Digger Misner, Managing Director for Capital Cranes has used Underwriting Agencies of Australia (UAA) insurance for many years. He explains why he has remained loyal to the UAA brand.
“Obviously, we had to have insurance right from the beginning otherwise we would not have been able access finance for the cranes. Finance and insurance are indelibly connected.
“When I started Capital Cranes, I was introduced to Mike Bramble a broker at Sanderson Insurance Brokers by another crane company. Sanderson was started in 1972 as an insurance brokerage and subsequently the management at the time saw a gap in the mobile plant and machinery market, there wasn’t a combined single policy for a business to go to, they had to buy separate coverages. As a result, the management developed a product and formed Underwriting Agencies of Australia (UAA) in 1988 as a stand-alone underwriting agency.
“As an industry, we should be grateful UAA is still backing us with their policies. Who else would insure a high risk industry with the potential for there being very large pay outs if there is an incident of any kind. When you look at the industry this way, there won’t be too many insurance companies keen to insure plant. There are not many with specific knowledge of plant and they don’t have the expertise,” said Misner.
Misner goes on to talk about his philosophy around risk and how insurance is only part of the answer to mitigating risk in his business.
“Insurance is there to mitigate the human errors that occur in any industry. You can have the safest crane in the world with the world’s most experienced operator, but things can still go wrong. How do you account for human error? You can’t. When you have humans operating machines or interacting with large pieces of equipment, incidents will happen. All you can do is mitigate against the risks. You can invest in the best lift planning tools, you can ensure the cranes are serviced and fit for purpose, but you still have an operator interacting with the machine and there is always the potential for human error. For this reason, I have taken my business down the path of certification,” said Misner.
Capital Cranes is Australian and Internationally certified and accredited to safety, management and environmental systems including AS/NZS 4801, ISO 9001 and ISO 14001.
Misner got fed up with the extensive and complex onsite OHS requirements which differed from site to site.
“I decided to enrol in a Cert. 4 in WorkPlace Health and Safety. As a business owner, the WHS course helped me better understand my responsibilities to all stakeholders as a PCBU. (Person Conducting a Business Undertaking). The course continually referred to the Australian standards as the benchmark to comply with WHS Systems,” he said.
Following the completion of the course, Capital Cranes implemented a business management system which had been designed and installed following a consultative process with management and staff. The system was then certified by a 3rd party certifier.
“The certification is to Australian and International standards with 3rd party audits to ensure our systems are run correctly,” said Misner.
Every 12 months, a Surveillance Audit is conducted to ensure Capital Cranes is operating within the parameters of the management system, and if the audit detects any issues which need addressing, they are recorded and reported back to Misner.
To retain accreditation, Misner needs to demonstrate that Capital Cranes is compliant with the standards. These international standards include ISO 9001 Quality Management Systems Standard Certification, ISO 45001 Safety Management Systems Standard and ISO 14001 the Environmental Management Systems Standard.
To ensure operations are within the standards, the business follows the management system the way it has been designed to function, with all the processes associated with the system documented. For example, the Capital Crane’s team has to demonstrate it has adhered to safe operations when setting up cranes. They also have to demonstrate the right lift plans have been presented to the client and the client agrees to them prior to the cranes getting onsite.
Both parties are then assured the operations are carried out in a safe manner. Records of these actions are maintained so the relevant information and documentation can be produced when the annual audits are conducted.
This type of accreditation is not common in the crane industry. Capital Cranes is the only company operating mobile cranes based in Canberra that is 3rd party certified for operations. With a company that has this accreditation, the systems are in place so if something goes wrong, they can prove with the records kept, that all the relevant processes and procedures have been followed and the business has undertaken all the necessary precautions.
“These certifications make a difference to our customers looking to hire a crane company. For example, if a crane hire business is working directly with the ACT Government, it needs to be prequalified for that sort of work,” said Misner.
Because Capital Cranes has the 3rd party certification, it has a pre-qualification for this sort of work. Also, for larger companies that require safe systems, Capital Cranes are in a strong position when tendering for large jobs. Tier One builders and contractors will be looking for this type of accreditation. With Tier One and Tier Two customers, it can be a condition of the tender to only engage companies that have 3rd Party Certification of their management systems.
“In my experience, we are reactive in this industry and probably not as proactive as we should be. We tend to put policies in place when an incident happens rather than put in place preventative measures to prevent the incident happening in the first place. Insurance plays a critical role when something does go wrong,” said Misner.
Misner works closely with Kath Tosic who is with the Canberra based finance and insurance business Ford & Associates.
“It’s important to have a good relationship with your insurance broker. They need to understand you and your business to ensure you have the right levels of coverage in your policies. We recently took delivery of a new Liebherr LTM 1250-5.1 and Kath spent some time looking at renewing our policy and including the new crane. Apparently, there aren’t many, but there are underwriters looking at this sector.
“She spoke to UAA and their costings were slightly higher. Anyone that knows me, knows I am loyal to a brand and it’s the same with UAA. Kath went back to UAA to tell them I was remaining loyal to them, and they really appreciated this and sharpened their pencil because of it,” he said.
Misner explains how he works with the broker on special projects which can involve lifting high value products.
“My ‘on hook’ cover is for $500,000 and there is nothing I lift on a day to day basis above this value. From time to time we will be asked lift special items which could be an MRI machine, or a lift for the Armed Forces or even a statue. Any of these could be valued at over $1 million, we will increase our cover for these particular projects. We pay the extra premium, and we demonstrate to the client that we have the extra cover.
“I have a strong business safety record and with the systems I have implemented to mitigate risk, UAA recognises Capital Crane’s commitment to Work Health and Safety. UAA is an insurance underwriter and a business which has to make money. As an industry, we have to understand that if incidents continue to happen, we can expect our premiums to increase. I have been loyal to UAA, and they repay that loyalty,” said Misner.