Archive Notice - OSHA Archive

NOTICE: This is an OSHA Archive Document, and no longer represents OSHA Policy. It is presented here as historical content, for research and review purposes only.


Motor Vehicle Safety



There are more than 2,000 occupational motor vehicle deaths a year, more than 30% of the total annual number of fatalities from occupational injuries . OSHA is developing an action plan to reduce worker fatalities and injuries from motor vehicle incidents but is not initiating rulemaking at this time.

Hazard Description

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, over 2,000 deaths a year result from occupational motor vehicle incidents, more than 30% of the total annual number of fatalities from occupational injuries (1). These deaths include driver and passenger deaths in highway crashes, farm equipment accidents, and industrial vehicle incidents as well as pedestrian fatalities. These data do not include aircraft, water vehicle and railway deaths.



The National Safety Council (NSC) estimated 200,000 disabling injuries and more than $4 billion in economic costs as the result of workplace motor vehicle incidents in 1993 (2).



The underlying causes of these fatalities and injuries have not been well studied, but they vary widely from mechanical failure to poor highway and vehicle design to driver error. Preventive measures also vary widely, including preventive vehicle maintenance, increased seat belt use, effective driver training, anti-lock brakes, road maintenance and safer vehicle design. The causes and solutions are so varied that there is no single, simple strategy for prevention.

Current Status

There are no specific OSHA standards concerning workplace motor vehicle safety, however most of the occupational fatalities occur on public highways where there are seat belt requirements and traffic laws. OSHA issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking in July 1990 for a standard which would have required seat belt use and driver awareness programs (3). Considerable controversy sparked by the proposal resulted in a 1992 Congressional directive to reconsider several issues (i.e., requirements for mandatory seat belt use and driver awareness training, impact on small businesses, etc.) prior to issuing any final rule.



OSHA and NIOSH are currently working with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to extract better data from existing databases on the underlying causes of vehicle-related occupational injuries. NIOSH is drafting an Alert on occupational motor vehicle deaths.



The National Advisory Committee on Occupational Safety and Health (NACOSH) recommended this issue for priority action. In recommendations from its November 30, 1994 meeting, NACOSH recommended that OSHA "develop a Motor Vehicle Standard by involving other governmental agencies and safety organizations." Furthermore, in a September 13, 1994 letter responding to OSHA's request for suggested priorities, a NACOSH member wrote that the final standard on motor vehicle safety "should be advanced to at least the 3rd quarter of 1995" because "this is a leading cause of death and injury, and there is a need for DOT, DOL and OSHA to address this problem."

Rationale

Occupational motor vehicle safety meets the criteria for designation as an OSHA priority. The number of deaths and other serious injuries is extremely high. Insofar as there are similarities between occupational and general population motor vehicle safety, there is a considerable amount known about preventive measures. However, there remain special concerns unique to workplace use of motor vehicles (e.g. hours of operation, heavy trucks and other specialized vehicles) which may require special control strategies.

References
  1. Bureau of Labor Statistics, National Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries, 1993, Washington, D.C., U.S. Department of Labor.
  2. National Safety Council, Accident Facts, 1994 Edition, Itasca, IL.
  3. Occupational Safety and Health Administration, Federal Register, Proposed Rules, July 12, 1990, 55 FR 28728, Washington, D.C., U.S. Department of Labor.



NOTICE: This is an OSHA Archive Document, and no longer represents OSHA Policy. It is presented here as historical content, for research and review purposes only.