.
  • Personnel lifts also ranked No. 1 in severity, meaning lift accidents accounted for the highest costs of rental equipment insurance claims. Lifts have held this top severity ranking for the last 20 years.
  • Forklifts were responsible for four fatalities, with operator error being a factor in all four of these incidents. Bystanders accounted for three of the four forklift fatalities.
  • Trailers ranked No. 1 in total number of rental equipment claims and No. 3 in total claim costs. These incidents were most often attributed to errors made by consumers and rental employees while attaching the trailers to vehicles or transporting loads not properly secured.
  • Many trailers became disconnected from their towing vehicles, causing damage to other vehicles and injuring bystanders.
  • Damages and injuries related to tent rentals ranked fourth in terms of severity. While the preferred method of anchoring tents is to use stakes, in many cases accidents occurred when consumers or rental employees improperly used the tent stakes, either by making contact with utilities or improperly securing the stakes and tie lines. In general, improper setups and takedowns were responsible for more than half of the tent-related incidents.

Special districts should be aware of these risks, and be sure their employees are properly trained by the rental equipment establishment before use of the equipment and that equipment is properly inspected and safe for usage before the rental is finalized.

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