LANGLEY, B. C. -With 63 workers from the B. C. trucking industry killed on the job in the past five years, another 281 seriously injured, and nearly 8,400 unable to work due to an injury, there came a...
SAFETY COUNCIL: B. C. poses many hazards to truckers, including mountainous terrain. A new safety council aims to drive down trucker deaths.
LANGLEY, B. C. -With 63 workers from the B. C. trucking industry killed on the job in the past five years, another 281 seriously injured, and nearly 8,400 unable to work due to an injury, there came a quest to form a B. C. trucking safety council.
“BCTA as a member organization has a long history of wanting to establish a safety entity for the trucking industry and sought a partnership with WorkSafeBC,” says Bill Hubbard, a consultant who has been hired under a two-year contract to design the new B. C. Trucking Safety Council.
Considering that those work-related trucking incidents cost the B. C. trucking industry 496,000 in lost working days during that same five-year period, at a cost to the B. C. government of $170.6 million, it’s not surprising that WorkSafeBC was receptive to funding a safety council for the trucking industry, a strategy that’s been successfully developed within other sectors in B. C., according to Hubbard.
“There’s been an ongoing dialogue, and because there’s been a groundswell of interest by WorkSafe on sector occupational health and safety councils, suddenly the trucking industry was at the right place at the right time.”
Hubbard has been in discussion with the Alberta Motor Transport Association about its efforts on the same topic, and he is observing similar organizations in B. C. which have been created by other sectors that are also sponsored by WorkSafeBC. These include safety councils formed by B. C. forestry, oil and gas, construction, food processing, construction, road construction and marine employees organizations.
“All of them are at different stages of development, but all of them actually are quite impressive,” he says. “I suspect that probably B. C. stands out in terms of its development of its occupational health and safety councils right now, with WorkSafeBC a principal funding agent.”
Since his appointment earlier this year, Hubbard was required to conceptualize and draft the terms and conditions for the new council. The new board of directors is now in place, but the direction that the new governance will take has yet to be determined.
The new board is made up of trucking company representatives from all regions of the province, including Teamsters Local 31, the Insurance Corporation of B. C., the RCMP, and the B. C. Ministry of Transportation, as well as non-voting members from the B. C. Forest Safety Council, WorkSafeBC and the B. C. Trucking Association.
One of the new safety council’s goals is to establish a “centre of excellence” for the trucking industry, which will have a number of features. Part of that centre would be devoted to an information centre, or a Web-based virtual library with current research and other information related to the safety council’s mandate. This information will be collected from various sources around the world, such as WorkSafeBC, other trucking associations in North America, and safety associations throughout the world, including the southern hemisphere and western Europe.
“We’re hoping to establish and begin to populate that information centre by the end of my two-year contract,” says Hubbard.
Another part of the centre of excellence is the introduction of a WorkSafeBC incentive called the “certificate of recognition.” This is an occupational health and safety program that potentially offers insurance incentives to companies within the trucking industry that agree to create a safety management system, which is subsequently audited.
“If it is successfully audited, they get rebates of up to 15%,” he adds.
Hubbard expects funding from WSBC by January 2009 for this insurance incentive. When that happens, the safety council will develop the infrastructure, with various contacts and programs directed at those companies that are interested in the rebate program.
The safety council also intends to establish new training programs of an occupational health and safety nature, to be guided by the industry, which is expected to be developed within the next few months. Before constructing the training programs, the safety council will be undertaking systematic surveying in terms of what programs exist now, and what’s required, according to Hubbard.
Otherwise, there are two growth categories that the new safety council is focused on in terms of gathering information about contributing factors to accidents, injuries and deaths. The first one is related to vehicular crashes; in other words the types of incidents that involve the driver in the truck while it’s in motion.
The other category is non-driving related, or when a driver is working around a static vehicle, such as getting in and out of the truck, loading or unloading and working around warehouses. Incidents that involve this type of risk might include slips and falls, back problems related to work habits, or other soft tissue injuries.The council is also interested in injuries affecting non-driving workers in the trucking industry.
“We know the numbers of them according to the classifications, but we don’t know what causes them, and how we might go about mitigating them, or reducing them,” says the consultant. “That’s a big push of ours, to try to find out more about that side of the injury and death equation.”
As for other vehicle incident concerns, Hubbard has been in discussion with the Traffic Injury Research Foundation (TIRF) based in Ottawa, a pre-eminent research group on road crashes across Canada, according to the consultant.
“We’ve engaged them in a relatively longitudinal study – a 12-month study starting last May and ending next May, to really determine exactly what the vehicle crash picture looks like, with respect to trucks in B. C.”
In addition to the TIRF research, the council is surveying worker compensation boards across Canada, trucking associations across North America, as well as safety organizations throughout the world, to better understand truck-related incidents that cause injury or death.
“We’re interested in what’s causing those injuries that contribute to lost time, injury cost, insurance costs, and what we as an occupational health and safety council are able to offer with training, better information (and) healthful guidance to these people, to see if they can reduce those kinds of problems. A lot of it has to do with just general personal health.”