In the News
With vacation season upon us, and people hitting the open roads, it's a perfect time for a reminder of the risk for road accidents - especially for those who drive for work. Whether it's a company car, tractor trailer, construction vehicle or delivery van - if it is driven for work, it's a workplace vehicle. And unlike other workplaces, vehicles are not 'controlled environments', which present challenges when ensuring worker safety.
- Vehicle crashes are the greatest single cause of traumatic workplace fatalities. In Ontario alone between 2000 and 2005, it is estimated that there were 199 work related deaths caused by vehicle crashes (more than 30% of all work-related traumatic fatalities).
- The direct and indirect social costs of motor vehicle crashes are over $9 billion per year in Ontario.
Although employers can't control road conditions, they can help prevent accidents by having a strategy that combines safe driving principles with safety management practices. The best way is to approach work-related driving in the same manner as they would any other health and safety risks.
WHAT EMPLOYERS CAN DO
To control occupational road risk, employers must have robust health and safety management systems in place and an action plan.
Have a Policy
- Have a clear driver safety policy statement that is communicated to all employees and contractors that sets safety direction and general objectives. It must be enforced and have senior management commitment.
- Enforce mandatory seat belt use.
- Do not require workers to drive irregular hours or far beyond their normal working hours.
- Ensure work schedules are established to allow employees to obey speed limits and to follow hours-of-service regulations.
- Do not require nor permit workers to conduct business on a cell phone while driving.
Take a Planned Approach to Safety
- Conduct risk assessments and record the findings.
- Set performance standards for eliminating or controlling risk based on risk assessment.
- Monitor and review assessments to ensure that the risks to those who drive for work are controlled.
- Establish clearly prioritized targets for implementation and set timelines.
- Have procedures to review performance against targets, audit health and safety management processes and then provide feedback to continuously improve performance and help eliminate the hazards.
- Measure safety performance - both actively by monitoring compliance with standards and reactively by investigating the causes of accidents and incidents.
Have Safety Programs
- Teach workers strategies for recognizing and managing driver fatigue and in-vehicle distractions.
- Provide training to workers operating specialized motor vehicles or equipment.
- Emphasize to workers the need to follow safe driving practices on and off the job.
Manage Your Vehicles
- Implement a structured vehicle maintenance program.
- Provide company vehicles that offer the highest possible levels of protection for the drivers and passengers.
- Ensure that workers assigned to drive on the job have a valid driver's license and one that is appropriate for the type of vehicle to be driven.
- Check driving records of prospective employees, and perform periodic rechecks after hiring.
- Maintain complete and accurate records of workers' driving performance.
- Provide any necessary training for drivers where needed (winter conditions, off-road safety, etc.)
What Drivers Should and Shouldn't Do
- Don't drink and drive. Alcohol impairs your driving ability and increases the risk of an accident.
- Do not drive if you are tired, ill or taking medicine that could make you drowsy.
- Drive safely and obey the law to avoid getting penalty points on your license.
- Talk to your employer about training to help you to be even better on the road.
- Check and maintain your vehicle properly to save time and help avoid accidents.
- Plan your journey to reduce stress and the temptation to speed.
- Turn off your cell phone to avoid being distracted.
- Wear a seat belt. It will help keep you safe - and it's the law.
Driving for Work website, Department for Transport, UK
Working Safely Behind the Wheel (pdf), Workers' Compensation Board, Alberta
Drivers at work, Canada Safety Council
RoadSafe.ca - Information for Employers
Work-related Roadway Crashes: Prevention Strategies for Employer, NIOSH
Driving Tips - Using Cellular Telephones and Other Devices, CCOHS
Forklifts can move large loads quickly with minimal personnel. However a recent injury to a worker when a forklift lost its load highlights the importance of having safe work practices - and ensuring they are followed.
In British Columbia (BC) a forklift operator in a metal fabricating shop was moving a load of metal plates. The metal plates were being carried on a custom-made load-handling rack attached to the forklift forks. This steel rack weighed 664 pounds (299 kilograms) and was large enough that it affected safe operation of the forklift. The load was over 1½ metres (5½ feet) wide and weighed approximately 2,794 kilograms (6,208 pounds). The load was elevated about 6 feet (2 metres) as it travelled so that it could clear a welding shield set up near a metal fabricator's workstation.
The forklift approached the workstation where the fabricator was welding with his back to the forklift. The fabricator was wearing a welding helmet and hearing protection, and was unable to hear the forklift operator's attempts to get his attention. The fabricator turned toward the forklift just as the forklift operator applied the brakes. The metal plates slid off the forklift's load rack, tipping the forklift forward, causing the load rack to slide off the forks. The fabricator was pinned underneath the load rack with its remaining metal plates and suffered fractured and broken bones.
Safe work practices
Provide specific written safe work procedures for forklift operation and ensure forklift operators are trained in these procedures. Safe work practices for avoiding worker injury when working with and around forklifts include the following:
- Consult the forklift manufacturer or a professional engineer before using any custom-made load-handling attachments, racks, or pallets that may affect the stability of forklifts.
- Determine the load weight, load centre, and combined centre of gravity for each situation.
- Do not exceed the recommended load limit of your lift truck. The maximum load limit is posted on the data plate of each lift truck.
- Position the load according to the recommended load centre. The load limit of the lift truck decreases as the load centre is raised.
- Do not add extra weight to counterbalance an overload.
- Keep loads close to the front wheels to keep the lift truck stable.
- Use an effective means of communication to alert workers who are in the vicinity of operating forklifts.
- Ensure a clear view of the work area before moving loads.
- Ensure that approved custom-made load-handling attachments, racks, or pallets and loads that could shift are properly secured before moving. If they are not, pile the load again or strap the load to a skid.
- Do not travel with an elevated load; it can make the lift truck less stable.
When travelling in a forklift:
- Tilt loads backwards.
- Travel with forks as low as possible to the floor and tilted back.
- Match speed to driving, load and workplace conditions.
- Decrease speed at all corners, sound horn and watch the swing of both the rear of the lift truck and the load.
- Watch for pedestrians.
- Avoid sudden stops.
- Keep forklift routes clear. If necessary, change workplace layout to keep forklift traffic away from workstations and pedestrians.
Read the full alert at WorkSafeBC.
Load Handling, OSH Answers from CCOHS
It's that time of year again when students' attention turn to getting that all-important summer job. And that is precisely why the Workers' Compensation Board (WCB) of Nova Scotia chose May to launch their new "silence doesn't work" campaign for young workers.
The campaign uses a mime as the central character to convey the message, "when people don't talk about workplace safety, people can get hurt". By personifying silence about safety, the new campaign encourages young people to ask questions and talk to their supervisor if anything about their job feels unsafe, while reminding employers about the importance of proper orientation and training.
"To reach young people with a message about safety rights, we know we need to engage them on their own terms - in an intriguing way that isn't preachy, but that helps foster safe behaviours at work," said Shelley Rowan, VP of Strategy and Employee Engagement with the WCB. "Our campaign aims to help them understand their rights on the job, and to help them speak up when they feel unsafe."
WCB reports that last year almost 900 young Nova Scotians (ages 16 - 24) were seriously injured at work - enough to need time off. In 2008, 2 young workers were among the 29 Nova Scotians who died at work.
Appearing at movie theatres in Halifax, Dartmouth, Truro, New Glasgow and Sydney, and in other locations across the province, mimes portraying a range of injuries kicked off the campaign in May. Rolling out over the summer, both online and in traditional media, the campaign includes social media, print ads, street teams, and events to reach young workers.
"Our hope is that by arming young workers with information and empowering them to stand up for their rights, and by reminding employers about the importance of proper training and orientation, we'll reduce the number of young people hurt on the job, and prepare them for a career of working safely," said Rowan.
New Membership Program Has Its Rewards
For more than thirty years, the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety (CCOHS) has been the "go to" resource for information, advice, tools, and training and education. Now CCOHS has created a new program to offer greater value to their clients as well as build stronger and more dynamic client relationships. The Membership Program offers organizations the opportunity to advance their health and safety programs through close affiliation and collaboration with CCOHS and its extensive network and wealth of resources.
Becoming a member can enhance an organization's ability to stay compliant, show due diligence, and achieve excellence in every aspect of their health and safety initiatives. There are four levels of membership to choose from: Platinum, Gold, Silver and Bronze.
Exclusive Membership Benefits:
- Special rates and discounts on CCOHS products and services;
- Access to a growing occupational health and safety community;
- Networking opportunities through the CCOHS Forum;
- Recognition in Liaison, CCOHS' e-newsletter;
- Tools and resources to promote workplace health and safety within the organization.
"Many of our clients have told us that in these challenging times it is difficult to actively maintain and evolve their health and safety programs," said Eleanor Westwood, CCOHS Communications Manager. "Our new membership program ensures that we continue to closely work with clients, offering both support and access to a comprehensive suite of high quality resources, with the added convenience of access from one trusted source."
Three Ways to Become a CCOHS Member
- Visit www.ccohs.ca/membership/ and click on Join Now.
- Call 1-800-668-4284 (Toll-free Canada & US).
- E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
More details about the CCOHS Membership Program are available at www.ccohs.ca/membership/.
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The Health and Safety Report, a free monthly newsletter produced by the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety (CCOHS), provides information, advice, and resources that help support a safe and healthy work environment and the total well being of workers.
© 2017, Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety
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