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CONN-OSHA Quarterly

Volume No. 42
Summer 2005

  • Safe Driving - Are Your Employees Competent?
  • New Telephone Numbers
  • Hazard Corner
  • CONN-OSHA Training Update

Safe Driving– Are Your Employees Competent?
By: John Able, Occupational Safety Training Specialist

Work-related vehicle crashes are the leading cause of occupational fatalities according to the U.S. Department of Labor.  More than 1,300 deaths per year occurred between 1992 and 2002 while in 2000, work-related crashes accounted for 23% of all occupational deaths.

“Every employer should implement a professional development strategy that includes driver education, training and hazard awareness,” notes State Labor Commissioner Shaun B. Cashman.  “The cost of not fostering a safe driving culture through a systematic loss prevention program can be one of the highest expenses an employer has.”   

Developing a sensitive and professional safe driving culture within the corporate structure is a complex and extensive mandate.  Employers are expected to know the potential dangers and provide their workers with instruction and training.  

However, many times drivers have not been exposed to safe driving practices, strategies or corporate policies and they should not be  penalized for a lack of training.  In other cases the driver does know safe driving practices but doesn’t act accordingly.  This can happen if a supervisor requires the driver to hurry so the expectations of management can be met.  In these cases, it is the responsibility of the employer to ensure the driver is supported and not hindered from acting appropriately.

Be respectful of the hazards: 

Are you a dangerous driver? Does your attitude affect the way you drive?  Do you:

  • Roll through stop signs?

  • Talk on a cell phone while driving?

  • Eat while driving?

  • Circle parking lots looking for the closest spot?

  • Drive differently when you detect a police presence?

According to the Network of Employers for Traffic Safety (NETS), every five seconds a crash occurs, every seven seconds a property damage crash occurs, every Published by the Connecticut Department of Labor, Project Management Office seconds there is a traffic-related injury, and every 12 minutes someone in the U.S. dies in a traffic crash. 

Who is affected by a motor vehicle crash?  Family, friends, co-workers, employers, clients and customers are all affected by a crash. You could be only one accident away from disability, dependence and a dramatic life change.  Whether temporary or permanent, this life-altering event could be in your future if you are not aware of the hazards of being in a motor vehicle in this day and age.   

Safe Driving Skills

Experts believe these four skill areas have the most promise of preventing crashes and subsequent injuries and fatalities. These skill areas are:

Hazard recognition – being aware of hazards is the first step to reacting appropriately in time.  Pay attention to the task at hand, which is driving.  We are experiencing an explosion of driving distractions.  For example, drivers now have a wide variety of devices they can use while driving, ranging from cellphones to laptops to navigation systems. In addition, we are living in a world where multi-tasking is expected, even while driving.  By committing to paying attention to the operation of the motor   vehicle, we are increasing our chances of arriving at our destination safely, and on time.

Speed management - George Carlin is quoted saying, “Why is it that everyone driving faster than us is a maniac, and everyone driving slower than us is an idiot?”  By following posted speed limits, we not only lower our stress level but also set a good example for others to follow. 

Space management – maintaining a safe distance from other vehicles at all times takes practice, skill and patience.  Learning the location of your vehicle’s “blind spots” can help to prevent a crash. Ensuring you and your vehicle maintain an “exit” route is an example of a behavior that creates a path to safety in the event of an emergency.  Don’t allow yourself to be boxed in with no way out.

Vehicle handling – the ability to handle a motor vehicle during normal conditions is expected.  When you experience adverse conditions such as extreme dark or light, snow or rain, work zones, school buses, potholes, large trucks, pedestrians, traffic, or poorly maintained vehicles, your chances of becoming a statistic rapidly increase.  If you are under the influence, tired or angry, and you find yourself driving in less than optimum conditions, remove yourself from behind the wheel.  

According to a Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) poll in 2003, 77% of the poll respondents believe they are always safe drivers.  However, 85% of those same respondents admitted to sometimes or frequently exceeding the speed limit by more than five miles per hour.  A sizeable percentage of these same respondents also indicated that they fail to properly manage distractions such as the radio (69%) and cell phones (44%) while driving. 

The Good News: 

Small changes in behavior behind the wheel can decrease the likelihood of getting in a motor vehicle accident.  These driving skills also increase your chances of survival in the event of a collision or other mishap.   

CONN-OSHA is presenting a new program titled,  Safe Driving - Get There Safely EVERY Time.  The program’s goal is to increase awareness of the need for, and the benefits of safe driving. The campaign will focus on four important skills that experts feel have the most promise of preventing crashes and subsequent injuries and  fatalities. These skill areas are: 

Hazard recognition–anticipate, recognize, and react appropriately to hazards.

Speed management–managing speed so it is right for conditions.

Space management–maintain safe spacing with other traffic.

Vehicle handling–safe vehicle handling skills under a range of road circumstances. 

CONN-OSHA will present a three-hour training seminar that promotes safe driving techniques and behaviors in an interesting format designed to motivate attendees to immediately assess their own actions and behaviors.   

“This is not just another defensive driving course,” said CONN-OSHA Director Richard Palo. “Too often, adult drivers are simply expected to be competent in this area.  By offering these seminars, we are providing a no-cost opportunity for employers to allow staff the opportunity to experience a driving class.”  

The seminar will be offered August 4, 2005, and again on August 24, 2005 just before the back-to-school rush.  Visit our CONN-OSHA Web site at for more information.

Safe Driving Action Items:

  • Identify an unsafe driving habit you would like to change within yourself.

  • Define the technique you will use to change that habit.

  • Try to implement at least one thing you learned by reading this article.

  • Talk to others about things you learned, or things you are still unsure about.

New Telephone Numbers to be used for Reporting Fatalities and Casualties 

This is to alert Emergency Responders and Public Sector Managers in the state to make note of a change to the 24 hour Fatality and Casualty Reporting Line in relation to accidents involving public sector employees i.e.: State Agencies, Police, Fire, or Municipal employees.  The new numbers, (860) 263-6946 (local) and 1-866-241-4060 (statewide/tollfree) are direct phone lines dedicated to this purpose at the Connecticut Department of Labor’s Division of Occupational Safety and Health (CONN-OSHA).   

As mandated by law per the Connecticut General Statutes, Title 31 Sec. 31-374 CONN-OSHA must be notified of an accident resulting in a fatality or catastrophic event (an accident involving hospitalization of three or more employees) within 8 hours of the occurrence.  The new telephone numbers are only for fatality/catastrophe reporting.  ALL OTHER BUSINESS should be conducted during normal business hours, Monday thru  Friday, 8 a.m.– 4:30 p.m. by calling (860) 263-6900.  Calls other than fatality/catastrophe reporting on this line will not be processed.  

Fatalities and catastrophic events in the Private Sector should continue to be reported to Federal OSHA at 1-800-321-OSHA (6742). 

Hazard Corner

Unprotected Skylight Proves Deadly for Wastewater Purification Control Facility Worker

The following is a reconstruction of events using information, statements of witnesses, and facts from an on site investigation.  

The superintendent of a wastewater treatment facility was in the process of hosing down the sidewalls of empty aeration basin # 1 in preparation for a curtain wall installation. He was using two, one and one -half  (1½) inch hoses coupled together that made up an approximate length of forty-eight (48) feet.  The hose was located on a grated catwalk that ran between aeration  basin # 1 and aeration basin # 2. The hose was connected to a standpipe located at the beginning of the catwalk, beside aeration basin # 1. The superintendent was apparently pulling the water hose toward the beginning of the catwalk to continue to wash the walls and finish the cleaning process. He reached the end of the catwalk and proceeded to pull the hose while walking backwards.  At this time, a hired consultant approached the superintendent to talk to him about a future project. The consultant noticed that the    coupling of the hose the superintendent was pulling was caught in the grated catwalk.  As the consultant reached down to dislodge the stuck coupling, he looked up and saw the superintendent falling backward, in the sitting position.  The superintendent fell through a grade level, acrylic domed hatchway/skylight to the concrete floor nineteen (19) feet below, sustaining fatal craniocerebral trauma. 

Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) General Industry Standard, 29 CFR 19Published by the Connecticut Department of Labor, Project Management Office.23 (a)(4) requires the employer to provide skylight screens or fixed standard railings on all exposed sides to prevent employees from falling through.  It is also recommended the employer inform all employees that skylights are not strong enough to support a worker and employees should not stand, walk, or sit on any skylight, guarded or not.

CONN-OSHA Training Update 

Breakfast Roundtable Discussion Group   Held on the third Tuesday of every month 

The intent of these free 90-minute workshops is to discuss safety and health issues in a supportive and informal environment. These meetings cover subjects ranging from evacuation plans and fire extinguishers to air quality and ergonomics. The roundtable meetings are held from 8:15 a.m. to 9:45 a.m. 

Powered Industrial Trucks   July 14, 2005  

With well over one million lift trucks in operation today, emphasis must be placed on both operator and pedestrian safety.  This half-day program will help you understand OSHA safety and health regulations governing these pieces of equipment, in addition to providing you with assistance in developing training for your lift truck operators and other affected employees. 

Safe Driving-Get There Safely EVERY Time   August 4, 2005 and August 24, 2005

Work-related vehicle crashes are the leading cause of occupational fatalities according to the U.S. Department of Labor.  Small changes in behavior behind the wheel can decrease the likelihood of getting in a motor vehicle accident, and increase your chances of survival in the event of a collision or other serious event.  The goal of this session is to increase awareness of the need for, and the benefits of safe driving.  The focus will be on four skills that experts feel have the most promise of preventing crashes if implemented by the driving public: 

  1. Hazard Recognition – anticipate, recognize and react appropriately to hazards.

  2. Speed Management – managing speed so it is right for conditions.

  3. Space Management – maintaining a safe spacing with other traffic.

  4. Vehicle Handling – safe vehicle handling skills under a range of road circumstances.

The training presents safe driving techniques and behaviors in an interesting format designed to motivate attendees to immediately assess their own actions and behaviors.       

Safety & Health Management   September 8, 2005

The Connecticut Department of Labor, Occupational Safety & Health Division (CONN-OSHA) is offering a seminar on how to take the guesswork out of workplace safety and health.  The presentation will provide information and handout materials to enable you to focus on finding solutions, not just identifying problems.  You will be provided with reference materials to take back and refer to that will assist in your safety & health efforts.  Risk managers, human resource personnel, supervisors, and safety committee members will all benefit from learning about how a proper perspective on Safety & Health management can improve your efforts towards reducing costs and injuries. 

OSHA 300 Recordkeeping - What Does and Does Not Need to be Recorded   September 23, 2005

The purpose of this workshop is to introduce the requirements and procedures related to the OSHA 300 Log.  The class will help develop skills to accurately report occupational injuries and illnesses.  Resources and reference materials will be provided.  The presentation will cover the recording requirements, including a discussion of the employee/employer relationship, which pre-existing cases can be limited in the OSHA forms, and exceptions for some categories of injuries and illnesses. 

Vehicle Safety Management Program (Fleet Safety)   October 27, 2005

Accident control in a motor vehicle fleet is critical because increased insurance premiums (among other factors) reduce profits.  This impact can be as devastating, if not more, to smaller fleets!  A written safety policy, developed, supported, and enforced by management should be part of every employer’s overall safety & health management system.  This is an ideal “Part 2” to the “Safe Driving—Get There Safely EVERY Time” class  offered on August 4 and 24, 2005. 

Classes are free and will be held at 200 Folly Brook Blvd, Wethersfield, CT in Conference Room A from 9 a.m.—Noon unless otherwise noted. 

Pre-registration is required!  To register for any of these sessions, call John Able at (860) 263-6902, or send an e-mail to

For a complete listing of our upcoming training sessions, please visit our web site at Box:  
Get There Safely EVERY Time
Get There Safely Every Time

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If you have any questions, contact Catherine Zinsser at (860) 263-6942.


CONN-OSHA Quarterly Index

Last Updated: April 17, 2018

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