Taking Safety on the Road

There are straightforward steps you can take to ensure the safety of your employees in the workplace. Rules are posted and enforced through on-the-job oversight, and employees see safe habits modeled by supervisors and peers throughout their work day. However, if the workplace exists on four (or eight or more!) wheels, what can you do to help reduce accidents and incidents on the road?

This is a serious issue facing all employers, not just those in the transportation and warehousing industry. Although the Bureau of Labor and Statistics reports that in 2017, the latest year for which data are currently available, transportation and moving material occupations accounted for about 20% of all injuries, illnesses and fatalities, it also reports that 40% of all fatalities were related to transportation incidents – regardless of industry or occupation. How can you help protect your employees and your business, even when drivers are not in your physical workplace?

Creating a safety culture in your company can easily be extended to roles that encompass driving, whether those roles require an employee to be driving all day or only occasionally to be behind the wheel.  As with any program, creating a company culture that values safety requires three critical components: carefully crafting policies that meet your objectives, consistent training and re-training of employees, and a managerial force that values and enforces a safety-first workplace. OSHA outlines three bottom-line reasons for putting your full effort into this work. A driver safety program:

  • saves lives and reduces the risk of life-altering injuries within your workforce.
  • protects your organization’s human and financial resources.
  • guards against potential company and personal liabilities associated with crashes involving employees driving on company business.

Crafting the Policies

In February 2019, the National Transportation Safety Board released 46 safety recommendations it says “can and should be implemented during these next two years.” These recommendations fall under ten “Most Wanted” categories, some of which are outside an individual employer’s control. However, many of them—such as eliminate distractions, reduce fatigue-related accidents, and end alcohol and other drug impairment—can be positively impacted by a robust transportation safety program.

Create a contract with your drivers that outlines your commitment to transportation safety, and to reducing transportation-related injuries and fatalities. Anyone who will be behind the wheel of a car, yours or theirs, during working hours should know your expectations. This policy should clearly state what you expect from them regarding driving behavior: risk avoidance techniques, strictly no cell phones allowed, and steps to take in case of an incident, for example. It should also outline the consequences for policies not being followed.

Training your Drivers

Drivers’ skills should be evaluated on a regular basis. In the workplace, we are able to watch employees work and gather important skills data every day. In the field, processes need to be implemented to regularly assess whether new training – or re-training – is necessary for each driver.

In its Guidelines for Employers to Reduce Motor Vehicle Crashes, OSHA includes the need for continuous driver safety training, pointing out that it is easy to become complacent in our habits. A consistent training and observation schedule can help counteract this and increase the safety habits of your drivers.

Hiring Drivers Who Embrace Safety

Some of OSHA’s and the NTSB’s recommendations are already addressed in pre-hire assessments, such as Insight’s Driver Success. Driver Success highlights applicants who will take your safety policies seriously, be compliant with company policies related to safety, and those who will be committed to your organization, while identifying applicants who need more attention in these areas.  Accompanying behavioral interview questions help your hiring managers discover more information about your candidates which can be used to create a roadmap to safe driving for each. When used in the application, hiring, and training processes Driver Success helps to establish your safety culture as employees are hired.

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