Action, Not Distraction
There are countless reasons to focus your safety efforts on distraction. On the roads, distraction can be deadly, as drivers often put wants and needs ahead of safety. They take their eyes off the road to reach for that bag of chips on the next seat. They let their mind wander while using voice controls to order takeout behind the wheel. Pedestrians, too, put themselves in harm’s way when they focus more on their phones than oncoming vehicles.
Another tragedy you might not think about but one we see every year is children being left in hot cars. It could even happen in your employee parking lot. In fact, nearly one-quarter of heatstroke deaths involving children occur in employee parking lots, like those at office complexes, daycare centers and grocery stores. Research shows 52.9% of heatstroke incidents occur when children are forgotten, often as a result of distraction or a disruption in routine. For example, one parent trades places with another for a Tuesday morning drop-off. That parent is distracted by a call or thinking of an important meeting, forgets the child is riding in the back seat, parks the car, gets out and goes in to work.
Texas leads the nation with more than 130 child heatstroke deaths and ranks near the top in deaths per capita (21.4) each year. Nearly 900 children have died nationwide in hot cars since 1998, according to noheatstroke.org.
National Heatstroke Awareness Day is May 1 – just around the corner. Take this opportunity to have a quick safety meeting on this danger. The National Safety Council offers free online training that also is available in Spanish. A certificate of completion is provided at the end of this 20-minute training.
Here are a couple more ideas you can incorporate into your health and safety management plan to prevent tragedies in company parking lots:
- Talk with your employees about distracted walking in and around vehicles everywhere, including company parking lots or work sites
- Keep your head up and your phone down; be aware of oncoming traffic
- Watch and share the Live with Lisa on walking safety
- Keep an eye out for unattended children in vehicles; if you do see a child left alone, call 911
- Get tools from Safe Kids Worldwide: Take Action to Prevent Heatstroke
- Play this video demonstration from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Hot Car Deaths Can Happen Quickly, and follow up with a group discussion on how hot a vehicle gets
- Share this how-to guide from the American Academy of Pediatrics: Protecting Children from Extreme Heat
You might also want to post these safety tips on your company’s intranet site to connect with parents and caregivers at your location:
- Place your phone, briefcase, purse or shoe near your child’s car seat so you check the back seat before you walk away from the vehicle to go into the office
- If you see a child left alone in a vehicle, call 911
- Keep car doors locked so children cannot gain access, and teach them that cars are not play areas
We need to be aware of our surroundings, and be present to ensure our own safety and to watch out for the safety of others. Deadly consequences can result when our minds are engaged elsewhere.
You know Imodium as an over-the-counter diarrhea relief medication. Tall Cop Says Stop will tell you Imodium can cause you to feel tired or drowsy, and can make you dizzy, too. Do you recognize those symptoms as signs of impairment?
Officer Jermaine Galloway is the Tall Cop who Says Stop. He stands 6-foot-9, and is a former collegiate basketball standout and current Texas resident. He has worked in law enforcement for nearly 20 years, including stints in alcohol compliance enforcement and crime scene investigation. He is a certified instructor in alcohol beverage laws and drug identification.
Galloway will lead a free, online training for us from 9-10 a.m. Wednesday, May 5, that you won’t want to miss. Register now to attend:
Galloway will pay particular attention to over-the-counter drugs – some you have heard of, others you may not be familiar with. He will talk about how these drugs can evade detection of company drug tests and produce the same side effects as opioids and amphetamines.
We know impairment impacts concentration, vision and reflexes, bodily functions that are vital for employees to be efficient on the job and safe behind the wheel. This is a great opportunity to learn how to spot the warning signs of impairment.
Drug misuse impacts nearly every employer’s bottom line. In fact, the National Safety Council and the National Organization for Research at the University of Chicago estimate the annual cost of an untreated substance use disorder to be between $8,255 and $14,000 per employee, depending on the industry and the individual’s role.
One way to reduce those costs at your location: Enact clear and strong drug-free workplace policies, and communicate those policies to employees. Another way: Listen and learn from Tall Cop Says Stop.
Teresa Longoria, who spent the previous five years working at the Port of Corpus Christi, recently joined our team as our new program manager. She will be working closely with Texas employers to:
- Support driver and transportation safety training on and off the job
- Address impairment, both on the job and behind the wheel
Teresa will be looking for opportunities to communicate and develop relationships with human resources professionals, safety leaders and risk management specialists at private businesses, non-profit organizations and government municipalities. She will be attending various association meetings to support communications.
Please contact her to discuss setting up a training at your location. Do you need transportation safety materials for an exhibit? Educational resources? Teresa can help. Email: [email protected]
Visit the Our Driving Concern Texas Employer Traffic Safety Program website to get more information. Or, sign up to attend a free online training session, including Drug Impairment Training for Texas Employers (DITTE).