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NIOSH acting director sees "a safer road ahead" (2/4)

February 4, 2009
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Christine M. Branche, Ph.D., acting director of NIOSH, recently issued the following comments regarding motor vehicle safety as it relates to employers and employees:

“Motor-vehicle-related incidents are consistently the leading cause of work-related fatalities in the United States. Of approximately 5,700 fatalities annually reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 35% are associated with motor vehicles… Because rapid motorization and economic development go hand-in-hand, workers in the developing world are becoming increasingly vulnerable to the risk of road traffic crashes.

“What complicates the problem… is that unlike other workplaces such as factories, offices, and construction sites, the roadway is not a closed environment. Preventing work-related roadway crashes requires strategies that combine traffic safety principles, vehicle design, driver behavior, and good safety-management practices. It is important for employers to realize that although they cannot control roadway conditions, they can and should keep employees safe while driving. They can do so by maintaining work vehicles properly, providing and requiring the use of seat belts, providing motor vehicle safety training, and enforcing driver safety policies, among other steps.

“NIOSH is very active in helping to lower the risks for these workers. Last March, NIOSH provided input on a United Nations resolution on “Improving Global Road Safety” adopted by its General Assembly. For the first time, a United Nations resolution includes specific language that notes the importance of fleet operations to worker and public safety. This gives strong justification for corporations, governments, and other stakeholders to take action to improve road safety for workers around the world.

“This month, NIOSH and cosponsors will be host to the first International Conference on Road Safety at Work in Washington D.C. We anticipate that approximately 200 attendees, with representatives from 40 countries, will attend this meeting to address this important topic.

“Finally, NIOSH has many related resources for employers. NIOSH, in collaboration with the University of Illinois at Chicago, created an online library at www.roadsafetyatwork that houses resources related to the prevention of road traffic injuries and deaths while at work. The NIOSH fact sheet, Work-Related Roadway Crashes: Prevention Strategies for Employers provides recommendations for employers on crash prevention and vehicle safety programs.

Also the NIOSH Motor Vehicle Safety Topic Page provides links to an extensive list of NIOSH and other resources on this topic.

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