Top 3 Risks for Transportation Companies in 2020
On average, more than 315,000 employees in the U.S. transportation and warehousing industry suffer a non-fatal injury on the job each year. To keep workers safe, business leaders overseeing drivers, conductors, pilots, and sailors must monitor the unique risks the transportation industry faces. When developing a safety plan for your organization, consider the top hazards the company is likely to face in 2020:
Increased Delivery Demand
The rise of e-commerce and the digital marketplace has significantly shifted consumer buying behavior and expectations. Consumers expect fast, free shipping on low-priced items, which puts a major strain on companies’ operations. An increase in demand is certainly profitable for a retail company; however, it can strain hiring managers struggling to fill transportation and delivery positions. According to the American Trucking Associations, there was a shortage of about 75,000 drivers in 2019, and in 2020, that number is projected to rise to almost 90,000. Companies must adjust their strategies to manage the increasing volume of deliveries while also dealing with an industry-wide shortage of employees.
The gap between work and workforce requires drivers to take on longer shifts and drive more miles. This can make drivers feel overworked and physically exhausted, which can lead to falling asleep at the wheel, delayed reaction time, and a higher rate of accidents.
Driver fatigue has spurred strict federal regulations regarding how many hours professional drivers can spend behind the wheel in one day. However, drivers are paid by the mile, not the hour. On average, a truck driver will be behind the wheel for 500 miles every day. Despite rules that outline maximum daily miles and mandated breaks, many drivers push themselves beyond their physical abilities to reach their financial goal. This poses a risk not only to the driver, but also to all other drivers on the road.
Because of the long hours, irregular schedules, and the lonely nature of the job, many truck drivers turn to drugs to keep themselves awake for unnaturally long periods. A 2013 study of truckers and their working conditions found that 35% of those surveyed admitted to taking amphetamines while driving. Consuming substances and driving while impaired are major risks, as substances can cause changes in judgment, perception, and reactions.
New Governmental Regulations and Processes
In an effort to reduce the risks that overworked employees pose, the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance requires trucks to be equipped with electronic logging devices (ELDs). These tools track how many hours each vehicle spends on the road in a day. The regulation, adopted in 2017 and fully enforced as of December 2019, aims to combat driver fatigue and reduce the rate of accidents. Adopting this technology may have been complex and costly for companies with large fleets. However, it is important for business leaders to invest in the technology, as they’ll also be investing in their employees’ safety.
Other regulations facing the transportation industry in 2020 could affect the cost of diesel fuel, the availability of drivers, and the cost of overtime labor.
Industry leaders can reduce the chance of accidents among their transportation workers. Invest in employees and the fleet upfront to reduce long-term costs relating to injuries and workers’ compensation insurance. Keep these issues top of mind to keep the business and its employees operating safely and successfully.