In the transportation industry, there can be a tug of war between the Operations Department, tasked with getting things done, and the Safety Department, responsible for getting things done safely.
But safety and operations don’t have to be mutually exclusive. It is a concept we have heard echoed throughout the transportation industry by fleets that set the standard for sound safety cultures. The truth is, not every fleet has a great safety culture—but they can. And when they do, it can boost employee morale, improve driver retention and create a happier workplace.
Here, Lytx VP of Safety Services Del Lisk shares 6 signs of a strong safety culture. Where does your company rank? Find out.
1. Leadership is committed to safety.
One glance at the behaviour of the company’s executives and it will be clear if safety is a core value for the business. If it is, safety will not only be a value, it also will be a priority at all levels of the organisation—leaving its mark on everything from the company’s mission statement to weekly employee meetings.
Leadership sets the tone on safety by walking the walk and talking the talk. That is why, when the CEO of a construction fleet visits a work site, he or she should take care to wear a high visibility vest and hard hat like other employees do. Or, if a distribution company prohibits drivers from talking on the phone while driving, executives should not be talking on their mobile phones at the wheel, either.
When managers show they are committed to a strong safety culture, employees receive the message loud and clear and take safety seriously themselves. Every employee has a role to play in safety. When the company’s leadership lives that message, everyone else will, too.
2. You use data to measure and hold drivers accountable for safety.
Holding drivers accountable is not a novel concept, but when safety is your goal, the burning question has always been “how do you hold drivers accountable in a fair and effective way?” If your end goal is to change driver behaviour in the long-term, video is the best approach. Vehicle telematics can be helpful, but when combined with on-board video, fleets have the facts to proactively interact with drivers and improve driver behaviour before a collision occurs.
Most safety issues, when identified, are treated as learning and coaching opportunities, rather than relying on punishment as the mechanism to change behaviour. For example, if on-board video reveals a driver is falling asleep at the wheel and nearly has a collision, a company with a strong safety culture will meet with the driver, watch the video clip together, and try to understand why the driver was falling asleep to begin with.
Was he fatigued from a long shift or a scheduling change? Are issues at home stressing the driver? The safest fleets assess the business as a whole and ask, “What can we learn from this?” And video telematics helps provide those lessons in very conclusive ways.
3. You rely on new safety technologies to continuously improve.
Early adopters of safety technologies believe there is always a way they can improve, no matter how strong their business model already is. They are never satisfied with the status quo, and the quest for continuous improvement is in their DNA.
Fleets with the strongest safety cultures never stop assessing how they can become safer, even after they have made big strides. In the transportation industry, early adopters of in-cab safety technologies are likely to have strong safety cultures. For example, by investing in video telematics technologies that can propel fleets to the next level of safety, businesses can protect themselves from liability while demonstrating that they are dedicated to a safe work environment for all.
4. There is an open environment to discuss safety concerns.
In a strong safety culture, anyone at any level can share safety concerns with others and they will be heard. A company with a strong safety culture knows that when employees feel pressured to take risks, it can lead to poor—and sometimes fatal—outcomes. In a strong safety culture, the best safety initiatives originate from employees. But there must be an open environment for employees to share those concerns.
5. Communications are clear and effective.
Hosting weekly or monthly safety meetings, mailing letters home to family, and emailing daily safety messages to drivers can serve as valuable touchpoints that will help you connect with drivers while reinforcing important safety messaging. Many companies have employees lead safety meetings to increase their level of engagement.
6. The company cares about the well-being of employees, and it shows.
When leadership cares about company employees, that care is reflected at all levels of the business. You will see things like positive reinforcement, public praise for a job well done, and regular visibility of the company’s leadership as they seek to learn about every facet of the business and improve safety at every level. When employees are treated like the valuable contributors they are, they are more likely to buy into the company’s safety culture, and it will show in your company’s stellar safety record.