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November 2017 Newsletter: New Tool Makes it Easy to Calculate Cost of Fatigue at Your Workplace

Our Driving Concern Senior Program Manager Lisa Robinson speaks to issues and concerns all employers face when trying to make their workforce safe on the road:

Q: Safer, healthier and wealthier: How much difference can three words make when you talk about the impact of fatigue at your workplace?

A: Take those three words and think about how your organization can benefit from studying risks associated with fatigue and drowsy driving. Dr. Charles Czeisler is the renown “Sleep Doctor” from Harvard who has worked with professional athletes and aerospace engineers to help them obtain adequate rest and reach peak performance.

More recently, he has worked with the National Safety Council to formulate a method for employers to calculate the costs of sleep loss in the workplace. The NSC Fatigue Cost Calculator provides a snapshot based your company’s location, industry, size and whether employees work regular hours or in shifts.

Example findings include:

  • A national transportation company with 1,000 employees likely loses more than $600,000 annually in decreased productivity because of tired employees; motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of workplace deaths, underscoring the need for alert, attentive employees
  • A single employee with obstructive sleep apnea can cost an employer more than $3,000 in excess healthcare costs each year
  • An employee with untreated insomnia is present but not productive for more than 10 full days of work annually and accounts for at least $2,000 in excessive healthcare costs each year

In Texas, drivers who were fatigued or asleep at the wheel were involved in 164 fatal crashes and 9,807 total crashes in 2016, according to the Texas Department of Transportation. Nearly 2,200 people suffered injuries in those crashes. Whether they occur on or off the job, employers pay for crashes.

In an NSC survey, 43% of Americans reported they get less than seven hours a sleep each day, impairing their ability to think clearly, jeopardizing their safety at work and putting them at higher risk for crashing on the roads. Research indicates you are three times more likely to be in a crash if you are tired.

Many have compared drowsy driving to drunk driving because:

  • Losing two hours of sleep is similar to the effect of drinking three beers
  • Driving on five hours of sleep can put you at the same crash risk as driving with a .08 blood-alcohol concentration level

The fundamental message: You are not at your best unless you get enough rest. Take advantage of these free resources to help spread that message:

AAA Research Points to Benefits of Adding Safety Features to Trucks

Earlier this fall, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety released a study analyzing the cost-effectiveness of adding advanced vehicle safety technologies to new and existing large trucks.

The big takeaway: “This new research shows that the benefits of adding many of these technologies to trucks clearly outweigh the cost,” Executive Director Dr. David Yang said.

AAA conducted benefit-cost analyses on four advanced safety technologies, factoring in everything from medical expenses to hardware installation, purchase, financing and maintenance. Expected annual safety gains in the U.S.:

  • Lane departure warning: 6,372 fewer crashes, 1,342 fewer injuries, 115 fewer deaths
  • Video-based onboard safety monitoring systems: 63,000 fewer crashes, 17,733 fewer injuries, 293 fewer deaths
  • Automatic emergency braking systems: 5,294 fewer crashes, 2,753 fewer injuries, 55 fewer deaths
  • Air disc brakes: 2,411 fewer crashes, 1,447 fewer injuries, 37 fewer deaths

In a AAA study, 61% of adults said they are more concerned for their safety driving past large trucks than driving past passenger vehicles. “Adding these safety technologies to the trucking fleet is not only cost effective, but doing so helps to alleviate driver concerns and prevents crashes,” AAA Director of Traffic Safety Advocacy and Research Jake Nelson said. “In the long run, it’s a win-win for industry and drivers nationwide.”

To explain how today’s advanced driver assistance systems work, tap into resources at MyCarDoesWhat, which includes a series of quick-guide videos for your safety meetings.

Call a Traffic Safety Huddle, Prepare Your Employees for Holiday Travel

With the holidays fast-approaching, make plans now to talk with your employees about holiday travel and holiday driving. Our Traffic Safety Huddle on Holiday Driving provides talking points and starts with a list of five basic reminders:

  • Make sure your vehicle is tuned up and in good shape for travel
  • Allow enough time for frequent stops on the way to Grandma’s so you can avoid fatigue
  • Buckle up (every passenger, in every seat)
  • Put your cell phone away
  • Be patient dealing with other drivers

Of course, once your employees reach their destination, they likely will want to celebrate with family and friends. Share these tips on how to enjoy the holidays without making poor decisions:

  • Choose an alcohol-free driver before attending a holiday party
  • Plan for a safe ride home; call a cab or use a driver service

In 2016, 66 people were killed on Texas roads in DUI alcohol-related crashes in December. In addition to the embarrassing stigma attached to an arrest, the cost of a DUI offense in Texas could run as much as $17,000.

Share these resources with your workforce: TxDOT; NHTSA SaferRide Mobile App. Get it on Google Play or download on the iTunes App Store.

4 D’s of Impaired Driving: Learn about Challenges, Make State Roads Safer

Help make state roads safer, and give the gift of life this Valentine’s Day. Make plans to attend the Texas Impaired Driving Forum Wednesday, Feb. 7, at the Austin Norris Conference Center, 2525 W. Anderson Lane, Suite 365, Austin, TX 78757.

The one-day event, put on by the Texas A&M Transportation Institute, is open to safety professionals as well as concerned citizens.

The goal: Provide attendees an opportunity to learn about current challenges associated with impaired driving and what programs are being implemented to reduce and prevent impaired driving in Texas.

In 2016, there were 566 fatal crashes and 14,413 total crashes on state roads involving a driver under the influence of alcohol, according to the Texas Department of Transportation. Another 208 fatal crashes and 3,543 crashes involved a driver under the influence of drugs.

The 4 D’s: Impairment also includes distracted and drowsy driving. Side bonus to the TTI forum: Fostering partnerships with other organizations and stakeholders interested in combating impaired driving in Texas.

Watch: Together We Can End Impaired Driving

Share Tips to Avoid Distracted Driving

Here are six tips to avoid distracted driving, courtesy of David MacLennan, chairman and CEO of Cargill:

  • Auto response: Use a free app to let callers know you are driving and can’t take their call
  • Do not disturb: If you’re driving a vehicle equipped with communication technology, use the “do not disturb” feature to unplug from calls
  • Block drive times: Use shared calendars to block drive times, just as you block time for meetings
  • Out of sight, out of mind: Put your phone where you can’t see it or reach, such as in the back seat
  • Pull over: If you must take a call, let it go to voicemail, then, find a safe place to pull over and return the call
  • Think outside your phone: Cell phones aren’t the only thing that causes drivers to be distracted; eating and grooming are examples of physical distractions that easily can be avoided by planning ahead

MacLennan’s tips first were published by Big Bear Grizzly. His company was featured in a SafetyFirst blog in April by the National Safety Council: Productivity and convenience are important, but at Cargill, employee wellbeing trumps them both.

First Three Words in Distracted Walking Education: Be Here Now

From 2001 to 2011, more than 10,000 serious injuries in the U.S. resulted from distracted walking, according to a study from the University of Maryland. Government data indicates there were 5,987 pedestrian fatalities nationwide in 2016, a 9% increase over 2015, many of the deaths linked to distraction incidents.

National Safety Council President and CEO Deborah A.P. Hersman raises this question in a blog post: Are We Becoming Walking Zombies?

“The simplest, cheapest and fastest solution is for us all to stop using our phones while we’re walking, and not just in crosswalks and intersections,” Hersman writes. “Over half of distracted walking injuries occur in our homes, proving that we need to stay aware of our surroundings, whether they’re new or familiar.”

Employers pay for injuries that occur on and off the job. Educate your employees on the risks of distracted walking. One idea to get you started: Apply the “be here now” concept when walking to recognize and avoid distractions.

DITTE: New Drug Impairment Training for Texas Employers Begins in January

Can your managers and supervisors identify an impaired employee in the workplace? Beginning in January, we will be offering a new staff-development tool to aid your employees in doing just that.

The primary goal of our four-hour Drug Impairment Training for Texas Employers (DITTE) is to educate their employees on traffic safety, specifically driving impairment, and to reduce the number of injuries and fatalities on Texas roads.

Who should attend? Health, safety managers/leads, wellness, human resource, public affairs professionals, business owners, as well as senior and executive management personnel.

Topics Covered: Your managers and supervisors will learn:

  • How to educate their employees on traffic safety to help reduce the number of alcohol and drug-related fatalities and injuries on Texas roads
  • How to identify the signs and symptoms of impairment, including alcohol, illicit drugs and prescription drug use
  • How to develop or improve a resource guide for drug policies, programs and practices within your organization

This program is grant-funded by the Texas Department of Transportation. There is NO CHARGE to participants. Register to attend any of the upcoming DITTE trainings:

Weed and Your Workforce: What You Need to Know

Legal and medical marijuana are becoming more prevalent. Twenty-three states and the District of Columbia have legalized marijuana for medical or recreational use, making it accessible to more than 150 million Americans.

The webinar, Weed and Your Workforce: What You Need to Know, helps employers sort out the critical safety impact legal marijuana can have on public and workplace policy. Our panel covers questions including:

  • Does secondhand marijuana smoke pose a risk for motor vehicle operators?
  • What are the appropriate cut-off levels to ensure workplace and public safety?
  • What can employers do to address the impact of marijuana use?

Two experts – Dr. Barry Logan and Ron Flegel – explain how you can use this information to develop best-practice policies for your company.

Who is Deserving of a Green Cross for Safety Award?

Do you know someone who has taken safety to a new level? Has your company created innovative measures to protect its people? Then, nominate them for an NSC Green Cross for Safety award, the most prestigious in the industry.

Nominations will be accepted through Nov. 30.

Nominees and recipients of these awards demonstrate alignment with the NSC Mission: eliminating preventable deaths at work, in homes and communities, and on the road through leadership, research, education and advocacy.

Two committees determine finalists in each of three categories, with winners to be announced May 23 at the awards gala in Chicago. The categories are:

  • Excellence: for an organization relentless in its pursuit of safety
  • Innovation: for a transformative approach to a long-held challenge in safety
  • Safety Advocate: for the advancement of best practices to raise awareness or change policy to prevent injuries and deaths

Click to learn more about the awards or to begin the nomination process.