Saying that the number of assaults and homicides against taxi drivers now boarders on "epidemic," Secretary of Labor Alexis M. Herman yesterday released guidelines for safety measures that could protect drivers.
The list of 10 recommended safety measures was published in an OSHA fact sheet.
"Taxi drivers are 60 times more likely than other workers to be murdered on the job," said Herman. "We can''t control random violence, but better protection could save lives. I hope this information will spur drivers and their employers to take protective steps."
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 510 drivers were murdered on the job between 1992-98.
Taxi drivers are also victim to more violent assaults (184 per 1,000 workers) than any other occupation with the exception of police and private security guards.
OSHA developed the fact sheet in consultation with taxi driver safety advocates, an industry trade association and transportation regulators.
Called "Risk Factors and Protective Measures for Taxi and Livery Drivers," the fact sheet lists 10 protective measures to help prevent injury to drivers and speed response time to those who need help.
The measures include:
- automatic vehicle location or global positioning system (GPS) to locate drivers in distress;
- caller ID to help trace location to fares;
- first-aid kits in every car for use in emergencies;
- safety training for drivers;
- silent alarms; and
- use of credit/debit cards to discourage robberies.
OSHA Administrator Charles N. Jeffress emphasized that the fact sheet does not represent new OSHA enforcement policy, nor does it substitute for any current standards.
He said that the fact sheet is a "tool" to provide drivers and their employers with information they may use to help ensure worker safety.
"Many employers, safety consultants and advocacy groups are already helping in the fight to reduce these violent acts against taxi drivers," said Jeffress. "But we need to do more, and we hope that employers and drivers will consider the information in this fact sheet and then implement the safety measures."
The fact sheet is available on OSHA''s home page at www.osha.gov.
by Virginia Sutcliffe