Automobile Accidents Are Common Causes of Workplace Fatalities

Automobile Accidents Are Common Causes of Workplace Fatalities

Statistics published by OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) show that in 2016, nearly 5,200 workplace fatalities occurred in the United States. To put this shockingly high figure in perspective, more than 14 workers were killed per day, or nearly 100 workers killed per week on average.

Innocuous Industries have a Higher Worker Death Rate

Public data shows that workplace fatalities have been increasing consecutively for several years. Looking at these figures, many people would assume that heavy industrial jobs and other dangerous occupations are the prime cause of so many on-the-job worker deaths. However, the fact remains that many of these workplace fatalities occur among workers who are operating in far more innocuous industries. In fact, the number one cause of on-the-job deaths in the US at present is transportation accidents. Truck, van, and other delivery drivers in addition to traveling sales personnel are among the jobs that have the highest rates of workplace fatalities.

Big Numbers

It may come as a surprise to many that 40 percent of the nearly 5,200 workplace deaths in 2016 were attributed to auto accidents. This number is greater than the combined worker deaths occurring in two of the most hazardous industries in the US – heavy machinery and construction.

The second most common cause of workplace deaths was not falls or machine-related fatalities, but on-the-job violence. The occupation that has the second-highest rate of workplace fatalities is agricultural workers, farmers, and ranchers.

OSHA Guidelines on Safe Driving for Workers

Recognizing the alarming rates of automobile accident related worker deaths across the country, OSHA released “Safe Driving Practices for Workers,” a safety bulletin aimed at educating workers as well as employers about how to reduce on-the-job driving injury and death risks.

While it is normal for OSHA to release safety bulletins from time to time, what is notable is that this bulletin was published in the context of automobile driving practices.

OSHA’s recommendations in this safety bulletin are similar to those of the DOT’s guidelines and recommendations for commercial vehicles in several respects. However, OSHA does not have the authority to enforce these guidelines.

In any case, many of these guidelines are already law. Some of the key OSHA guidelines include:

Keep Safe

  • Prior to driving, make sure that you are well-rested.
  • Both driver and passenger should always wear a seat-belt.
  • Do not drive if you are on medications that may cause drowsiness.
  • Keep realistic goals about the daily distance you can safely cover by driving without getting fatigued.
  • Do not drive if you are under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

Maintain Focus

  • Complete attention is critical while you drive. Avoid any distractions, such as using the cell phone, eating, drinking, or adjusting the music system or other non-essential controls.
  • Scan the roadway continually to remain alert to any situation that requires swift decision-making.
  • When you are on a long drive, take frequent breaks (for instance, every two hours – certainly when you need to stop for gas). Stop the vehicle in a safe area, step out to stretch your body, take a short walk, and refresh yourself before resuming driving.
  • Do not indulge in aggressive driving.
  • Maintain your calm when stuck in heavy traffic.
  • Do not allow another driver’s actions to unnerve you.
  • Be courteous and patient with other drivers and pedestrians.
  • Plan your route in advance (carry directions and maps), even if you are running behind, don’t drive recklessly. Avoid peak hours and busy routes. These practices will help reduce your driving stress.

Distracted driving can result in serious injuries or death for the driver, passengers or others on the road. OSHA’s guidelines for workers in jobs that involve driving can help bring down the number of auto accident related workplace fatalities.

Watch OSHA’s training video below for safety tips on how to drive safe while on the job.

Sacramento Workers’ Compensation Attorneys

I’m Ed Smith, a workers’ compensation attorney in Sacramento. If you or a loved one has been involved in a traffic accident while on the job, I would be happy to help you. Call me at 916.921.6400 or 800.404.5400 for free and friendly legal advice.

I’m a member of the Million Dollar Forum and the National Association of Distinguished Counsel

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