When it comes to trucking safety, a fleet needs to practice what they preach, and to do so, they have to ensure safety culture is coming from the top of the organization.
Sure, there’s a lot of emphasis placed on safety technology these days, but it doesn’t really matter how fancy the technology is your fleet is employing, or how thorough your safety program, if ownership hasn’t bought in, the people working the front lines won’t follow through with proper safety behavior.
What does this mean? It means if a shipper asks to have a load covered, the truck driver says no, but then gets a directive from the top authorizing it, safety is definitively undermined.
Quite frankly, fleet safety should take a back seat to nothing, especially where management is concerned. Also keep in mind that by forcing a truck driver to make a move that could undermine their own potential safety, that could fall under truck driver coercion, which could represent a huge problem for the fleet.
Safety culture must run throughout the company, from the front-line to the C-suite. If that means a dispatcher reports one of their own truck drivers trying to run hot, then there is nothing wrong with that.
If you want your fleet to operate with safety at the forefront of everyone’s mind, the word cannot exist in a vacuum. Safety, operations, maintenance and even back-office work; they can’t all be different things, or mutually exclusive. Safety must be a part of each.
From The Top to Tools Down
When it comes to a safety culture, you have safety managers that are also doing this work. Are they investing in the right equipment? Consider that it is one thing to buy the right equipment, but you have to ensure your safety manager and those operating the equipment have safety first-and-foremost on the mind.
Sure, you can try to get the most out of these devices on their own, but if you aren’t properly following up on what they are teaching you, they may be as useless as a downed power inverter.
You could have all the safety technology in the world installed on a truck driven by a truck driver with bad habits. This is why coaching and a proper safety culture is so important. The most proactive safety tool is the example being set by those in charge.
Don’t just use safety videos to nail truck drivers to the wall, but also use them as good examples. Were you a truck driver once? Perhaps your safety manager can get behind the wheel and record some good behavior. Tools can be used to help truck drivers learn what is good just as much as they can be used to castigate them for doing something wrong.
There’s a reason why the old adage is spoken so often, and not just in the trucking industry. Where safety is concerned, are you “practicing what you preach?” In the end, advanced systems are meaningless if the people operating them aren’t living by the principles these devices communicate.
As the leader of a fleet, whether large or small, it is important to lead not just in shareholder value, but in incorporating a proper safety culture.
Have you considered popping in on training sessions to share safety best practices or anecdotal evidence regarding your own safety experiences?
Perhaps one-one-ones with truck drivers to get their ideas on what works and what doesn’t will help increase their buy-in and involvement in the entire safety process.
The fact is, this goes beyond CSA scores. Having a safety culture that works is about walking the talk. Do you have a top-down safety culture? If not, it’s time to take a second look at your operation.