A good fleet safety program is one of the most important aspects of maintaining your trucking fleet. And as any good fleet safety manager can tell you, the benefits of this program go far beyond simply avoiding accidents. Besides saving significant money by reducing the costs associated with accidents, a solid safety program can have some fairly beneficial long-term effects.
For one thing, when every employee accepts and follows a safety program, it leads to greater productivity among those workers. This leads to reduced turnover, because the level of employee satisfaction rises with the sense of well-being. Companies can lower their insurance costs by maintaining and demonstrating a track record of safe driving over a period of time.
The snowball effect of these cost savings can then impact the company’s bottom line by lowering operating costs, and that in turn gives the company a competitive advantage and a positive image.
So what steps must be taken in order to establish a safer fleet? Here are some recommendations.
Establishment of a written company policy
Having a written policy lends credibility to your safety program, and signals management is committed to policies that everyone is expected to follow. The policy should also detail how the safety program will be put into effect, and how company resources will be used to support it.
The safety standards should insist only qualified drivers are selected, ones who have been well trained in government regulations as well as company rules. Management should declare its commitment to providing safe vehicles and insist on monitoring driver performance regularly. Safety audits should also be part of the written policy, so that all employees are aware that safety can and will be measured at various unexpected times to encourage and ensure compliance.
Procedures for reporting and investigating
A company should clearly define its procedures for investigating and reporting all incidents, in order to handle current events in a timely manner, and to help prevent future occurrences. This means all trucks in the fleet should be equipped with necessary materials, such as accident response kits that include the proper forms, diagrams, witness cards, and disposable cameras. Eventually each accident should have its cause pinpointed, and reviewed by a safety committee comprised of both employees and management.
Effective communication and training
A training program should be put in place for all drivers, including the basics like orientation, as well as topics on self-improvement and qualifications upgrades. Training should also serve to reinforce governmental regulations and company safety requirements, so as to ensure that all employees are well briefed on these.
Metrics should be used to determine whether the goals of your safety program are being met, and if so, milestone achievements should be celebrated and rewarded. To establish and maintain ongoing dialogue about good fleet safety, company meetings should periodically include discussion on the various aspects of fleet safety.
Feedback is a critical part of any safety program, especially since management can only evaluate the program’s effectiveness when such information is returned to them. Driving performance evaluations should be done at least occasionally to ensure that performance is up to standards. If performance evaluations indicate a lack of training or understanding, this is an area which should be included in the company training program, and communicated frequently. Good performance should be acknowledged and rewarded, to provide incentive for all to maintain the highest standards.
Recruiting and retaining of qualified drivers
The best way to acquire a staff of highly qualified, skilled drivers is to be meticulous in the recruiting and hiring of such drivers. By paying close attention to driving records and employment history, a great deal can be learned about a prospective employee, and solid criteria for selection can be used. Formal hiring policies should be written up and followed, including job descriptions and minimum job requirements.
Recruiting methods should generate at least a fair number of candidates to choose from, so that a company is not obliged to hire from among an under-qualified group of candidates. During the orientation process, new hires’ concerns should be addressed, to demonstrate caring on the part of your company. When good performance warrants recognition, rewards should be offered. This will go a long way toward favorably impressing well-qualified drivers, and it will help immensely with employee retention.