#66 Safe Driving

According to federal government statistics:

  • Every 5 seconds a motor vehicle accident occurs in the U.S.
  • Every 10 seconds a motor vehicle injury occurs.
  • Every 12 minutes a motor vehicle fatality occurs.

Many of these accidents involve workers on the job. Vehicle accidents are the leading cause of work-related deaths in the U.S. A preliminary report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics says that in 2007 there were 5,488 work fatalities in the U.S. Approximately 40% of these resulted from transportation incidents.

In California in 2007 there were 407 work fatalities and 36% resulted from transportation incidents. Any worker who drives on the job is at risk. Employers are also at risk because those whose workers are involved in vehicle accidents face serious potential liability. This is especially true if the individual(s) injured or killed are third parties (non-employees). Workers who are injured in job-related accidents are covered by workers’ compensation and generally cannot sue their employers. However, damage awards from third-party lawsuits can potentially soar into the millions for a fatal accident. An effective safety program can greatly reduce these risks.

ENCOURAGE SAFE DRIVING

  • Provide continuous safety training to all drivers. Make sure that regular meetings are scheduled where safety challenges and problem-solving are discussed.
  • Provide driver training for new hires. Many employers have found that new hires have more accidents than experienced workers.
  • Teach workers strategies for recognizing and managing driver fatigue and in-vehicle distractions.
  • Provide extra training to workers operating specialized motor vehicles or equipment.
  • Emphasize the importance of using seat belts, and explain that it’s mandatory.

 

KEEP VEHICLES SAFE

  • It is the employer’s responsibility to establish a regular vehicle inspection/maintenance schedule. Conduct informal inspections daily and formal inspections on a regular basis. Tips for Safe Driving
  • Buckle up—always wear a seatbelt.
  • Stay focused and awake.
  • Don’t use cell phones while driving.
  • Don’t drink and drive.
  • Keep your cool—avoid aggressive behavior and road rage.
  • Don’t back up your vehicle unless there is good visibility. You may need a spotter and/or alarm.
  • Watch out for pedestrians.
  • Be aware of road conditions. Slow down on slick roads and in construction zones.
  • Secure tools and equipment.
  • Make sure your vehicle is in good condition. —Adapted from Oregon OSHA FACTSHEET 5 Motor Vehicle Safety Programs WOSHTEP
  • Encourage employees to report mechanical problems as soon as possible. (See the Sample Vehicle Inspection Checklist on the back page.)
  • Provide vehicles that offer the highest possible level of protection. Vehicles should have working seat belts, adequate tire treads, provide rollover protection, and be in good mechanical condition.
  • Provide necessary safety and emergency equipment in all vehicles, such as cones, triangles, fire extinguishers, first aid kits, and snow chains. A camera to document incidents is also useful. Some employers supply an insurance form to diagram accidents, list witnesses, etc.
  • Consider adopting a “one driver, one vehicle” strategy. This means that the same worker operates the same vehicle most of the time. He or she becomes familiar with it and may identify mechanical problems more easily.