Reducing the Risk of Motor Vehicle Crashes

Last year, more than 600 people in Saskatchewan were injured in motor vehicle collisions while on the job. Sadly, there were eight work-related motor vehicle deaths in 2018, and motor vehicle crashes are the second leading cause of workplace deaths in the province after asbestos-related diseases.

To better understand the root causes of these tragedies, the Saskatchewan Workers’ Compensation Board (WCB) joined forces with SGI to compare WCB collision data with work-related crash data from SGI claims (from 2009 to 2017).

What emerged from the study was an informative risk profile—factors that are most likely to cause work-related motor vehicle crashes with injuries or fatalities. They include:

Driver behaviour. Driver inexperience and confusion, weather and taking evasive actions are some of the contributors to collisions with injuries and fatalities.

Other behaviours that contribute to motor vehicle crashes include distracted driving, alcohol impairment, following too closely and disregarding traffic control devices.

WorkSafe Saskatchewan, the partnership between the WCB and the Ministry of Labour Relations and Workplace Safety, continues to warn against dangerous driving, and most recently, placed distracted driving messages on 44 rink boards in smaller communities across the province.

Commercial trucks and semi-trailers. Commercial trucks and semi-trailers are twice as likely to produce a collision with injuries or fatalities compared to passenger vehicles.

In its prevention activities, WorkSafe partnered with the Saskatchewan Trucking Association (STA). “We identified the top 13 work tasks that lead to injuries in the trucking industry, which the STA has incorporated into its training program,” says Kevin Mooney, the WCB’s vice-president of prevention and employer services. WorkSafe is also setting up a best practices group so transportation industry representatives and businesses with large fleets can share their motor vehicle safety strategies.

Gravel roads. Gravel is three times more likely to cause a collision with injuries or fatalities than dry, paved surfaces—more than wet, snow-covered or muddy roads.

“The fact that gravel roads are so significant when it comes to work-related crashes was an unexpected finding,” says Mooney. He surmises that because more and more people are growing up in urban environments, they may have less experience driving on gravel surfaces and are unaware of the risks. WorkSafe has already met with the Ministry of Highways and Infrastructure, SGI and law enforcement agencies about communicating these risks to drivers during roadside safety checks.

Dawn and dark conditions. Driving at dawn or in the dark is 1.8 times more likely to produce a collision with injuries or fatalities than driving in broad daylight.

Bad weather. Inclement weather, such as rain, snow, hail, fog and strong winds, is 1.27 times more likely than clear weather to cause severe crashes with injuries or fatalities.

Single-vehicle collisions. Single-vehicle collisions are four times more likely to produce collisions with injuries or fatalities compared to multi-vehicle collisions.

Winter. Compared to winter, summer is 32 per cent less likely to produce a collision with injuries or fatalities.

Gender. Men are 1.5 times more likely to be in a collision with injuries or fatalities compared to women.

The WCB’s goal is to reduce the number of work-related vehicle crashes in the province by 30 per cent by the end of 2021. Having a better understanding of the root causes of collisions will help guide the WCB’s prevention programs, but the organization also needs to hear from you.

What is your workplace doing to foster safer driving? Share your tips and best practices with the WCB at worksafeinquiry@wcbsask.com.

The five riskiest trucking tasks

Driving a truck is not for the faint of heart. In Saskatchewan, the trucking, courier and commercial bus industry had the third highest workplace Time Loss injury rate in the province compared to other industries in 2018. And in 2018, the Saskatchewan Workers’ Compensation Board (WCB) accepted more than 1,000 injury claims for the industry.

So what’s contributing to these injuries? WorkSafe Saskatchewan, the partnership between the WCB and the Ministry of Labour Relations and Workplace Safety, partnered with the Saskatchewan Trucking Association (STA) to take a deep dive into trucking hazards and identified 13 tasks that lead to injury the most often.

Here are the top five:

  1. Moving freight

Injuries from moving freight—particularly from lifting cargo—happen the most frequently and include slips, trips and falls, lacerations and damage caused from repetitive movement. Cargo-lifting injuries often occur at loading docks and delivery sites and during cargo securement checks.

  1. Securing loads

There are a multitude of variables when it comes to securing loads. It’s important that carrier companies ensure their drivers are familiar with National Safety Code for Motor Carriers (Standard 10), as well as with weight and dimension regulations. Shippers should be familiar with them too.

  1. Hooking up trailers

Inattention, haste and poor posture when connecting a trailer can lead to hand, foot and facial injuries, as well as lacerations, crush injuries, and back and shoulder damage.

  1. Actions that result in slips and trips

An overwhelming number of slips and trips occur due to ice. They can happen anywhere, but often in yards and on loading docks.

  1. Driving

Dangerous behaviours run the gamut from distracted and impaired driving to speeding, following too closely and driving when overly tired.

Using the information from WorkSafe Saskatchewan and the STA’s joint analysis on the most common types of injures in the trucking industry, the STA developed a four-to-six-hour training course to help participants perform key trucking tasks more safely. The course is offered in Saskatoon and Regina and is geared to drivers, technicians, safety managers, dock workers and shippers.

To register for the course, contact the STA at alie@sasktrucking.com or call 306-569-9696.