August 2018

Keep Your Employees Safe In and Around Intersections

Intersections are much more than a frustrating part of an employee’s commute or day on the job. Too often, they can also be deadly.

According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, more than half of the combined total of fatal and injury crashes each year occur at or near intersections. Some of this risk comes from the variety of people interacting with each other at intersections: drivers waiting for lights, joggers, walkers and bicyclists using crosswalks. When combined with risks like distraction and cars turning across traffic, it is easy to see how dangerous these areas can be.

Your workers face these hazards whether they drive, walk or bike throughout the course of their day, and a crash can affect you whether it happens on or off the job. Are your employees prepared to stay safe around intersections?

Recently, professional race driver Andy Pilgrim contributed an article to on the dangers of intersections aimed at new teen drivers, but the risks are the same no matter the driver’s age.

Fortunately, you can make a difference and help keep your employees stay safe in and around intersections. It doesn’t have to be difficult, but your workers do need to stay aware of the risks and understand how to avoid them. A few seconds of distraction could mean the difference between a normal commute home and a terrible tragedy.

The National Safety Council offers comprehensive defensive driving modules to educate your workers on road safety, including a 20-minute module on intersections that covers why drivers cause collisions and which driving procedures can help them avoid these dangerous crashes.

No Child Should Die in a Hot Car

Nothing may be quite as tragic as a child dying in a hot car. And the numbers are rising. An average of 37 children died each year from 1998 to 2017, but there were 43 confirmed deaths in 2017. Pediatric vehicular heatstroke (PVH) continues to be one of the leading causes of non-crash fatalities for children under 14, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Sadder still, every single death is preventable.

Vehicle windows create a greenhouse effect inside the car, heating up in mere minutes. On a 90 degree day, the temperature inside a parked vehicle can become deadly for a child in the first 10 minutes, and less than 20 minutes on an 80 degree day. Regardless of the temperature outside, parked vehicles heat up an average of 19 degrees in the first 10 minutes alone.

It is alarming that 25% of PVH deaths in which a child was unknowingly left, or “forgotten,” occur while the parent or caregiver is at work. Often, the child is accidentally left in the car due to a change in the daily routine.

Employers can take steps to ensure a hot car death never happens in their parking lot. Ask employees to look inside cars as they walk through the parking lot. You could even designate a section of the lot for people who drop their children at school or daycare, and have a security guard check inside those cars on their rounds.

Encourage employees to take these steps as well:

  • Never leave a child alone in your car—not even for one second
  • Put your cell phone, briefcase or purse on the back seat so you won’t leave the car without checking for the child
  • Request your school and caregivers have a plan in place to call you if your child does not arrive as expected
  • Set up a buddy system, especially if your routine changes, so that you receive a reminder phone call to make sure you dropped your child off at school or daycare
  • “Look before you lock”—always ensure there are no children in your car when you leave it, and always lock your car so children can’t access the vehicle and be trapped inside

The NSC report “Kids in Hot Cars: One Child Is Too Many” shares information about why hot cars pose such a danger. The report tracks state laws, prosecutions and sentencing over the past 10 years, and steps to take to avoid tragedy. Just 21 states protect children from intentionally being left to die in hot cars, and more can be done. Every state should have a law, and there is room for improvement with existing laws.

Backup Cameras Have Potential to Save Lives

An important safety milestone recently arrived. But unless you pay especially close attention to the world of vehicle safety technology, you might not know about it. Starting in 2018, all new vehicles sold in the U.S. include backup cameras as a standard feature. That’s great news for everyone who drives both on and off the job.

Backup cameras show what is behind a vehicle when it is placed in reverse. They have potential to reduce back-over fatalities and injuries, especially those involving small children.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety estimates that the technology can reduce back-up crashes by 17 percent. The group has estimated that 267 people are killed and about 15,000 injured every year when drivers back into them, most frequently in driveways and parking lots.

You can install a backup camera in an older vehicle. Aftermarket kits provide drivers with a lens, a camera module and wiring, and some cost less than $200 according to Consumer Reports.

NSC manages to help drivers understand backup cameras and other safety features. The site offers three tips to remember before going in reverse.

  • Walk behind your car to check for objects before getting in
  • Activate the backup camera by shifting your vehicle in reverse while holding your brake
  • As you are backing, check over your shoulders (in addition to using the camera) and use side and rearview mirrors to see anything the camera is not capturing
  • Clean your backup camera lens regularly so snow or dirt won’t obstruct your view

Drivers are on the Front Lines of Safety, On and Off the Job

Your employees may drive for a living, drive work vehicles occasionally or simply commute to work. Every time they’re on the roads, they are subject to a dizzying array of laws in addition to the rules of the road. So how do you ensure that employees get the job done, represent the safety culture of your company, and keep themselves and everyone else safe on our roads?

Give a 5-minute safety talk on driving. You can include information such as:

  • Over 40,000 people were killed in crashes on U.S. roads in 2016, but over 14,000 people’s lives were saved because they had their seatbelts on. Always buckle up and make sure everyone else in the vehicle does too—even in the back seat
  • There were 4.6 million injuries from car crashes that required a doctor’s care in 2016
  • Driving in accordance with safety regulations and transportation laws is much more important than “not getting caught.” The rules exist so we all know what to expect from each other as we share our roads, and to make us all safer.

Implement and reinforce company policies on safe driving. The free NSC Safe Driving Kit gives you everything you need to get the exec team and employees on board.

Train and retrain. Don’t assume that once the policies are implemented, you’re good to go. Both new and existing employees need to be educated on a continuing basis. For example, if an employee is ticketed for speeding, requiring a 20-minute training course is an effective alternative to a corrective action.

'Keys' Video Spotlights Technology

Dealing with the reduced sight of older drivers, and the crashes that can ensue, is a sensitive topic. NSC created the video “Keys” to capture a lifetime of driving experiences, and shows how older drivers can avoid crashes with the use of built-in technology. Share the “Keys” video in your next safety or culture talk. You can also find it at

NSC Opportunities for Networking, Learning, Recognition

2018 NSC Congress & Expo, Oct. 20-26 in Houston, is the world’s largest annual event dedicated to workplace safety. You can see first-hand the solutions from more than 1,100 of the industry’s leading solution providers, attend educational sessions and network with safety professionals from the U.S. and all over the world. Learn more and register.

2019 Green Cross for Safety Awards celebrate excellence in safety wherever it happens—at work, in homes and communities, and on the road. Learn more about the 2018 winners and how you can be a part of the 2019 celebration at Submissions accepted from Aug. 15 to Nov. 11, 2018.

2019 Rising Stars of Safety Award honors the next generation of safety professionals. Created to recognize excellence early in a person’s career, the NSC Rising Stars Awardees are under 40 years old. Submissions accepted from Sept. 24, 2018, through Jan. 31, 2019.