Safety First! - On the Road
Many arborists spend a lot of time on the road in the course of a day’s work—in all kinds of vehicles— and workplace vehicle safety is an important area of concern for both employers and employees. In 2016, 25% of worker fatalities for workers in the category Ornamental Shrub and Tree Services* were from transportation. (*NAICS code 56173—a code that includes more than just arborists and urban foresters, but that is still relevant for us.)
Take steps to mitigate the risks of being on the road.
From the employer perspective (From NIOSH):
• Assign a key member of the management team responsibility and authority to set and enforce comprehensive driver safety policy.
• Enforce mandatory seat belt use. (Think you are only affecting yourself by not wearing a seatbelt? Think again (Warning, graphic video).
• Do not require workers to drive irregular hours or far beyond their normal working hours.
• Do not require workers to conduct business on a cell phone while driving.
• Develop work schedules that allow employees to obey speed limits and to follow applicable hours-of-service regulations.
• Adopt a structured vehicle maintenance program.
• Provide vehicles that offer the highest possible levels of occupant protection.
• Teach workers strategies for recognizing and managing driver fatigue and in-vehicle distractions.
• Provide training to workers operating specialized motor vehicles or equipment.
• Emphasize to workers the need to follow safe driving practices on and off the job.
• Ensure that workers assigned to drive on the job have a valid driver’s license and one that is appropriate for the type of vehicle to be driven.
• Check driving records of prospective employees, and perform periodic rechecks after hiring.
• Maintain complete and accurate records of workers’ driving performance.
Check out these resources from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health www.cdc.gov/niosh:
• Keep workers safe on the road (Infographic)
• OSHA Safety and Health Topics: Motor Vehicle Safety
• Work-Related Roadway Crashes: Prevention Strategies for Employers
• Motor Vehicle Safety at Work
Tree Care Industry Association Tailgate Safety Program (under revision) – The new version that will be released in May will contain several modules related to safe operation of motor vehicles.