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South Dakota Department of Transportation
Project Synopsis

Title: SDDOT Safety Program
Project Researcher: Dan Rappana, Safety Benefits, Inc.
Project Manager: Jon Becker
Research Period: 2/14/2000 - 2/28/2001
Cost: $42,060.00

Problem Statement: Substantial and continuous improvement in safety within the South Dakota Department of Transportation (SDDOT) is needed. The occurrence of preventable accidents and injuries is unacceptably high, with the Department's current safety culture believed to be partially responsible. For the purposes of this document, safety culture is intended to refer to all values, mores, norms (i.e., the explicit and implicit rules that dictate the expected/appropriate behavior for that culture), behaviors, traditions, customs, etc.

Examples of the types of preventable accident claims that are occurring include general bodily injury and property damage, state vehicle bodily injury and property damage, and workers compensation claims. Bodily injury and worker's compensation claims are arising out of back injuries and eye injuries, among others.

A Safety Manual exists that details employee and employer safety responsibilities and rules, however it appears that safety policies and procedures are not being followed or applied uniformly throughout the department. There also do not appear to be any ramifications associated with preventable accidents or injuries arising from non-compliance with safety rules, policies, or procedures.

Organizational changes, replacement of retired employees with new employees, and reduction of the DOT training program may also contribute to higher occurrence of preventable accidents and injuries.

Findings: The on-site interviews combined with the work practice audits provided, in the consultant’s opinion the most valuable information. The consultant believes that a great majority of the employees interviewed answered each of the questions honestly and thoughtfully. Answers to the questions posed in the survey instrument were fairly consistent throughout the state. Summary of Employee Interviews The interviews that were done were broken up into five areas: General, Training, Personal Protective Equipment, and Accident Reporting. The general area explored employee perception on the current safety program. If employees were taking an active role and interest in the safety program they would have been able to answer questions as to where the policy statement was located, who to report hazards to and the accident investigation procedure. Another indication of this is when asked to rate the current program, hourly employees ranked it higher than supervisors (who are more involved with the program). Over one third of the employees interviewed stated that they do disregard safety rules to get the job done. 95% of the employees interviewed thought that rules were disregarded by employees. This indicates that either the rules are inappropriate, or that these employees do not believe that safety is as important as the other aspects of the job. 93% of the supervisors interviewed had had a work related accident. Although a majority of these supervisors had worked for the Department for a number of years, it is still possible to work without being involved in an accident. When asked who is in charge of safety for their area, answers varied throughout the state. The training section examined how employees are trained for the job. A majority of the training that is occurring is on-the-job. Supervisors are more aware of BOP training than hourly employees and there were a number of employees who had never been to any BOP training. Most employees feel however, that they do have adequate training to do their job safely, and the training they do have, they have picked up over the years. Personal Protective Equipment section explored what types of PPE are available and being used. There were no problems noted in this area, other than employees deciding when to wear the PPE, rather than a strict policy. The final area looked at accident reporting. Accident reporting is a major function of the Regional Safety Committee. Although this is an important aspect of the safety committees, more emphasis must be placed on investigations both at the committee level and the supervisor level. The accidents that are occurring are not being shared on the state level. Most employees are not aware of the number of accidents that are occurring in their own areas, not to mention statewide. A greater emphasis on implementing corrective actions should help this. One area that was noticed in doing these interviews and work observations is that very little safety information is being passed from Area to Area and Region to Region. The Central Office must become a clearinghouse for this type of information and fact gather so it can be disseminated to all other areas. The complete results from the survey can be found in Appendix B.

Research Objectives:
1  To develop a formal Safety Program
2  To develop a promotional plan for introduction of the Safety Program to DOT employees

Research Tasks:
1  Conduct a review of literature pertaining to workplace safety. This review is to include, but is not limited to, review of South Dakota DOT, other state DOTs, and other governmental offices and private industry companies as deemed pertinent. Review o
2  Meet with Technical Panel to review the work plan, present findings from Task 1, and compose a survey instrument to be used in Task 3.
3  Using survey instrument approved by Technical Panel, identify SDDOT personnel current safety practices.
4  Based on, but not limited to, findings from literature research and survey, define the components of proposed Safety Program.
5  Meet with the Technical Panel and present findings and propose Safety Program.
6  Update and revise current SDDOT Safety Manual in accordance with proposed Safety Program.
7  Provide to Technical Panel a detailed plan indicating how to implement the Safety Program. This implementation plan is to include an estimate of implementation costs.
8  Provide a detailed promotional plan on how the new Safety Program should be presented to the SDDOT Executive Team, Central Office, Regional Offices, Area Offices, and Shops. Presentation materials will be retained by SDDOT for subsequent presentation
9  Prepare a final report summarizing research methodology, findings, conclusions, and recommendations.
10  Make an executive presentation to SDDOT’s Research Review Board at the conclusion of the project.

Documents Available:

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