Safety Program Best Practices
The cost of worker injuries has a significant impact on trucking operations. The impact goes beyond the cost of workers’ compensation medical and indemnity: they are a significant disruption to the lives of the workers and can take a good driver off the road. The cost of your worker’s compensation insurance could be double that of a competitor with the same size of operation. Not being able to control the costs of injuries has caused some trucking companies to go out of business.
A best practices study of individual truckers conducted by Liberty Mutual shows that although styles and practices may vary common safety program elements exist at companies with lower crash or injury rates. These are:
- Select drivers based on their history and ability to perform the job
- Establish and communicate expectations on how jobs should be performed
- Monitor performance against the expectations
- Provide feedback on performance
- Change behavior that does not meet expectations
- Document their policies and actions
Management actions, programs, policies, and involvement in the day to day activities provide a better chance of reducing the potential for injuries compared with “driver training”. The report focused on specific steps you can take to reduce your cost of risk. Each company needs to identify tasks their drivers perform and have expectations for performing those tasks that reduce the potential for injuries.
Select drivers based on their history and ability to perform the job
- Has MVR driving record criteria for current and prospective drivers that does not allow more than 3 moving violations in the past 3 years.
- Has MVR criteria that does not allow for serious violations in the past 5 years.
- Has identified essential job functions and includes a driver’s ability to do the job as part of the post offer pre-hire qualification process.
Have and communicate expectations on how jobs should be performed
- Compile a driver’s handbook or manual that illustrates how driver tasks should be performed and cover all driver tasks shown in the industry loss source section that are performed by their drivers. Driver handbook or manuals show company equipment and drivers performing tasks as expected and can illustrate actions to be avoided to reduce the potential for injury. Driver handbook or manual training uses a knowledge checker or practical application test to verify drivers have gained needed knowledge with documented testing protocols.
- Driving expectations include speed, following distance, use of seat belts and mirror alignment sections. Driver expectations include use and inspection of tools, PPE, work materials, equipment inspections and a process for reporting defective equipment.
Monitor performance against the expectations
- Driving performance is measured using in-vehicle technology to verify drivers follow route plans, comply with posted speed limits and do not violate company policies on hours of operation.
- Observations are conducted to verify drivers are performing tasks as expected when working in yards or other areas of the property.
- Observations off site or at property entrances/exits are made to verify driver compliance with seat belt policies.
- Observations are a combination of working directly with drivers as well as conducted at a distance when drivers do not know they are being observed.
- Driver performance is evaluated in multiple areas to identify drivers most in need of attention or closer supervision.
Provide feedback on performance
- Observations are summarized to measure the % of drivers observed performing tasks as expected.
- Goals are established for % of safe behavior. (i.e. performing tasks as expected)
- Drivers receive individual feedback on observations to coach them on performance that does and does not meet expectations to reinforce performing tasks as expected.
- Making observations is part of all managers and supervisors jobs.
- A progressive discipline system exists to assure that repeat performance that does not meet expectations is addressed.
- The progressive discipline system involves actions in addition to “retraining” when performance issues have been identified.
- Coaching sheets or other documented materials are used to verify that all managers or supervisors providing feedback are delivering a consistent message on how work tasks should be performed.
Document policies and actions
- Work task expectations are documented using company equipment to show how the tasks should be performed.
- The observation process has records showing when they were conducted and actions taken to follow up on performance meeting/not meeting expectations.
- Training and policy communication are documented to show names, date and content of the communication.
- Equipment and facility inspections are documented as is corrective action when actions are needed to reduce exposure to injuries.