Related posts:No related photos. Comments are closed. Employers have been slow to recognise driving as a major risk factor tostaff. But with shocking newstatistics, practitioners are being forced to sit up and take notice. By Philip Whiteley When George Orwell was researching the coal industry in the 1930s he wasshocked to discover a rubber stamp with the legend “Death Stoppage”used to mark service records. Casualties in the coal mines were taken forgranted almost as they would be in a minor war. But times change and as Health and Safety Executive/Department of Transportfigures reveal, spending long hours behind the wheel today is just as hazardousas work at the coal face. And in the construction or agriculture industries itis more dangerous to go to work than in a coal mine. It is, therefore, logical that the dangers start to be treated as any otherworkplace hazard. Highway code The Government has made a start. In March, health and safety minister LordWhitty promised a “highway code” for employers who have staffdrivers. In its road safety document the Department of Environment, Transport and theRegions conceded, “We do not have reliable statistics about casualtiesconnected with work-related traffic accidents. But company cars are more frequentlyinvolved in accidents and the number of people killed as a consequence of workactivities, including driving, on our roads, could be significant.” A government task force is to draw up minimum occupational standards foremployers with driving staff, and to look at closer liaison between health andsafety officers and those responsible for road safety. The TUC would go further, arguing that, just as in other dangerousoccupations, employers should have to have a safety certificate before beingpermitted to let employees clock up the miles. It has launched a major documenton the issue, Driven to Death. Increasingly unions offer legal services formembers injured in road accidents. Road safety experts predict that it is only a question of time before anemployer has to pay a huge sum to a widow whose husband had been forced todrive excessive hours. “We want employers to play their part,” said TUC general secretaryJohn Monks. “Some have negotiated excellent agreements with their tradeunions to deal with the risks involved in driving for work. Others need theclarification of the existing common law duty of care.” Sobering statistics The statistics are sobering. Around 300 of the 1,200 drivers killed onBritain’s roads each year are driving for work. To put that in context, the number of train drivers killed in a year is insingle figures, and is sometimes (as in 1998) zero. Yet driving a company car is simply not seen as being a safety-criticaloccupation. “The car is not seen as a risk factor in a job,” saidGail Cotton, president of the Association of Occupational Health NursePractitioners. “Some companies are aware of the dangers, but the majorityare not.” OH consultant Cynthia Atwell adds, “It is the most lethal piece of equipmentone ever gets into. I would like to see a restriction on the number of hoursthat anyone can drive. There is a restriction on HGV drivers, with thetachograph, but people like you or I could drive all day for work if we wantedto. “My experience shows that a lot of people will get up very early in themorning, go on to site, do eight, nine or ten hours’ work and then drive fortwo, three or four hours. This is totally unacceptable. I do not think that anyemployer should expect people to do that. “Some people will say they are happy to do that, and it does not affectthem. I would argue that if you tested for reactions you would not get as gooda result.” She wonders also how many important decisions are made by business leadersfollowing a long day and a long drive. “It clearly needs to be looked atmore in relation to when people do have accidents. It brings in the issue ofdrugs – not just drugs of abuse but prescribed or over-the-counter drugs,”she adds. Atwell recommends that drugs-testing procedures should be extended to peopledriving company cars for long periods, much as they are in place for traindrivers. Though she adds, “I think that will be contentious as people whodrive company cars tend to be more senior management positions, and thatprobably would not go down well.” Driving policy Occupational health advisers need to point out the dangers to the rest ofthe company and encourage the establishment of a driving policy. This would setmaximum journey lengths, above which the driver should be able to book into ahotel, and maximum stints at the wheel without a break. “People need toknow what is expected of them,” Atwell says. Moreover, the guidelines must be reflected in the timetables and workingarrangements, so that they do not remain merely a statement of intent withlittle real effect. “There is pressure on drivers to make meetings; there are timemanagement and organisational issues,” says Cotton of the AOHNP. Cotton adds that there are dozens of serious health risks associated withdriving for long periods, in addition to the dangers of accidents. The twoissues are linked, as some ailments like stress or poor vision heighten therisk of a crash. The road safety pressure group Brake carried out a survey two years agowhich found that two in three people admitted having fallen asleep at thewheel. Just over half of those interviewed had nodded of while driving morethan twice in the year prior to the survey. “Professional drivers andcompany car drivers are particularly at risk, due to the high mileages thatthey travel,” the agency concluded. Fitness levels Loughborough University has carried out research which concluded thattiredness is responsible for up to 20 per cent of serious crashes on monotonousroads, such as motorways. Yet many drivers exaggerate their capacity andstamina. “A car has to be serviced regularly, but you do not bother about thedriver,” says Cotton. “I find this especially talking to men – theywould not keep a car without a regular service, but they are quite happy to runtheir own bodies doing none of those things. You need to do an MoT for the bodyas part of the risk assessment. “If someone has high blood pressure and headaches, are they going to beable to concentrate on long journeys?” While HGV drivers have to have a regular medical check-up, there is no suchrequirement for company car drivers. Driving for long periods can cause or aggravate poor health, Cotton argues.”I feel quite strongly about people driving, from a health point of view.We have people driving people as part of their job. Should we not be assessingtheir fitness to drive?” She lists the ailments, which sound like a doctor’s waiting room (see boxabove), and can include quite serious musculo-skeletal problems, particularlywhere the ergonomics are poor. But there are indirect ones too, said Cotton.”People tend to snatch meals. This has an effect on the digestive system.Many have a lack of exercise, and this exacerbates the posturaldifficulties.” Even road rage comes into the equation. It is more likely that a tired,stressed individual flies into a fit of temper than someone who is relaxed –especially if he or she is in physical pain. Such is the nation’s love affair with the car, however, that there is a hugepsychological barrier that health and safety officers have to overcome. The caris seen as a status symbol, a source of fun, a space for thought or discussion,but never a danger. www.tuc.org.uk www.detr.gov.ukThe task force – what will it do?– Establish accurate statistics on casualties due to work-related driving– Establish the main causes of accidents– Agree minimum standards for employers– Promote liaison between health and safety officers and road safetyorganisations– Propose mechanisms to dovetail road traffic law with health and safety law– Launch a discussion document on preventing work-related road casualtiesand arrange a conference– Consider an occupational highway code.The task force will have an independent chairperson, and its membership willbe drawn from those with responsibility for road safety, police and the courts,the Health & Safety Executive, employers, employee groups and thoserepresenting the public interest. For a copy of Tomorrow’s Roads – Safer for Everyone call 0870 1226 236High-mileage ailments – Varicose veins– Neck and back problems– Haemorrhoids– Stress– Headaches– Impaired vision– Musculoskeletal effects– Digestive problemsSource: Association of Occupational Health Nurse PractitionersDangerous occupationsAnnual average probability of occupational fatalityAgriculture 1in 13,500Construction 1 in 10,000Driver (25,000 miles per year) 1 in8,000Coal mining 1 in 7,100Deep sea fishing 1 in 750Source: HSE/ Department of Transport Previous Article Next Article Driving the message homeOn 1 Jun 2000 in Musculoskeletal disorders, Personnel Today
Several autonomous phase-sensitive radio-echo sounders (ApRES) were deployed at Greenland glaciers to investigate ice deformation. Different attenuation settings were tested and it was observed that, in the presence of clipping of the deramped ApRES signal, each setting produced a different result. Specifically, higher levels of clipping associated with lower attenuation produced an apparent linear increase of diurnal vertical cumulative displacement with depth, and obscured the visibility of the basal reflector in the return amplitude. An example with a synthetic deramped signal confirmed that these types of artifacts result from the introduction of harmonics from square-wave-like features introduced by clipping. Apparent linear increase of vertical displacement with depth occurs when the vertical position of a near-surface internal reflector changes in time. Artifacts in the return amplitude may obscure returns from internal reflectors and the basal reflector, making it difficult to detect thickness evolution of the ice and to correctly estimate vertical velocities. Variations in surface melt during ApRES deployments can substantially modulate the received signal strength on short timescales, and we therefore recommend using higher attenuator settings for deployments in such locations.
Â Â Segun Awofadeji in GombeÂ Gombe State Governor, Alhaji Ibrahim Hassan Dankwambo in collaboration with AshakaCem Plc, last Monday tee-off the first edition of the Talba Open Golf Tournament at the Gogilla Valley Golf Course, Ashaka, Gombe State.Represented at the ceremony by the stateâ€™s Deputy Governor, Mr. Charles Iliya, Dankwambo assured all his administrationâ€™s continued support for sporting activities in the state.Â “Today’s occasion is therefore a deliberate effort by Governor Ibrahim Hassan Dankwambo to promote the game of golf which has been misconceived by many as a sport for the elites and the rich,” he said.The governor urged the participating golfers in the tournament to exhibit the spirit of sportsmanship and fair play throughout the event.Â Chairman of Gombe State Sports Commission, Alhaji Bello Suleiman, called on the youth to key into the game of golf as government and individuals have promised to support them in the game.“Golf has become a popular sport all over the globe. Players of all ages, walks of life, social standard and geographic locations find solace in the game of golf. It has direct benefit on individualsâ€™ health, job creation, social benefits and economic advantage,” he said.In his remarks, Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer Ashaka Cement Plc, Mallam Rabiu Umar, congratulated Dankwambo for introducing the tournament as a means of bringing together dignitaries from all walks of life across the country for relaxation.Â He expressed the companyâ€™s readiness to continue to partner Gombe State government towards encouraging the game of golf and other sports for healthy living.Â Share this:FacebookRedditTwitterPrintPinterestEmailWhatsAppSkypeLinkedInTumblrPocketTelegram