The fact is this: If you want to be in charge of a fleet that operates safely, you have to instill the values of safe operation into your front-line and managerial staff. It all starts with your fleet’s safety culture.
Whether we are talking about nuclear power, manufacturing or trucking, safety is always a shared value. And although we now live in the age of CSA, by itself, CSA and other regulations aren’t enough to ensure safe operation on our nation’s streets and highways.
In reality, at the end of the day, the discussion of safety in a regulatory environment comes down to simple academics. A responsible fleet work to manage safety and compliance within the envelope of regulations.
Remember, having a poor risk record isn’t only about safety. How safe your operators are is also a matter of good business. An accident not only costs money, they can lead to downtime, lawsuits, higher insurance premiums and a damaged reputation.
The Key is Empowerment
Are you measuring the level of individual empowerment within your fleet? Furthermore, are you helping your truck drivers manage both their compliance and individual performance records?
Sometimes programs like that are just what you need to get your drivers on board. You want to make your operators feel like they have adequate buy-in, not that they are just cogs in the safety wheel.
Have you got those up and down the chain realizing that the needs of the fleet, the shippers, carriers and receivers are all interconnected? Safety-sensitivity has to be baked into the cake at fleet headquarters, but it also must be a company-wide responsibility. Everyone needs to feel like they have a stake in fleet safety.
Methods to Ensure Safety
But what do you do to ensure your fleet gets the safety picture? There are a number of methods you can employ. Take, as an example, truck drivers who are running between 11:00 pm and 5:00 am. If a driver is required to check in, and feels too tired to safely continue driving, can pull over and call into dispatch.
Doing this provides the truck driver with a sense of empowerment. It allows them to be in charge of the decision on whether or not they want to make the run at that moment. The key factor is communication. You don’t want your drivers to feel like they are making this decision in the vacuum.
Another tactic could be honoring operators who have a good safety record. If a driver hits a million safe miles, perhaps they should be recognized for that. Consider that it could take a decade to get to a million miles and we suggest you really pour on the lavish praise. You could also lower the bar to, say, 500,000 miles.
The key is to get your truck drivers to feel like they are a part of more than just a trucking company, but that they are part of a safety company. Relationships must be created with drivers; relationships that help further the goal of safe operation.
Keep Management in Mind
When there are failures, make sure you address them at the source, but also take a deeper look into what’s happening on the management side. Is your fleet manager engaged?
Furthermore, does your Safety Manager have the tools he or she needs to effectively get the job done? These are important questions. As you tackle CSA and ensure safe fleet operations, they’ll need to be answered.
In the end, ensure safety is valued across not just your company’s operations, but within its culture. Safe principles must be baked into the core of your fleet’s mission. Otherwise you may not be doing everything you can to keep your truck drivers safe.