September 2019 Safety Coach: Safety is the Solution to a Thousand Word Puzzle

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Small Pieces, Big Picture

As you say hello to a new day, consider a new way: Look at each piece of your health and safety management system as part of a puzzle designed to meet the needs of your company and its employees. Policies and procedures are in place. Safety drills are conducted and first aid training is offered. What is missing?

In many cases, the answer is transportation safety. Our Driving Concern can help your company formulate a strategy to improve safety performance. Let us start by taking a closer look at one piece of the traffic safety puzzle. In Texas last year, drivers who failed to control their speed were involved in 138,269 crashes, according to the Texas Department of Transportation. That’s almost 380 crashes every day.

A second piece of the puzzle is impaired driving. What percentage of drivers speeding also are impaired by alcohol? Would you believe it could be as high as three out of four, depending on the time of day? In a study, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration found 74% of speeding drivers involved in fatal crashes between the hours of midnight and 3 a.m. were alcohol-impaired. Understanding speed control and impairment is essential to traffic safety.

Here is a third piece of the puzzle, and it answers the question of why it is essential: Crashes raise liability concerns and cost employers money, whether they occur on or off the job. Productivity decreases when employees miss work. Replacing and training new employees is one thing. What about bent metal costs and the costs of replacing vehicles?

Here are a few questions to think about: Do you limit the speed on your fleet vehicles? Is a safe driving policy that addresses speeding, seat belt use, aggressive driving, distracted driving and impaired driving in place? Would you be able to identify an impaired employee at your workplace? Do you understand the serious risks associated with poly-drug use (combining substances such as marijuana and alcohol)?

Get answers that will help protect your company and employees. Start by taking advantage of free transportation safety training opportunities, educational materials and resources. Our Driving Concern has tools for health and safety professionals to put all the pieces together and create a whole safety picture:

Without all the pieces, the safety puzzle will be incomplete.

Steer your employees toward safety in work zones.

Pave the Way

It has been said there are two seasons in Texas: football season and road construction season. There might be some truth to that thought. As summer turns to fall, there can be as many as 3,000 active work zones on the 80,000 miles of state-maintained roadways at any given moment, according to the Texas Department of Transportation. At each of the sites, crash risk increases for those on the job as well as drivers.

Use this free Our Driving Concern Traffic Safety Huddle sheet to steer company employees toward safety in work zones. Whether they drive as a regular part of their job or encounter work zones on their daily commute, the goal is the same: You want members of your team to reach their destination in one piece.

Unfortunately, that doesn’t always happen. In Texas last year, there were 25,162 crashes in work zones. That is nearly 70 crashes every day – or about three every hour:

  • 684 people were injured seriously
  • 161 died
  • Motorists and/or passengers accounted for 84% of the fatalities

Most crashes in work zones are the result of speeding or driver inattention, according to TxDOT. Arm yourself with safety tips to address common driver errors:

  • Slow down and obey directions from road flaggers
  • Plan your route before departing and check on Texas road conditions
  • Avoid distractions by setting your phone on “do not disturb”

Create engagement with questions like this: What work zone conditions make travel hazardous for inattentive drivers? Look for answers such as:

  • Concrete barriers
  • Narrow lanes
  • Slow-moving equipment
  • Uneven pavement
  • Vehicles that make sudden stops and starts

Consistent and ongoing educational efforts can create a culture of safety. Share these two free resources:

 Embrace the start of a new safety season just as you cheer for your favorite team.