Archive for May, 2021

National Safety Month, A Time for Awareness, Planning, and Prevention

Image source: National Safety Council

National Safety Month takes place every June to bring together communities, organizations, and health professionals to help prevent injuries and fatalities at work, at home, and on the road.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that in 2017 preventable workplace injury-related deaths totaled 4,414, and medically consulted injuries totaled 4.5 million. Total injury costs reached an estimated $161.5 billion, including wage and productivity losses, medical expenses, administrative expenses, motor vehicle property damage, and employer costs.

Keeping Truck Drivers Safe

Having a written company safety program is the best way to keep truck drivers safe at work, and it’s the law in Washington State. An effective safety program should include: safety policies, steps to identify job hazards and solutions, an incident reporting system, personal protective equipment standards, and a safety training program. It should also clearly list responsibilities for safety directors, managers, supervisors, and employees. Review, evaluate, and update your safety program often to reduce everyday injury risks and when you change equipment, skills, and supplies.   

Participate in National Safety Month by planning a few training activities that will show your employees how to work safely. Some ideas to help get you going include having a safety fair, 5-minute toolbox talks, tip sheets, hands-on training, holding a lunch-n-learn, safety trivia contests, and safety excellence awards.

Check out the links below for resources to plan your events:

Free trucking safety training materials at KeepTruckingSafe.org.

Washington State Department of Labor & Industries training, videos & workshops.

National Safety Month training resources from the National Safety Council.

Take the SafeAtWork Pledge and let others know here.

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Litter Prevention and Load Securement Emphasis begins May 28

Image of blue square with the text "Secure Your Load For Safer Roads!"

As a part of Washington’s new We Keep Washington Litter Free campaign, the Washington State Patrol (WSP) will be conducting statewide emphasis patrols over four weekends from May 28 to June 20. The patrols will coincide with National Secure Your Load Day, which takes place annually on June 6th to remind motorists about the importance of secure loads and litter prevention.

Unsecured loads and road debris cause serious traffic safety risks. According to WSP Sgt. Darren Wright, “Every year, road debris contributes to an average of nearly 90,000 property-related crashes on U.S. roadways. More than 17,000 people are injured from those crashes and over 700 are fatal. . .These crashes are entirely preventable and the power to stop them is in the hands of Washington drivers.” Debris on Washington State highways cause about 300 traffic crashes and 30 injuries every year. More than 12 million pounds of litter ends up on Washington roadways and up to 40% – almost 5 million pounds – comes from unsecured cargo and debris blowing out of pickup truck beds.

State troopers as well as environmental and road officials are always on the lookout for drivers with unsecured loads to keep roadways safe, clean, and clear. Violations for littering and unsecured loads are punishable with fines from $50 to $5000 and potential jail time for severe offenses that cause bodily harm or property damage.

Secure Your Load Day began with activist Robin Abel, the force behind Maria’s Law, which criminalizes improperly secured loads. Abel pushed for the law after her 24-year-old daughter Maria Federici suffered near-fatal injuries which left her blinded after unsecured particleboard from a rented trailer smashed through her car’s windshield on I-405 in Renton. Abel’s work has spread, attracting over 40 other states and territories to participate in Secure Your Load Day.

Tips for Truck Drivers

Unsecured loads cause injuries and fatalities that are 100% preventable. Here are a few tips to help make sure your load is secure:

  • Binders, chains, nettings, and tarps must be securely fastened to the trailer.
  • Make sure unused dunnage, broken pallets, or other loose debris are cleared off your trailer.
  • Freight should be neatly stacked and tightly fastened inside trailers.
  • Don’t overload your vehicle.
  • Double check to make sure your trailer doors are properly closed.
  • Keep your cab clean to make sure trash or debris do not fly out of the window.

If you see someone traveling with an unsecured load, pull over to a safe area and call 911 to report it.

Visit the following links for additional information and resources:

Washington State Department of Ecology:

Litter prevention website

Load securement tips

Tip sheet in English

Tip sheet in Spanish

Secure You Load Safety video

Washington State Patrol:

Secure Your Load video

King County:

Load securement resources and information

Secure Your Load for Safer Roads video

Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration:

Driver’s Handbook on cargo securement

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National Missing Children’s Day is May 25th

Image source: U.S. Department of Justice

National Missing Children’s Day began in 1983 after several high-profile disappearances took place, including the kidnappings and murders of 6-year-olds Etan Patz and Adam Walsh, and the alarming recoveries of twenty-nine bodies of children and young adults in Atlanta. National Missing Children’s Day honors missing and abducted children while celebrating those who have been recovered. It also raises awareness of the need to improve searching for those missing.

The Problem

At the end of 2017, the FBI’s National Crime Information Center had active records on 88,089 missing persons. Children and young adults under the age of 21 accounted for 46.6 percent of the total records. Hundreds of thousands of new records are added each year, but fortunately most of these are found. The top circumstance for those who go missing is running away from home followed by abductions by non-custodial parents or strangers. One in seven of the more than 23,500 runaways reported in 2018 to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children were likely victims of sex trafficking.

Truck Drivers Can Help

Being on the road puts truck drivers in a position to be the eyes and ears that help find a missing child. The trucking industry is a hot spot for sex trafficking because truck stops are ideal places for prostitution as they have little law enforcement presence and close access to highways. Don’t intervene directly if you think you see trafficking taking place. Instead, gather as much information as you can, and then call 911 immediately if you think it’s an emergency or call the National Human Trafficking Hotline

Drivers can join several efforts that are already in place to support this important work.  Founded in 2012, The Truckers Missing Child Project uses social media like Twitter and Facebook to share information with truck drivers about missing children and Amber Alerts. The project’s secondary mission is to help end human trafficking, a form of modern day slavery, and child abuse and child porn, which often exploit missing children. Truckers Against Trafficking began in 2009 as an initiative of Chapter 61 Ministries. The organization’s goals include saturating trucking and busing industries with anti-trafficking materials, partnering with law enforcement and government agencies to help investigate trafficking, and working with other partners fighting against trafficking.

For more information about missing persons in Washington State, please visit:

Washington Association of Sheriffs & Police Chiefs:

Washington State Missing Persons web site

Washington State Patrol Missing and Unidentified Persons Unit:

Amber and Missing Person’s Alerts

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In Memory and Honor

The Washington State Department of Labor & Industries held its Worker Memorial Day ceremony on April 28th to remember the workers who died in 2020 from job-related injuries and illnesses. The virtual ceremony included remarks from Gov. Jay Inslee, representatives from the Association of Washington Business, the Washington State Labor Council, the Washington Self-Insurers Association, and Tina Meyer, whose son Cody was working as a flagger when he was hit and killed by a distracted driver in 2015. This year’s ceremony entered 119 names into the Worker Memorial book, which is on permanent display in the agency’s headquarters’ in Tumwater. The the names of the fallen workers were read aloud with the traditional ringing of the bell after each one.

At Keep Trucking Safe, we honor those truck drivers who worked tirelessly to better the lives of their families and our community but tragically died as a result of doing their job. We remember the following truck drivers whose names were called among the fallen workers honored this year:

Robert Douglas Brown, 51, Died: May 23, 2017

Mr. Brown passed away from angiosarcoma of the liver after years of chemical exposure at Hanford.

Thomas B. Witte, 75, Died: February 27, 2020

Mr. Witte passed away from complications of a traumatic brain injury that he sustained from falling and hitting his head on cement.

Obituary

Johnathon Bert Frase, 44, Died: April 8, 2020

Mr. Frase died after years of asbestos exposure that resulted in stomach cancer. (Hanford Presumption).

Ivan Cardenas, 34, Died: June 29, 2020

Mr. Cardenas was driving his log truck on a forest service road when he lost control on a corner and the truck left the road and rolled over.

Obituary

Dale H. Johnson, 21, Died: November 7, 2020

Mr. Johnson died of injuries resulting from a truck cab fire.

Obituary

Donald “Don” Jerome Grigsby, 70, Died: November 27, 2020

Mr. Grigsby succumbed to complications resulting from an industrial related motor vehicle accident.

Obituary

Please add your remembrances in the comments. We have tried to find obituaries or news articles for all, but if you know of any we missed please add those too.Thank you to Randy Clark and the Washington State Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation (FACE) Program for providing the data.

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Safety Stand-Down Week to Prevent Falls is May 3-7

Image source: NIOSH

Falls cause more hospitalizations, disabling injuries, and deaths in Washington State than any other workplace hazard. Falls injure about 1,600 workers in Washington each year, that’s about 4 per day. To raise awareness of fall prevention, the Washington Department of Labor & Industries (L&I) is partnering with the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to sponsor “Safety Stand-Down” week from May 3-7. The annual event encourages employers to educate and train their workers to identify fall hazards and prevent injuries.

Falls in Trucking

Falls in the trucking industry account for about 20% of all injuries. Severe falls from heights rank first in average medical costs among all trucking injuries. The most common activities leading to falls among truck drivers include:

  • Entering or exiting the cab.
  • Falling off the back of the trailer or liftgate.
  • Falling off of a load.
  • Missing a step or getting a foot caught in a rung of ladder.
  • Ladders slipping out from underneath a worker.
  • Slips, trips, and falls around jobsites caused by debris, slippery steps, uneven surfaces, or inclement weather.

Fall injuries are 100% preventable. Here are a few tips to prevent falls for truck drivers:

Show your employees that you are committed to fall injury prevention by holding a Safety Stand-Down event in your own company. This could include short toolbox talks, refresher training, reviewing safety bulletins or watching a safety video.

Need resources for your event? L&I’s Trucking Injury Reduction Emphasis (TIRES) project can help. TIRES offers free tip sheets, posters, interactive simulations, and true stories about injured truck drivers.

More information about Safety Stand-Down Week is available from L&I, OSHA, and NIOSH.

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