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October 12, 2017

Fatal Traffic Crashes Increased in 2016 - What Can Employers Do?

According to a recent DOT announcement, 37,461 lives were lost on U.S. roads in 2016, an increase of 5.6 percent from calendar year 2015. The number of vehicle miles traveled on U.S. roads in 2016 increased by 2.2 percent, and resulted in a fatality rate of 1.18 deaths per 100 million vehicle miles travelled - a 2.6-percent increase from the previous year.

These numbers come from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which recently released fatal traffic crash data for calendar year 2016, collected from all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

Fatalities in crashes involving large tucks increased from 4,094 in 2015 to 4,317 in 2016. Of those deaths, just 17 percent were truck occupants. The remaining deaths were occupants of other vehicles (72 percent) or non-occupants (11 percent). 

Distracted driving and drowsy driving fatalities declined, while deaths related to other reckless behaviors – including speeding, alcohol impairment and not wearing seat belts – continued to increase. Motorcyclist and pedestrian deaths accounted for more than a third of the year-to-year increase.

The 2016 national data shows that:

  • Distraction-related deaths (3,450 fatalities) decreased by 2.2 percent;
  • Drowsy-driving deaths (803 fatalities) decreased by 3.5 percent;
  • Drunk-driving deaths (10,497 fatalities) increased by 1.7 per­cent;
  • Speeding-related deaths (10,111 fatalities) increased by 4.0 percent;
  • Unbelted deaths (10,428 fatalities) increased by 4.6 percent;
  • Motorcyclist deaths (5,286 fatalities – the largest number of motorcyclist fatalities since 2008) increased by 5.1 percent;
  • Pedestrian deaths (5,987 fatalities – the highest number since 1990) increased by 9.0 percent; and
  • Bicyclist deaths (840 fatalities – the highest number since 1991) increased by 1.3 percent.
Although the report does not give data on work-related traffic crashes, the increase in fatalities involving large trucks indicates an area of concern for trucking companies and other employers with commmercial drivers.


What Can Employers Do?

seat belts required
Unlike other workplaces, the roadway is not a closed environment, so managing risks is complicated. Here's advice for employers on preventing work-related crashes, from NIOSH:

Preventing work-related roadway crashes requires strategies that combine traffic safety principles and sound safety management practices. Employers can promote safe driving behavior by providing safety information to workers and by setting and enforcing driver safety policies. Crashes are not an unavoidable part of doing business. Employers can take steps to protect their employees and their companies.


  • Assign a key member of the management team responsibility and authority to set and enforce comprehensive driver safety policy.
  • Enforce mandatory seat belt use.
  • 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.

Fleet Management

  • Adopt a structured vehicle maintenance program.
  • Provide company vehicles that offer the highest possible levels of occupant protection.

we hire safe drivers

Safety Programs

  • 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.

Driver Performance

  • 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.



    October 10, 2017

    OSHA Delays Enforcement of Crystalline Silica Standard in Construction

    wear respirator in this area
    OSHA Respirator Safety Sign
    Enforcement of OSHA’s respirable crystalline silica standard for construction went into effect on Sept. 23, but the agency announced a 30-day enforcement phase-in to help employers comply with the new standard. That gives employers about 2 more weeks of leeway on compliance. Compliance assistance will be offered to employers making good faith efforts to comply during the first 30 days, but citations may be considered for employers not making any efforts to comply.

    The Respirable Crystalline Silica construction standard, 29 CFR § 1926.1153, establishes a new 8-hour time-weighted average (TWA) Permissible Exposure Limit (PEL) of 50 µg/m3, an action level (AL) of 25 µg/m3, and a host of ancillary requirements. During the first 30 days of enforcement, OSHA will carefully evaluate good faith efforts taken by employers in their attempts to meet the new construction silica standard. OSHA will render compliance assistance and outreach to assure that covered employers are fully and properly complying with its requirements. OSHA has also published a silica compliance guide to help small businesses comply with the new rule.

    Silica Dangers

    About 2.3 million people in the U.S. are exposed to silica at work. Respirable crystalline silica is created when cutting, sawing, grinding, drilling or crushing stone, rock, concrete, brick, block and mortar. Activities that result in worker exposures to respirable crystalline silica dust include:
    • Sand blasting
    • Sawing brick or concrete
    • Sanding or drilling concrete
    • Grinding mortar
    • Manufacturing bricks, concrete blocks, stone counter tops or ceramic products
    • Cutting or crushing stone
    Industrial sand used in certain operations, such as foundry work and hydraulic fracturing (fracking), is also a source of respirable crystalline silica exposure.

    Workers who inhale these crystalline silica particles are at increased risk of developing serious silica-related diseases, including:

    • Silicosis, an incurable lung disease that can lead to disability and death
    • Lung cancer
    • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
    • Kidney disease

    New Silica Standards for Construction and Maritime

    OSHA has issued two new respirable crystalline silica standards: one for construction, and the other for general industry and maritime. OSHA began enforcing most provisions of the standard for construction on September 23, 2017, and will begin enforcing most provisions of the standard for general industry and maritime on June 23, 2018.

    Learn more:

    October 5, 2017

    New No-Cost Respiratory Protection Program Training Available

    NIOSH and the American Association of Occupational Health Nurses (AAOHN) recently released a new, no-cost Respiratory Protection Program Training. The program includes a respiratory protection course and accompanying resources for occupational health professionals who want to learn more about OSHA's Respiratory Protection Standard and the role of the respiratory protection program administrator.

    This training satisfies the annual Federal OSHA Respiratory Protection Standard's (1910.134 CFR) training requirements. You do NOT need to be an AAOHN member to participate in this free training or access the training resources.

    Different programs are offered to meet needs of varied audiences, including:
    • Safety professionals in organizations required to follow OSHA's respiratory protection standard
    • Safety professionals in healthcare facilities
    • Primary or ancillary healthcare workers

    Learn more at the AAOHN website.

    October 3, 2017

    How To Protect Workers from Solvent Safety Challenges

    Highly flammable solvents in area
    OSHA Solvent Safety Sign
    Workplace hazards such as confined spaces, moving machinery, low clearances and hot surfaces pose significant threats to workers, and are typically marked with appropriate chemical safety signs and labels to draw attention to them. But there are other equally dangerous hazards that can easily go unnoticed until it's too late to take preventive action. These sneaky hazards are solvents - chemicals commonly used to clean up paints, greases and oils, or contained in liquids such as paint, pesticides and ink, to name a few.

    Because solvents are so common at work and home, workers may not give them the safety attention they deserve. Yet solvent exposure can damage skin, eyes, internal organs and respiratory tissue - as well as cause fires and explosions. Clearly, workers need to be aware of