School bus safety begins outside the bus

By Glenn McGinley, Director, Ohio Public Employment Risk Reduction Program

When school bus safety comes up in conversation the topic normally focuses on student and passenger safety.

However, drivers, mechanics, crossing guards and other personnel face serious safety hazards associated with the work they perform, including workplace violence, fires and explosions. They are also in danger of being struck and backed-over.

A few years ago, a school district transportation mechanic died after a car struck him while he responded to a disabled bus parked on the side of a roadway. He was not wearing high-visibility safety apparel and did not provide advanced warning (safety triangles and emergency road flares or fusees) to help motorists easily see him or the disabled bus.

All too often, other personnel (e.g., crossing guards, personnel directing parking lot traffic) face similar hazards.

A Public Employment Risk Reduction Program (PERRP) compliance officer investigated the incident and concluded that, to prevent similar occurrences, employers should, at a minimum:

  • Provide crossing guards, bus drivers, mechanics and other personnel with high-visibility safety apparel (e.g., reflective vests) and require them to wear the apparel whenever they are exposed to vehicular traffic – regardless of time of day or speed of traffic – as required by the Ohio Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices.
  • Establish a formal policy and procedure for responding to disabled bus incidents, including: timely placement of warning devices (triangles, emergency road flares or fusees); use of steady burning or flashing traffic wands; and instruction for all employees on required emergency procedures to follow until law enforcement personnel arrive on scene.

In an earlier blog post I touched on the importance of employers assessing risks associated with job tasks and then identifying appropriate control measures to ensure each and every employee has a safe workplace. Sometimes, assessing risk means you have to think “outside the box” and contemplate activities that might occur or are likely to happen. Focusing only on tasks that employees do every day may not ensure they go home to their families at the end of the work day.

PERRP picturePERRP’s role is to ensure safe working conditions for Ohio’s public employees by adopting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance. We are here to help, just ask!

To ask questions, get compliance assistance, file a complaint, or report workplace multiple hospitalization accidents, fatalities or situations posing imminent danger to public employees, call PERRP’s toll-free hotline at 800-671-6858, or send us an email at PERRPRequests@bwc.state.oh.us.

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