In 2021 alone, 326,160 individuals were employed in the OGE industry, making it crucial to address the risks associated with their frequent travel. This article sheds light on the importance of prioritizing the safety of OGE employees, particularly when navigating the roads that connect well sites and rural locations.
The Driving Challenge
OGE workers often negotiate rural roads with minimal infrastructure, lacking firm shoulders and safety features like rumble strips. Long-distance commutes from homes, hotels, or equipment yards are common, and coupled with irregular working hours, fatigue becomes a significant concern. Unfortunately, motor vehicle crashes contribute to over 50% of work-related deaths in the OGE industry, emphasizing the urgency of addressing driving-related risks.
Surveying the Landscape
To gain insights into the factors influencing motor vehicle crash risks among OGE workers, The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) conducted a survey involving 500 land-based OGE workers across Colorado, North Dakota, and Texas. The survey, published in the American Journal of Industrial Medicine and Journal of Safety Research, highlighted key findings regarding commuting, sleep, work schedules, safety policies, and risky driving behaviors.
The survey revealed that, on average, OGE workers face long daily commutes, extended working hours, and insufficient sleep. A majority of drivers reported engaging in risky behaviors such as distracted driving (60%), including hands-free phone use, handheld cell phone use (24%), and texting (18%). Additionally, a significant portion admitted to driving while feeling drowsy (26%), with 27% even acknowledging falling asleep behind the wheel.
Addressing the Risks
To mitigate motor vehicle crash risks among OGE workers, it is imperative for employers to implement effective safety policies and practices, including defensive driver training.
Benefits of Training
OGE companies can experience a range of significant benefits when employees complete a defensive driving course and subsequently improve their driving behavior, including reduced accident rates, lower insurance costs, decreased vehicle maintenance costs, enhanced employee morale, increased productivity, legal compliance, improved brand reputation and image, cost savings, improved fuel efficiency, decreased employee absenteeism, and fostering a culture of continuous improvement.