It can happen without warning – a previously unseen hazard makes itself known with tragic results.
For one Woodstock, Ont. driver, that happened when a routine
unloading turned deadly April 30. The 47-year-old was moving granite
countertops out of his truck at a Kitchener supply store when disaster
struck and he was crushed.
Details of how the incident came to pass are being closely guarded by
authorities until an Ontario Ministry of Labour investigation can be
completed, but the incident is hardly an isolated one.
For all the advertising governments do to promote safe practices in
the workplace, statistics on workplace safety can be difficult to
interpret. No national statistics exist, and those kept and curated by
provincial organizations vary.
five-year injury rate in British Columbia. The red line represents the
overall provincal workforce, while the blue line is the “general
trucking” catagory. Graphic provided by WorkSafe BC.
WorkSafe BC, the provincial workplace insurer for British Columbia,
keeps statistics by industry, but drivers can be classed in several
different occupational groups, and not every stat is available by those
individual groups. Ontario’s data sets often don’t include occupations
or industry subsectors at all, according to Ministry of Labour sources.
What is clear is that, when compared to the broader workforce, those
in the trucking industry face disproportionately high injury rates —
even after accounting for motor vehicle collisions.
According to data collected by WorkSafe BC, the injury rate for those
in the transportation sector is double the provincial average. The rate
for both groups has remained steady over the past five years, with just
2.2% of the province’s overall workforce facing injuries on the job.
But 4.4% of those in transportation experience on-the-job injuries each
In 2016, 1% of those classified as “general trucking” workers – those
not operating specialized equipment like log haulers or fuel tankers –
suffered serious injuries. That’s more than three times the 0.3% serious
injury rate of the overall BC workforce.
While the numbers may not seem like a lot, WorkSafe BC paid out more
than $94 million in claims to trucking industry workers in 2016. Nearly
$32.7 million of it went to those in the “general trucking” sector,
which also doesn’t include those employed as mechanics, warehouse
employees, or dock workers.
More than 1,000 short- or long-term disability claims (known as time
lost claims) were made in 2016. To be classified as one of these claims,
the injured worker must be off work for 10 or more days, requiring a
longer period to recover. This number includes fatalities.
These numbers don’t include other direct or hidden costs to
businesses associated with injuries, says WorkSafe BC spokesman Mark
When an injury happens, drivers and fleets know they’ll immediately
see costs associated with lost time and productivity, health expenses,
administration expenses, damages to property and equipment, and
replacement wages, but with each injury there is the potential for even
greater costs down the line.
The long-term costs of accidents are often the most expensive and can
be harder to measure. They range from an increase in insurance
premiums, to downtime associated with investigations, to the effect on a
fleet’s reputation, employee morale and retention. Not to mention the
impact on the injured themselves.
In the five years between 2013 and 2017, about 18 drivers were killed
during B.C. incidents not related to a motor vehicle crash. Of those
deaths, six were related to asbestos exposure and six were due to
complications from other long-term injuries sustained while working.
One unnamed driver died in 2014, two years after he was injured on
the job. His eventual death was the result of an accidental drug
overdose from opioids used to treat injuries obtained in a 2012
accident, highlighting some of the hidden consequences of workplace
While it’s easy to focus on the more serious injuries in the
workplace, smaller injuries can be just as costly as the big ones.
Between 2013 and 2017, WorkSafe BC recorded 5,521 serious and fatal
injuries – including those injured or killed as the result of a motor
vehicle crash – while it recorded more than 4,900 claims for smaller
Strains and sprains made up the majority of those claims, with a
total of 3,348. Those claims alone totaled nearly $70 million over five
years. Fractures came next, with 689 reported to the tune of more than
Some workplace accidents may be seen as just one of the costs of doing business, but does it have to be that way?
In that same five-year period, WorkSafe BC conducted more than 2,100
inspections on businesses classified under the general trucking banner.
Of those inspections, just 25% of inspected companies did not receive
some kind of warning, order, or follow-up for violations.
Most of these orders aren’t considered major violations. Just eight received warning letters or administrative penalties.
The most-issued citation was for not complying with a regulation that
requires employers to have the equipment and supplies to immediately
and adequately address first aid issues when they happen, and failing to
take the appropriate action. Eighty-five employers faced that.
In an Ontario Ministry of Labour blitz conducted in February 2011,
there were 1,089 workplaces inspected and 3,233 orders issued – an
average of three per workplace. Just 84 of those were serious enough to
warrant a “stop work” order.
The most frequently issued orders in that inspection were for failing
to maintain equipment and facilities in good condition, or not taking
reasonable precautions to protect the health and safety of workers.
Ministry analysts said the majority of these violations happened
during loading and unloading on docks, when safe practices weren’t
observed, including failing to ensure vehicles were stopped and properly
“This indicated shipping and receiving areas and related equipment
may not be regularly inspected and maintained by the employer,” the
ministry report said.
Trucks and trailers need to be immobilized before loading or
unloading begins to prevent them from moving in any direction –
including against the dock, which could lead to injuries or deaths due
to falls, or being pinned if the truck does move.
Of the 15 workers who died while working in a shipping and receiving
area from 2000-2010, most were pinned by a vehicle that moved when it
wasn’t supposed to. In these cases, being pinned between a truck and
dock, a truck and trailer, or two forklifts proved tragic.
Workers also died after being struck by falling or improperly secured items during the loading and unloading process.
Citations during the blitz were also frequently issued for failing to
provide workers with information, instruction and supervision to
protect their health and safety.
Training in material handling is key for all workers when it comes to
loading and unloading, according to the Ontario Ministry of Labour.
It’s something that may reduce the chance for catastrophes like the one
Source of article click here : Today's Trucking