A contractor rented a floor sander to help in remodeling an old home. The contractor finished sanding the old hardwoods and loaded the sander into his van so he could return it on his way home. It never made it.
The contractor was still working inside the house two to three hours later when he heard the sounds of approaching fire engines. He looked out the front window of the second floor to see smoke rolling out of his van. He ran outside just as the fire engines were pulling up. The fire department quickly extinguished the fire. A neighbor seeing smoke coming from the van had dialed 9-1-1.
A fire inspector quickly determined that the fire had started in the dust bag of the sander, spread quickly and caused heavy damages to both the van and the sander. The contractor filed a claim against the rental store for failing to instruct him on the proper use of the machine, i.e. emptying the bag after each use.
However, the rental store had provided the owner’s manual to the contractor, which clearly stated that the bag should be emptied after each use. There also were warning stickers on the machine itself and the rental store's rental contract had strong hold harmless language that protected the company. The claim was denied and the case was closed.
Recently, a manufacturer discontinued the use of the dust bag on all its models and is sending adapters that hook to a shop/external vacuum for the disposal of dust. Whatever the disposal system is for your floor sanders, always provide proper instructions and get a signed rental contract to protect your interests.
Some ideas to help protect yourself in these types of cases:
- Have renters initial the instructions clause in addition to signing the overall contract.
- Attach a copy of the instructions provided to the rental store's copy of the contract.
- Provide a copy of the manufacturer's letter as well as instructions. The change in dust disposal by the above manufacturer transfers the responsibility to the end user. That’s you and your customers.
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This item, provided by ARA Insurance, Kansas City, Mo., is the story of a real-life insurance claim involving a rental store and is intended to help readers better understand and manage risk. For more safety and risk management information, customers of ARA Insurance can log on to ReSource. Access is free, so if you haven’t signed up yet, contact your agent or call 800-821-6580.