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Springtime usually marks when trucking companies have their primary driver safety meetings, reviewing crash statistics and emerging trends with key guidance to prevent recurrence. Oftentimes, this is also the time of the year when safety awards and special presentations are given to those who are crash and violation-free.  

Awards signify that drivers have properly performed the way your safety program intended. However, it’s always important to ask yourself the following: Could my results have been better? Why didn’t more drivers receive awards?

To answer this question, we must consider our safety culture. All companies, regardless of their size, profitability, customer base, traffic lanes, and sophistication, have a safety culture. Some safety cultures are the finest they can be because everyone in the company realizes how their job affects safety and how safety affects their job. On the other side of the safety culture spectrum are companies that do not meet their safety goals. They too may conduct loss analytics, driver training and driver recognition, but their results are less than hoped because their lack of a safety culture is their safety culture.

Drivers are the end result of safety programs. However, regardless of how finely structured your safety programs are, if the company safety culture is not properly fully-focused on safety, losses will still occur. In addition to conducting regular driver safety meetings, consider taking your safety meetings to a higher level by providing specialized safety training to your non-driving personnel. This includes workers that have regular direct driver contact such as recruiting, safety, dispatch, and load planners, to workers with limited to no driver contact which can include executive management, maintenance, accounting/payroll, administration, and even the sales department. These personnel can create certain motivations, behavior, and/or distractions, causing drivers to operate unsafely or take risks they may not necessarily take on their own.

After a crash, most companies conduct a post collision interview with the driver to determine the facts. However, that is where it stops. A complete root cause analysis must be conducted to determine the underlying factors that led up to the driver’s motivation to perform the unsafe acts. Is it because of a lack of training, fatigue due to an overly aggressive dispatcher forcing the driver to operate without proper rest, unsafe traffic lanes or customer demands? This is where the company must have big shoulders and accept responsibility where the accountability initially lies. It is very true that the driver is the one ultimately responsible for the safe operation of the truck, but does the root cause analysis demonstrate weaknesses in areas that negatively affect driver safety, such as management processes?

Process management is commonly identified as a fault during a thorough root cause analysis and is typically overlooked because the driver is too easy to blame as being the sole person responsible for the collision. Develop the non-driver safety meetings to help them understand how their lack of attention to safety considerations at all levels can be the catalyst that leads up to the driver collision. Develop measurable matrixes to help hold them accountable. Understanding their part in accountability will also enable them to better understand safety concepts. This safety training, especially at the beginning, needs to be regular, monitored and modified to be complete. It should also be a major topic in new worker orientation. Have these individuals attend your driver safety meetings so they can learn the challenges a driver faces every day.

The job of Safety Director is not limited to working with just drivers to prevent crashes and to keep workers off the OSHA 300 log—their responsibility is to direct safety for the entire company. When all company personnel understand how losses occur and how they can participate in reducing unsafe exposures, the company safety culture is taken to the beginning of the next of many levels. A safety culture is not an end result; it is a serious journey taken one step at a time with everyone accepting accountability for how they influence it. The Safety Department has an extremely difficult task. Directing safety to the entire company will in itself provide the Safety Department with a full line of Safety Managers. Take advantage of and leverage everyone’s thoughts and perceptions on safety issues in the company. Collectively, even small ideas lead to a solution. 

And always remember—there is no single solution to preventing losses, because it comes from multiple strategies working together.

  • Categorized in:
  • Seasonal Driving Tips
  • Injury Prevention