Worldwide Occupational Road Safety (WORS) review project
Murray, Will (2007) Worldwide Occupational Road Safety (WORS) review project.
Occupational road safety has grown in importance in recent years as the extent of the problem has emerged, and increasing numbers of researchers, practitioners and government agencies have become interested in it. One example is the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) in the USA, which has undertaken a great deal of work to understand and improve the safety of workers. NIOSH has identified that one of the biggest risks that workers face is using the road, and as a result has focused a great deal of attention on occupational road safety.
The aims of NIOSH in sponsoring this particular project were two-fold: 1. Contribute to its research program on occupational road safety. 2. Facilitate the enhancement of global workplace safety and health. In meeting these aims a literature review (Chapter 2) was undertaken. Contact was then made with a range of participants from 15 countries around the world, all of whom completed a questionnaire and provided a range of other information (Chapter 3). Two main gaps emerged in the participants group: mainland European and less developed countries. Both should be encouraged to take part in any future follow-on projects. A large number of findings emerged from the project, which are summarised below. • Where data on the extent of the occupational road crashes is available, it accounts for a significant proportion of both road and workplace fatalities and injuries. This suggests that more attention should be given to the issue by both transport and occupational safety and health-based agencies. • Good quality ‘purpose of journey’ information should urgently be included in the road safety data collection processes in many participant countries to allow at-work collisions in smaller vehicles such as cars and vans to be identified, as well as those in larger vehicles. Based on recent experiences in the UK, this requires a detailed briefing and training program for the police officers who collect the data at the front line. • Occupational safety and health (OSH) data and responsibility encompass on-road driving incidents in some countries, but not in others. There is a strong argument for OSH agencies to undertake more data capture, leadership and enforcement on occupational road safety, which appears to be one of the major at-work risks in many jurisdictions. • Other data sets, including workers’ compensation, insurance, coronial records and hospital admissions also hint at the scale of the problem, but there was no obvious sharing of data standards between participant countries. • Currently, only limited data linkages exist, for example, between road safety statistics and hospital admissions, or between health and safety or insurance data. Better linkages via common coding and interagency collaboration would enable a more complete picture to be obtained. • Governments themselves are one of the largest purchasers of vehicles in many regions around the world, and should be seen to lead by example in the effective and safe management of their own vehicles and drivers. Publishing highly detailed case-studybased program evaluations should be a key element of this process. At present there are many public and private sector programs, but few have been effectively evaluated and documented in detail. • An important next step should be to organise an international conference on occupational road safety that brings together researchers, policy makers, key government agencies, industry practitioners and other stakeholders to agree on definitions, share best practice and guide future actions including leadership on a larger collaborative project to be led by a well-resourced research group to explore and compare the available data and processes around the world. Overall, the extent on the occupational road safety problem identified suggests that focusing some time and investment of the recommendations in the report would be a very good use of road safety, OSH and business improvement research and project management resources.
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