Did you know that a traffic collision occurs every five minutes in Alberta?

According to ‘Driving for Work’, a publication by Work Safe Alberta, one person is killed and 65 injured every day, in Alberta, in a motor vehicle collision.

If you have employees on the road, that’s a figure you should be taking very seriously. 

Road Safety Awareness for oil and gas operatorsTo learn more about road safety in the workplace, we spoke with Jason Seeley, of Advantage Fleet Services. Jason has considerable experience as a professional driver, collision inspector, trainer, instructor and examiner.

Jason started by explaining that if you or your employees drive a vehicle for all or part of your work, you can be considered a professional driver.  Whether your employees are making short trips between job sites or are on the road all day making deliveries, you need to be aware of the following:

  • Professional drivers are legally held to a higher standard of safety. A driving error on behalf of one of your employees could lead to liability concerns and fines.
  • Your insurance rates will increase each time one of your employees is involved in a traffic incident.
  • Even in the absence of physical damage, vehicles that are driven badly will require more expensive maintenance than well-driven ones.

And then of course there’s the trauma and emotional stress on those directly involved, and those around them, whenever someone is injured or killed in a traffic collision.

How am I driving?

We’ve all seen the stickers on commercial vehicles, inviting us to report reckless or careless driving. But sometimes there are less obvious dangers that may not become apparent until it’s too late:

  • Driver fatigue. Long hours and late shifts can make anyone feel sleepy, and a tired person behind the wheel is almost as dangerous as someone who has been drinking. You can read more about the effects of fatigue in ‘Fighting fatigue to save lives’.
  • Distractions. Between trying to stay in touch with supervisors, navigating to new sites or even just thinking through the next job, it’s easy to lose focus for a few moments. And as we all know, accidents happen in a split second.
  • Poor driving conditions. Low visibility, or poor weather conditions can impact the safety of drivers, and yet people often have a tendency to carry on driving in order to get to their destination on time.

What can you do as a company?

If you have drivers who are travelling as part of their job, it’s important to adopt a risk-based approach. This means evaluating the type of driving involved (for instance highway driving, long hauls, off-road environments etc), and ensuring that the employee is trained and competent for the task.

Some of the tools and resources for building a risk-based driving program include:

  1. Training and competency. According to Jason, more and more companies are realizing the need for road safety awareness training; for all employees, even those who simply drive to and from work in their own vehicles. It’s one of the best ways to ensure that employees are aware of the safe driving habits and behaviours that help protect everyone on the road. Enform’s Oilfield Driving Awareness course is a training option designed for professional drivers and workers who drive in oilfield environments.
  2. A ‘near-miss program’. Employees must feel comfortable reporting close-calls, and if they identify a problem they should be confident that their concerns will be taken seriously. For this kind of program to be successful, Jason explained, it must be led from the top and garner the support of people at every level in the organization. Check out this recent blog post to learn about the role of leaders in modelling and encouraging safe behaviours and attitudes.
  3. Risk-based journey management. This will help everyone involved to review and address the types of hazard specific to any journey. Enform’s Journey Management Planning Guide is a simple tool which will enable you to provide easy access to a set of consistent standards and expectations for every type of driving activity.

To read more about empowering employees to think pro-actively about safety, and take responsibility for their own safety, read ‘Who does the thinking for your frontline workers?’ and ‘Why safety start with the individual’.