Ensure the Safety of Your Driver Employees

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By Jayme Cook

Millions of U.S. workers operate or ride in motor vehicles as part of their daily employment duties. Sadly, accidents involving motor vehicles are the cause of an alarming number of total fatalities. Whether your employees use their own personal vehicles for work or drive a company car, the risks presented are the same. To better safeguard employees and employers, here are the best tips, tools and training to ensure safer trips for those in the construction industry.

Hire & Train Accordingly

Though the construction field does not shy from hiring those who are strong and youthful, employers should consider ages of the drivers hired. Experience trumps all in this regard. Immaturity, difficulty responding to traffic hazards, poor judgement and poor impulse control are the hallmarks of both lousy drivers and inexperienced or young employees. When deciding who to hand the keys to, opt for the older, wiser employees, if for no other reason than because they have had more years of experience on the road.

Employers should offer driver training to employees of all ages whose job description and duties include driving for work. This training should take place upon hire and refresher training should be mandatory throughout the employee's career.

Keep Vehicles in Proper Operating Condition

Like the employees who drive them, vehicles used for company transportation need to be evaluated periodically. The wear and tear on a vehicle's tires alone is enough to compromise the integrity of the vehicle and increase the risk of potential accidents. Employers who provide employees with company vehicles are encouraged to maintain good operating condition of those vehicles through routine maintenance. A rough rule of thumb is to change the vehicle's oil every 3,000 and 7,000 miles and routinely check tire tread for wear.

Limit Driving Hours

As an owner or employer, it is your responsibility to allocate daily driving hours The U.S. Department of Transportation's Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) limits commercial truck drivers to no more than 11 hours of consecutive driving, so for employees not accustomed to long hours on the road, you should expect them to spend far fewer hours working behind the wheel. Non-commercial drivers should not drive more than nine hours per day in total, and no more than four hours consecutively. Fatigue is the enemy on the road, with more than 100,000 estimated accidents annually attributed to drowsy or fatigued drivers, so insisting that your employees take intermittent breaks during driving shifts is imperative.

Use Resources

As a construction employer or owner, your responsibilities are not only for the safety of your contracted drivers, but also to the state in which your business operates. Be aware of the local and federal laws and safe practices for the operation of motor vehicles. A few helpful resources on cautious motor vehicle operations include:

  • American National Standards Institute: This national standard accounts minimum requirements for safely operating motor vehicles that companies and organizations of all sizes own and operate.
  • Employer Safety Traffic Program through National Safety Council, Our Driving Concern: This program is specific to Texas but other states may have similar initiatives that educate employers on how to prevent crashes and on the effects that vehicle accidents will have on their businesses.
  • The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA): OSHA publishes annual and semi-annual reports on potential vehicular risks to employees and employers within construction and other industries as well as guidelines for employers to help reduce motor vehicle crashes.
  • Driving-Tests.org: Drivers and employers alike should always remain up-to-date on rules of the road and safety tips.

As vehicle accidents constitute almost half the number of deaths of workers in the U.S., employing drivers is not to be taken lightly. To ensure the safety of your workers, and to make sure that your company is doing its part, use these best practices in the construction industry.

Jayme Cook is a writer and English professor living in Phoenix. She enjoys punctuation marks, sashimi and the smell of wet paint. Dislikes: people who cut in line.

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