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TRANSPORTATION, WAREHOUSING AND UTILITIES

train, airplane, ship, truck

Input: Economic Factors

Estimated costs of occupational injuries within the Transportation, Warehousing, and Utilities (TWU) Sector for 1992-2002, nearly $900 million annually, were second only to the Construction Sector. These data clearly justify a need for strong occupational safety and health initiatives within the TWU sector. However, market forces, structural changes, and emerging threats may affect the resources available for critical research and prevention efforts.

NIOSH Fatal Occupational Injury Cost Fact Sheet: Transportation, Communications, Electric, Gas, and Sanitary Services
DHHS (NIOSH) Publication No. 2006-155 (September 2006)
Includes the number, rate, and costs of fatal occupational injuries in the U.S. transportation and utilities industry by selected characteristics, 1992–2002.

Note: Data in the above document are based on the 1987 Standard Industrial Classification (SIC). The SIC differs from the 2002 North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) upon which the sector groupings for the NIOSH Program Portfolio are based. The primary difference is that the TWU sector, as defined by the NAICS, does not include Communications or Sanitary Services; these industries are now in the Services sector.

Across the Sector

Changes in business practices have increased performance demands on businesses:

  • If businesses are to remain competitive in today's global economy, they must be flexible in responding to the demands of consumers and producers, and they must be prepared to respond 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
  • For workers, the "just-in-time" business model can mean increased stress, more shift work, and intense production demands that can compromise worker safety and health.

Terrorism is a threat to the safety and security of nearly all operations within the sector:

  • Preplanning is critical for all modes of transportation to ensure the safe transport of goods and passengers.
  • The warehousing industry is taking additional measures to protect goods and personnel from security threats.
  • Utilities face new challenges to ensure the safety and security of power and water supplies.
  • The increased costs of intensive security measures will reduce profit margins and may be passed on to consumers.
  • Increased spending to combat terrorism may require businesses to cut spending on worker safety and health.

New technologies may affect the economy as well as occupational safety and health:

  • New technologies may benefit productivity, but they can also bring unanticipated safety and health risks.
  • Businesses may feel pressure to adopt new technologies as their competitors adopt them.
  • Businesses typically weigh new technologies to benefit worker safety and health against other cost pressures.
Truck Transportation

Economic factors and working conditions increase truck drivers' risk of poor safety and health outcomes:

  • Deregulation in the trucking industry has had far-reaching effects on working conditions. For example, average real wages have declined substantially since the 1980s.
  • Many drivers (especially nonunion drivers) are paid by the mile, not by the hour. This pay scheme creates incentives to drive faster and for more hours to meet delivery schedules and/or desired earnings.
  • Drivers who work for interstate trucking companies are exempted from the overtime provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act, and Federal trucking regulations allow 11 hours of driving daily.
  • Increasing fuel costs erode profit margins for trucking companies and independent drivers.
  • Truck drivers' working conditions (such as sitting for long periods, incurring long-term sleep deficits, and having limited food choices on the road) may predispose them to obesity, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and other health problems.
Air Transportation

The air transportation industry has a diverse mix of carriers, ranging from large commercial airlines to "air taxi" services run by a single pilot:

  • Current fuel costs threaten the continued viability of air transportation companies of all sizes.
  • In Alaska, a vast State with few miles of public roads, 90% of communities are not connected to a highway system. Commuter and air taxi flights are essential for personal and commercial transportation of passengers, cargo, and mail to outlying communities.
    • Of approximately 400 air taxis and small commuter planes that operate in Alaska , 70% have only one or two pilots.
    • Most of these air taxi companies do not belong to the two Alaskan trade associations for air carriers and pilots. Therefore, reaching this population with safety and health information poses significant challenges.
Utilities

Utilities operate under a variety of economic and regulatory constraints:

  • Regulatory frameworks for pricing and environmental protection, among others, mean that utilities must allocate resources to comply with these regulations before they can consider what they spend for other purposes.
  • Utilities are typically overseen by public boards and commissions. Thus they are not able to respond quickly to changes in the cost of fuel or raw materials by raising consumer prices in the short term.

Sources

Truck Transportation

Belman D, White C III, eds. [2005]. Trucking in the age of information. Aldershot , England and Burlington, VT: Ashgate Publishing.

Belzer MH [2000]. Sweatshops on wheels. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.

Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration [2006]. Home page. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Transportation, Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. Date accessed: January 27, 2006.

Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration [2006]. Rules and regulations. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Transportation, Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. Date accessed: January 27, 2006.

Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration [2006]. Hours of service regulations-effective October 1, 2005. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Transportation, Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. Date accessed: January 27, 2006. (Link updated 08/26/2009)

Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration [2006]. FMCSA medical program. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Transportation, Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. Date accessed: January 27, 2006.

Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration [2006]. FMCSA security talking points. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Transportation, Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. Date accessed: January 27, 2006.

Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration [2006]. Truck and bus driver wellness programs. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Transportation, Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. Date accessed: January 27, 2006.

U.S. Department of Labor [2006]. The motor carrier exemption under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) (Fact Sheet No. 019). Washington , DC : U.S. Department of Labor, Employment Standards Administration. Date accessed: January 27, 2006.

Air Transportation

NIOSH (National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health) [2006]. NIOSH Safety and Health Topic: Commercial Aviation in Alaska.

 
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