Canadian Occupational Safety


Canadian Occupational Safety (COS) magazine is the premier workplace health and safety publication in Canada. We cover a wide range of topics ranging from office to heavy industry, and from general safety management to specific workplace hazards.

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22 Canadian Occupational Safety | A few years ago, Technical Safety BC set out to elimi- nate incidents among its drivers. Almost half the employees are safety officers who conduct assessments at various installations, facilities, work sites and homes across British Columbia. Many of them drive long distances and go to remote places. "While we had experienced some minor incidents involving our fleet vehicles, we were more concerned with reports from the public about unsafe driving involving our vehicles. As a safety regulator, it is important that we model and promote safety at all times," says Anna Matheson, leader of safety culture at Technical Safety BC. The Vancouver-based organization introduced a driver education and training program in 2013. About 180 employees — those who drive fleet vehicles and drive their own vehicles for work — have taken the program. "Over time, we have noted a con- siderable decline in reports from the public about unsafe driving involving our vehicles: From 22 reports in 2015, to nine in 2016 and down to three in 2017. We believe that the program has greatly raised awareness towards safe driving," says Matheson. Every day, thousands of workers in Canada are required to drive as part of their job — across city streets, on busy highways, on rural dirt tracks and on construction sites. Motor vehicle acci- dents are a leading cause of worker deaths and injuries annually. In recent years, organizations seeking to reduce incidents have begun looking for new — and sometimes unusual — ways to enable and encourage their workers to drive more safely. According to WorkSafeBC, motor vehicle incidents (MVIs) are responsi- ble for 33 per cent of traumatic deaths among workers in the province. MVIs are in fact the leading cause of traumatic worker deaths in the province. Each year, about 21 workers are killed and 1,339 are injured and miss time from work because of work-related crashes. In Alberta, the number of work- related motor-vehicle fatalities has risen over the last few years: 30 in 2017; 26 in 2016; and 19 in 2015. In Ontario, between 2007 and 2016, motor vehicle accidents remained the leading cause of traumatic deaths (36 per cent). When workers are involved in road- way collisions, their employer can be held liable for the resulting harm and damage caused by their employees due to negligence or illegal action. Provincial motor vehicle and high- way traffic laws state the owner of a vehicle bears some responsibility for damage caused by the person driving the vehicle. Moreover, provincial OHS legislation and the Criminal Code generally require all employers to take every reasonable precaution to ensure workers' safety. Employers in Canada have also been held liable for traffic accidents caused by employees under the common law. The cost of road collisions to employers is very high. According to the Insurance Bureau of Canada, there was $493.5 million in commercial auto insurance claims in 2016. In addition to insurance costs, employers will have to pay to repair or replace the vehicle. If the employee was injured in the crash, there may be workers' compensation benefits, and the accident might lead to higher premiums. If the worker hit another vehicle or pedestrian, the employer may incur huge costs, including legal fees, to pay for damaged property and personal injuries. There are other pos- sible costs, too: lost productivity, sick days, missed sales, damaged merchan- dise and a bruised reputation. Employers can reduce incidents by using a journey management process, which will help them find ways to limit employees' exposure to driving- related hazards, says Rick Walters, fleet safety program manager at New Westminster, B.C.-based Road Safety At Work, a partnership between Work- SafeBC and the Justice Institute of B.C. Always begin by asking if the trip is really necessary. With many new types of communication technology available today, there may be safer alternatives to a road trip. "These days, there are plenty of tools a company can use to avoid unnecessary driving. Employees won't be injured in a vehicle crash when they take advantage of the phone, emails or video conferencing rather than jump- ing in their car and heading across town to a meeting," he says. "When driving is necessary, drivers and supervisors should take a proactive approach to identify the common and unusual hazards they might encounter during the trip — and figure out what they will do to avoid them." BEHAVIOUR-BASED DRIVING TRAINING Behaviour-based driver training is based on the idea that accidents are often the result of drivers' immediate, emotional responses to other drivers' actions, rather than lack of driving skills or knowledge of the rules of the road, says Spencer McDonald, presi- dent of Surrey, B.C.-based Thinking Driver. These responses can increase a driver's level of risk tolerance and thus cause the person to take unreason- able risks. Through training, drivers become aware of the attitudes and thought processes that determine the degree of risk they are taking and the factors that influence their ever-fluctu- ating level of risk tolerance. "Behaviour-based driving training goes into the psychology of driv- ing and looks at what is going on inside the driver. It moves beyond the mechanics of steering, putting on brakes and understanding laws and into the realm of what motivates the driver either to exercise that knowl- edge in a responsible, lawful and skillful way or to act based on emo- tion, impulse or other personal factors that drive them," he says. Changing someone's attitudes can be difficult, in part because attitudes are shaped by a person's beliefs and values. Drivers in training are asked to examine their own beliefs about them- selves, other drivers, their employers and even about road traffic. These beliefs influence their emotions they feel as they drive, and affect the level of risk they take. "For example, someone is driv- ing their vehicle and another vehicle moves in front of them. This will offend some people, their sensibility of their right to space, their right to be first. And there's a reactive mechanism that causes them to want to retaliate: 'I will now follow you closely. I'll flash my high beams. I'll honk my horn. I will pass you, do the same thing to you and teach you a lesson.' It doesn't work, but that kind of thing can esca- late into road rage," says McDonald. Training is also geared at chang- ing the way drivers see other drivers' behaviour and motivations. While people quickly excuse their own driv- ing misdeeds on the road, they tend to see the same action, when done by another driver, as the result of a char- acter flaw or negative motivation. "(But) maybe they're just a poor driver and they are doing their best,'" says McDonald. TELEMATICS In the last few years, more employ- ers have turned to new technologies to help reduce vehicle incidents. Telematics refers to the use of commu- nications and information technology to transmit, store and receive informa- tion from telecommunications devices to remote objects over a network. The connected device plugs into the vehicle and obtains all kinds of data from control units, such as productivity, maintenance, location and driver performance, says Sherry Calkins, associate vice-president of strategic partners at Geotab in Oakville, Ont. The driver behaviour data most commonly tracked by Geotab's device is buckling the seat- belt, speeding, harsh braking, harsh accelerating and sharp cornering. At the wheel Looking beyond traditional methods to reduce motor vehicle injuries, fatalities By Linda Johnson

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