ASSE, State, Trucking Officials Note 40% Of Workplace Fatalities Are Transportation Related


Portland,OR - Portland, Oregon's Lee Briney, CSP, American Society of Safety Engineers' (ASSE) Columbia-Willamette Chapter President met with several trucking, state and federal officials to discuss the high tangible and intangible costs of car crashes this week at the Jubitz travel center. She joined several officials including ASSE's David Parsons, Oregon's May Trucking Company Senior Vice President David R. Jostad, Oregon Department of Transportation's Motor Carrier Division's Investigative/Safety/Federal Programs Department Head David McKane, Jubitz Travel Center COO Mark Gram and Sgt. John Naccarato of the Clackamus, Oregon, police department, to address this issue on Occupational Safety and Health Professional Day.

Briney noted, “I have been in the safety business since 1985, serving in a variety of capacities, and I have been a member of ASSE for many years. Our chapter, the Columbia Willamette Chapter, is part of Region I which stretches from Alaska to Hawaii to Western Australia. We have been extremely active for years in the local community promoting and educating businesses, students, employers and employees on work safety ---and I thank our members for that service.”
Briney went on to note that since 1992 transportation incidents have continued to be the number one cause of on-the job deaths – in 2008, 40% of all workplace fatalities were transportation related.

“These crashes are preventable. With roadway construction up and the summer travel season just around the corner we must all do our part to prevent roadway crashes,” Briney said. “What is stunning is that the overall price tag for transportation crashes in the US each year is $170 billion dollars (NHTSA) and we all end up paying for it. Those costs represent about $1000 per person each year for property damage (streets, lampposts, guardrails, emergency services, court costs, insurance administration and much more). This figure doesn't take into account the extreme grief caused by the loss of a loved one. There is no way to calculate that cost.”

Briney went on to note that businesses alone pay about $60 billion per year in medical care, legal expenses, property damages, lost productivity and increased workers' compensation, social security, and private health and disability insurance costs as well as for the administration of all these programs. The average vehicle crash cost to an employer, according to the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), is $16,500. When a worker is involved in an on-the-job crash with injuries the cost to the employer is $74,000. Costs can exceed $500,000 when a fatality is involved – many times the employees did not cause these accidents, they were the victims.

A recent Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) report estimates that the cost of a police-reported crash involving trucks with a gross weight rating of more than 10,000 pounds averaged $91,112; a crash with trucks with two or three trailers involved were the rarest, but their cost was $289,549. The cost per nonfatal injury crash averaged $195,258 and fatal crashes cost an estimated $3,604,518 per crash. I believe David McKane will have more on this.

“Many businesses have driver safety programs that protect their workers,” Briney said. These programs not only make good business sense but also help reduce the risks faced by employees and their families while protecting the bottom line.”

Those programs include: garnering senior management commitment and employee involvement; developing written policies and procedures (including seat belt use); regularly checking the safety of the motor vehicles; crash reporting and investigation; vehicle selection, maintenance and inspection; driver training and communication; not requiring workers to drive irregular hours or far beyond their normal working hours; developing work schedules that allow employees to obey speed limits and to follow applicable hours-of-service regulations; enforcing mandatory seat belt use; and banning cell phone use or texting while driving; not allowing employees to conduct work while driving, and much, much more.

Safety professionals also provide information on securing materials for transport – loose objects can slide around or come out of the vehicle and become airborne; requiring seat belt use—each year seatbelts save more than 12,000 lives and prevent 325,000 serious injuries; distracted driving is a factor in 25 – 30% of all traffic crashes; driving under the influence – DUI is involved in 40% of all fatal crashes; fatigued driving – causes about 100,000 crashes a year; aggressive driving – speeding, tailgating, failure to signal, and running a red light can be deadly; young drivers – under fed law 16 year old workers are not allowed to drive as part of their job; 17 year olds may drive for work but only under strictly limited circumstances – some state laws may be more restrictive.

“Did you know that 76% of those who die in transportation crashes are male; that the holiday with the most fatalities is Thanksgiving followed by July 4, Memorial Day, Labor Day, New Year's Day and Christmas – with close to half of all those fatal crashes being alcohol related,” Briney continued. “Nationally, the majority of people killed in roadway crashes are drivers; the 25-34 age group recorded the most fatalities followed by those aged 45-54, and then those aged 16-20. Most of those drivers were speeding and most fatal crashes occurred on rural roads.

“In 2008 in Oregon there were 416 fatalities from crashes --- however, in Oregon the age group 45-54 leads with the most fatalities followed by the 55-64 and then 25-34 age groups,” Briney added. “We need to do more to reach out to the drivers we don't have any control over as well – those that often ignore the rules of the road and often cause fatal accidents – there are ways they can drive safer and hope that they do as we head into the busy summer travel season.”

Founded in 1911, the Des Plaines, IL-based ASSE is the largest and oldest professional safety organization and is committed to protecting people, property and the environment. Its more than 32,000 occupational safety, health and environmental professional members lead, manage, supervise, research and consult on safety, health, transportation and environmental issues in all industries, government, labor, health care and education.

Source: American Society of Safety Engineers 

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