In BC, at least 10,000 workers drive as part of their job. The time they spend driving is very likely the most dangerous time of their day.
“Some are professional drivers, operating a large commercial truck, a courier van or a taxi,” reads the Road Safety at Work website. “Others drive from one work location to another – driving to the next construction site or a home care client’s residence, across town to a meeting or to another town for a sales call.”
Here in my province, motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of traumatic workplace deaths. Every year, 23 die in MVAs and another 1,290 workers are injured.
Image (close-up) from the Road Safety at Work website
The Road Safety at Work initiative is dedicated to safety for this group of driving workers, managed by the Justice Institute of BC and funded by WorkSafeBC. Its Road Safety At Work Workshop is for owners, managers, and supervisors who are responsible for planning workers’ safety behind the wheel.
Employers will leave the seminar knowing how to plan and implement a custom program for the specific needs of their own workers. It’s free of charge to participants and shows how to use the tools and resources in the Essentials of a Road Safety Program.
I wanted to know what employers were saying about the workshops – and when and where more are scheduled – so I contacted Angelina Robinson, Client Relationship Manager for Road Safety At Work. Angelina shared feedback on the workshop from employers who said:
* They feel better equipped to mitigate road safety risks and hazards in their workplaces.
* They are pleased with all of the complimentary resources available to them.
* They are prepared to take action based on what they have learned in the workshop.
* They really enjoyed the collaborative learning experience.
This video from Nova Scotia is sad but promising. My eyes brimmed with tears as I listened to the sad stories of loved ones left behind. And I also felt encouraged to see people who are changing their ways and working more safely in response to the loss.
Here in BC, WorkSafeBC officers are promoting use of personal flotation devices (PFDs) or more protective, traditional life jackets when necessary, along with other strategies for keeping crews safe and in compliance with legal requirements including Regulation Part 24 Diving, Fishing, and Other Marine Operations.
In our province, between 1975 and 2012, 164 fishing vessels capsized with 68 lives lost.
Pat Olsen is WorkSafeBC’s Regional Prevention Manager, based in Courtenay, BC, on Vancouver Island, home to much commercial fishing (not to mention the many people on the water for transport and recreation).
I asked Pat what BC’s fishing safety advocates are doing to encourage use of PFDs and general improvement in safety for workers on the water.
“I cannot say enough about the work FishSAFE has been doing to promote the use of PFDs, and its ‘Real Fisherman‘ campaign,” Pat said.
He’s talking about a poster series that reminds me of those firemen’s calendars that we buy my mom for Christmas every year! It shows a bunch of big, handsome guys – “real men” – wearing life jackets/PFDs in the hopes of encouraging others to do the same.
“It’s excellent, but still not enough to change the culture, which of course is a generational thing,” Pat said. “I always find it interesting that parents of young children are insistent that their kids where PFDs or a life jacket when around the water or on boats, but at some point (I think when the child demonstrates they can swim) they stop making them wear them. This is a societal culture that needs to change.”
Pat says WorkSafeBC officers inspect and/or talk with fishing employers on the dock and at sea. They also talk about cold water shock, which I wrote about in my post Cold water shock can kill.
“This gives a very good picture of PFD use (or non-use in most cases),” Pat said. “They explain claim stats and talk in generalities about incidents WorkSafeBC has investigated. This paints a pretty dramatic picture of what happens when you fall overboard without a PFD/life jacket… They talk about how cold water affects the human body, and explain that even if you are an Olympic swimmer, you still have a VERY limited time to help yourself if you end up in the water, which is made even worse if you are fighting just to stay afloat. This is where using a PFD can really help.”
Pat suggests Cold water bootcamp as a good source of information on how quickly our bodies are affected by cold.
He praises the Kids Don’t Float campaign that offers ‘loaner’ PFDs provided at wharves and docks for children. Every year, an average of 525 Canadians die needlessly in water-related incidents, reports the Canadian Red Cross in Drowning Research Information.
See WorkSafeBC’s Commercial Fishing portal for more information on safety on and near the water.
Knowing how to ask is the first step to getting what you want. This applies in many areas of life, especially when you’re asking for corporate sponsorship. Take this recent Youth Week request, for example.