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Crashes are the leading cause of traumatic workplace death in B.C.

Contributor
By Contributor
July 11th, 2023

Can you name the most dangerous thing you do in your job?

It may be driving — even if you do it just once in a while. Things like running office errands, calling on clients, or travelling to off-site meetings are work-related driving. And work-related crashes are the leading cause of traumatic workplace death in B.C.

“You never know what you might encounter on the road,” says Trace Acres, Program Director for Road Safety at Work.

From 2017-2021, WorkSafeBC statistics show an average of 20 people were killed in work-related vehicle crashes annually and another 1,400 were injured seriously enough to miss work. Yet a recent Road Safety at Work survey showed only 11 per cent of employers and 26 per cent of employees believed driving for work is dangerous.

“Changing that attitude can help prevent injuries and even save lives,” Acres says.

“Most crashes are preventable if employers provide training, education, and supervision, and workers follow safe driving procedures.”

Hundreds of thousands drive at work

A vehicle used for work is considered a workplace, which means employers have responsibilities for the safety of employees who drive or ride in a vehicle for work purposes. The law applies whether the vehicle belongs to the employer or the employee.

It also effects of thousands of people in the Central Kootenays.

ICBC statistics on passenger and commercial vehicles insured for business use in 2022 show:

The number of vehicles used for work may be much higher, though, because many people who drive their own vehicle on the job insure it for pleasure use. The designation allows them to use the vehicle for up to six days per month for business or delivery.

“Driving doesn’t have to be part of your job title or job description for you to be considered to be doing work-related driving. If you have to drive for any reason as part of your job, whether it’s full time, part time or only occasionally, you’re driving for work,” says Acres.

According to WorkSafeBC claims statistics for the last five years, jobs with the most work-related crashes include transport truck drivers, delivery and courier drivers, and transit operators.

But the rest of the top five may be a surprise.

They include:

  • Nurse aides, orderlies, and other patient service associates
  • Social and community service workers
  • Construction trades helpers and labourers

Tips for staying safe behind the wheel

Knowing and living up to your safety responsibilities when driving for work can help reduce your risk.

“Crashes aren’t always the fault of the other driver,” says Acres. “Be focused, courteous, patient, and respectful when you drive.”

Here are other tips for safe driving offered by Road Safety at Work:

  • Follow the rules.

Obey driving laws and follow your organization’s safe driving policies and procedures.

  • Plan trips in advance.

The safest trip is the one you don’t take. Even short or occasional drives can be dangerous, especially when weather or road conditions are bad. Can you use email, virtual meetings, phone calls, or other tools to avoid travelling? If you have to go, check DriveBC.ca to map out your safest route.

  • Check your vehicle.

Before every trip inspect tire tread and pressure, make sure all lights work, clean the windshield and mirrors, and properly adjust your seat.

  • Build your skills and knowledge.

If anyone is not confident in your driving abilities, ask the supervisor for training or talk with other drivers who have more experience. Take ICBC’s driving knowledge practice test  to refresh your knowledge of road signs, driving behaviours, and the rules of the road.

Road Safety at Work is a WorkSafeBC-funded initiative managed by the Justice Institute of BC aimed at eliminating work-related motor vehicle crashes, deaths, and injuries in B.C. Road Safety at Work offers free online resources — including courses, workshops, webinars, and consulting services — to help organizations plan, implement, and monitor effective road safety programs.

Visit RoadSafetyAtWork.ca.

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