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Driving Employees Away from Distractions

F Marie Athey OHST

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F Marie Athey OHST | March 10, 2014 | Comments Off on Driving Employees Away from Distractions

Driving Employees Away from DistractionsOut of all the occupational fatalities reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 36% are related to motor vehicle accidents. Aside from being the primary cause of fatalities in the workplace, vehicular accidents are also considered as a leading cause of death for children and teenagers. Distracted driving is a leading cause of fatal motor vehicle crashes. Statistics and reports show that 11% of all teenage drivers who were involved in a fatal crash were distracted at the time of the accident.

What is distracted driving? Check out this page on distraction.gov. Print it out and hand it out to your entire staff and make it part of your employee driver safety policy.

The associated cost to an employer can be well over $500,000 for a fatality and $74,000 for a non-fatal injury. But you can’t put a price tag on human life. The impact of motor vehicle deaths goes beyond severe emotional pain and suffering. I have worked in risk management for a long time—and coming to a workplace after any fatality is hard. In the midst of investigations, many employers have asked me point blank: “What could I have done to prevent this?”

Motor vehicle accidents happen across all industries… including construction, manufacturing, and more. Professional drivers who transport freight or passengers must follow vigorous DOT laws in the United States, but there are no federal regulations for employees who are driving personal or employer-owned vehicles.

Many workers spend a lot of time driving from one site to another while others run company errands using an employer-owned vehicle or their personal vehicle. More and more employees (over 600, 000 any given day) use handheld devices such as cell phones. With this trend in mind, employers must train or enforce safe driving rules for their company. Safety policies and training are critical to drivers, even for drivers who follow DOT requirements or other regulatory standards.

Let’s discuss a few key elements of a good driver safety program:

Training – All employees should receive training regarding safe driving behaviors. Fundamentals include wearing seatbelts, obeying posted speed limits, identifying driver distractions, using handheld devices, texting and driving, driving under the influence, preventing driver fatigue, avoiding road rage, anticipating other driver reactions, and safe driving under extreme weather conditions. While this training must be repeated annually, it is important to note that new hires need to complete this training right away (so they understand what the employer expects from them).

Maintenance – Employees must be trained to check their personal or employer-owned vehicle daily for low tire pressure, leaking fluids, or other noticeable defects. Vehicles should be serviced and maintained on a regular basis. Employees need to be trained on what to do if there is an accident or there are mechanical issues with the vehicle.

A lot of information is available to keep your employees safe while they are driving. NIOSH (National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health) has great training materials to help you develop a robust driver safety policy. NIOSH also contributes to national and international road safety standards.

Visit the NIOSH Center for Motor Vehicle Safety and get the facts. Protect your employees, train them, and watch behaviors change. Not only are you saving the lives of your employees, you could be saving a family member as well. Good driving habits extend beyond the job—leading all of us on the road to safety.

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