The average motor vehicle accident costs employers approx $16,000 in property damage and lost productivity. If an injury results from the accident, you must also factor in medical expenses and legal fees. Next thing you know, that number rises to an average of $74,000.
Costs can exceed $500,000 when there is a fatality.
Vehicles can be the cause of injuries even outside collisions, fingers get slammed in doors, loads fall off trucks, ankles get twisted jumping down from tailgates, and more.
Combine that with the fact that motor vehicle accidents are a leading cause of death, and it becomes very clear that training your workers on vehicle safety should be a top priority for your company.
Why Is Vehicle Safety Overlooked as a Toolbox Talk?
Vehicle safety isn’t often covered as a toolbox talk topic because we don’t tend to consider them a part of a construction site. However, your employees come into contact with vehicles throughout the workday for a variety of reasons:
- To transport employees to and from the job site
- To transport material and equipment
- Other trades with vehicles on site
- Material deliveries to the site
- Public use of personal vehicles nearby
Construction workers come in contact with vehicles frequently, and the seriousness of a resulting injury is potentially fatal. These two factors make vehicles a high-risk hazard.
Luckily most accidents are preventable by providing your employees with training through Toolbox Talks.
Vehicle Safety Toolbox Talk Topics
The fact that construction workers come in contact with vehicles in such a variety of ways means you should be training them on the hazards which arise based on the type of exposure.
One toolbox talk covering vehicle safety in general—although a good start—is not enough to prevent future accidents.
We recommend breaking the topic of ‘Vehicle Safety’ into subcategories and providing training on each one separately.
In the eyes of OSHA, the job site extends to vehicles used for work related matters.
Accidents covered under OSHA standards includes:
- Employees driving company vehicles
- Employees driving personal vehicles for work purposes
- Passengers in company vehicles
If an accident occurs during an employee’s commute to or from work—even in a company vehicle—OSHA determines those trips are non-work related. Otherwise, if they were injured in a vehicle accident while on the clock, OSHA considers it a recordable case.
This should be reason enough for you to provide your employees with driving-specific training to anyone who drives for work purposes.
In addition to formal training, you should be covering the following topics during your toolbox talks:
- Defensive driving
- Distracted driving
- Mobile phones
- Difficult weather conditions
- Managing blown / flat tires
- Accident reporting
- Emergency Response
2. Materials and Equipment
Just because you aren’t driving a vehicle doesn’t mean you can’t be injured by one. Many construction employees spend at least part of their day managing materials and equipment in, on and around vehicles.
Whether they are running materials to a site, transferring materials in the back of their pickup truck, pulling a trailer, or unloading a manufacturer’s delivery, they all involve exposure to vehicle hazards.
Just because a hazard doesn’t tend to be life-threatening isn’t a reason to overlook it. Non-fatal construction injuries are more common and can be incredibly disabling to employees and costly to employers.
Covering everyday circumstances such as how to properly dismount from a tailgate lowers the chances someone is injured during these seemingly monotonous but potentially hazardous tasks:
- Securing loads
- Tarping loads
- Using Trailers
- Unloading material from vehicles
- Receiving deliveries
3. Other Vehicles On Site
No job site is complete without some sort of vehicle on it. It could be as simple as another trade leaving on their lunch break or a steady flow of concrete trucks pouring a foundation.
Every single construction worker on site is responsible for their own safety. Meaning, while a driver is responsible for not running people over, individuals are also responsible for making sure they themselves aren’t run over.
In short, everyone who is on site needs training on how to avoid being hit, run over or backed into by vehicles they are not in control of. These toolbox talk topics are a great way to achieve that:
- Backing vehicles
- Hand signals
- Dump Trucks
- Concrete trucks
4. Working on or Near Public Roadways
Working in the vicinity of the general public immediately introduces more hazards. Obviously, there is a specific level of care that a construction site must put into keeping the public safe from the hazards they create, but in this case, it’s the other way around.
Working on or near public roadways is an additional exposure to construction workers, caused by vehicles driven by the public. The general public do not have the additional training that construction workers have and may be thrown by an unexpected construction site in their path.
While traffic control workers should have more formalized training, it is important to train all of your workers on the hazards of general public drivers if they are going to be working on or near public roadways. Here are some good topics:
- Warning systems
- Traffic control person
Where Do You Get These Toolbox Talks?
Having access to all of the toolbox talks listed above is a feature we offer our clients here at SafetyHQ. However, if you are not yet a client, you should check with your local trade association as they often have this kind of information available to their members.
Good, Better, Best in Vehicle Safety Training
The best scenario is that your company has a specific vehicle safety program customized to the needs of your company as a part of your safety manual and program.
If you aren’t quite that advanced yet, you should aim to deliver and track formalized driver training and follow up with toolbox talk refreshers.
If you are just getting started, you need to conduct weekly toolbox talks and cover vehicle hazards as some of your topics. If you’d like help conducting them, SafetyHQ has a free plan which includes sending, reviewing, capturing and downloading toolbox talks.