February 2020 Safety Coach: Driver Safety Never Yields the Right of Way

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Lisa’s Latest Top 10

In the U.S., crashes annually cost employers billions in medical care, legal expenses, property damage and lost productivity. Crashes also impact costs associated with workers’ compensation, social security benefits, and private health and disability insurance.

OK, let’s stop right there. We can agree that’s a lot to digest, right? Can we also agree that a driver safety program makes dollars and sense? Focusing on transportation safety can positively affect an employer’s bottom line. Here are 10 ways to implement or upgrade your program:

  1. Include 100% of your employees in your educational efforts. Costs from off-the-job crashes involving employees and their family members can impact your bottom line, too.
  2. Transportation safety is an ongoing conversation, not a one-and-done event to cross off your meetings requirement checklist. Schedule regular trainings and safety meetings to build a culture of safety. Keep in mind: Talks don’t have to be long. I believe in capturing those “two minutes” of downtime and putting those minutes to use with effective communications.
  3. Save the word “accident” for potty training. Use words such as crash or incident instead. Accidents often occur by chance or without apparent or deliberate cause. Crashes typically are the result of human error. Incidents involving distracted, drunk, drugged and drowsy driving are completely preventable.
  4. One way to cut costs associated with travel and incidents on the road is to develop or enhance a journey management plan. That plan should begin with an end in mind. Is travel necessary? What are your expectations? Do you expect employees to arrive at worksites at 7 a.m. or 8 a.m.? Do you account for the one or two hours of drive time it will take for them to reach their destinations?
  5. Be sure to embrace a top-down approach to safety. Managers should lead by example.
  6. Implement or enact strong safe driving polices that address speeding and aggressive driving, distracted driving, impaired driving and seat belt use. Review these policies regularly.
  7. Consistently enforce 100% of the policies you have in place with 100% of your employees to ensure 100% of your workforce understands your commitment to safety.
  8. Make use of all the tools in your toolbox to educate employees and promote safe driving behaviors. Remember, the more tools you have, the more effective you can be.
  9. Prioritize vehicle selection and maintenance. A well-maintained fleet is beneficial, but personal vehicles that employees use for company business should be included in your safety plan, too.
  10. Monitor vehicle records (MVR’s) data and monitor employee driving records. This is a practice that allows company officials to identify drivers who are at a higher risk, who may need additional training or who should be prohibited from driving a company’s fleet vehicle.

This is my list, although I could probably go on and on. If you find something to add, I encourage you to draft your own driver safety list. I find lists very helpful and some of you may as well. I encourage you and your leaders to find new and innovative ways to build on your road safety culture.

The “little guys” can now match the “big guys” in road safety training.

Level Playing Field

In Texas, the “little guys” operating oil services and transportation companies can now match the “big guys” when it comes to providing road safety training programs and road safety culture-building activities. That’s because the Gulf Coast Safety Institute at College of the Mainland has partnered with the National Safety Council Our Driving Concern program to offer free quarterly training sessions.

“Our involvement with the Texas Oil & Gas Safety Roundtable has brought into focus the high number of injuries and fatalities in Texas in just this one industrial segment,” Gulf Coast Safety Institute Director Cindy Lewis said. “This number is on the rise, and we wanted to help our students with training and tools to assist them with their efforts in bringing these numbers down.”

Lewis first was introduced to the Our Driving Concern Texas Employer Traffic Safety program by friends at Texas Mutual Insurance, the funder of Gulf Coast’s Center for Risk Management. She connected with NSC program manager Lisa Robinson, which led to a series of trainings that run through July at Gulf Coast’s LaMarque location, just outside of Houston.

All Texas employers are invited to send safety leaders and managers to these free sessions:

  1. Transportation safety training: Covers a variety of traffic safety topics and is designed for you to take back to your company and present to your employees. Participants will receive copies of the curriculum.
  2. Drug Impairment Training for Texas Employers (DITTE): Explores the effects of alcohol and other drugs on driving and workplace performance, and highlights the cost and lifestyle impacts of a DWI-alcohol arrest. Benefits of preventative training for employers and employees also are outlined.
  3. Gulf Coast Safety Institute classes and events: The Gulf Coast Safety Institute was established in 2007 to provide safety and health training and education to workers and employers. The Institute serves as an OHSA Challenge Program Administrator. Check the schedule and register for upcoming events.

“By bringing our free trainings to their facility, we are helping lead more safety professionals to their Institute,” Our Driving Concern’s Robinson said. “So, it’s a win-win.”

Because this unique safety training partnership is in its infant stages, Lewis does not yet have any anecdotal stories to share about how session attendees have incorporated learnings back at their own organizations. She can speak to the broad range of students who have attended sessions in the past at the Institute.

“Our students are employees at every level – front line to upper-management – and represent multiple industries, such as petrochemical, consulting, NASA, contractors and many others,” Lewis said. “The students leave these classes with the materials provided by NSC, including a thumb drive with the training curriculum.”

That’s how the safety training playing field gets leveled.