Archive for October, 2019

Drowsy Driving Prevention Week, November 3-10

Sleepiness and driving is a dangerous mix that makes America’s roadways unsafe. Led by the National Sleep Foundation, Drowsy Driving Prevention Week is a national campaign to educate road users about the hazards and serious consequences of drowsy driving.

Research shows that the risk of sleep-related crashes is higher for young males, shift workers, adults with children at home, truck drivers, and people with untreated sleep disorders or with short-term or chronic sleep deprivation. In the United States, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that drowsy driving causes 100,000 police-reported crashes with 71,000 injuries and 1,550 fatalities each year. In Washington State from 2011 to 2015, drowsy drivers caused 308 serious injury and 64 fatal crashes. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s Large Truck Crash Causation Study attributed sleepiness and fatigue as factors in at least 18,000 or 13% of all commercial motor vehicle-involved crashes. In crashes involving passenger vehicles, the passenger vehicle driver was twice as likely to be fatigue-impaired when compared to the commercial vehicle driver.

Much like alcohol and drugs, sleepiness impairs a driver’s hand-eye coordination, reaction time, judgement, vision, and situational awareness. Some of the negligent behaviors attributed to drowsy driving include:

  • Distracted driving.
  • Following too closely.
  • Going over the center line.
  • Failure to yield right-of-way to other vehicles, pedestrians, or bicyclists.
  • Disregarding signals (e.g., stop signs, red lights, yield signs, turn signals, etc.).

In Washington State, drowsy driving is illegal and can result in a $550 negligent driving violation. “Drowsy drivers put everyone on the road in danger,” says Washington State Patrol’s Chief John R. Batiste. “This form of impaired driving can be prevented by taking some easy, sensible steps before getting behind the wheel of a vehicle.” The following tips can help truck drivers prevent drowsiness and fatigue:

  • Get enough sleep before getting behind the wheel.
  • Maintain a healthy diet and exercise.
  • Take a break every two hours or 100 miles to refresh.
  • Avoid alcohol, drugs, and medications that cause drowsiness as a side effect.
  • Recognize signs of drowsiness such as frequent yawning, heavy eyes, and blurred vision.
  • Do not rely on “alertness tricks” such as smoking, drinking coffee, rolling down the window, turning up the radio, etc.

More information and training resources on drowsy and fatigued driving:

 

National Sleep Foundation

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

National Safety Council

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SHIP Grants Fund Your Safety Ideas!

Image of SHIP Grant Program

Do you have an idea for a unique best practice or safety product that can prevent workplace injuries to truck drivers or help injured drivers return to work sooner? Let the Washington State’s Labor & Industries Safety and Health Investment Projects (SHIP) grant program help with funding. The SHIP program is accepting applications for safety and health grants until December 16, 2019, and return-to-work grants until further notice. Safety and health grant applicants can request up to $175,000 for their project. Return-to-work grants, which focus on getting injured employees back to work to prevent long-term disability, are in special demand and have no monetary caps.

So far, SHIP grants have funded 120 multi-industry workplace safety products including manuals, videos, online trainings, and mobile apps. In recent years, SHIP safety and health grants have funded trucking-specific research on the ergonomic benefits of air-suspension truck seats and anti-vibration sleeper mattresses for truck drivers’ health and performance. Other grant recipients developed a safety training video for log truck loading and operation and a worker-to-worker safe driver training program.

Grant funds are especially available for prevention of these issues:

  • Work-related musculoskeletal
  • Falls from elevation or on same level.
  • Struck by or against objector equipment.
  • Overexertion.
  • Workplace violence.

Learn more about SHIP-funded products and the grant application process here, or download the SHIP grant program brochure.

SHIP program contact info:   Phone: 360-902-5588    Email: Invest@Lni.wa.gov

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Hear ye, hear ye! October is National Protect Your Hearing Month

Listen up. October is National Protect Your Hearing Month. The annual observance is a time to learn about noise-induced hearing loss and ways to prevent it. Depending on intensity, exposure to loud noise can result in immediate or gradual hearing loss or other damage in one or both ears. The National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders reports that hearing loss due to loud noise may affect up to 24 percent of American adults under age 70.

Protecting Truck Drivers from Hearing Loss

Truck drivers work in places that may expose them to extremely loud noise. This includes construction areas, airports, maintenance shops, terminal yards, and warehouses. Sirens, jackhammers, engine brakes, and passing vehicles and motorcycles are also common sources of loud noise on the road. Then there is the ambient combined sound of engine, exhaust, and tires that enters the cab, especially in older trucks. This all makes it hard to hear conversations, warning signals, and vehicle malfunctions even without a hearing impairment. Hearing loss makes things much worse.

Decibel (dB) units measure loudness. Sound levels over 80 decibels are harmful to the human ear. A diesel truck located 50 feet away can produce sound that measures over 90 dB. Vehicles with defective exhaust systems and other faulty parts can increase noise. In-cab noise levels in standard tractors can easily exceed 90 dB when the windows are open and the radio is on. Daily workplace noise exposures should stay within NIOSH recommended exposure limits to prevent hearing loss. Higher noise levels have lower exposure limits, and lower noise levels have higher limits. For example, if the exposure level is 91 dB, workers should only be exposed for two hours. An increase to 94 dB lowers the exposure limit to 60 minutes.

Protecting your drivers’ hearing will prevent ear injury and benefit their overall health. In Washington State, employers are required to train employees who work near loud noise about the hazards of noise-induced hearing loss and steps they can take to protect themselves. The following hearing protection tips and resources can help:

  • Identify, eliminate, or control noise sources when possible.
  • Wear hearing protection at loud delivery and loading sites as long as it does not reduce your ability to hear warning signals, moving vehicles, and other workers.
  • Rely more on visual assessments if inspecting vehicle while wearing hearing protection.

Cab

  • Keep windows closed while driving if possible.
  • Keep radio volume to a low level.
  • Soundproof your cab.

Truck and trailer

  • Keep vehicle noise-suppression systems, such as exhaust mufflers, in good serviceable condition.
  • Maintain vehicle and trailer equipment to eliminate vibrations, squeaks, and rattling.
  • Install aerodynamic fairing to reduce wind noise.

Free hearing protection resources:

NIOSH Hearing Loss Prevention website

Free NIOSH Sound Level Meter App

Washington State Department of Labor & Industries Noise and Hearing Protection

OSHA Occupational Noise Exposure website

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