Safety is the number one priority of the risk manager at a trucking company fleet. The cost of accidents involving big trucks is substantially more than the cost of accidents in almost any other business. Truck accidents have both the potential for significant property losses, and accidents pose an increased level of risk to drivers, especially in large trucks. Workers’ compensation costs for trucking companies is higher than most businesses.
Whether the trucking company is a common carrier, private carrier, inter-modal carrier, hauler of hazardous cargo, moving van company, dump truck company, or logging company, the most efficient way to influence the cost of workers’ compensation is an established safety program. Here are safety program recommendations trucking companies can consider.
Written Accident Prevention Plan
Your safety program must be more than telling the drivers to “drive safely.” Your accident prevention plan must be a written, comprehensive manual provided to every driver. Drivers must be tested on their knowledge of your company’s safety requirements.
The written safety plan outlines — Required pre-hire training a driver must have:
- Safety training a driver will be required to complete while employed;
- Frequency and location of safety meetings;
- Red flags. Those safety violations causing driver discipline or termination;
- Company policy on hours of operation;
- Steps to check the safety of the equipment;
- Employer drug testing policy;
- Post-accident retraining policy; and
- Safe driver recognition program.
None of these points may be omitted!
With the shortage of qualified truck drivers, especially long-haul drivers, you must establish a policy on whether or not the company hires only experienced drivers, will train your driver recruits or will utilize a truck driving school for driver training. Regardless of the experience, the following must be a consideration:
- All drivers must be skill tested to verify they can operate the trucks in a safe and careful manner; and
- A trainer/instructor rides with each new hire until the trainer is satisfied the new driver operates the truck in accordance with all established safety guidelines.
Required safety meetings should be held at least monthly to review a safety topic. The agenda can vary and include:
- Accident prevention;
- Equipment safety; and
- Fatigue management.
Hold the safety meetings at your terminal(s) to ensure maximum participation. Record each safety meeting for those drives unable to attend the safety meetings.
Make the avoidance of risky behavior a condition of employment at your company. Place on probation drivers cited for speeding or other moving violations. Terminate drivers receiving multiple traffic violations. Monitor other driving behaviors such as leaving the designated route, complaints from the general public, unusual acceleration/deceleration, and failure to maintain proper logs.
Drivers paid by the mile are often tempted to push the limits of their physical endurance. Strict policies need to be in place to ensure the drivers meet the minimum Department of Transportation (DOT) requirements for rest. Consider the following limitations:
- Number of hours driven by drivers; and
- Number of miles driven, especially at night.
Consider paid mandatory driving breaks to reduce the temptation to game the system and fight fatigue.
Require every driver to check the truck before beginning a trip. Inspections include tires, brakes, hydraulics, lights, and wipers are a must. Equipment and parts not operating correctly must be replaced before the trip begins.
Drug testing is an essential requirement for a trucking company. Administer both a pre-employment drug test as well as random drug testing. Schedule random drug testing often enough to so the potential for getting caught deters drug use. Strict enforcement of this policy will also create a culture of compliance and assist when defending workers’ compensation and other claims.
Investigate every accident to determine its cause. While driver inattention is the primary cause of accidents, other factors can play a role, including weather, equipment condition, and actions of other vehicle operators. By identifying what caused the accident, post-accident retraining will better benefit the driver.
Provide additional safe driving training to any driver involved in a traffic accident to reduce the potential for future accidents. The drivers involved in accidents can also be given competency testing to verify their knowledge of how to operate safely.
Safe Driver Recognition
Recognize drivers who compile safe driving and reward them. Drivers who operate their equipment for a year without an accident or traffic citation may receive a plague and/or an additional cent per mile, or other tangible recognition.
It is important to keep truckers moving in a safe and efficient manner. Implementing a safety policy and sticking to it can create a culture of compliance, and reduce workers’ compensation costs. It will also promote a better work environment and pay dividends in other forms.
Author Michael Stack, CEO Amaxx LLC. He is an expert in workers’ compensation cost containment systems and helps employers reduce their workers’ comp costs by 20% to 50%. He works as a consultant to large and mid-market clients, is a co-author of Your Ultimate Guide To Mastering Workers Comp Costs, a comprehensive step-by-step manual of cost containment strategies based on hands-on field experience, and is the founder & lead trainer of Amaxx Workers’ Comp Training Center.
Workers’ Comp Roundup Blog: http://blog.reduceyourworkerscomp.com/
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