It’s Time to Shift into Winter!
Every day, community and home care workers across BC spend hours driving to clients’ homes or picking up supplies. Tight schedules, unexpected demands, and a possible lack of familiarity with routes may put these workers at increased risk of a motor vehicle crash.
Addressing this risk now is critical because the chances of being injured or killed in a motor vehicle incident (MVI) dramatically increases in November, December and January. In fact, 28 percent of all work-related MVIs occur during these months and the healthcare and social services sub-sector accounts for 12 percent of them.
Understand your responsibilities
Employers and supervisors have a legal responsibility to ensure the health and safety of their employees when they are driving for work regardless of whether they drive a company-owned or personal vehicle. This includes ensuring employees are aware of the hazards they may be exposed to while driving and are trained and have the equipment to stay safe.
British Columbians face a variety of winter conditions, such as cold temperatures, rain, fog, snow, ice, high winds, reduced visibility, and fewer daylight hours. Everyone needs to be prepared for the road conditions we may encounter.
Preparation starts with planning your strategies to reduce the risk your employees are exposed to while driving in winter conditions. Identify the winter driving hazards and assess risks such as seasonal weather conditions, vehicle condition, driver skill and road hazards. Develop, update, and implement your Winter Driving Safety Policy and Procedures.
Winterize your company vehicles by installing a set of four matched winter tires, having a pre-season maintenance check-up, and placing an emergency kit in every vehicle by October 1st. If your employees drive their own vehicles, check to make sure they have had this work done.
Prepare your employees for winter driving by educating them on their legal rights and responsibilities, and your winter driving policies and procedures. Your Winter Safe Driving Policy should clearly communicate expectations such as considering whether driving is absolutely necessary or other travel means are possible. When they have to drive, the policy should ensure employees are prepared for the situations they may face.
Check to make sure your employees are capable of safely navigating roads in winter driving conditions and know what to do in the event of an emergency. If they’re nervous, inexperienced, or just need a refresher, offer them training and coaching.
Road safety is smart business. Using Shift into Winter’s free resources can help reduce the risk of a serious crash, which in turn can enhance employee morale and retention, lower organizational costs, and improve business performance.
Shift into Winter and use our guide on Winter Driving Safety for Community and Home Care Workers and take our free online course designed specifically to help employers and supervisors address winter driving safety in the workplace.
 WorkSafeBC Data in this editorial refers to MVIs in the months November (2014-2018), December (2014-2018) and January (2015-2019).