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The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recently published some startling statistics. Every 12 minutes, someone dies in a motor vehicle crash. An injury occurs every 10 seconds, and every five seconds, a crash occurs.
Certainly, not all crashes are work related, but many of them occur during the workday or during the commute to and from work. All crashes have far-reaching financial and psychological effects on a company’s employees and their families. An employer can help reduce the risk factors to their employees by implementing a driver-safety program in the workplace.
The benefits of an on-the-job, driver-safety course are many. The course can be viewed as a cost-saving measure: Fewer accidents cost a company less money in health expenses, worker’s compensation and fleet insurance. These types of programs also are seen as a good employee- relations tool, showing that the employer cares about its employees.
The Network of Employers for Traffic Safety (NETS) has created a 10-step program for building a new driver-safety program or improving an existing one. It includes everything needed to get a driver-safety program up and running.
Step 1: Commitment and involvement
The safety of a company’s employees must be the first priority. The management must be behind the program 100 percent, or the program will fail. Management must provide leadership, set policies and allocate resources (both staff and monetary). Employees also should be active in the planning phase of the program.
Step 2: Policies and procedures
As the nuts and bolts of the program, the written statement must emphasize the employer’s commitment to reducing traffic-related deaths and injuries. It should include a clear, comprehensible and, most importantly, enforceable set of traffic safety policies. These policies need to be communicated to all employees and posted throughout the workplace as a constant reminder of the safety program.
Step 3: Driver agreements
A contract should be drawn with all employees who drive as part of their job, whether they drive company or private vehicles. The employee, by signing the agreement, acknowledges awareness and understanding of the program and the expectations regarding the employee’s responsibilities to safe driving.
Step 4: MVR crashes
The driving records of employees who drive on the job must be checked. Drivers with poor driving records must be screened out. The Motor Vehicle Record (MVR) also should be reviewed regularly to ensure drivers maintain good driving records. The number of violations an employee driver can have before losing the privilege of driving for work must be clearly stated in the program.
Step 5: Crash details
All crashes, regardless of severity, must be reported to the employee’s supervisor as soon as possible after the incident. There should be a clear process for reporting and investigating such an incident. All crashes should be reviewed to determine their cause and whether they were preventable. Understanding the cause of an accident, regardless of fault, will form the basis for eliminating accidnets from happening again.
Step 6: Vehicles
An important part of preventing crashes and related costs is selecting, maintaining and routinely inspecting company vehicles. The purchase of vehicles that have a strong safety rating can help minimize vehicle damage and employee injury.
Step 7: Disciplinary action system
A strategy must be in place to determine the course of action after a moving violation or preventable crash. Most programs in use are based on a system that assigns points for moving violations. If a driver begins to develop a pattern of repeated traffic violations or preventable crashes, the program should include progressive discipline for the driver. The consequences for the accumulation of driving incidents should be clearly defined.
Step 8: Reward/incentive program
Along with a system of punishment, there also should be rewards or incentives built into the driver-safety program. The rewards or incentives can involve company recognition, monetary rewards, special privileges, etc.
Step 9: Driver training/communication
Once the program is in place, continued training and communication must be provided. Even experienced drivers can benefit from further training and reminders of safe driving skills.
Step 10: Regulatory compliance
When putting the driver-safety program together, it is important to be aware of and include any highway safety regulation that applies to your specific company or industry. Many industries have regulations specific to their equipment, chemicals being transported or vehicle size, and they must be included in the program.
These steps are quite similar to those that would be used to establish and implement any safety program. They are designed to be familiar to those in the various fields of construction, so they will be more easily adapted and used by companies to begin or improve their driver-safety programs.
KELLY is a safety and health specialist with Intec, a safety consulting, training and publishing firm that offers on-site assistance and produces manuals, training videos and software for contractors. She can be reached at 800.745.4818 or [email protected]. This article was edited by Joe O’Connor.