In Part 1: An Increasingly Distracted World, you were asked to confront your ‘familiarity’ with your environments. A familiarity may cause any one of us to relax and lower our defenses while working with or around heavy-duty machinery. Reflecting on these three questions can help peel back the layers:
- What details are we not paying attention to?
- What dangers are we either missing or being complacent with?
- What aspects are we missing in our work procedures?
Now that you have done that, your next step is to take the proper time to do a thorough observation of the work environment, including all objects, tools, and equipment before conducting a task. Being observant is a skill; a conscious effort needs to be made, dedicating time to evaluate the areas around you. Walk around your work area, view it from different perspectives. Focus on details that you usually skim over. Use past experiences; lessons learned, safety shares, or training(s) to identify potential hazards. Remember: It’s the little details that lead to injuries and incidents. (Check out Safety Talk Ideas for more information and helpful tips).
For Each Incident That Occurs, There Are Far-Reaching Ripple Effects
When discussing injuries and the importance of operational/worksite safety, the effect it has on an individual’s immediate family or loved ones is commonly brought up. While this may be an effective strategy for provoking change in a single worker, you need to show your team that the performance of any individual can hurt more than just themselves. The long term effects of unsafely working, driving, and operating are immense for everyone on-site, as well as those in the company. Creating a connection, and gaining full support of safety strategies and practices from the top-down, is crucial to the success of any fleet or heavy-duty operating group. With a safety mindset and innovative solutions, there are always opportunities for learning.
When approaching safety challenges and use cases, it is essential to keep in mind that as humans, we are always between two states: growth and maintenance. You work to maintain performance, economy, and autonomy (keeping up to date on current industry trends and events, doing monthly training, fixing faulty equipment, and giving employees incentives for a successful quarter). When you grow, you’re moving forward, tackling new obstacles, and making changes to improve workflows.
The Qualitative & Quantitative Cost
Liberty Mutual’s 2019 Workplace Safety Index reveals workplace injuries cost U.S. companies over $1 billion per week, with roadway incidents involving motorized vehicles costing companies $2.70 billion a year. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, of all fatal workplace injuries each year, traffic crashes account for upwards of 40 percent of these fatalities, more than double the second leading cause - violence and other injuries by person or animals. (Note: This statistical analysis even applies to industries that are not primarily transportation-oriented). Construction was ranked third with the most severe workplace injuries; struck by objects or equipment was the second-highest cause of loss within the industry.
“The latest ranking helps employers, risk managers, and safety professionals improve workplace safety by highlighting its financial impact in total for specific industries,” notes James Merendino, General Manager of Risk Control & National Insurance at Liberty Mutual. “To better protect employees and the bottom line, each employer needs to understand the root causes of the most serious workplace injuries they face. Only then can they effectively mitigate and manage these through work design, system controls, technology, training, and strategic risk management.”
Distractions Keep You from More than Just the Task At Hand
Today, fleets now use an array of technologies that offer significant benefits to safety professionals and fleet managers looking to increase productivity, decrease downtime, and improve workflow. Using telematics, fleets in all industries can collect data to inform their decision-making process for the business, while combating human error. There is always a margin of human error, and a human still controls any non-autonomous mobile machine, but integrated safety systems can counteract or even avoid costly and dangerous collisions – for the aftermarket and OEMs.
According to OSHA, “Distracted driving is estimated to be a factor in between 25 to 30 percent of all traffic crashes – that’s 4,000 or more crashes a day.” With longer commutes, heavier traffic flows, and the availability of in-vehicle technology driver distraction has risen, “More time in your vehicle results in less time at home or on the job, causing drivers to feel the pressure to multi-task to keep up with their responsibilities. Countless distractions tempt drivers to forget that their primary responsibility is to drive focused and stay safe,” OSHA states. Distracted driving is still incredible pervasive on and off-road, so drive focused, stay safe, and avoid distracted driving.
The Other Side of the Penny - A Different Perspective
Back in 2012, the IIHS conducted a study that looked at the potential crash reductions with ‘crash avoidance features’ such as blind-spot detection, forward collision warning/mitigation, and lane departure warning. The combination proved to “prevent or mitigate as many as 107,000 police-reported crashes each year, representing 28 percent of all crashes involving large trucks. As many as 12,000 nonfatal injury large truck crashes, and 835 fatal large truck crashes each year could be prevented or mitigated.”
However, some automotive drivers believe crash avoidance features, or ADAS systems, are a nuisance. According to an Automotive Fleet article published in August, J.D. Power’s 2019 U.S. Tech Experience Index Study found advanced safety technology annoys drivers enough for 61 percent of drivers to disable the systems, citing automotive drivers are not keen on being frequently told they aren’t driving correctly.
At the moment, many of those in Silicon Valley and other high tech industries developing these solutions believe that because the technology is there, the public will accept it. Unfortunately, this is not the case. People are still skeptical that it can be adopted, but not that the technology is there. The solutions may be a few years from perfection, but we know you can’t underestimate the power and ingenuity of humans, or how the technology will look or be able to do any time in the future. When it comes to autonomy, what we have is a human problem, not a tech issue. The tech may need a tweak or two, but in reality, to adopt fully-autonomous solutions on a full scale, we are still a ways away. And transitioning fleets of such large sizes to fully autonomous solutions is a tremendous feat that will take time.