Road Safety for Employers and Employees

With the new school year fast approaching, the roads will be getting busier and drivers will be getting more hurried. With more drivers on the road during peak times, there is no surprise that accidents are more likely to occur, especially when the weather gets dicey.

Motor vehicle fatalities make up approximately 30 per cent of the workplace fatalities in Alberta every year. The Transportation, Communication and Utilities sector accounted for 33 per cent of the motor vehicle incident fatalities, while the Construction and Construction Trade Services sector accounted for 22 per cent.

In 2008, motor vehicle incidents accounted for more than $26.5 million in injury claims for the Workers’ Compensation Board in Alberta. Although this cost is a 22% decrease from 2000, there were still 2,939 new highway motor vehicle claims reported and 44 motor vehicle fatalities.

Why should we pay attention to health and safety?

The same emphasis should be placed on driving safety as on any other part of an employer’s health and safety program. The moral, legal, and financial implications are too significant for your organization not to commit to keeping workers healthy and safe.

1. It’s the law.

OHS is about the prevention of workplace injury or illness. In Alberta, the rules of the road are covered in the Traffic Safety Act (TSA).

2. Negligence is expensive

The true cost of a vehicle incident extends well beyond the event itself. In addition to repairs and equipment replacement costs, there are other financial and intangible costs. Increased WCB and insurance premiums, a tarnished public image, decreased worker and management morale, the loss of future contracts, and civil, regulatory and criminal liability are all potential consequences.

Employers with poor health and safety records including non-compliance with the legislation, have higher staff turn-over, resulting in increased administrative and training costs. The costs imposed by these consequences may be enough to bankrupt smaller companies. Preventing incidents from ever occurring simply makes good business sense.

3. Health and Safety is good business.

A safe and healthy business is a well-managed business. That’s why:

– Many companies check to ensure that suppliers have a good health and safety record before they contract them for work or to provide services

– Financial institutions are interested in a firm’s health and safety record when considering a loan application.

An unsafe business exposes you to liabilities that others don’t want to assume.

4. More Motivated Workers

An active commitment to health and safety lets workers know that they matter most. You have already invested in your workers through training and on-the-job experience. It makes sense to keep them in their jobs by preventing injury and illness.

5. Better Quality, better business

Many businesses, regardless of size, have found that the quality of their products and services improved with a commitment to the health and safety of workers. Many factors contribute to improved quality, including training, effective communication, worker involvement and systems for ensuring standards are met.

If driving is a necessary part of your job, or if you hire employees who travel regularly for work, it is important to be aware of the potential hazards on the road. Even if you drive to work and not for work, attention and diligence should still be taken behind the wheel. After all, Worker’s compensation will help employees who get injured on the job, but what about those who get injured on their way to work?

Resources for Organizational Commitment to Health & Safety

Alberta Association for Safety Partnerships:

Occupational Injuries and Diseases in Alberta, 2009 Summary, AEI: SFW/129.html

Working Safely Behind the Wheel, WCB – Alberta, December 2009: driving_safely.pdf

Julia Janicki PEO Canada

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