fbpx

Safety Compliance Articles

Winter Driving

safety complianceOh my goodness, October already! As you might imagine, writing an article for a magazine has a certain lead-time to it. For me, I have to write these articles weeks, if not months before the magazine is published. I say this because at the time that I am writing this article, I’m very hopeful that the US government will soon issue the “notice of proposed rule-making” in regards to the new electronic logging device (ELD). By the time you read this article, this is likely to have been done and it should be in all the daily trucking newspapers and their websites. One thing that you may not know is that the Provincial Transportation Minister, Stephen Deluca and the Federal Transportation Minister, Lisa Raitt have both previously indicated that they will enact legislation to make ELD’s a Canadian reality!

Personally, I am looking forward to all trucks having electronic logging devices installed. This is definitely going to have an impact on the transportation industry, and trucking companies and drivers are definitely going to feel the impact. That being said, I think the ones who are going to be most disturbed by the new regulation will be the shippers! This is going to bring a new reality to shippers as fleets will no longer be able to have their trucks sit for hour upon hour at a shipper or receiver’s loading dock without financial compensation for the Drivers and Owner Operators. The truck drivers and trucking companies will no longer be able to make up lost time by cheating on their logbooks. And this I believe is a healthy step in the quest of collision reduction.

As I said previously, I’m writing before the end of August and I don’t know that the ELD rule from the states has yet been released. But I am so hopeful!

I know you are reading this in October and I would like to remind all Drivers and Operators that winter is coming and in some places in Canada it is likely already here. So drivers, you just finished “construction season” with all of its hazards and you had to endure all of those minivans loaded with families heading off on vacation while not paying attention to the road, but now you must move on to the hazards associated with winter driving.

So I would like to remind drivers about “black ice”. There are many different hazards when it comes to winter driving but I think black ice is perhaps the worst. When you’re driving in a snowstorm or on snow-covered highways you can see the hazard and adjust your driving techniques to compensate. With black ice, unless you are very diligent, you will not know that it is there. So how do you detect black ice?

First thing that you should be aware of is the temperature outside. Black ice most often forms around the temperatures of 0 Celsius. It will form between the -2 and +2 Celsius. That is a wide range in temperature. It often forms in the evening and at night as temperatures are dropping so you need to be extra careful at this time of the day. Black ice will often form first in low lying areas. So, as you drive through those dips and valleys you have got to be diligent. Black ice will often form first on bridges and overpasses. Especially on a day that there is a stiff breeze or wind as this will lower the temperature on the road surface.

How do you detect black ice? You must be like a detective and look at the signs. If the road looks wet and there is no road spray coming from the tires of the vehicle in front of you, this is an indication that the moisture on the road has frozen and is now black ice. Listen to the sound of your tires. Yes, that means you have to turn your radio off and perhaps open your window a little. But tires on dry pavement make a different sound than tires on wet pavement. So you need to be listening. While you have that window rolled down a little, touch the back of the mirror. If the moisture on your mirror has frozen, that is an indication that the road may have frozen as well. All in all, you need to be extra careful at this time of the year.

How do you deal with driving on black ice? First and foremost, slowdown! Often, drivers under estimate the stopping distance required between vehicles or are not aware of the difficulty of keeping their truck under control while driving in treacherous conditions. If you are on black ice and lightly touched your brakes, this could cause a loss of control or cause your trailer to jackknife. So the best idea might be to get off the road. This is not only for your safety but for the safety of everyone.

So to conclude, winter is coming and the threat of black case is real. You owe it to your family to be cautious and drive safe.

MTO Hearings and How to Avoid Them

safety complianceI recently had the opportunity to go to 301 St. Paul St. East in St. Catharines,
Ontario. For those of you who don’t recognize this address, good for you! It means that you have not been to a Ministry of Transportation (MTO) “Show Cause” hearing. In fact, this past month I have been there twice. Both time I was representing trucking companies for Safety and Compliance, with terrible CVOR records.

At one of the meetings it was stated that less than one percent of CVOR holders make the visit to St. Catharines. Less than one percent! And here I am twice in less than a month. Does this mean that I am an awful safety consultant because my clients have to go and see the MTO? I hope not. These companies hired me to help them get in shape before they had to appear. And in both cases, improvement was made by the companies.

What is the MTO process and how did these companies get selected? In both cases, it was not a surprise that we had to go and plead our case. So how did it all work? Did they have warning signs before they got the letter to appear? Definitely!

The letter they received basically said that the Ministry has the power to shut their company down and if the company wants to avoid that, then come to the MTO and talk to them. The carrier (or their safety consultant) must then explain why the MTO should not take that action. After all, the Ministry of Transportation has the responsibility to keep Ontario roads safe and it appears (if a company gets this letter) that the company is not doing their part!

In each of the meetings that I attended, there was a panel of three people that we appeared in front of. It is quite intimidating. They ask very direct questions so that they can understand what management is doing about safety and compliance. What is management doing to correct their CVOR and keep the roads of Ontario safe? You had better go into this meeting with a plan of action and the plan should already be implemented. They want to see action on the company’s part because by the time you received the MTO letter, the need to take action should not be a surprise.

Why not a surprise? Well, the CVOR holder likely already had two previous warnings or notices that this request was going to land in the company’s mailbox. The first is a “Warning Letter” from the MTO stating that the company’s safety record has garnered the MTO’s attention. This letter comes when your CVOR goes above 35% of the threshold. If, after getting this warning, the CVOR continues to climb, the company will likely receive a facility audit. This is the second foreshadowing of the sanction letter arriving. The results of the audit, by the way, are a great blueprint for what action the company and safety consultant should take. The audit points out most of the deficiencies in the company’s safety program. It basically says: take action now and improve your CVOR score to avoid having to visit St. Catharines.

Ok, how do you avoid this process? Take action after you get the first warning letter. Don’t let it get to the point that your company becomes part of that one percent that gets these letters. Many owners of smaller trucking companies are good managers; they have good dispatchers and they can keep their customers happy. But they are not knowledgeable in the safety and compliance area. Or, the owner simply doesn’t have the time to take care of safety and compliance issues. So if you want to avoid the ultimate interview, then you had better hire the expertise required. This can be done by getting a knowledgeable person on staff. If you are a small company, you can probably get away with a part-time position and of course, if you are larger, then a full-time person is required. Either way, you need someone to help you.

What I have experienced is that often, the owner will hire a consultant to train a member of their family to do the safety and compliance. In this way the knowledge and responsibility stays within the company. I believe that this is much better then hiring a safety consultant to run your safety department. Remember, you can delegate the task but never the responsibility.

So if you have received a warning letter and worse still, also received the second warning of having to do a facility audit, you had better do something positive and quickly. Take the correct steps to avoid an appearance in front of the committee! It is no fun to have your livelihood threatened.

Over the Road, April 2015; 

What to Do if You Have an Accident

 

As a professional driver you have been trained to avoid collisions! You don’t tailgate and you travel slightly below the flow of traffic. You are a cautious and safe driver. But the unthinkable still happens. You are involved in a crash!

 

The crash is not your fault and it wasn’t even preventable. (Yes, there is a difference between “fault” and “preventability”.)   Now as a professional driver, what do you do?

 

At the scene of a crash, the first step is to turn on your four-way or emergency flashers.  You want to warn others about the crash scene so that they might avoid becoming involved.

 

The second thing to do is to turn off the engine of your truck. This is of course, to prevent fires. You have not yet gotten out of the cab of the truck to assess the damage. You don’t know yet if you’re leaking fluids that may be ignited or if another vehicle is leaking gasoline.  But turn off the engine of your truck right away. In most cases, you do not want to move your vehicle until the police arrive. That being said, if it’s a minor crash in a major metropolitan city you may be required to move your vehicle because you have to go to the accident reporting center.

 

Assuming that you are not moving your truck, the next thing to do is to set out your warning devices, whether they are triangles or flares. You are trying to protect the scene of the crash as well as protect yourself and anyone else involved in the crash. You are also trying to warn other motorists about a crash scene so they do not get involved.

 

Now that you have protected the scene it is time to assess damages. The first types of damage you want to know about are personal injuries. If someone has minor injuries at the scene of the crash, use your common sense and the first aid kit in your truck and render assistance. If someone has serious injuries do not move the person unless their life is in danger! Again, you can assist the injured but do not move them unless his or her life is in danger.

 

Now it’s time to call the police and report the collision. After the police are notified it is time to get in touch with your company. If your phone is not working then give the necessary information to a passerby and asked them to make the two phone calls. Remember that you are to stay at the scene until the police arrive. Always remain polite and courteous to everyone, even the person that caused the crash.

 

You may speak to the police and your company’s insurance representatives but never speak to the media. When you are giving your verbal statement to officials, try to make sure, if possible that you are not overheard and always tell the truth.  Never admit guilt or apologize!

 

Now it’s time for you to document the scene and to take photographs.

 

Most of us have cameras on our cell phones. When you take photos, be sure to take pictures of the license plates of the vehicles involved in the crash. You will also want to photograph the accident scene. Take lots of photographs. Take photographs from all angles including a 360° circle. The photographs should be both from near and far. You will also want to photograph any evidence such as skid marks. Try to include stationary objects in some of your photographs.  This will help in the future if an investigator has to return to the scene of the crash as they now have a fixed object to relate the photographs to.  Never take pictures of seriously injured people. Leave that to the police and the insurance companies.

 

If your crash is of the catastrophic or very serious nature, and includes serious injuries or fatalities, you do not need to photograph the scene. Your insurance company and the police will send out professionals to record the crash.

 

There you have it. What to do at the scene of the crash even when it’s not your fault. Drive safe and I hope you never have to use these tips!

Over the Road, May 2015; Drivers Need Incentives not Safety Bonus

In this past week I was participating in an online discussion regarding driver safety bonuses. The people that were participating were all safety trucking professionals. I was the only voice to express the view that I didn’t like safety bonuses. I think I shocked many of the other participants.

 

Why am I against driver safety bonuses? There are a couple reasons I think there are for not paying drivers the safety bonus. The first reason is that I believe there is a better way to give drivers an incentive. And secondly I don’t believe we should pay anyone for doing the job that we hired him or her for. Did we not hire a professional driver to drive collision and violation free? Every time a driver gets a violation, ticket or is involved in a collision, are they not going against everything that a professional driver and trucking company stands for?

So I don’t believe in driver safety bonuses! But I do believe very strongly in incentives. Many companies outside of the trucking industry offer their employees  “profit-sharing”. Why is the trucking industry so different? Why are we not looking to other industries for great ideas?

 

Here’s how I think a trucking company can give a driver a bonus and encourage him to stay longer with the organization. After all what is that not one of the goals of the bonus? Isn’t it at least one of the goals to help in driver retention?

 

So what if we paid the driver profit-sharing. It’s a little more complicated I think in the trucking industry, but I do believe that we have the technology to make this process fairly simple. A colleague of mine once said that each truck “is a profit center”. I believe that! If each truck is making a profit then can we share some of the profit with the driver who operates a vehicle?

 

So how might this work? With engine technology the way it is today, and our computer systems in the office we should be able to identify each truck and its profitability. For example if a driver does a thorough and complete vehicle inspection before leaving the yard for his trip and finds a defect on the vehicle, gets it repaired before leaving the yard, has the driver not contributed to the vehicle’s profitability. After all it is significantly less expensive to have the vehicle defect fixed in the yard that would have been on the road. That’s one example of how a driver can positively affect profitability. The second example may be fuel efficiency. We all know that there are several ways that you can operate a vehicle and affect its overall performance. A driver who has good shifting technique and is relaxed and patient on the road usually gets better fuel economy than those drivers who are constantly in a hurry. Again contributing to profitability as well as reduced maintenance costs. Another example could be route planning. For the long-haul driver there are many different ways to get to his destination. If you are paying a driver by the mile they most often will take the shortest route.  That shortest route however may not be the most fuel efficient or safest route. By giving the operator a portion of the profits the driver would be encouraged to take the most profitable route.

 

Another thought regarding bonuses. I do believe they should be paid quarterly throughout the year. This is frequently enough that the driver doesn’t forget about the bonus and infrequent enough for the check to be substantial.

 

There are several more examples I could be cited as to how a truck can be more profitable. But the idea of this article today is to get you to think how this might be applied to your company and to your drivers. I firmly believe that a profitable truck is also a very safe truck and isn’t that at least one of the goals of the bonus, to encourage the operator to be safe, without violations and to make the truck profitable!  I would love to hear your feedback on this email.

 

Stay safe!

Over the Road, April 2015; What to Do If You Have an Accident

As a professional driver you have been trained to avoid collisions! You don’t tailgate and you travel slightly below the flow of traffic. You are a cautious and safe driver. But the unthinkable still happens. You are involved in a crash!

 

The crash is not your fault and it wasn’t even preventable. (Yes, there is a difference between “fault” and “preventability”.)   Now as a professional driver, what do you do?

 

At the scene of a crash, the first step is to turn on your four-way or emergency flashers.  You want to warn others about the crash scene so that they might avoid becoming involved.

The second thing to do is to turn off the engine of your truck. This is of course, to prevent fires. You have not yet gotten out of the cab of the truck to assess the damage. You don’t know yet if you’re leaking fluids that may be ignited or if another vehicle is leaking gasoline.  But turn off the engine of your truck right away. In most cases, you do not want to move your vehicle until the police arrive. That being said, if it’s a minor crash in a major metropolitan city you may be required to move your vehicle because you have to go to the accident reporting center.

 

Assuming that you are not moving your truck, the next thing to do is to set out your warning devices, whether they are triangles or flares. You are trying to protect the scene of the crash as well as protect yourself and anyone else involved in the crash. You are also trying to warn other motorists about a crash scene so they do not get involved.

 

Now that you have protected the scene it is time to assess damages. The first types of damage you want to know about are personal injuries. If someone has minor injuries at the scene of the crash, use your common sense and the first aid kit in your truck and render assistance. If someone has serious injuries do not move the person unless their life is in danger! Again, you can assist the injured but do not move them unless his or her life is in danger.

 

Now it’s time to call the police and report the collision. After the police are notified it is time to get in touch with your company. If your phone is not working then give the necessary information to a passerby and asked them to make the two phone calls. Remember that you are to stay at the scene until the police arrive. Always remain polite and courteous to everyone, even the person that caused the crash.

 

You may speak to the police and your company’s insurance representatives but never speak to the media. When you are giving your verbal statement to officials, try to make sure, if possible that you are not overheard and always tell the truth.  Never admit guilt or apologize!

 

Now it’s time for you to document the scene and to take photographs.

 

Most of us have cameras on our cell phones. When you take photos, be sure to take pictures of the license plates of the vehicles involved in the crash. You will also want to photograph the accident scene. Take lots of photographs. Take photographs from all angles including a 360° circle. The photographs should be both from near and far. You will also want to photograph any evidence such as skid marks. Try to include stationary objects in some of your photographs.  This will help in the future if an investigator has to return to the scene of the crash as they now have a fixed object to relate the photographs to.  Never take pictures of seriously injured people. Leave that to the police and the insurance companies.

 

If your crash is of the catastrophic or very serious nature, and includes serious injuries or fatalities, you do not need to photograph the scene. Your insurance company and the police will send out professionals to record the crash.

 

There you have it. What to do at the scene of the crash even when it’s not your fault. Drive safe and I hope you never have to use these tips!

 

Chris Harris

Safety Dawg

 

 

Over the Road, March 2015The Importance of “On-Boarding”

Good drivers are hard to find.  You finally latch onto one who passes the background checks, gets decent references and passes the road test. Now it is time for your companies “on boarding” or new hires orientation process. This is the time where you can make a great impression with the driver. Making a good impression and making the driver feel welcome to your company will help in driver retention.

 

Often times when I visit my trucking clients we will have a discussion regarding how they introduce their new drivers and owner operators to their company. Most often when I’m talking to a small trucking company of 10 to 25 trucks, the process is poor.  With some companies, you can’t even call it an orientation.  They are basically telling the driver to hand in his completed paperwork on time and if that is done, then the company will pay them on time. Here are the keys and hit the road! read more….

 

Over the Road, February 2015, Winter Conditions Require Safe Solutions

 

I was recently driving from Montreal to Toronto in less than ideal circumstances. This trip took place in December and during this trip, several times I saw snow coming off the roof of a trailer.

It is irresponsible of our industry to continually allow trailers on the roadway that cause a significant danger. I was recently reading a submission from a lawyer who had been hired to prosecute a trucking company for this type of incident. Unfortunately, falling snow and ice had resulted in the death of the car driver. The lawyer was seeking compensation for the family. It is my opinion that the family deserves compensation. They have lost a loved one and it was our industry’s fault. I am asking readers for solutions to a difficult situation and of course the reason I’m asking for solutions is because I cannot come up with any on my own. We live in Canada and in the winter, Canada produces snow and ice which have long been enemies of the trucking industry. But the situation I’m trying to address exists only when the ice is on the trailer tops. How do we find a solution to this issue that only happens 3 to 4 months of the year? Whose responsibility is it to clear the snow? read more….

 

Over the Road January 2015, Driver Shortage is More About Quality then Quantity!

Are you experiencing a driver shortage? Most of the trucking companies that I deal with regularly tell me that there is a driver shortage. But when I question them further about this, they quickly admit that it is not a driver shortage but a shortage of quality drivers. They usually have more than enough applications to fill all their trucks but in most cases, the drivers either have a Motor Vehicle Record (MVR) that is unacceptable, or they don’t yet have the experience that the carrier requires.

 

Over the Road September 2014,  Have you Measured Your Collision Rate?

There’s an old saying, “you can’t control what is not measured”. Or how about, “If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it”.

A much wiser man than I said that and I believe this statement to be true. If you also believe it to be true and I think that most of you do, then why is it that the majority of safety departments do not measure their statistics? Last month I wrote about a friend who ended up closing his trucking company. I believe one of the reasons was that he was not measuring enough things in the safety department. I suggested to him that at the least, he needed to measure “severity”. This month I would like to offer some other suggestions for measurements in some other “key performance indicators (KPI’s)” that will help you manage your safety department. I believe all fleets should be measuring “KPI’s”. Even if you are only ten trucks, you need to be measuring driver’s performance as it relates to safety.

Over the Road August 2014Loose Your Insurance? Understand Why

I recently had a phone call from a friend of mine who owns a 25 power unit trucking company. He called me looking for insight on how insurance companies work. His issue was that his current insurance provider has declined to offer him a renewal quote! This of course put him under a great deal of stress as it is not easy finding new insurance.

NATMI June 2014Why You Might be Sued for the Slightest Infraction

It struck me recently that I’ve been tweeting a lot regarding lawsuits and their effect on trucking. A wrongful death suitagainst a trucking company can cost up to $150M. Meanwhile the chances of being sued seem to be increasing.

NATMI, May 2014, Mental Fitness: Return to Work Policies

There’s been a large crash! The unthinkable has happened and someone lost their life in this collision. Thank goodness your driver is OK. But a third-party has died.

Over the Road, April 2014, Be on the Defensive as Spring Approaches

Over the Road, March 2014, Ask the Right Questions to find the Ideal Job Match

Over the Road, February 2014, The Difference Between Compliance and Safety Professionals

Over the Road, January 2014, Why You Might be Sued for the Slightest Infraction

Over the Road, August 2010, CSA 2010 Puts Emphasis on Clean Driver Record

Over the Road, July 2010, How Does Sleep Apnea Affect Truck Drivers

Over the Road, June 2010, Many Changes Affect Trucking

Over the Road, May 2010, The Perils of Car GPS Systems

 

 

Terms and Conditions for Safety Dawg Inc.