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Risk Control Issues NewsBrief - April 2015

April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month

According to the National Safety Council, nearly one-quarter of all vehicle accidents are associated with using cell phones or texting. The number of people injured in distraction-related crashes in 2012 totaled 421,000 – up nine percent from the prior year. Despite these sobering statistics, many drivers continue to talk and text while driving. Research conducted by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute shows that drivers who text increase their crash risk as much as 23 times. Reaching for, dialing and talking on a cell phone also significantly increases crash risk. These behaviors have resulted in distraction becoming one of the most serious roadway safety issues we face today.

Travelers recommends a four-step program to help businesses better protect their employees from distracted driving:

Create – Develop a formal, written policy stating your organization’s position on mobile device use and other distractions while driving. This policy should apply to everyone in your organization who drives a vehicle, regardless of their position.

Communicate – To be effective, safety policies should be communicated repeatedly. Have every employee who drives acknowledge in writing that they have read, understand and will follow it. Then, send regular messaging to employees via emails, newsletters and bulletin board postings to reinforce the policy.

Follow – Managers and office staff should lead by example. Let employees know that while they are on the road, no phone call or email is more important than their safety. To further prove that point, managers and other staff should defer conversations with employees until they are safely parked.

Promote – Managers should define the safe driving practices and expected behaviors of those that drive for any business purpose. They should also take the appropriate steps to understand who is following these policies, and actively promote the desired behavior.

To view more information about cell phone safety, log in to the Risk Control Customer Portal and search “cell phone” or “distracted” in the Keyword Search. You also can view our Distracted Driving information on the Travelers Prepare and Prevent website.

April is Safe Digging Month

April 2015 will once again be National Safe Digging Month, the time of year when all Common Ground Alliance (CGA) stakeholders come together to communicate how important it is that professionals and homeowners alike call 811 before digging begins and follow the safe digging process to help prevent injuries, property damage and inconvenient outages. To assist damage prevention stakeholders in promoting National Safe Digging Month, CGA has created a full suite of tools – ads, news releases, grassroots marketing programs and more – in the 2015 CGA Communications Plan. Read more. For more information, view our Call Before You Dig web page on the Travelers Prepare and Prevent website.

Best practices to control worker exposure to silica during asphalt pavement milling

A National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) document represents more than 10 years of collaborative research by labor, industry and government to reduce respirable crystalline silica exposure during asphalt pavement milling in highway construction. The collaborative research began when the Silica/Asphalt Milling Machine Partnership was formed at the 2003 National Asphalt Pavement Association (NAPA) Annual Meeting, and studies on milling machine dust controls began later that year. The Silica/Asphalt Milling Machine Partnership is coordinated by NAPA and includes all U.S. and foreign manufacturers of heavy construction equipment that currently sell pavement-milling machines to the U.S. market. In addition to NAPA and the equipment manufacturers, the Silica/Asphalt Milling Machine Partnership includes numerous paving contractors, the International Union of Operating Engineers, the Laborers International Union of North America, the Association of Equipment Manufacturers, and government organizations including the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, the Federal Highway Administration, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s NIOSH.

View the document.

Read more about the proposed silica standard on our Travelers Industrial Hygiene Laboratory web page.

OSHA updates guidance for protecting healthcare and social workers from workplace violence

In 2013, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported more than 23,000 significant injuries due to assaults in the workplace. Over 70 percent were in the healthcare and social service settings. Healthcare and social service workers are almost four times as likely to be injured as a result of violence than the average private sector worker.

On April 2, 2015, OSHA kicked off National Workplace Violence Prevention month by releasing an update to its Guidelines for Preventing Workplace Violence for Healthcare and Social Service Workers.

OSHA’s updated violence prevention guidelines include industry best practices and incorporate the most effective way to reduce the risk of violence in a range of healthcare and social service settings.

“It is unacceptable that the people who dedicate their lives to caring for our loved ones often work in fear of being hurt or killed,” said Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Dr. David Michaels. “Workplace violence is one of the most serious hazards facing healthcare workers in this country and this updated booklet will help employers and employees implement effective measures to reduce or eliminate workplace violence hazards.”

For more on the revised guidelines for healthcare and social services industries, see the news release. Also, you can view the Travelers Risk Control Workplace Violence Management for Healthcare and Social Services Organizations eGuide by logging in to the Risk Control Customer Portal and searching “A0490” in the Advanced Search. For more on how to prevent workplace violence in all settings, see OSHA’s workplace violence Web page and blog.

NHTSA releases two new studies on impaired driving on U.S. roads

The nation’s decades-long campaign to combat drunk driving continues to make our roads safer, but use of marijuana and prescription drugs is increasingly prominent on the highways, creating new safety questions, according to a pair of studies by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

One study, the latest version of NHTSA’s Roadside Survey of Alcohol and Drug Use by Drivers, found that the number of drivers with alcohol in their system has declined by nearly one-third since 2007 and by more than three-quarters since the first Roadside Survey in 1973. But that same survey found a large increase in the number of drivers using marijuana or other illegal drugs. In the 2014 survey, nearly one in four drivers tested positive for at least one drug that could affect safety.

A second survey, Drug and Alcohol Crash Risk, assessed whether marijuana use by drivers is associated with greater risk of crashes. The survey found that marijuana users are more likely to be involved in accidents, but that the increased risk may be due in part because marijuana users are more likely to be in groups at higher risk of crashes. In particular, marijuana users are more likely to be young men – a group already at high risk. Other studies using driving simulators and test tracks have found that marijuana at sufficient dosage levels will affect driver risk.

NHTSA plans a series of additional studies to further understand the risk of drugged driving, including the Washington State Roadside Survey, which will assess risk in a state where marijuana has recently been legalized, and a simulator study with the National Institute on Drug Abuse to assess how drivers under the influence of drugs behave behind the wheel. Read more and access the survey executive summaries and fact sheets.

Motor vehicle records and employer notification systems

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) recently published a Notice of Regulatory Guidance that clarifies how automatic motor vehicle record (MVR) notification programs can be used to satisfy the annual MVR review requirements of part 391.25. According to this clarification, motor carriers may use a state-operated Employer Notification System (ENS), or a third party vendor that uses an ENS, to meet the annual MVR review requirement if:

  1. The report contains information about the driver’s driving record for every state in which the driver held a license, including license status, crashes, and convictions of motor vehicle operating laws and regulations.
  2. The motor carrier checks the report (pull system) annually or receives a report annually (push system).
  3. The motor carrier keeps a record of each review, or can access an electronic record, that identifies the motor carrier’s representative who completed the review and the date.

Read more about the notice.

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