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Drowsiness a public safety risk in ridesharing industry

Ridesharing drivers in Missouri may feel encouraged to work extended hours because of the low fare and salary incentives, but they will want to be careful about exceeding their safety limits. A position statement from the American Academy of Sleep Medicine has brought some needed attention to the risk of sleep deprivation among people in the industry.

Many of them drive during the early mornings and late into the night after a long period of wakefulness, which only increases the chances of driving drowsy. Since in most cases they are independent contractors, they do not get screened for conditions like obstructive sleep apnea that will compound those chances.

Reducing scaffolding accidents at construction sites

Many of the accidents that occur at construction sites in Missouri involve scaffolding. In fact, scaffolding accidents collectively cost U.S. employers $90 million annually in lost work days due to related injuries. Improper scaffolding consistently ranks as one of the top OSHA violations. It's also estimated that more than 2 million construction workers, representing nearly 70 percent of the construction industry, frequently perform work involving scaffolding. This is why OSHA has established scaffolding-related guidelines to help improve worker safety when scaffolding is used.

According to OSHA, the first step an employer can take to reduce workers' compensation claims related to scaffolding accidents is to firmly secure it. Scaffolding must be accessible by ladders and stairwells, placed 10 feet away from power lines and able to support its own weight along with four times its maximum load capacity without displacement or settling. The agency also prohibits the use of barrels, concrete blocks and other unstable objects to support scaffolds or planks. Also, a competent person must supervise scaffolding dismantling and movement.

WHO report finds flaws in global road safety laws

Traffic crashes are not just a problem in Missouri. In fact, they are the eighth leading reason for death in the whole world, according to the World Health Organization. They are also globally the leading cause of death among people 5 to 29 years old. The 2018 Global Status Report on Road Safety, released in December by WHO, analyzed the road safety laws of 175 countries and found many of them wanting.

Traffic-related death rates are especially high in low-income countries, where people run triple the risk for a fatal traffic crash compared to those in high-income countries. Africa, with 26.6 deaths per 100,000 people, and Southeast Asia, with 20.7 deaths, see the highest numbers.

3 signs you cannot trust the company doctor

All companies should have a policy in place stating what should happen when a worker sustains an injury on the job. It is vital for certain industries in particular to have such a policy. In 2017, the jobs with the highest rates of workplace injuries were laborers, truck drivers and janitors. 

Many companies will have employees go to a company-specified doctor. You should listen to this doctor's advice, but it is also a good idea to seek a second opinion if the doctor tells you anything you are skeptical of. There are signs a company doctor may not have your best interests at heart, so watch out when he or she does the following. 

Employers required to protect workers during holidays

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has released statements to remind employers of their duties to protect workers in Missouri and across the U.S. ahead of the holiday season. Employees have the right to a safe workplace whether they are packing boxes, selling merchandise, stocking shelves or delivering products. The holiday season can be especially hectic for retail workers, and retail employers should take steps to make sure workers are safe during sales that draw large crowds.

It's common practice for retailers to take on seasonal or temporary employees to help during the busy times of the year, and these employees have the right to a healthy and safe place to work. OSHA encourages retail sellers to prepare for potential workplace hazards by hiring or training security officers and setting up ropes or barricades to direct the movements of pedestrians. Emergency procedures and crowd control measures are also encouraged. OSHA provides information and guidance resources for retailers that cover different positions in the industry such as truck driving, forklift operation, crowd management and warehousing.

Rise in truck crash deaths blamed on unpopular federal rule

Commercial truckers in Missouri may be aware that the number of fatal crashes involving those in their industry is rising. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported a 9 percent increase in 2017 with a total of 4,761 people killed. Of these, about 1,300 were truckers themselves.

Some say that more truckers are trying to work around an unpopular rule that requires them to take a 30-minute break after eight consecutive hours of driving. Truckers may speed in their effort to make deadlines or become fatigued as a result of that break. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is reviewing 5,200 comments proposing changes to its hours-of-service rules, and the break rule has received the most feedback.

The top OSHA violations of 2018

OSHA revealed its top 10 list of violations during a presentation at the 2018 National Safety Council Congress & Expo. Both workers and employers in Missouri and throughout the country will be familiar with many of the violations on the list. Statistics were compiled between October 2017 through the end of September 2018. There were 7,270 violations regarding a duty to provide fall protection, which put it at the top of the list.

Most of these violations involved roofing and single-family home construction companies, and OSHA says that this type of violation has been the most common for several years. Other violations in the top five include lack of training regarding hazard communication as well as inadequate lockout and tagout procedures.

Teen drivers need experience and limits to stay safe on the road

Missouri continues to work toward helping reduce teen fatalities on the state's roadways by ensuring all teen drivers receive enough training with the Graduated Driver License law. When a teen is 15 years of age and can pass the vision, road sign recognition and written tests at a Highway Patrol examination station, they are eligible for an instruction permit. They can drive with licensed drivers who are 25 or older. At 16, a driver may graduate to an intermediate license after having a permit for at least 182 days and passing the written test again if results from the first one are over a year old. They must also pass the Highway Patrol driving test. The last step in the process is to obtain an under-21 full driver's license at age 18 or older.

National Teen Driver Safety Week is a good time to review new research published by the AAA Foundation. Over 1 million car accidents involving teen drivers occurred on the nation's roadways during 2016, and these crashes accounted for over 3,200 fatalities.

NHTSA: 2017 sees 9 percent rise in fatal large truck crashes

Missouri residents often find themselves driving alongside large trucks, and they will want to be especially careful when that happens. According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, 2017 saw a decrease in every type of fatal traffic crash except large truck crashes.

For example, passenger vehicle, motorcycle and pedestrian crash fatalities saw a 1.4, 3.1 and 1.7 percent decrease, respectively. Speeding-related deaths went down 5.6 percent, and bicyclist deaths dropped by a significant 8.1 percent. The total number of people killed in traffic fatalities declined by 1.8 percent 37,806 in 2016 to 37,133 in 2017.

Mobile workers may be more prone to distracted driving

The number of motor vehicle accidents caused by distracted drivers has risen sharply in recent years, and road safety advocates in Missouri and around the country have blamed this increase largely on the use of smartphones and other internet-connected devices by motorists. Between 2013 and 2017, smartphone ownership in the United States rose from 55 percent to 77 percent while the number of traffic accidents increased by 12.3 percent to 6.4 million.

According to a recent distracted driving study from the workforce management and logistics firm Motus, mobile workers are especially prone to behind-the-wheel distractions. Mobile workers make up an increasingly large part of the American workforce, and they each drive about 1,200 miles annually while distracted according to the Massachusetts-based firm's report. The study also reveals that mobile workers take 49 percent more journeys each year than other American drivers.

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