Archive for February, 2013

How much is safety worth?

By Jena Williams

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One man’s belief system was challenged during the building of the Interstate Highway System. He was an engineer trying to do his best work while at the same time being a good steward of taxpayer money. He received a revised order that all projects less than 95% completed needed to be revised with new safety compliant features. He thought this to be a complete waste of taxpayer money…that is until an avoidable tragedy struck close to home. Click link for more on this story “A Lesson in Safety”
by Wright Aldridge: http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/interstate/memories.htm

What is your belief system when it comes to safety? When safer technologies come along, is it worth it to make the upgrade?

President Eisenhower invested in safety when he pushed the country to invest in the Interstate Highway System. Not only did it serve as a much improved method of getting from State A to State B, but according to the US Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration, “One of the primary reasons for building the Interstate System was to improve the safety of the highway users: drivers, passengers, and pedestrians.”

The Interstate System is the safest road system in the country, with a fatality rate of 0.8—compared with 1.46 for all roads in 2004.  Relative safety is measured by the “fatality rate” (fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles traveled, a measure used so data can be compared as traffic volumes change).

When the Interstate Construction Program began in 1956, the national fatality rate was 6.05.  This improvement in safety has been the result of many factors working together:  the shifting of traffic onto the safer Interstate highways and technological advances in safety, such as wider shoulders; slid-resistant pavements; better guardrail, sign, and markings; clearer sight distances; and breakaway sign posts and utility poles.  In addition, many other factors have contributed to improved safety on the Nation’s highway system, including new vehicle safety features, such as shatter proof glass, padded interiors, safety belts and air bags; programs to reduce impaired driving; and the combined, coordinated efforts of many private organizations and public agencies working together to make the Nation’s highways ever safer.

As acknowledged above, it was more than just the highway that reduced the fatality rate, it was a combination of safety improvements that we as a nation embraced and invested in. Were the lives that were saved worth it?

Each day workers file injury claims, most of which are avoidable. Often injuries are caused by lack of maintenance or making do with outdated equipment. Safer methods are out there, but each company must decide for itself if the investment worth it.

Possibly this is a discussion your company leadership should have. Is there a dollar amount under which a request for safety gear or replacement equipment should always be approved? Is there a budget put aside for safety? Have you asked your employees what would make their jobs safer? Have you considered if the investment is worth it?

I spoke with several workers last week that were injured due to lack of appropriate or regular maintenance to the yard (potholes) and equipment (wrenched back because equipment was frozen up).  These avoidable scenarios cost the companies’ money, and the workers lost wages and suffered a painful injury.

I know you have a lot to worry about in running a business. I hope you will find the time to consider safety as an investment to improve your bottom line.

More information on Eisenhower’s Interstate Highway System: http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/interstate/homepage.cfm President Eisenhower undertook this amazing project after serving time in the military and getting to travel over most of America (roads in terrible shape) then seeing the Autobahn in Germany. He knew America could do better and needed to do better.

Research finds safety and operations enhance each other: http://www.iwh.on.ca/at-work/71/research-finds-safety-and-operations-can-enhance-each-other

Dollars and Sense, Investing in Safety: http://www.keeptruckingsafe.org/safetymaterials/908a2007.pdf

Blog on keeping workers’ comp budget healthy: http://blogs.payscale.com/compensation/2013/02/four-ergonomic-tips-to-keep-employees-and-workers-comp-budgets-healthy.html#.USZQrLiMx04.twitter

Image: President Dwight D. Eisenhower

Honoring America’s Presidents and People

By Jena Williams

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Today is a federal holiday for many to honor America’s presidents who made this country great.

Funny fact, even though America had just fought a war to reject unfair treatment and the rule by a monarchy, there were Americans who wanted to make George Washington king of America. He absolutely refused, setting the standard of two terms as president. He did so to firmly remind the people that this is a free country of free men who should have freedom to elect leadership and enjoy life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

Abraham Lincoln served during the bloody Civil War, signing the Emancipation Proclamation, and freeing millions from slavery through the 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

One hundred fifty years after President Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation, America is still plagued by slavery. Where at one point there was the Underground Railroad that helped people who were in bondage escape to freedom, now there is an underbelly of society that traffics slaves to those who would harm them.

At no point in the history of the world have there been more slaves than there are today. Latest estimates suggest 27 million slaves in the world today. Lawless people spurn the rights bought by the blood and sweat of our forefathers and continue to make fortunes off the backs of others.

The faces of modern-day slavery might surprise you. In the U.S., many are runaways, who are befriended and ultimately ensnared into becoming sex slaves.  They are trafficked through a circuit of cities to make money for their pimps. Some are local high school and middle school girls, maybe even a neighbor kid or classmate.

Truckers Against Trafficking involves truckers in the fight to free these victims of today and put their persecutors behind bars.

Truckers, you are in an incredible position to stop modern-day slavery and human trafficking. Because this new form of slavery in America is hidden, the battle must play out differently. It will be fought in the streets and truck stops and schools and homes. You are key to stopping it. For more information, get involved with Truckers Against Trafficking. Report suspicious behavior to 1-888-373-7888.

And most importantly, to everyone who reads this blog, don’t look away when you see injustice. In America, that’s not how we roll. Thank you truckers for your hard work for America!

Truckers Against Human Trafficking: http://www.truckersagainsttrafficking.org/

CNN Freedom Project: http://thecnnfreedomproject.blogs.cnn.com/

NPR: The Hidden Faces of Modern Day Slavery: http://www.npr.org/2012/02/28/147580896/the-hidden-faces-of-modern-day-slavery

Tronie Foundation: http://www.troniefoundation.org/

Crime Victims program at Washington State Department of Labor & Industries: http://www.lni.wa.gov/ClaimsIns/CrimeVictims/

Current legislation: http://thehill.com/blogs/floor-action/senate/282507-senate-votes-to-add-human-trafficking-measures-to-vawa#ixzz2Khtfm7gE

US Laws against human trafficking: http://www.state.gov/j/tip/laws/

Healthy hearts, trucking and chocolate?!?

By Jena Williams

This week we celebrate Valentine’s Day. This month we pay special attention to heart health. Is it a coincidence that there is an overlap here? I don’t think so. Stick with me and I’ll explain why.

We’ll begin with Valentine’s Day, which, for those of you who need to know, is on the 14th. Ah, Valentine’s Day, although one of the sweetest  days of the year, it is also a day high in stress, devised many years ago presumably in an attempt by the card, candy, jewelry and floral industries to make those not in a relationship feel bad and those in one incredibly broke. Other theories include a lovesick jailbird, secret weddings and fertility rituals (you can read about those here: http://www.history.com/topics/valentines-day.)

Next we’ll consider heart health since February is American Heart Month. Few would disagree that the heart (even a broken one) is a very necessary organ for human survival, so it seems reasonable to consider how best to care for it.  For truck drivers, staying healthy to be safe on the road is vital to the job, so taking care of your heart is actually an important part of your job as well.

This can be tricky when healthy foods are difficult to find on the road and sometimes a challenge to prepare, store and cook in a truck. Some helpful hints here: http://www.ehow.com/how_4906921_eat-healthy-truck-driver.html

There is a good reason to try though, because research shows that the average male truck driver lives 15 years less than the average American male.  Doesn’t seem quite fair or right for those who bring everything the rest of us need. So what can we do as an industry to turn this tide?

Well, we haven’t given up.  April 30-May 2, is the 5th Annual Healthy Trucking Summit of 2013 presented by the Healthy Trucking Association of America. Trucking industry representatives throughout the nation will meet to discuss the needs and concerns of the industry to improve the well-being of their most vital investment – their drivers.

Here’s a tidbit from the 2013 announcement:

Since its inception in 2009, the HTAA HEALTHY TRUCKING SUMMIT has become the undisputed premiere health and wellness event of the trucking industry… the HEALTHY TRUCKING SUMMIT [is] the most successful event of its kind and the trucking industry’s most important annual event for improving the health of our nation’s drivers.

There is still time to register for the event and to get involved in the process of improving the health of the entire trucking industry.

And now back to hearts and chocolate and why truckers should be interested.

At first I was confused as to why as a nation we chose in 1963 to recognize American Heart Month during February with the great deluge of chocolate that comes with that. But apparently someone must have suspected then what has been recently proven. Chocolate is good for your heart!!!! Now keep it in perspective, not all items labeled as “chocolate” truly fit the bill, but as a true chocolate connoisseur would agree, the heart healthy components are in the only chocolate worth human consumption. (Yes, I’m referring to the dark kind!)

Don’t try to argue it any other way! I’ve got this battle down. Dark chocolate = good for you. All other yucky chocolates = not so good for you. Therefore, dark = good. All other = bad. Thus dark chocolate is the only good chocolate. Whew!

Back to our story.

So really, it isn’t a surprise to me that Valentine’s Day, the holiday of the heart and the chocolate connoisseur would be celebrated during American Heart Month. I’m not a physician but I say, February 14th is the day to indulge in some yummy dark chocolate. If your sweetheart doesn’t supply it, just buy your own. 😉 Because, truck drivers, we appreciate you!

NOTE: Commentary on the palatable-ness of various forms of chocolate are the personal views of the author and do not necessary reflect the official views of TIRES. (Even if they should.)

How a trucking company changed to a healthier culture: http://minnesota.cbslocal.com/2010/12/06/trucking-to-be-heart-healthy-in-new-ulm/

CDC’s February is Heart Awareness Month: http://www.cdc.gov/Features/HeartMonth/

Heart healthy properties of chocolate: http://www.allchocolate.com/health/basics/ (Dreams do come true!)

Heart Healthy Trucking Blog: http://gototruckdrivingschool.blogspot.com/2012/02/heart-healthy-trucking.html

HTAA Healthy Trucking Summit: http://healthytruckingsummit2013.com/

Who doesn’t love to use a “cheat sheet” on a test?

By Jena Williams

Open book, cheat sheet, one 3×5 note card, you can use your review sheet on this test…Weren’t those the words that brought music to your ears back in school? What if your instructor told you that you can borrow the test taken by someone last year to study with? You’d know what they got right and what they missed and what to study. How cool would that be???

Well here’s your opportunity to study off of someone else’s test; in fact it’s your opportunity to study off the tests of everyone who took it over the past five years. A new report from Washington State’s Department of Labor & Industries gives you the most commonly missed topics on inspections in the state’s most hazardous industries. You have the privilege of learning from their experience and protecting your workforce at the same time!

Where does trucking rank in the top 25 hazardous industries? General Freight Trucking (NAICS 4841) rates number two as Washington’s most hazardous industry. The summary report released in December 2012 examines occupational injury and illness data including safety and health violations cited by industry from 2006 through 2010.

You’re probably thinking, so what, we know trucking is a risky industry, what good is another report that tells us what we already know? Well, my hope, and the mission of TIRES, is to use data to target the most common and costly injuries. And maybe, since this report also explores the most common violations found by DOSH, you can use the information to make sure your company is in compliance before that inspector shows up.

I don’t know about you, but I’d rather learn from others’ mistakes or trials than my own…Yeah, I know, not very considerate, but why should we both suffer needlessly??? Below are links to the report by industry sector. It might save you time, money and a potential injury to a valuable employee to quickly run through the Top 10 Violations for your sector to make sure your company is prepared.

Injury-wise, this report reaffirms earlier research by TIRES that injuries to muscles, tendons and joints (musculoskeletal disorders), falls, and struck by injuries are the most common and costly injuries to address in the trucking industry. This is why we are continuing to work with and support you to eliminate these injuries. TIRES has produced materials to address the tasks where the injuries are occurring. We want you to be safe and we’ll do whatever we can to support you to get there.

Check these links out:

Entering and exiting the cab or trailer:
http://www.keeptruckingsafe.org/game.html
http://www.keeptruckingsafe.org/hazardpreventiontools.html#safetyplanCabentry

Walking around the work zone:
http://www.keeptruckingsafe.org/game_2.html
http://www.keeptruckingsafe.org/hazardpreventiontools.html#safetyplanYard

Strapping down or tarping the load:
http://www.keeptruckingsafe.org/game_4_binders.html
http://www.keeptruckingsafe.org/game_3_tarping.html
http://www.keeptruckingsafe.org/hazardpreventiontools.html#safetyplanLoadsecurement

Loading including manual handling:
http://www.keeptruckingsafe.org/hazardpreventiontools.html#safetyplanLoadunload
http://www.keeptruckingsafe.org/hazardpreventiontools.html#safetyplanLifting

Washington State Top 25 Hazardous Industries report: http://www.lni.wa.gov/IPUB/417-243-000.pdf