After 20 years of seeing four fatal accidents a year, since 2015, the number has nearly doubled, prompting a safety alert. (Photo from the Kentucky Injury Prevention and Research Center).

After 20 years of seeing four fatal accidents a year, since 2015, the number has nearly doubled, prompting a safety alert. (Photo from the Kentucky Injury Prevention and Research Center).

During a 20-year period, from 1994–2014, Kentucky saw an average of four work-related pedestrian fatalities per year.  However, between 2015 and 2019, the average number of work-related pedestrian fatalities rose to seven per year, a 75% increase.

“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 with 27, followed by the transportation and warehousing industry where 20 were reported.

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:

--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,” he noted, “but all it takes is once for someone’s life to change or end.”

KOSHS is an occupational surveillance program of the Kentucky Department for Public Health and the Kentucky Injury Prevention and Research Center.

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