As all managers responsible for safety know, injuries and fatalities that occur as a result truck crashes have significant human and financial impact on the driver, his or her family and the trucking company. With improvements in vehicle and road design, driver training, regulatory oversight and enforcement the result has been a steady decline in both the number and severity of highway incidents and their unacceptable consequences. These advances in road safety are making a positive contribution to reducing costs and improving occupational health.
While it is important to maintain close control over highway safety practices, there may be other parts of your operation that can be looked at which can also result in safety improvements and cost reduction. One such area that is often overlooked is injuries as a consequence of non-driving activities. An ATRI study of non-collision injuries found that for every driver crash injury, there had been five driver non-crash injuries. The most frequent type of non-driving injuries are slips and falls, being struck by an object and musculoskeletal injuries from overexertion caused by actions such as improper lifting. Another study found that one-third of LTL worker disability claims involved non-drivers – dock workers, yard workers, mechanics and even office workers. Workers compensation claims can often result in long periods of time off work for the employee and expensive and on-going costs for the employer.
Safety managers should regularly review their workers’ compensation claims history to determine if there are certain types of injuries that occur frequently or can be prevented through improved worker awareness and training. Non-driving injury claims in the trucking industry are frequently preventable and implementing and following proper safety management practices can often reduce claim frequency and severity leading to improved worker performance and job satisfaction.
A common claim is a fall from height is as a result of drivers not properly exiting or entering the cab of their truck. Persuading drivers to always maintain three points of contact with the vehicle while entering or exiting the cab can prevent an injury that can a occur if a driver jumps or slips while getting in or out of the truck. Similarly, with struck by claims, many injuries are as a result inattention or careless practices around loading docks and warehouses. Training drivers and other workers to stay in walkways, wear reflective clothing and familiarize themselves with hazards at the workplace are simple steps that can prevent an injury and a costly workers’ compensation claim.
Workplace hazards can be controlled by implementing a safety management program that systematically looks at policies, practices and structures in the workplace that can be hazardous to workers and then taking the necessary steps to eliminate the hazard or adopt alternative work practices. By actively assessing and implementing control and mitigation measures to prevent workplace injuries, employers and workers will benefit through long term safety and financial benefits.
To learn more about workplace safety and how to implement a safety management program at your workplace contact any member of the Motor Carrier Safety Associates team.