Reducing the risk of motor vehicle collisions

Last year, more than 600 people in Saskatchewan were injured in motor vehicle collisions while on the job. Sadly, there were eight work-related motor vehicle deaths in 2018, and motor vehicle collisions are the second leading cause of workplace deaths in the province after asbestos-related diseases.

To better understand the root causes of these tragedies, the Saskatchewan Workers’ Compensation Board (WCB) joined forces with SGI to compare WCB collision data with crash data from SGI claims (from 2009 to 2017).

What emerged from the study was an informative risk profile — factors that are most likely to cause work-related motor vehicle crashes with injuries or fatalities. They include:

Driver behaviour. Driver inexperience and confusion, weather and taking evasive actions are some of the contributors to collisions with injuries and fatalities.

Other behaviours that contribute to motor vehicle collisions include distracted driving, alcohol impairment, following too closely and disregarding traffic control devices.

WorkSafe Saskatchewan, the partnership between the WCB and the Ministry of Labour Relations and Workplace Safety, continues to warn against dangerous driving, and most recently, placed distracted driving messages on 44 rink boards in smaller communities across the province.

Commercial trucks and semi-trailers. Commercial trucks and semi-trailers are twice as likely to produce collisions with injuries or fatalities compared to passenger vehicles.

In its prevention activities, WorkSafe partnered with the Saskatchewan Trucking Association (STA). “We identified the top 13 work tasks that lead to injuries in the trucking industry, which the STA has incorporated into its training program,” says Kevin Mooney, the WCB’s vice-president of prevention and employer services. WorkSafe is also setting up a best practices group so transportation industry representatives and businesses with large fleets can share their motor vehicle safety strategies.

Gravel roads. Gravel is three times more likely to cause collisions with injuries or fatalities than dry, paved surfaces — more than wet, snow-covered or muddy roads.

“The fact that gravel roads are so significant when it comes to work-related collisions was an unexpected finding,” says Mooney. He surmises that because more and more people are growing up in urban environments, they may have less experience driving on gravel surfaces and are unaware of the risks. WorkSafe has already met with the Ministry of Highways and Infrastructure, SGI and law enforcement agencies about communicating these risks to drivers during roadside safety checks.

Dawn and dark conditions. Driving in the dark or at dawn is 1.8 times more likely to produce collisions with injuries or fatalities than driving in broad daylight.

Bad weather. Inclement weather, such as rain, snow, hail, fog and strong winds, is 1.27 times more likely to cause severe crashes with injuries or fatalities than clear weather.

Single-vehicle collisions. Single-vehicle collisions are four times more likely to produce collisions with injuries or fatalities compared to multi-vehicle collisions.

Winter. Compared to winter, summer is 32 per cent less likely to produce collisions with injuries or fatalities.

Gender. Men are 1.5 times more likely to be in collisions with injuries or fatalities compared to women.

The WCB’s goal is to reduce the number of work-related motor vehicle collisions in the province by 30 per cent by the end of 2021. Having a better understanding of the root causes of collisions will help guide the WCB’s prevention programs, but the organization also needs to hear from you.

What is your workplace doing to foster safer driving? Share your tips and best practices with the WCB at worksafeinquiry@wcbsask.com.