April 2013 - The Number One Cause of On-The-Job Fatalities

 

This might seem to be a very bold claim, but it is in fact true. The number one cause of fatalities in the work place is vehicle collisions. And yes, there are no OSHA standards about safe driving. So what are we to do about this situation?

Let's start by identifying the interested parties; employers and employees. This is a business issue first and foremost. We all recognize that employees are an employer's most valuable asset. Good employers will do everything in their power to protect this asset. It begins with good policies and procedures. The next step is accountability. And finally we have enforcement.

Let's start with policies and procedures. They should be written in simple language and clearly state the expectations of the employer in regard to the employees use of company vehicles. Fitness for duty, having a valid license, being properly trained on the correct use of the equipment, restrictions on the use of alcohol and drugs, and any other issues the employer finds relevant should be included in their written policies.

What do we mean by "accountability"? Does the employer conscientiously hold employees to the standards specified in the written policies and procedures? Do supervisors determine fitness for duty before allowing employees to operate vehicles or equipment? Are pre-shift inspections completed in a diligent manner in accordance with policies and procedures? Are records maintained to document driving records, collisions, and near misses? Are employees required to report the use of any type of medication - both prescription and over the counter? These are some of the issues that should be clarified between employers and employees before employees are allowed to operate vehicles or
equipment.

And finally we will address enforcement. Once again, we must have written policies and procedures to guide this element of our program. What are the rules going to be that will govern discipline when it comes to violation of the policies and procedures relating to the operation of vehicles and equipment? Will these rules be the same as for other company infractions, or will there be different consequences relating to these policies and procedures?

Because the laws pertaining to driving differ from state to state, OSHA has had to rely on these laws to regulate driving practices. In addition, there are specific regulations that may
pertain to certain types of equipment such as forklifts, construction equipment, cranes, etc. No matter which rules, laws or regulations apply, the outcome is still the same; we want to protect our most valuable assets to save lives, time and money. For more information on safe driving, contact your nearest SCATS office.