Rise in work-related pedestrian fatalities prompts KOSHS Hazard Alert notice
From 1994–2014, Kentucky saw an average of four work-related pedestrian fatalities per year. However, from 2015–2019, the average number of work-related pedestrian fatalities rose an alarming 75% to seven per year.
The Kentucky Occupational Safety and Health Surveillance (KOSHS) program recently released a Hazard Alert that focuses on pedestrian fatalities.
“Through the course of completing our annual report, we noticed that fatalities among pedestrians seemed to be higher than normal,” said KOSHS program manager Michael Turner. “We decided to look through our database and were able to confirm the increase. We found it prudent to make the public aware of this emerging hazard.”
According to the alert, the construction industry has seen the most pedestrian fatalities from 1994–2019 (27), followed by the transportation and warehousing industry (20).
The Hazard Alert highlights three work-related pedestrian fatalities that occurred in Kentucky, including that of a school crossing guard preparing to start his after-school duties at a rural high school. As the crossing guard reached his station, he abruptly backtracked and stepped into the street. A pickup truck was unable to stop and bumped the crossing guard, who fell backward and struck his head on the pavement.
The Hazard Alert includes five recommendations for preventing work-related pedestrian injuries, taken from best practices created by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, and the American National Standards Institute (ANSI).
The recommendations include:
• When working directly in or on the side of a street, wear a Class 2 or 3 high-visibility vest or jacket in accordance with the ANSI 107 standard.
• Always walk on a sidewalk or path instead of the road. If a sidewalk or path is not available, walk facing traffic on the left side of the shoulder.
• When possible, always choose to cross the street at an intersection or designated crosswalk. While crossing, never assume vehicles will stop. Make eye contact with drivers before stepping into their path.
• Avoid looking at a cell phone or using earbuds when walking near or across a street. These distractions may prevent you from seeing or hearing an approaching vehicle.
• If your company has a high number of vehicles driving on a property, install a designated walk path that pedestrians are required to use.
Turner said it’s important for people to realize that the incidents included in the Hazard Alert happened on the job, as many who are working in areas where pedestrian crashes are more likely may let their guard down due to being focused on their task or job.
“It’s easy to become lax because some people may go their entire career working near vehicles and never come close to being struck by one, but all it takes is once for someone’s life to change or end,” he said.
Hazard Alerts are brief, two-page bulletins that highlight workplace hazards. Within the document, KOSHS provides statistics, practical recommendations employers can take to protect their workers from the hazard, and additional resources that those viewing the document can peruse to learn more about the highlighted risk.
KOSHS, an occupational surveillance program of the Kentucky Department for Public Health and the Kentucky Injury Prevention and Research Center, typically releases several Hazard Alerts each year. Terry Bunn, PhD, is the principal investigator of the KOSHS program.
To view the full Hazard Alert on pedestrian fatalities, visit https://kiprc.uky.edu/programs/kentucky-occupational-safety-and-health-surveillance-koshs-program.