Thinking Outside the Bus…No, I Mean Box

| March 5, 2009

One of the requirements of OHSAS 18001 is to identify all of your workplace hazards, including those that may cause “ill health”.  This includes illnesses that are made worse by a work activity.  This analysis also needs to be extended to individuals beyond the borders of the traditional workplace. 

ABC News reported on just such a situation last night.  It included a segment on the health implications of driving a school bus and the steps Broward County, Florida has taken to address them.

What did the Broward County School Board do?

They initiated an employee wellness program focused on improving the overall health of their bus drivers.  This included offering incentives for drivers to participate in a regular exercise program.   

Why does driving a bus pose a health hazard?  

Driving a bus is a sedentary activity.  Bus drivers, like other drivers of commercial vehicles, may spend hours sitting in one spot – even if that “spot” happens to be moving.  As a result, drivers often gain weight and develop other health conditions such as high blood pressure and/or diabetes.  This is on top of other hazards, such the risk of injury due to accidents and exposure to diesel fumes.

Why did the school board act?

In addition to the desire for healthy drivers, the school district was concerned about cost.  According to the school board wellness coordinator – “Those types of health conditions (high blood pressure and high cholesterol) translate into high claims.  The school board wants to save lives and reduce claims.”

So when you are doing your hazard identification – be sure to “think outside the box.”  Don’t limit your investigation to only the inside of your facility.  Make sure you look outside as well.  Include workers such as bus drivers, outside sales staff, repair technicians, and mobile workers – their health is important as well.

© ENLAR® Compliance Services, Inc. (2009)

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Category: Risk Management

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