As the regulatory landscape continues to shift, fleets need to be more nimble than ever in addressing operational safety needs and risk management. The fact is, many fleets may not even have a list of safe fleet operation best practices.
Are you doing everything you can to minimize truck driver risk and reduce accident rates? Whether you run an in-house program or outsource it, you may not be doing everything you can if you don’t have a comprehensive safety and risk management program in place.
The Big Picture
Ensuring your trucking business is safe and risk-free is the only way to true profitability. Whether your operation is large or small, decreasing risk and minimizing accident rates not only saves time, money, and face – it saves lives.
By creating and maintaining a thorough risk management and safety program, you increase your ability to control any potential liability concerns. The first step in creating your program is in evaluating the big picture.
First, one must take into account the regulations and build best practices around those regulations. Companies must examine how they can effectively absorb those best practices into their company culture and business operation – with as minimal an impact as possible.
The key thing to remember is that you want to put everything together in such a way that implementing these practices doesn’t intrude on the effectiveness of your operation. If you create a program that is so cumbersome it isn’t manageable, your risk assessment program won’t be worth the digital paper it’s written on.
When setting up a best practices for safety and risk evaluation program, there are several factors that you must consider. They are the branches from which the leaves of your program will sprout.
First, ensure your program includes the following:
- Regulatory compliance
- Risk assessment and management
- Loss prevention
- Asset protection
- Personnel Management
Next, you want to zero in on the key elements that will help you get to where you need to be. These elements further narrow down where your focus should lie.
Seven key elements for you to consider include:
- Always ensure you have a written policy.
- Outline who administers and is accountable for the program.
- Truck driver selection, review, training, and discipline.
- Drug and alcohol testing.
- Accident tracking and data analysis.
- Equipment inspections and maintenance events.
- Back-end record keeping.
When it comes to administering your safety and risk management program, you need to know how to incorporate each element together into one cohesive unit. Let’s take a look at the first couple of elements.
The Written Policy
Steer clear of huge policy manuals filled with jargon and complicated language. These days that is no longer effective. What you need is a task-driven written policy.
Administration and Accountability
There is no point to having a comprehensive safety and risk management program if you don’t have the right people involved. Everyone needs to be held accountable to their duties, and you must clearly define who does what, when they do it, and their means of doing it.
Driver Selection, Training, and Discipline
“Am I hiring the right person?” Are you asking yourself this question every time you onboard a new truck driver? How you identify potential employees should be specific to your operation.
Once you have selected the right person, your risk management program must address their training and discipline – if needed. Documentation requirements should be very specific in this category.
Drug and Alcohol Testing
This category is crucial to your success in trucking. You have to have a clear and concise path explaining how you handle driver compliance and/or failure.
Accident Tracking and Analysis
Accidents could lead to potential litigation. You need to be tracking them, analyzing them, and adjusting your policies to mitigate accident risk. How you use the information you gather is key.
Equipment Inspection and Maintenance
Fleets that keep vehicle inspection and maintenance at the forefront of their thought process save time, money, and are safer. If you aren’t ensuring your equipment is in fine working order, and properly documenting your maintenance records, your risk management program is not complete.
Back-end Record Keeping
The final cog in the wheel is your back-end record-keeping. FMCSA regulations require strict documentation policies be in place. You need to know where to get started on your documents right when you need them.