Focus on the Drive Newsletter

Winter 2019
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Meet Lorraine M. Martin, NSC President and CEO

Throughout my career as an engineer and a leader, I’ve been called to serve others by finding and fixing problems. Whether designing software or building cargo and fighter aircraft, safety has always been baked into the core of what I do.

It is still my guiding principle in my role as president and CEO of the National Safety Council, addressing the complexity and challenges of safety from the workplace to anyplace.

Prioritizing safety is a choice, and encouraging those around us isn’t always easy. Seat belts, for example, are the simplest, most effective safety feature in any vehicle, yet I have a family member who for years refused to wear one. (Fighter jets and their pilots, thankfully, are not nearly as stubborn.)

To most of us today, driving without proper occupant protection is unthinkable, yet once upon a time it was standard practice. The collective loss of life led us to change our opinions, perceptions and behaviors, and completely changed how we prioritize passenger safety.

At the National Safety Council, our primary mission is to eliminate preventable deaths. We find confidence in our nation’s past successes. We have changed public opinion when it comes to seat belts and car seats, but there is more we can do to achieve our mission when it comes to safe roads.

Employers have a strong history of showing up for safety above and beyond federal guidelines and are key to eliminating the No. 1 cause of workplace deaths – vehicle crashes.

With appreciation,

Lorraine M. Martin
President and CEO
National Safety Council

One of Every Eight Workplace Fatalities is a Gig Worker

The “gig economy,” where workers are hired for short-term projects or limited time periods, evolved because companies are looking for ways to streamline their workforce, and workers are looking for extra income. Whether you call it independent, contract or gig work, there can be serious downsides to employing workers who might not show up with all the necessary skills and training to perform the job safely.

Gig workers, who are typically self-employed and perform short-term tasks for a specified fee, represented more than 12% of worker fatalities in the most recent two years of data, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The most dangerous jobs in the independent work category included heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers, with 173 fatalities, the highest number of any category.

“Independent workers are considered … to be an at-risk group because of their fluid employment situation, which potentially puts them at greater risk for poorer workplace safety and health outcomes,” said economists Stephen Pegula and Matt Gunter in the August 2019 BLS publication Beyond the Numbers.

Some issues to consider when hiring gig workers:

  • Do the workers have valid licenses/certifications to operate the equipment or vehicles they will be using?
  • Are the workers experienced in performing the task they are being hired for?
  • Will the workers be properly trained and supervised?
  • Will you give them the same safety training you give your full-time employees?
  • Will they be instructed that they can report hazards and other safety issues to their supervisor without compromising their job?

Gig workers may help you manage your workforce more efficiently, but never let it be at the expense of safety.

Green Cross for Safety Award Nominations Close Nov. 22

The people and programs that make our world safer deserve recognition. The Green Cross for Safety® awards recognize a variety of outstanding projects and organizations working to eliminate preventable deaths at work, in homes and communities, or on the road. Semifinalists and finalists are recognized in three categories: Advocate, Excellence and Innovation.

Learn more about the awards, submit a nomination, see the 2019 winners, and find out how your company can align its brand with NSC by supporting the Green Cross event at greencross.nsc.org.

How to Strengthen Your Safety Culture

As a safety professional, you already know that a strong safety culture reaches far beyond injury prevention and protecting property. Safety means looking out for employees both on and off the job. When employees see their company caring for their total wellbeing, it can improve not only their health, but also increase productivity, engagement and loyalty.

In addition to meeting required safety regulations and exceeding them whenever possible, what can safety managers do to improve safety even more? You can address three serious workplace issues with free toolkits you can get from NSC. All have valuable background materials, posters, 5-minute Safety Talks, policies and more to help you keep all your employees healthier and safer. You may also talk to your human resources or wellness team about partnering to implement these resources.

Safe Driving Kit: Implement a cell phone policy and minimize the risks of distracted driving

Fatigue at Work Employer Toolkit: an estimated 13% of workplace injuries are due to fatigue

Opioids at Work Employer Toolkit: 75% of employers are affected by employee opioid use

Sample how valuable these kits will be by downloading and using the Drowsy Driving 5-minute Safety Talk and Drowsy Driving poster. Then click the links above to sign up for all three toolkits.

Watch Out for Nighttime Driving Hazards

As we fall back to daylight saving time and the start of winter, our commute to and from work moves just before or after sunrise, sunset or in the dark. It is dangerous to drive at nighttime, so taking precautions can keep employees safe on the road. According to InjuryFacts, about one out of five crashes happens at night.

Fatigue, vision impairment and inexperience are some of the most common risks associated with nighttime driving. An estimated 5,000 people died in crashes involving drowsy driving in 2015, over 16% of all fatal crashes.

Depth perception, color recognition and peripheral vision can be compromised. Even with high-beam headlights on, visibility is limited to about 500 feet (250 feet for normal headlights), creating less time to react to something in the road. This is especially concerning when driving at higher speeds.

How can you and your employees manage the risk of nighttime driving?

  • Aim headlights correctly and periodically clean windshields inside and out to eliminate streaks
  • Look to the right of the roadway when you encounter oncoming headlights and dim your dashboard to avoid glare
  • Get 7–9 hours of sleep each day; losing two hours of sleep has the same effect on a driver’s reaction time as having three beers
  • Slow down to compensate for limited visibility and reduced stopping distances

The risk of a fatal crash is three times greater at night. You may not be able to control other drivers’ behaviors, but you can take the necessary steps to keep yourself safe, along with those sharing the road with you.

Other Resources

Road to Zero Webinars
Join the Road to Zero for a new webinar series featuring our RTZ working groups and the winners of our Safe Systems Innovation Grants. Register for an upcoming webinar.

Get Data at Injury Facts®
Visit injuryfacts.nsc.org to get the latest injury and fatality data for presentations, benchmarking and more.

Check for Vehicle Recalls
Over 53 million vehicles have open recalls. The free website checktoprotect.org helps you ensure fleet and employee vehicles are recall-free.

Driver Safety Training
National Safety Council is a leader in driver safety training. Keep your employees safe on and off the job.

Safety Ambassador Program
Help employees bring a safety mindset to their communities. Learn more about the Safety Ambassador Program.

Road to Zero Coalition
Read the report on how we can eliminate roadway deaths by 2050.

Children in Hot Cars Training
Free online training provides vital information about pediatric vehicular heatstroke, commonly called hot car deaths, and how to prevent them. Ask employees to take this course at nsc.org/hotcars.