Safety is a foundational tenet of any transport company policy. Commercial truck drivers will undergo a much stricter road safety course compared to regular licensed drivers, and they are no stranger to collision mitigation systems, supplementary mirrors and defensive driving best practices – all in an effort to avoid costly, or worse, tragic accidents.
A commitment to safety on the road, however, shouldn’t only hinge on a driver’s experience and personal respect for rules; it must also come from the top. A transport company’s dedication to keeping drivers and the public safe begins with the executive team and has safety at the core of every practice, from hiring and training, to on-site rules inside the yard.
Employees who don’t wear the right gear at the right times are most likely poorly trained at the core.
Employees who don’t wear the right gear at the right times, who don’t respect defined safety zones, and those that cut corners might not necessarily be poor workers, but simply haven’t been trained properly, and need more frequent reinforcement of safety standards from above.
To create a culture of safety that resounds with truck drivers and other transport personnel, management should keep the following in mind:
- Hire smarter. Just about anyone can be taught how to work safely, but not everyone has a good attitude about it. Make sure new drivers understand why each and every safety precaution must be taken, and ensure they’re keen to comply. Respect for the road, the company, and fellow employees is the name of the game.
- Measure and monitor accidents. Even seasoned drivers will occasionally make mistakes. While it’s easy to tell drivers to be more careful, it’s also critically important to compile data about each mishap in order to better understand operations, and to make decisions based on data. It means filing accurate reports each and every time, and looking for patterns to determine if the cause was the employee, the vehicle itself, or other factors.
- Walk the walk, don’t just talk the talk. Managers have to abide by the same safety precautions as everyone else. Good leaders set an example for others to follow, and employees will notice if the executives play by different rules. Leadership is also about getting out of the office and taking the time to get to know employees in every department, and asking what they can do to make their work more efficient.
- Reinforce safety culture. Safety shouldn’t be a one-time lesson during training, but something that is taught throughout the year. Drivers should be perpetually reminded about the risks of driving while fatigued, texting and driving, and other hazards. Meetings and communications about safety should be ongoing!
- Recognize great workers. The most consistently safe drivers should be publicly recognized to send the message: we care about your safety, and that of the company and the public. Positive reinforcement is key for better retention rates, it improves morale, and it helps set the standard for other drivers to follow.
- Invest in the best equipment possible. Some smaller transport companies might have tight budgets that just don’t allow for new and high end equipment, but when it comes to safety, investing in quality is simply non-negotiable.
Values and messages trickle down from the top in almost every organization. Establishing these values, then, is key. With the Covid-19 pandemic still ongoing, safety has never been a more important value to consistently promote! Make a point of talking to employees about safety at work on a more regular basis: their lives and the lives of other drivers on the road depend on it.