Archive for April, 2019

May is Global Employee Health and Fitness Month

Image source: National Association for Health and Fitness

In May, companies and employees around the world will participate in Global Employee Health and Fitness Month (GEHFM). The international and national event observes workplace health and fitness with the goal of promoting healthy living to companies and their employees. The GEHFM is an annual observance created by the National Association for Health and Fitness, which was founded in 1979 by the President’s Council on Sports and Fitness. Practicing a healthy lifestyle that includes a nutritious diet and physical exercise is key to having productive employees and achieving a profitable business. For truck drivers, physical health and fitness are also vital to staying safe and alert on the road.

 

Health and Fitness Challenges for Truck Drivers

Balancing the need to make a living and maintaining a proper diet and regular exercise can be a challenge for truck drivers. Truck drivers have much less time to enjoy home cooked meals or to hit the gym like workers in other industries. Most food choices at truck stops and fast food restaurants are high in calories and low in nutrients. Making matters worse are irregular schedules, long hours, and stress. The NIOSH National Survey of U.S. Long-Haul Truck Driver Health and Injury found that obesity, morbid obesity, smoking, self-reported diabetes, and lack of health insurance were twice as high for long-haul truck drivers compared to the national working population. Most drivers did not exercise enough and many saw their health status as less than excellent, very good, or good.

Research shows that obesity has a negative impact on job performance. Obesity can also lead to chronic health conditions such as sleep apnea, arthritis, diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, stroke, and cancer. According to the CDC, these diseases account for 75% of national health care expenditures. Another study found that covered medical, sick day, short-term disability, and workers’ compensation claims combined for normal weight employees cost $3,830 per year while costing $8,067 for morbidly obese employees.

 

Taking the Onramp to Better Health

A recent survey of over 20,000 geographically-dispersed employees in the United States found healthy foods and regular exercise noticeably improve job performance and lower absenteeism. The survey found that higher job performance was:

  • 25% more likely for workers who ate healthy the entire day.
  • 20% more likely for workers who ate five or more servings of fruit and vegetables on four or more days in the past week.
  • 15% more likely for workers who exercised for 30 or more minutes on three or more days a week.

Healthy workers were also 16% to 27% less likely to have recent absenteeism.

Health and fitness for truck drivers can also benefit the productivity of trucking companies because they feel better, are more alert behind the wheel, and stay in compliance with CDL medical requirements.

In observance of Global Employee Health and Fitness Month, use the following tips to steer your truck drivers towards a healthy lifestyle on the road:

  • Eat a well-balanced diet high in protein and omega 3-fatty acids, and low in carbs, preservatives, and sodium.
  • Take the time to pack healthy food and snacks to avoid stopping for junk food.
  • Lose weight by reducing portion sizes.
  • Eat smaller meals more often during the day to help steady your blood sugar level.
  • Drink more water instead of sugary drinks like soda.
  • Sleep in a quiet, comfortable environment.
  • Don’t eat spicy foods, drink coffee or alcohol, smoke, or watch TV before going to sleep.
  • Find a safe area near your truck to take a walk, stretch, do jumping jacks, or jump rope.
  • Stop smoking cigarettes and using stimulants.
  • Locate truck stops that support a healthy lifestyle for truck drivers.

Click on the following links for more information and resources:

Global Employee Health and Fitness Month

Keep Trucking Safe.org – Truck Driver Health Issues

National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) – Truck Driver Health

NIOSH – Total Worker Health Programs

Virginia Tech Transportation Institute – Driving Healthy.org

On April 28th We Remember those Killed and Injured at Work

Image source: NIOSH

Workers’ Memorial Day is a time to pause and remember the hundreds of thousands of workers, including truck drivers, who have died or sustained severe injuries while doing their jobs. The annual April 28th observance began in 1970 as an effort by the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) to redouble the struggle for national workplace safety. Exactly a year later Congress established the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to focus on health and safety for America’s workforce. Since then recognition of Workers’ Memorial Day has spread to other countries where it is celebrated as the World Day for Safety and Health at Work.

The International Labor Organization (ILO) reports that more than 2.78 million workers die per year around the world as a result of workplace incidents or occupational diseases. One worker dies every 15 seconds and 6,000 die each day. Around 374 million non-fatal injuries and illnesses also occur each year.

In 2017, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statics (BLS) reported that 1,443 workers died in the transportation and material moving industry in the United States, with 30 killed in Washington State. According to the Washington State Department of Labor & Industries Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation (FACE) program, 92 truck drivers in the state had died between 2006 and 2018. That’s an average of almost 8 per year. BLS data also shows that in the general and specialized freight trucking industries nationwide there were about 64,600 total recordable non-fatal injuries with 44,700 needing days away from work.

The human costs of these fatalities and injuries are devastating and place immense social and economic burdens on workers’ relatives, friends and communities. These vast consequences tell us that we should never forget about those who have died, become disabled, or are suffering a debilitating illness because of workplace hazards.

 

Safe Jobs Save Lives

Although Workers’ Memorial Day commemorates those who succumbed or sustained injuries as victims of workplace hazards, it also reminds us about the importance of strengthening worker safety. Occupational safety and health laws and related efforts across the country have steeply reduced workplace fatalities and injuries over the decades. This has benefited businesses and workers alike. Most companies know that being proactive is the best way to keep employees safe on the job. These forward-looking companies have taken steps to design safety programs that their managers and employees can live by. Their programs place a high value on management commitment and leadership, employee participation, hazard identification and control, continuous training, and periodic self-evaluation.

Having a dynamic safety program that involves everyone in the company greatly decreases the risk of injuries and fatalities. As a way to honor the fallen on Workers’ Memorial Day, why not review your own safety program for areas to improve. If you don’t have a safety program, create one that is tailored to your company’s needs. It will keep your employee’s alive and healthy, save you money, and keep you in compliance with the law. And if you’re still wondering if all this safety and prevention stuff works, consider this – in the year 1912, 279 workers lost their lives on the job in Washington. Today we have a much larger workforce and many fewer deaths. It does work.

For more information and resources, please visit the following links:

 

Washington Administrative Code:

WAC 296-800-140 Accident prevention program

 

Washington State Department of Labor & Industries:

Worker Memorial Day Ceremony April 25, 2019

Accident Prevention Program Step-by-Step Guide

 

Keep Trucking Safe (TIRES project)

Safety Plan

 

Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA):

Recommended Practices for Safety and Health Programs

 

National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH):

Workers’ Memorial Day

 

Association of Washington Businesses

Workers Memorial Day 2018 news article

Levelling Dock Plate Injuries

Securing trucks at the dock can cause injuries to muscles, tendons, and joints while lifting and moving the mechanical dock plate into position. Switching to a push button controlled powered dock leveler removes the need to pull or manipulate heavy dock components. Powered dock levelers can also smooth out forklift travel between dock and trailer, reducing vibrations to the driver’s body. This type of system can also help prevent a fall from the dock while docking or closing a trailer.

View tips to live by

Washington State Patrol Begins Litter Prevention and Secure Load Emphasis on April 15

On Monday, April 15, the Washington State Patrol will begin a 28-day patrol emphasis to crack down on motorists who throw roadside litter or travel with unsecured loads. The effort is being conducted in tandem with the Washington State Department of Ecology and state Department of Transportation. The emphasis is intended to improve the safety and environmental cleanliness of state highways and roadways.

The State Patrol reports that debris on Washington roadways causes approximately 400 collisions every year. Unsecured loads account for 40% of litter on local highways. Traffic violations for littering or failing to secure loads on highways can reach $5,000 and potential jail time. The highest fines are for throwing “lit debris” such as cigarettes and spilling larger items that can cause crashes leading to injuries and death.

Litter and unsecured loads are completely preventable. Don’t throw litter onto the roadway. Wait until you reach your destination and drop it in a proper waste receptacle or disposal facility. Make sure your load cannot slide, shift, fall, sift onto the roadway, or become airborne. Each load is different. Look for potential problems with your load. (Is it tall, narrow, double stacked, loose?) Develop a plan to safely secure each type of load.

Five Tips to secure your load:

  • Tie down load with serviceable rope, netting, chains or straps.
  • Tie large objects directly to the vehicle or trailer.
  • Cover the entire load with a sturdy tarp or netting.
  • Don’t overload the vehicle.
  • Always double check load to make sure all is secure.

Visit Keep Trucking Safe.org for training tools on how to safely tarp, strap, and stack your loads.

Washington State Patrol press release.

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National Work Zone Awareness Week is April 8-12

Spring has returned and the people who build, repair and maintain our highways are back for another season of work. Now is also the time to remind ourselves that as motorists we share a responsibility in keeping work zones safe. Although work zone set ups must follow strict safety rules, even the safest projects cannot always prevent a distracted or reckless driver from causing work zone fatalities and injuries. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that passing vehicles killed 248 roadway construction workers between 2011 and 2016. That’s almost 1 fatality a week. The Washington State Department of Transportation indicates that around 850 highway work zone injuries occur each year in the state.

National Work Zone Awareness Week (NWZAW) is an educational campaign that encourages driving with extra caution through highway work zones. The event brings together government agencies, national road safety organizations, private companies, and individuals. The American Traffic Safety Services Association kicked off the first annual event at its Virginia headquarters in 2000. NWZAW has spread across the United States because of participation from companies and drivers like you.

Go Orange for Work Zone Safety

The color orange is commonly used to help ensure the safety of workers. NWZAW encourages roadway safety professionals across the country to wear orange on Go Orange Day, Wednesday, April 10 to show visible support for work zone safety. Go Orange Day is a great way to show support for the roadway safety industry and the families of victims who were killed in work zones.

Move Over or Pay

Washington State has strict traffic laws to improve roadway work zone safety. The state’s “Move Over” law requires drivers to proceed with due caution, slow down and, if safe, move over or change lanes when approaching any authorized construction or maintenance vehicle or worker in a designated roadway work zone. The rules specifically describe work zones to include adjacent road lanes 200 feet before and after stationary or slow-moving construction, maintenance, solid waste, or utility service vehicles that display flashing or rotating lights that meet state requirements for vehicle warning light systems. Fines range from $136 for failing to move over to $1,000 for reckless endangerment offenses. Penalties can also include jail sentences and driver’s license suspensions. Following the rules of the road will keep Washington State’s roadway workers alive and safe.

Use the following tips to keep work zones safe:

  • Slow Down – follow the speed limit, it’s there for your safety.
  • Be Kind – road crews are out there working to keep our highways safe
  • Pay Attention – both to workers directing you and surrounding traffic; put your phone away when driving
  • Stay Calm – expect delays, leave early or take a detour if possible; no meeting or appointment is worth risking someone’s life

 

Use the links below for information and resources to hold your own NWZAW event or training:

 

American Traffic Safety Services Association:

National Work Zone Safety Week website

 

Washington State work zone traffic laws:

RCW 46.61, Rules of the Road

RCW 46.61.212, Approaching emergency zones – Penalty – Violation

 

Washington State Department of Labor and Industries:

Road construction work zone safety presentation

Flagger safety

Asphalt worker safety

 

Washington State Department of Transportation:

Work zone safety

Work Zone Safety Awareness Week

 

U.S. Federal Highway Administration:

National Work Zone Awareness Week

Work Zone Management Program