The last thing that workers should be worried about as they clock in and out each day is if they’ll be put in a situation that jeopardizes their safety. Everyone deserves to make it home safely each night, and the standards set in place via the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) work to ensure just that.
Below, we provide a high-level overview of the mission and role OSHA plays in mitigating workplace risk, as well as how these standards should influence your fleet’s driver safety program.
What is OSHA’s mission?
OSHA was created by Congress as part of the Department of Labor. Under OSHA, employers have the responsibility to provide a safe workplace. Its overall mission is to ensure safe and healthful working conditions for workers by setting and enforcing standards and by providing training, outreach, education and assistance.
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What does OSHA do?
The agency wears a variety of hats. First, it sets industry health and safety standards for a multitude of job fields. OSHA also trains employers on workplace health and safety, aiming to prevent injuries and deaths.
Beyond this, OSHA monitors and inspects work environments to hold employers accountable for creating safe and healthy workplaces. If employers that are under the jurisdiction of OSHA are non-compliant according to OSHA standards, the company may fine an employer for violating workers’ rights.
Who does OSHA protect?
OSHA ultimately protects workers. OSHA and its state partners have approximately 1,850 inspectors responsible for the health and safety of 130 million workers employed at over 8 million worksites around the nation – translating to one compliance officer for every 70,000 workers.
To protect workers, OSHA requires employers to keep their workplace free of known health and safety hazards. Its standards give workers the right to speak up about hazards, without fear of retaliation. Worker rights also include the ability to:
- Receive workplace safety and health training in a language they understand
- Work on machines that are safe
- Receive required safety equipment
- Be protected from toxic chemicals
- Request an OSHA inspection, and speak to the inspector
- Report an injury or illness, and get copies of their medical records
- Review records of work-related injuries and illnesses
- See results of tests taken to find workplace hazards
What Impact has OSHA had on Worker Deaths?
The organization has seen a dramatic impact in its efforts over the years. Since OSHA’s implementation in 1970, worker deaths in America are down on average – from about 38 per day in 1970 to 15 a day in 2019. Worker injuries and illnesses are also down from 10.9 incidents per 100 workers in 1972 to 2.8 per 100 in 2019.
How do OSHA Standards Translate to Fleet Driver Safety?
Beyond the specific OSHA driver safety standards set in place for the agriculture, maritime and construction industries, the roadway is not considered a closed environment.
But while there aren’t specific OSHA driver safety standards for every industry, the agency still stresses the importance of prioritizing the safety of company drivers. OSHA states that “although employers cannot control roadway conditions, they can promote safe driving behavior by providing safety information to workers and by setting and enforcing driver safety policies. Crashes are not an unavoidable part of doing business.”
OSHA has also shared resources that offer general guidelines for what companies should do to protect their drivers and to show that they’ve implemented strategies to protect their company in the event that an incident does occur.
With OSHA’s overall mission in mind, companies that manage fleets are responsible for exercising a certain standard of care to protect the safety of their drivers. They must ensure they are checking off all the right boxes when it comes to maintaining safety – from establishing and enforcing a strong driver safety policy to providing ongoing and remedial driver training.
This all starts with establishing a comprehensive driver safety program.
Is Your Company Prioritizing Driver Safety?
Considering the 20-year high in traffic deaths nationwide, ever-increasing commercial auto premiums and crashes costing employers billions of dollars each year, a company’s approach to fleet safety management is critical. Your driver safety program requires a modern, proactive strategy that covers all the bases to effectively mitigate these growing risks.
You can discover proactive strategies and tools for maintaining a positive safety culture across your fleet by downloading our checklist, “6 Steps to Implement a Comprehensive Driver Safety Program.”