Components of a Comprehensive Safety Program
What follows are important issues that should be considered in your safety program.
The Hiring Process
Drivers can be an operator's most valuable asset – or its biggest liability. Care should be taken to ensure that your company attracts and develops qualified, professional drivers. Selective hiring of safe, skilled drivers with good work habits, who fit into the company environment, helps minimize employee turnover and reduces training costs.
The following are tips for developing good hiring practices:
- Designate one person to oversee the hiring of new drivers.
- Some companies are able to build loyalty and a strong team atmosphere by promoting interested employees from the dock to driver positions, or from one type of equipment to another. Consider a "promote from within” policy.
- Consider how you advertise for new drivers. You may look to employees for referrals. If you advertise, stress your high standards, safety requirements and exclusive hiring practices.
- Focus on an applicant's positive attitude, trainability and then relevant experience. It is much easier to train a new driver with a good attitude than to change the attitude of an experienced driver.
- Choose a maximum violation and collision threshold for new hires that you feel is reasonable. Consider if your threshold will include preventable collisions only, or all collisions. Do not hire the applicant if the threshold is exceeded.
- Look for a minimum experience level for new hires. If you cannot find an experienced driver, you may want to look at an applicant who displays the proper attitude and aptitude for training. Consider what type of equipment the candidate would be using. You may want to assign new hires to yard, dock or local duty for a probationary period.
- Conduct a personal interview to evaluate attitude, literacy and language skills. Consider the following in your interview process:
- Question any employment gaps shown on a résumé.
- Have a second interviewer confirm the candidate's potential and capabilities.
- Follow up by contacting references and past employers.
- Look for positive attributes during the interview. These positive attributes include manners, professionalism, being open-minded to change, team-player orientated and so on. You want to hire an applicant who will fit into your company.
- If the applicant has worked for a number of companies, find out why. Avoid hiring drivers with past performance problems.
- Evaluate the financial performance of owner/operators. Those successful in the past are an indicator of long-term safety performance and of a good professional driver.
- Review a current driver abstract to confirm history as a condition of employment.
- Use an experienced driver to conduct a driving evaluation of all possible new hires. Use a thorough test that includes two- and four-lane highways, city driving, and yard backing and parking. Things to look for include: shifting, turning, mirror usage, speed and general awareness. Develop a written and a road exam, or a check-off form, to test an applicant's skills and knowledge.
- Look for positive attitudes in safety representatives, accountants, dispatchers, mechanics, dock workers and so on. Use much the same approach as in the hiring of drivers.
- Be honest with applicants. Fully explain what is expected of employees. Do not promise benefits and compensations that you will not be able to deliver.
Orientation is part of employee training. The purpose of an orientation program is to familiarize new employees with their jobs and the company, including all policies and procedures.
Use an experienced driver to assist with the orientation of new ones. Ensure that your experienced driver is suitably trained to do the orientation. Consider developing a list of "Must Always Do” and "Must Never Do” as part of your orientation program, to heighten consistency in material being covered in each case.
Consider having new drivers ride with those who are experienced for a time period. Use experienced drivers who are committed to the company's goals and objectives, and who have a proven safety record.
If your company has numerous vehicle configurations, have the driver start with simpler equipment and advance to more specialized equipment as experience is gained.
Experienced employees from other areas of your company can be used to assist with the orientation in their areas.
Training Items for a Safety Program
When providing training specifically, or at staff safety meetings, it is good practice to keep a record of the training offered, who took it and what results were obtained, along with a recall system to find the information at a later date. Choose the training programs and the instructors carefully to ensure that the training is effective and specific to your equipment.
Some common topics to be covered in training are listed below. It is important to be consistent and provide the same training to all staff.
- Safety equipment
- Load secureness
- Vehicle operation and safe driving
- Hours of service
- Vehicle maintenance
- National Safety Code
- Company safety program
- Transportation legislation
- Occupational Health and Safety Act legislation