Doula’s duties include driving

Photo from

Photo from

Abby Mikkelson helps women and their families during labour, birth, and early days with a baby. She packs what she needs to care for herself, so she’ll be ready to care for others – including a change of clothes, healthy snacks, water, and non-slip shoes for the hospital delivery room. As a doula, she’s available on call 24/7.

“Labour can start at any point during the day or night, but I often find myself being awakened with a phone call in the middle of the night,” says Abby, who drives her own car to homes and hospitals.

Critical car care

Abby’s car is an important part of the equation, so she takes good care of it – with regular oil changes, tune-ups, enough air in the tires, and at least a quarter tank of gas. And she makes sure she knows where she’s going.

“Knowing the route to their home ahead of time is imperative,” she says. “This helps me to know which lane goes faster, where to turn, if I should avoid certain streets due to more dangerous intersections.”

Even though Abby is self-employed, she faces the same road safety issues as other people who drive while working for employers. They are known as the “grey fleet” – defined in the Sept/Oct 2010 issue of WorkSafe Magazinestory as “workers who drive a vehicle during the course of their work, but for whom driving is not a primary duty.”

Photo credit: t. magnum on Flickr

Focusing on the grey fleet

Deirdre Holmes is with the Occupational Road Safety Partnership – and she says this group of workers hasn’t always been on the radar like they are today.

Now the safety community is focused on it because 30 people in the grey fleet died each year in BC from 2005 to 2007 – making MVI the second highest cause of worker death after asbestos exposure. The cost of WorkSafeBC motor vehicle claims was almost $31 million in 2007.

In 2009, the BCAA Road Safety Foundation and WorkSafeBC created a partnership to solve this tragic problem. Deirdre manages its fleet safety and grey fleet safety programs.

“The workplace extends into the worker’s vehicle, which is actually a workplace on wheels,” Deirdre said, inviting employers to get in touch with her if they had questions about implementing their own grey fleet programs.

Drive safely as the temperature cools

Whether or not you drive at work, check out Shift Into Winter – with tips on winter driving safety from the Occupational Road Safety Partnership.

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