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Driving On the Job Poses More Risks Than Many Realize

If asked to provide examples of jobs that are commonly associated with injuries, many people think construction, industrial or factory work, and anything that involves heavy lifting. It’s easy to neglect the fact that any job that requires an employee to get behind the wheel of a motor vehicle also presents a high level of risk.

In fact, transportation incidents are the No. 1 cause of workplace fatalities, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Work-related fatalities involving roadway incidents were up 9 percent in 2015 from 2014 totals. The BLS reports that of the 4,836 work injuries recorded in the U.S. in 2015, 26 percent involved transportation incidents.

Safety Measures For Workers Who Drive

Michael Stack, a consultant on workers’ compensation cost containment systems, offers these tips on keeping employees safe behind the wheel.

Driving Policy

Create a safe driving policy and train to it. Every company has unique needs, but some best practices regarding driving safety are universal. Elements to include in a company policy include:

  • Use of technology – It should be strongly communicated that texting or using hand-held phones while driving is not allowed. Minnesota has outlawed texting while driving since 2008 and lawmakers are currently considering a ban on cell phone use completely.
  • Seat belts – Minnesota, like most states, mandates seat belt use, but it is always wise to reinforce this to workers who drive.
  • Measures to prevent drowsy driving – Transportation jobs frequently involve pressure to deliver goods on schedule. Companies should reinforce the importance of good sleep habits and emphasize that safety is the No. 1 concern above on-time delivery.
  • Plan the trip – Confusion about directions or locations put drivers at higher risk for accidents. Drivers should always plan their route before they start out on it. Keep in mind that warm weather brings on large construction projects, which means some roads may be closed. Train drivers on the use of apps for current road conditions.

Driver selection

A careful check of a person’s driving record before hiring is essential. Don’t forget to recheck each worker’s driving record annually.

Training

Classroom and behind-the-wheel training are ideal if possible. Sales teams at many companies have “ridealongs” in which a manager shadows a sales rep to see how he or she performs on a sales call. Supervisors of workers who drive should have literal ridealongs to observe each driver’s safe driving habits. Workers also should be informed about any in-vehicle monitoring systems that are installed and why a company feels they are important to use.

Vehicle Selection And Maintenance

Whether a company uses large commercial vehicles or small cars, employers should select vehicles with high safety ratings and stay on top of regular maintenance. Determine who is responsible for regularly checking details like proper inflation of tires and other details that often go unchecked.

Injured Drivers Need To Know Their Rights

An employer who is injured while driving should provide a full report to his or her employer promptly. In many cases, workers who are injured in job-related motor vehicle accidents will qualify for workers’ compensation benefits. In some situations, they also may be able to file a personal injury lawsuit against an at-fault party.

In these situations, it is important for injured workers to consult with knowledgeable workers’ compensation and personal injury attorneys like those at Fay & Associates LLC.

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