Archive for March, 2019

Take a Deep Breath, Don’t Stress

Truck drivers must be fit to operate equipment and to take quick, sensible action at any time behind the wheel. Social, mental, and physical stressors are key causes of fatigue and many serious health problems that can impair a driver’s ability to think clearly and work safely.

Held in April, Stress Awareness Month is a great time to educate and train your drivers about the dangers of chronic job stress. Since 1991, the annual event has been spreading public awareness about the causes of stress, physical and mental impacts of stress, and ways to control stress. The American Institute of Stress (AIS) reports that around 90% of all primary care visits are for stress-related disorders from stomach problems to heart disease. Job related stress also costs American businesses about $150 billion a year.

 

Job Stress for Truck Drivers

Health research shows that job stress is a major problem that has worsened over the decades. According to the AIS, the main causes of job stress include workload pressures, people issues, work-life balance, and lack of job security. In addition, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration lists the following factors as leading stressors of truck drivers:

 

  • Long haul routes.
  • Abrupt schedule changes.
  • Rotating work schedules.
  • Tight deadlines.
  • Traffic delays.
  • Vehicle noise.
  • Equipment vibration.
  • Temperature extremes.
  • Hazardous freight. 
  • The following problems are signs and symptoms of stress:
  • Feeling anxious, irritable, or depressed.
  • Apathy, loss of interest in work.
  • Problems sleeping.
  • Fatigue.
  • Trouble concentrating.
  • Muscle tension or headaches.
  • Stomach problems.
  • Social withdrawal.
  • Loss of sex drive.
  • Using alcohol or drugs to cope.

 

Stress Management for Driver Safety and Health

A comprehensive workplace safety program for trucking companies should include a stress plan to maintain the wellness and alertness of drivers on the road. Stress and fatigue reduction improves safe equipment operation, attendance, productivity, employee retention, morale, job satisfaction, and maximizes alertness and long-term mental and physical health. Incorporate stress and fatigue reduction methods into normal, everyday management functions to balance workload demands and expectations with drivers’ abilities and needs.

 

Stress and fatigue reduction methods include:

 

  • Appropriate planning and rotation of work schedules, job tasks, and overtime.
  • Building positive work relationships.
  • Giving positive feedback and encouragement.
  • Delegating control over work processes.
  • Balancing work and family life.
  • Regular medical checkups.
  • Arranging safe lodging accommodations where required.
  • Ergonomic equipment and well-fitting PPE.
  • Improving work environment conditions such as providing thermal comfort, reducing noise, ample lighting, and clean break areas and restrooms.
  • Scheduling meal periods and rest breaks.
  • Getting enough sleep.
  • Healthy food and exercise.
  • Training drivers to identify and prevent stress and fatigue.

 

Check out the following links to help plan a Stress Awareness Month event or to design a stress management program for your drivers:

 

Keep Trucking Safe (TIRES project):

Dealing with Stress at Work

Got Stress? poster

 

American Institute of Stress:

Workplace Stress

 

National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health:

Stress. . .at Work

April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month

Distracted Driving Awareness Month is observed each April to bring national attention to the hazards of distracted driving. The dangers of distracted driving are serious and the results can be severe. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that in 2016, distracted drivers caused 3,450 fatalities and 391,000 injuries on America’s roads and highways. That’s at least 9 people killed and 1,000 injured every day. Washington State Traffic Safety Council data shows that distracted driving causes 30% of fatalities and 23% of serious injuries in crashes in the State of Washington.

Operating a motor vehicle requires full attention to the road, but it’s easy to become distracted when you are driving and at the same time using a mobile device, changing radio channels, using a calculator, applying cosmetics, smoking, eating or drinking. Looking at billboards, buildings and people also causes major distractions. Texting is among the most dangerous distractions. Typing or reading a text message takes your eyes off the road for at least 5 seconds. At 55 mph, that’s like driving the entire 120-yard length of a football field with your eyes shut. Driving while texting also increases your crash risk like driving with a blood alcohol content of 1.9.

It’s the Law

In 2017, Washington State passed a distracted driving law into the rules of the road. Getting ticketed for distracted driving is expensive. Fines start at $136 and can go up to $234 on repeat offenses. The citations stay on your driving record and increase your vehicle insurance rates. Federal law also prohibits texting by interstate truck drivers and forbids companies from requiring their drivers to text while behind the wheel. In addition to disqualification, civil penalties for truck drivers can reach up to $2,750 for multiple offenses, and $11,000 for companies requiring or allowing drivers to text while driving. Over 150 law enforcement agencies across Washington State participate in the Distracted Driving Awareness Month prevention effort.

The best strategy to prevent a roadway incident is an easy one. Never take your mind off driving and always keep your eyes on the road and both hands on the steering wheel. Put away your cell phones and other handheld gadgets and objects until you are safely parked out of the flow of traffic.

Trucking companies should implement a cell phone policy in their safety program that prohibits drivers from using their cell phones while driving. Drivers also should not handle dispatching devices, maps, or food while driving.

Visit the following links to get more information and resources for distracted driving prevention:

Washington State traffic law:

Using a personal electronic device while driving

Dangerously distracted driving

 

Keep Trucking Safe:

Smart and safe cell phone use poster

Washington State Traffic Safety Council:

Distracted driving data, training resources and programs

Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration:

Rule limiting the use of wireless communication devices

Distracted driving tips and training tools

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration:

Distracted driving website

 

National Safety Council:

Distracted Driving Awareness Month website

Distracted driving safety topics website

 

Safety Matters When Working with Ladders

National Ladder Safety month imageLadders are needed for many things, but using them unsafely causes over 100 deaths and thousands of disabling injuries each year. Workplace ladder use violations also rank 7th among the top 10 safety and health rules cited during Washington State Department of Labor and Industries inspections in 2018. National Ladder Safety Month is held annually in March to raise awareness about the safe use of ladders. The yearly observance was started in 2017 by the American Ladder Institute, the only approved developer of ladder industry safety standards in the U.S. National Ladder Safety Month promotes ladder safety by providing educational resources, certified training, and building a national dialogue to help prevent ladder-related injuries and fatalities at home and at work.

Common causes of ladder-related incidents include:

  • The ladder moves, falls over, or is set up improperly.
  • The worker slips on the rungs, overreaches, or carries objects while climbing the ladder.
  • The worker stands on the top cap of the ladder.
  • The ladder being used is not in good condition.

Take the steps to prevent ladder incidents in your workplace:

  • Plan ahead to get the job done safely.
  • Provide the right ladder for the job with the proper load capacity.
  • Train workers to use ladders safely.

Use these resources to help you plan, provide, and train for the safe use of ladders:

Keep Trucking Safe tanker trailer ladder simulation tool

Keep Trucking Safe flatbed trailer ladder safety tips

Washington State Department of Labor and Industries ladder safety webpage

OSHA ladder safety training fact sheets

OSHA construction ladders safety eTool

NIOSH Ladder Safety app to improve extension and step ladder safety

National Ladder Safety Month website

March is Workplace Eye Wellness Month

Image of logo and Prevent Blindness title More than 2,000 workplace eye injuries occur every day across the nation. About 1 in 10 injured workers miss one or more workdays to recover. Temporary or permanent vision loss are the outcome of 10-20% of the total work-related eye injuries. Proper workplace eye protection could prevent up to 90% of workplace eye injuries. Prevent Blindness, the nation’s leading voluntary eye health and safety organization, started Workplace Eye Wellness Month to give employers information and resources to prevent eye injuries at work.

Common causes for workplace eye injuries are:

  • Flying objects (bits of metal, glass).
  • Tools.
  • Particles.
  • Chemicals.
  • Harmful radiation.
  • Any combination of these or other hazards.

 

Effective prevention of workplace eye injuries requires job hazard assessments and the selection of proper personal protective equipment (PPE) such as:

  • Non-prescription and prescription safety glasses.
  • Goggles.
  • Face shields.
  • Welding helmets.
  • Full-face respirators.

 

To learn more about workplace eye safety, please visit Prevent Blindness.

For information about workplace eye protection requirements in Washington, please read WAC 296-800-16050.

Crawl on the Haul

Big nice classic burgundy rig with lights and flat bed trailer with black tarp in rain on highway. Image does not depict actual event in narrative.

A 53 year-old truck driver sustained a severe head injury when he fell off a slippery load.

The driver was placing a tarp over the top of a loaded flatbed trailer. It started to rain, and the driver found himself standing on a wet, slick load. He took a step and slipped, plunging headfirst almost 11 feet onto the asphalt road.

Nearby off-duty emergency medical technicians saw the driver fall and came to give him first aid. He was bleeding heavily from a deep scalp wound. An ambulance took him to the emergency room. Medical exams showed the driver got a concussion when his head hit the ground.

The fall injury caused the driver many problems, including daily headaches, neck and shoulder pain, irritability, fatigue, disorientation, and memory loss. His recovery plan requires speech therapy and psychological treatment. Many months later the driver has not returned to work because concentrating on basic tasks is still hard to do.

Continue reading full narrative

Free Smartphone APP Allows Quick Best Practice and Incident Reports

Image of SHIP Grant Program

John W. Shervey & Associates, Inc. developed a free app that gives your company business smartphone the ability to report good observations, near-misses and/or minor accidents.  Funded by a grant from the Department of Labor & Industries’ Safety & Health Investment Projects (SHIP) program, the WA-HSEQ app overcomes the delays of filling out traditional incident reports and makes sure they quickly get to the right people and locations.

The user-friendly APP produces on-the-spot reports that include “finger-drawing” features for highlighting hazards on pictures and email and texting capabilities to reach any number of local or distant workplace contacts to improve training, risk analysis, or process improvements. The ready-to-use reports are printable and signed training copies can be scanned for paperless documentation. Don’t wait, start using your WA-HSEQ app today!

Watch this short video to help you download and use the app.

Have an idea for a safety product, but need money to fund it?  Apply for a SHIP grant!