Archive for category injury prevention

Step Up for Ladder Safety

Falls from ladders cause more than 100 deaths and thousands of injuries each year in the United States. These incidents also include injuries to nearly 900 workers in Washington State. Improper ladder use ranked 7th among the state’s top 10 workplace safety and health violations in 2019. Now in its fifth year, National Ladder Safety Month takes place every March to educate, train, and involve the public in preventing ladder injuries and deaths at home and at work. Celebrate by having your workers take the American Ladder Institute’s free online ladder safety training. You can also show workers how to use the free ladder safety app from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.

Common causes of workplace ladder-related incidents include:

  • Lack of ladder safety training.
  • Ladder used is in bad condition.
  • Ladder moves, falls over, or is set up improperly.
  • Worker slips on the rungs, overreaches, or carries objects while climbing the ladder.
  • Worker stands on the ladder’s top step.

The following tips can help keep workers safe while using ladders:

Plan for the job:

  • Use the right ladder for the job with the proper load capacity.
  • Inspect the ladder for defects and remove unsafe ladders from service.
  • Use a fiberglass ladder if there is any chance of contact with electricity.

Set your ladder carefully:

  • Set the ladder on a firm, level base, and angle it per the manufacturer’s guidance.
  • Don’t set the ladder near exit doors or near the path of pedestrian or vehicular traffic.
  • Make sure the ladder extends 3 feet above the landing.

Climb safely:

  • When climbing, use three points of contact — keep 1 hand and both feet or both hands and 1 foot in contact with the ladder at all times.
  • Never carry any load that could cause you to lose balance.
  • Never stand on the top step of a ladder.
  • Don’t pull, lean, stretch or make sudden moves on a ladder that could cause it to tip over. 

The following links can help you train employees to use ladders safely:

Keep Trucking Safe tanker trailer ladder simulation tool and flatbed trailer ladder safety tips

Washington State Department of Labor & Industries ladder safety resources

OSHA ladder safety training fact sheets

OSHA construction ladders safety eTool

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A Toolkit to Educate Employees about COVID-19 Vaccination

The COVID-19 pandemic has been with us for over a year. During that time, scientists and researchers have worked hard to develop vaccines that will provide a strong defense against infection. Making vaccination effective requires spreading the word and making sure that essential workers know that vaccines are safe. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has designed a COVID-19 Vaccination Communication Toolkit for Essential Workers to help employers build confidence in this important new vaccine. The toolkit can help trucking companies educate their workforce about COVID-19 vaccines, raise awareness about the benefits of vaccination, and address common questions and concerns. 

The toolkit contains a variety of resources including: 

  • Key messages
  • An educational slide deck
  • FAQs
  • Posters / flyers
  • Newsletter content
  • A plain language vaccine factsheet (available in several different languages)
  • A template letter for employees
  • Social media content
  • Vaccination sticker templates

Until the vaccines are widely available, it is still vital to maintain social distancing, wear masks, cover your cough, and wash / sanitize your hands to prevent illness.

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Stay Upbeat with a Healthy Heart

American Heart Month takes place each February to raise awareness of the dangers of heart disease. Since its first observance in 1964, improvements in medical research, treatment, and public education have greatly helped people live longer and healthier lives. But heart disease is still America’s top health threat and killer, claiming around 2,300 lives each day.

Heart disease is a major health problem among truck drivers. Research shows that truck drivers have higher heart disease rates than other workers. Truck drivers also have a higher prevalence of heart disease risk factors, including obesity, hypertension, and smoking. These risks stem from lifestyle and occupational factors such as irregular schedules, long hours, physical inactivity, high stress, and limited healthy food options on the road. Age, gender, family history, and social factors can also influence a person’s risk of heart disease. People with poor heart health are also at higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19.

Heart Disease and Trucking Safety

Heart disease can interfere with the ability to control and drive a truck safely. In a sample of 182 fatal truck collisions, the National Transportation Safety Board attributed 10% of collisions to medical problems, with 90% of them being heart-related. A recent study also shows a link between heart disease risk and crashes among truck drivers. The most common type of heart disease is coronary artery disease, a result of high blood pressure and plaque buildup in the arteries. The buildup can create blood clots that block blood flow to the heart, which can lead to a heart attack. Truck drivers who feel a heart attack approaching should immediately pull over to a safe area and call 911. Warning signs of a heart attack can differ between men and women. While chest pain and discomfort are most common to both, women are more likely to have the following symptoms:

  • Back and/or jaw pain.
  • Nausea, shortness of breath, cold sweats, and dizziness.
  • Unusual fatigue.
  • Indigestion and abdominal pain.
  • Pain and discomfort when resting or sleeping.

As it raises safety risks, heart disease can potentially disqualify a truck driver from holding a commercial driver license. Don’t wait to be disqualified or for a serious incident to occur before taking your heart health seriously. In addition to following your doctor’s orders, consider adopting these healthy habits to prevent heart disease:

  • Control your blood pressure.
  • Keep your cholesterol and triglyceride levels under control.
  • Eat a healthy diet.
  • Maintain a healthy weight.
  • Get regular exercise.
  • Limit alcohol.
  • Don’t smoke.
  • Manage stress.
  • Manage diabetes.
  • Get enough sleep.

Companies can help their drivers beat heart disease by enhancing their safety programs to include:

  • Training on healthy diets, smoking cessation, exercise breaks, and stress management.
  • Providing fitness facilities at your terminals, locating truck stops that have them, and offering gym memberships.
  • Teach drivers about power naps and sleep hygiene.
  • Have incentive programs that motivate and reward healthy lifestyles.
  • Provide health insurance.
  • Allow time in driving schedules for medical visits.



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TIRES is seeking trucking companies to test a new online safety program tool!

Want to help test a new, state-of-the-art tool that’s designed to boost truck driver safety? The Trucking Injury Reduction Emphasis (TIRES) project is seeking local and regional Washington State trucking companies with around 50 trucks or less to test a beta version of its Safety Program Development Tool. Testing will begin later this month.

As a tester, you will simply try the tool, review the safety program it creates for you, and then let us know about your experience. All you need is a Google Chrome internet browser, a printer, and a few minutes to enter some basic company information. The tool will do the rest to build you a comprehensive safety program that goes beyond basic compliance requirements. Your responses will help us improve the tool before releasing a final version.

Click here to read the tool overview and then fill out this short sign up sheet so we can contact you.

Thank you,

The TIRES team

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Lead the Way with a Smart START

Inspiring other trucking companies to enhance their safety programs can help prevent injuries and fatalities across the industry. You can start the trend by becoming the company that others will look up to. Start now by participating in the Washington State Department of Labor & Industries’ Safety Through Achieving Recognition Together (START) program. START is a new on-site consultation program that assists small businesses in achieving safety program excellence. Having a high-performance safety program will make your workplace safer, lower costs, and improve morale. The program’s recognition of your achievement will make you stand out in your business community as a leader and model to follow.  

The program requirements are:

  • Employ fewer than 50 workers at a specific work site, and not more than 250 at all work sites within Washington State (some flexibility is allowed).
  • Operate for at least one year at the particular work site.
  • Demonstrate an injury / illness rate below the industry average for that industry.
  • Receive full-service safety and health consultation visits for a comprehensive review of their safety and health management systems; and agree to correct all hazards.
  • Receive a free risk consultation.
  • Agree to provide notification when changes in working conditions or processes introduce new hazards into the workplace.

Learn more about the benefits of L&I’s START program here. You can also contact the program coordinator:

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Have You Heard? October is National Protect Your Hearing Month

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. Being exposed to loud noise can cause 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 terminal yards, maintenance shops, warehouses, construction areas, and airports. Sirens, engine brakes, passing vehicles, motorcycles, and jack hammers 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 noises 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 such as earplugs 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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Are You Ready? September is National Preparedness Month

News headlines remind us every day about wildfires, tornados, hurricanes, power outages, and other disasters. Preparation is key to getting through such events, especially now as COVID-19 makes responding to emergencies much harder. National Preparedness Month promotes disaster planning to help people prepare and stay ready for emergencies in their homes, businesses, schools, and communities. Each week features a different focus:

National Preparedness Month began in 2004 as a sponsored program of the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Emergency Plans for Trucking

Trucking companies know that their drivers can find themselves in a disaster emergency at any moment. Drivers also face additional risks as essential workers during the coronavirus pandemic. Taking steps to prepare drivers can minimize the impacts of a disaster on their safety and health, not to mention your business operations.

The best way to prepare is by having an emergency action plan policy in your company’s safety program. In Washington State, companies are required to have employee emergency plans and fire prevention plans.

Plans must provide employees the knowledge, skill training, and resources needed to respond appropriately to emergencies. You should tailor your plan around the emergencies most likely to affect your employees in company buildings, customer sites, and while driving. Make sure you will be able to support and communicate with employees and their families during an emergency.

Your plan should also include resources to help employees and their families deal with stress during or after a traumatic event, such as giving them access to an employee assistance program. Consult your employees when putting your plan together, their input can make it more effective.   Visit KeepTruckingSafe.org to get safety program resources and many other free safety and health training materials for truck drivers.

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Rescheduled International Roadcheck is September 9-11

WSP Commercial Vehicle Enforcement Officer inspecting truck

Photo courtesy of Washington State Patrol

Postponed since March by COVID-19, the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA) will hold its 33rd annual International Roadcheck inspection blitz from September 9-11. This year’s focus will be on driver operating requirements. U.S. Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration data shows that of approximately 3.36 million roadside inspections in 2019, 952,938 driver violations were found, including 199,722 out-of-service conditions. In past years the event focused on steering and suspension, hours-of-service, hazardous materials/dangerous goods, cargo securement, and tire safety.

Over the 72-hour period, commercial motor vehicle inspectors will step up North American Standard Level-1 Inspections across highways in the United States, Canada, and Mexico. The 37-step inspection includes checking driver requirements and vehicle mechanical systems. For the driver’s portion, inspectors will ask to see operating credentials and hours-of-service logs, check seat belt usage, and be attentive to alcohol and/or drug impairment. Mechanical fitness inspections include checking brake, light, fuel, drivetrain, suspension, and exhaust systems, and several other areas. Vehicles that pass inspection are eligible to receive a CVSA decal. Those that fail inspection will be placed out of service until the violations are corrected.

According to CVSA President Sgt. John Samis with the Delaware State Police “Although the coronavirus pandemic, understandably, shifted priorities and personnel during the spring, the commercial motor vehicle law enforcement community has reasserted its focus on the roadside inspection program and enforcement duties.”

Washington State Patrol regularly participates in the yearly inspection spree. “The Washington State Patrol (WSP) has the goal of reducing the number of ‘at-fault’ commercial-vehicle-related collisions on state routes and interstates within the State of Washington,” according to Captain Matt Couchman of the WSP’s Motor Carrier Safety Division. “A WSP strategy to achieve this goal is to participate in all federal commercial motor vehicle emphasis campaigns. International Roadcheck is one of these emphases.” 

One of the best ways to prevent costly violations is to do a pre-trip vehicle inspection. Sharpen up your inspection skills by using the pre-trip simulation tool from KeepTruckingSafe.org.

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Brake Safety Week is August 23-29

Photo courtesy of Washington State Patrol

As part of Brake Safety Awareness Month, the Commercial Motor Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA) will hold its annual Brake Safety Week inspection blitz from August 23-29. Law enforcement agencies across North America will ramp up Level I Inspections during the week with an emphasis on identifying critical out-of-service brake safety violations. Brake problems account for nearly half of all out-of-service violations. The CVSA’s 2019 Brake Safety Day initiative removed 1,667 vehicles from service for brake violations, representing 16.1 percent of a total 10,358 inspections. Inspection violations can result in fines, accumulation of CSA points, or out-of-service orders for unsafe conditions likely to cause a crash. Vehicles that pass inspection are eligible to receive a CVSA decal.

“Safety is always our top priority and it’s our mission to ensure the vehicles on our roadways have met all safety standards and regulations,” said CVSA President Sgt. John Samis with the Delaware State Police. “This is especially important as we rally behind truck drivers as they transport essential goods during this public health crisis. We need to do everything we can to ensure that the vehicles truck drivers are driving are as safe as possible.”

The Washington State Patrol’s Motor Carrier Safety Division will participate in the weeklong emphasis. According to Captain Shannon Bendiksen, “The Washington State Patrol is an active participant in the CVSA Brake Safety Week as well as other safety initiatives. For the week, there will be an extra emphasis on examining brake systems and identifying equipment failures.  This is also an opportunity for officers to educate drivers, mechanics, motor carriers, and others on the importance of brake inspections, maintenance, care and operations. The ultimate goal is to make the roadways safer for the motoring public.” 

Maintaining your brake system is the best way to pass an inspection and ensure the safety of your truck on the road. Check the following items to make sure your brakes are in safe working condition:

  • Manual or automatic slack adjuster function and stroke length.
  • Brake linings/pads.
  • Brake drums.
  • Air hose and brake tube condition.
  • Mechanical components including springs, anchor pins, cam rollers, and push rods.
  • Air compressor.
  • ABS malfunction indicator light.
  • No pulling to one side or pushing when the brakes are applied on the road.

Brake Safety Week is a part of the Operation Airbrake Program, sponsored by CVSA in partnership with the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and the Canadian Council of Motor Transport Administrators

Check the Keep Trucking Safe website for general maintenance training resources.

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June is National Safety Month

Image source: National Safety Council

National Safety Month takes place every June to raise awareness of the leading causes of injury at work, at home, and on the road. During the month-long observance, thousands of communities, organizations, and health professionals will unite to help people identify hazards and solutions to prevent injuries and fatalities.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2017 preventable injury-related deaths totaled 4,414, and medically consulted injuries totaled 4.5 million. Total injury costs were estimated at $161.5 billion, including wage and productivity losses, medical expenses, administrative expenses, motor vehicle property damage, and employer costs.

The best continuous way to prevent injuries and fatalities at work is to have a company safety program. An effective program should include your safety policies, steps to identify job hazards and solutions, and responsibilities for managers, supervisors, and employees. Review, evaluate and update your safety program often to keep it aligned with changing conditions.   

It’s easy to participate in National Safety Month. Start by planning a few activities that will teach your employees how to be safe at work and at home. 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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