Ask anyone what is the most common cause of work-related fatalities and you are likely to hear answers like falls, fires, electrocutions or machine accidents. All of these events cause a substantial number of deaths each year, but are not the answer. Motor vehicle accidents are the number one cause of work-related deaths. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics in 2012 there were 4,383 fatalities with 1,044 related to motor vehicle accidents.
Add to that the fact that motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of death for individuals aged 21-44, and it is easy to conclude that this is an area that should get a great deal of attention when it comes to safety efforts. Sadly, this is not the case.
Think about it. For workplace vehicle accidents, OSHA has no standards to address the operation of company vehicles. They have issues alerts relating to distracted driving, but they are just advisory in nature. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has extensive regulations for commercial drivers, but truck drivers represent just part of the fatality numbers. The majority of fatalities involve non-commercial drivers.
Besides the initial steps to obtain a driver’s license, all other efforts tend to be reactive in nature. Insurance premiums go up after a driver receives tickets or is in an accident. Driver’s are issued fines after they have been caught speeding or violating another law. Certainly the presence of a police vehicle along the side of the road can be a deterrent to speeding, but what generally happens once the officer and his vehicle are in a driver’s rear view mirror?
We encourage companies to take this issue on through employee education. Make safe driving on and off the job a part of your safety program. Use the resources of your insurance carrier and broker. The National Safety Council is another good source of promotional materials. We would be happy to help your company put a program together.
Take this one seriously. Motor vehicle accidents are costly in terms of deaths and injuries, property damage and increased insurance costs. There is much to be done to have an impact on this workplace and off the job safety issue.
Rich Galutia CSP specializes in the areas of employee safety (OSHA), trucking compliance (FMCSA) and animal feed safety (FDA).