Distractions leading to worker injuries — beyond the vehicle

Distracted driving continues to be a problem on the highways, but researchers are investigating how distraction on the job (away from the vehicle) is affecting injury rates and contributing to safety problems in other types of environments.

The National Safety Council recently ran an article on this phenomenon titled “Distracted on the job — Identifying and Minimizing Worker Distractions can help reduce injuries”  A link to the full article is HERE.

The “key points” made by the article include:

  • Deadlines and pressure to meet production goals are some of the biggest on-the-job distractions, experts say.
  • Allowing short breaks and empowering workers to speak up when they observe distractions can help mitigate the problem.
  • Although employees may pay more attention to the job at hand and are able to better minimize distractions shortly after a near miss or a workplace incident, experts warn this will eventually fade.

Complacency is one of the culprits that can drive up injury rates, and the article covers tips to combat these distractions through breaks and other means.

The Wall Street Journal also produced a short video covering office distraction leading to lost productivity.  While the discussion is mainly about the office environment, the issues raised could affect people in a wide range of jobs and positions. (http://on.wsj.com/VS70iN)

The Most Costly WC Claim?

mvr crash sceneAs employers, we pay a heavy price for each and every injury — for the affected employee (driver); their immediate passengers (if any); and the liability associated with the injuries of third parties (anyone our vehicle hit).

National Safety Council publishes an annual statistics book called “Injury Facts”.  In this great document, I found the following quote:

The most costly lost-time workers’ compensation claims by cause of injury, according to the National Council on Compensation Insurance’s (NCCI’s) data, are for those resulting from motor vehicle crashes. These injuries averaged $65,875 per workers’ compensation claim.

Isn’t that an amazing (if tragic) fact?  I’ve heard many safety managers dispute this by arguing that “this or that” type of claim is more severe, but they sit down and look at their own data and come to the same conclusion…..at the end of the year, when all claims have been tallied, motor vehicle collisions are the most tenacious.

I did a little more digging at the NCCI web site and found this quote from December 2012:

…motor vehicle accidents are more severe than the average workers compensation claim; they impact a diverse range of occupations other than just truckers; top diagnoses include neck injuries; duration is more than a third longer; subrogation is significant, with traffic accident claims comprising more than half of all claims with subrogation; and attorney involvement is greater.

Wow, that’s a lot to take in, too.  When setting up a safety plan for the year, or a budget, it’s important to remember to count workers compensation claim costs into your fleet safety budgeting, too.  It’s not just a matter of fixing dents and repainting fenders — there’s third party liability costs, litigation costs, lost supervisory time for extended investigations, depositions, protection of evidence, and much more.  Just that one phrase “duration [of the MVC-related workers comp claim] is more than a third longer [than other work comp claims]” impacts your lost time calculations for OSHA and affects your experience modifier for setting insurance rates.

At safety conferences, I often ask participants the following question…

All workplace injuries should be prevented; however, does “driver safety” take a keystone priority to your company’s “safety program” if you operate any type of commercial vehicles?

Safety professionals make the connection between vehicle liability and workers comp costs, but not all fleet managers have access to the data to build the case for a stronger safety effort in the “wheeled world“.

CoachingWhen I worked in the insurance world, we covered a large baking operation.  They made nine inch fruit pies for restaurants.  The workers comp claim totals far eclipsed the commercial vehicle claims at first glance.  However, we isolated all of the workers comp costs by employee type and location and re-stacked the data — we found that if we took injuries related to driving, and making deliveries, and placed them in the same bucket as the commercial vehicle crashes, we had a clearer case to make to top management that they needed to put most of their safety efforts into the fleet operations, not the manufacturing plant.  They followed our lead an loss costs for the entire operation plummeted.

The ANSI Z15 standard (published by the American Society of Safety Engineers – http://www.asse.org) outlines many practical steps toward saving lives of employees who drive as part of their job. One element of that program is to monitor driver behaviors to provide coaching and re-training if hazardous habits are detected.  This is an area where our firm has excelled over the years.  Pyramid 2011 for blog

So if your workers compensation costs are high, your insurance program rates keep rising, or your experience modifier is creeping up, consider re-evaluating the factors that are contributing to the issue.  Maybe a stronger and more effective focus on “wheels” can help moderate your WC costs!

SafetyFirst works with a network of more than 75 insurance providers and serves an active customer base of more than 3,800 fleets around North America.  Since our company start in 1998 we’ve touched and managed more than a million drivers to cut crashes and avoid injuries.  blog rainy traffic day 1

 

SafetyFirst Presents at NSC Utilities Division Spring Meeting

SafetyFirst was invited by the National Safety Council’s Utilities Division to make a presentation on the topic: “CSA, The Bookend BASICs, and Best Practices for Utility Fleet Safety“. This 90 minute presentation was well received by the division members, and we’re hopeful to participate again next year.Tucson AZ 1

The Division meeting was conducted in Tucson, AZ amid high winds and dust storms.  Despite the unusual weather the Division meeting covered a range of great safety topics from dealing with dog bite prevention to combustible dust, working from heights to dealing with prescription drug overdose and critical updates on regulations affecting utilities.

Representatives from many of our current clients participated in the meeting, and it was great to see them again (but away from their normal office environment).

To demonstrate our support of the group and their meeting, SafetyFirst sponsored the snacks and refreshments during breaks, and we raffled off a flat screen television which had been used to display our award winning, best in class remedial driver training modules (which clock in at under five minutes each in English and Spanish language versions).

The portions of the presentation dealing with driver selection, qualification and performance monitoring seemed to generate a lot of interest in our E-DriverFile program and it’s ability to pull diverse data from many traditional sources into a consolidated report about an individual driver. 

Further, the entire group worked together using the FMCSA’s Safety Management Cycle tosmc 1 actually construct a distracted driving policy from “soup to nuts” during the presentation.  These “hands-on” elements drew the audience into the discussion and provided practical take-aways for enhancing their existing programs.

The audience also found the new FMCSA BASIC support tools helpful, including the fact that how’s my driving hotlines (like our Safety Hotline – Driver Coaching program) are now recommended tools in the FMCSA toolkit for managing scores under CSA’s Unsafe Driving BASIC.

A copy of our presentation slides will be posted to our corporate website shortly, and a summary of the concept discussed in the presentation can be found here.

If you’re involved in electrical contracting or utility construction, you should investigate the National Safety Council’s Utility Division — they offer great support resources to help safety professionals manage the common risks associated with these particular exposures. 

http://www.nsc.org/get_involved/divisions/Pages/UtilitiesDivision.aspxutilities_rev2

Per Nat’l Safety Council — Motor-vehicle deaths up 5% in 2012

National Safety Council has release its preliminary report on MVC (Motor Vehicle Crash) data for 2012.

  • “Motor-vehicle deaths in 2012 totaled 36,200, up 5% from 2011 and marking the first annual increase since 2004 to 2005. The 2012 estimate is provisional and may be revised when more data are available.”
  • “The estimated cost of motor-vehicle deaths, injuries, and property damage in 2012 was $276.6 billion, a 5% increase from 2011. The costs include wage and productivity losses, medical expenses, administrative expenses, employer costs, and property damage.”

This report follows on our initial reporting from October 2012 (https://safetyismygoal.wordpress.com/2012/10/10/largest-6-month-increase-in-fatal-crashes-in-nhtsas-history/) which cited NHTSA reporting showing the largest spike in crashes since 1975 (when stats started being recorded in this format). 

The NSC data confirm that the first quarter of the year drove the average up considerably with double-digit increases in crash and fatality activity.

NSC Stats for 2012

The critical issue is determining what drove that increase — what happened during November 2011 to December 2011 that would have led to increased crash stats in January 2012 thru the end of March 2012 (especially with a milder winter than normal).

Additionally, why, after years of declines in crashes and fatalities (the same years that we had a significant economic downturn) did we see such a spike despite the enormous expansion of telematics units deployed, camera in cabin systems, and other safety programs in place?  Did the management teams fail to heed the warnings of these systems, did the operational climate shift from one of “driver surplus/cargo shortage” to “cargo surplus/driver shortage”

We’re interested in your thoughts — please contribute at our LinkedIn discussion group (Click Here)

To see the full range of data from NSC — http://www.nsc.org/Documents/NSC%20MV%20Fatality%20Estimates.pdf

About SafetyFirst Systems — We are a driver safety firm providing an umbrella of programs designed to help you manage drivers from first recruiting conversation to exit interview.  Online recordkeeping, reporting, monitoring, screening and profiling using your own criteria.  A proven system in place and functioning with fleets from all industry classifications (from construction and local delivery to over-the-road operations and everything in between).