Paying attention to non-driving chores can pay safety dividends
At this time of year, I often run across articles or columns with the message that winter is coming, so drive safely. That message is certainly important as we all know the dangers that exist when driving in winter weather; however, often lost in the importance of delivering the safety message to your drivers are the non-driving practices that each of your drivers can adopt to achieve a higher safety performance.
Non-driving safety improvement can be attributed to several different factors, and all play a key role in a carrier's and driver's safety performance. These safety measures can be taken year-round rather than just in the winter months ahead. The most basic non-driving safety function that a driver can perform is a proper pretrip inspection. Often overlooked or taken for granted, a good pretrip can lead to the discovery of unsafe or potentially unsafe issues around the truck. Tires, brakes, and lights are just some of the items on your tractor and trailer that should be inspected prior to departure before each and every trip. Any wear on a tire or cracked hose can possibly lead to an out-of-service order or worse, an accident, neither of which you want on your driver or carrier CSA score. Encourage every driver in your fleet to take the extra time to thoroughly inspect the truck for defects and you'll be one step closer to preventing incidents.
Freight loading/unloading activities are another non-driving safety issue for drivers. Always remember to emphasize proper lifting and loading techniques. Even a non-driving industrial accident qualifies as an accident. Your drivers should always practice these proper techniques to avoid injuring their back, legs or even neck. One wrong lift can sideline a driver for a lengthy period of time.
Winter is also a good time to remind your drivers to be wary of where they walk outside their trucks. Traveling to a shipper's location or performing a pretrip inspection are prime places for slips, trips and falls. Oftentimes, during inclement weather, loading or unloading facilities at a shipper location may be the last area of the property to be cleared of snow and ice, creating a slippery surface on which drivers may fall. Also, even when legally and properly parked during an ice and snow storm, snow and ice may build up around the truck, creating a hazardous environment for a driver when examining his or her vehicle prior to embarking on the next leg of the trip. Caution drivers to be aware of the surroundings outside of their truck before performing an inspection.
Driving on our roadways is not the only place where drivers need to maintain a safe attitude. While driving gets all the publicity and a news crew never seems to show up when drivers fall down outside their trucks, it is equally important to remind drivers to maintain a safe approach to their jobs as a whole. As a fleet owner or safety person, I am sure that each of you has experience in dealing with the non-driving safety aspects of a driver's daily routine and can certainly recite a litany of stories where non-driving practices have affected the safety of the driver or the truck. Encourage each of your employees and co-workers to focus on the often-overlooked safety aspects — the non-driving parts.
David Heller, CDS, is director of safety and policy for the Truckload Carriers Assn. He is responsible for interpreting and communicating industry-related regulations and legislation to the membership of TCA. Send comments to Safety411@truckload.org.