Ray’s Rules for Safety Managers
Hello folks hope all is well, I am going to continue down the Ray’s Rules path and this month I am laying the framework for all the safety personnel that this industry depends on so heavily. My friend and college Mr. Jim O’Neil, President of O&S Trucking, put it as directly as I have heard, Jim made safety his platform as Chairman of TCA just before I was rewarded that honour, Jim stood in front of a crowded room of his peers and stated loud and clear that ‘Safety was a moral imperative to the trucking industry”.
I love that quote and whenever I get the opportunity to use it, I do, giving Jimmy full credit for being its creator of course. If you’re a driver at a company that does not recognize safety as one of its primary values you’re in a dangerous situation. If you think about it from one of these companies perspectives, safety is a drain on resources. This department produces no revenue and should exist to keep the company on the plus side of legal and nothing more.
The enlightened know that this is not the case; as a matter of fact an ongoing investment in safety is actually an investment in the longevity for a well ran company. I would go far as to say that with no reservation, an effective safety department is the cornerstone of a well ran trucking company and effects every department. It will affect turnover positively and will create driver loyalty how does it do that, when you invest in the safety and well being of employees it shows them that you are concerned for them and are prepared to invest in their future.
It will help keep insurance rates at bay, including WSIB, roadside assistance, company benefits etc, it attracts a better quality of personal to the company, it assist greatly in on time performance on customer freight, on time performance, claims and on and on.
In my past life I had a couple of very good safety managers’ work for me and I did my utmost to support them in their difficult role. I attribute much of any success I have had over the years to these individuals and I thank them for their knowledge and dedication. A couple of the rules your about to read come out of that experience and my absolute respect and admiration for the folks who have chosen to take on our most valued resource, our drivers, and train and them to be responsible safe driving professionals.
Rule 1, If I could I would legislate that every company over, let’s say 50 trucks, must have a safety manager on staff and that manger must have their CDS certification (Certified Director of Safety). One of the efforts from my past I am most proud of was bringing Mr. Jeff Arnold Executive Director of NATMI (North American Training and Management Institute) in to meet with the safety division of the OTA and getting unanimous support to offer this training in Ontario, check them out at www.natmi.org . If you see an individual’s resume or plaque on the wall showing CDS certification you are dealing with a safety professional that warrants serious consideration.
Rule 2, safety managers must have a healthy dose of common sense when it comes to enforcing and creating the rules of behaviour. This industry is one of the most heavily regulated industries there is when it comes to the rules of the road. A good safety manager must know when to use the carrot and when to use the stick, it’s a fine line, but the best in the industry have this talent.
Rule 3, keep it fresh, there is nothing more boring that having a safety meeting where the Manager gets up in front of a group of drivers with his 4 X 8 foot log book and rails the crowd on how to fill it out. I am not saying that this is not necessary, it might be in certain situations, but this message is best done mixed in with other messages and speakers.” News flash” drivers want to know what is going on in the industry outside of their trucks and CB radios. You can make your meetings interesting by inviting guest speakers; bring folks up to date on the latest news from the company and the industry at large, whatever it takes but keep it interesting.
Rule 4, ask your drivers for feedback and input on your department and what they need to be safer operators, nothing makes people feel more engaged like asking them their opinion, nothing! Beware here though you absolutely have to respond to the feedback you get, as powerful as asking for peoples feedback is it can be just as much a negative if you do not let them know that you valued their input. Feedback can be gained by running company draws, fill out a survey and your name is entered for company items, jackets coolers etc. Let them know that they have input into the safety program at your company.
Rule 5, recognition of individual positive behaviour will reinforce that behaviour to happen again and again, as a Safety Manager your job is not to just search out the bad guys it is also to recognize the hero’s and the top performers. Truckload Carriers Association has a great program for this call Highway Angels and a great safety division. Check them out at www.truckload.org . When I was chairman of TCA I had the opportunity to spend some time with the division at their annual meeting and at the planning session for their meeting and it in all honesty it rejuvenated my spirit for this industry just being around these folks and picking up on their passion for what they do.
Here is a bit of advice to those drivers who are reading this article and might be thinking of looking for a new job, it might not be your favourite subject but if you search out those companies who demonstrate a true commitment to safety you will be the winner in the end. These companies likely have sound equipment and a strong commitment to maintenance. They likely have a clean and healthy work environment, they likely demonstrate employee and owner operator loyalty in as many ways as they can find and they likely try and get your family involved in as many ways as possible. Want to work for a winner find a company with a strong dynamic safety department and you have likely found a good home.
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Hi Ray, I just finished reading your rules for a safety manager and in my opinion, you should add another rule. Rule 6: Before becoming a safety manager and acquiring their CDS certification, the safety manager should spend several years driving truck and hauling, loading, securing, unloading, etc. so that they could have some knowledge and experience to draw from when deciding how and when to enforce the rules. Far too often, safety people don’t even know what would be safe and what would not be safe because most of what happens in the industry is something they are not familiar with! ( for an example, loading a bulldozer over the beavertails of a lowbed, towing the detatched bulldozer blade behind it onto the trailer would not look very safe to many safety managers, and in fact, maybe is not very safe in most people’s eyes, but here in Alberta, it probably happens hundreds of times a day, every day, safely! ) That is an extreme example, but that is why it is necessary to have some ‘hands-on knowledge’ before any ‘safety person’ starts deciding what safety really is! Another thing that I think safety managers should do is learn to listen to people who do not have any troubles doing their job and ask them for some input. Any big carrier that I worked for had safety people who were absolutely opposed to any suggestions from anyone and after time, the ‘old hands’ who had been around for years and had figured out better ways to do things, but were not afforded the chance to implement their improved ideas into the job, eventually quit or got squeezed out for not conforming to company policy. They usually went on their own or went to work for a smaller outfit and usually took some customers with them! It seems that a lot of safety managers drove a truck for a minimal amount of time, and for whatever reason, ended up being in the big safety chair without much useful experience!
Hi Stephen, agreed Rule 6 makes good sense and your absolutly right it’s hard to lay down the rules if you have never been where the rubber hit’s the road. Not sure I would make them have that much road time but having them in a truck at least once a quarter might make sense also.
I have to agree with rule 6. I am a Safety Mgr and I spent many years in the cab of a truck. I also have my CDS certification. I still resort back to my days behind the wheel when dealing with driver issues. It is great to have the school knowledge but partical knowledge “HAS” to be part of dealing with people.
Rule # 7: Stay ahead of the game. Don’t get complacent. Never decide that you have a complete package that works for your company. Our business is in a constant state of evolution. There are always going to be new rules and procedures just around the corner. Be the person who delivers the information that drivers are looking for and deliver it in a manner that they can appreciate. Make your drivers the most informed out there.
There is always something you can improve on or generate toward the “safety” of your company. Decide what you want to address next and do it in a manner that drivers can relate to.
Ray you have hit the nail on the head and rule 6 & 7 are important additions. I agree that you are right about knowing when to use the carrot or the stick. I witnessed an iron fisted safety director that got not respect from drivers and most likely no one in the organization. He would tell people at the safety meeting that it is his meeting and was not open and rude to the people that brought up any new safety concerns. The only reason the drivers attended the safety meeting was to get a good free breakfast and they had to attend to get the yearly safety bonus. It should be 80% carrot and 20% stick in a worst case scenario. A good safety person will soon increase the 80% to 90+.
I agree boys, Rule 7 is important but it is also why I like the CDS (certified director of safety) process it has continuous improvement built into the training and in order to keep your designation you have to submit a yearly game plan for improvement. Praise in public and discipline in private is how things should work the days of the old drill sergeant mentality are over, thank goodness.
I don’t care much for the “carrot and stick ” analogy unless we’re talking about farm animals. All be it colorful, comments like this cause me to look for the “human factor” in a company. The rules mentioned above are good rules but, also generic and a reminder of every safety meeting that came before it. A good driver also judges a company by it’s safety dept. and wether they exist as “paper-pushers” or simply petulant “finger wagers” in an effort to give the impression a safe work environment. I would also add that aside from the CDS, the ability to inspire and motivate others with attention to the fine details of safety in trucking. That type of person doesn’t always automatically come because a certificate is present.
I have enjoyed your “rules for” articles. Is it time for you to do one for editors and contributers to trucking magazines? Here is some ideas that come from reading a couple of editorials a while back.
One should not try to be tongune in cheek if thier foot is in thier mouth.
Band wagons are meant for sports fans not for a manufacturer and its unproven new product.
If a writer is that far left maybe an union newsletter would be a better vehicle.
See Ray, you have to do it. I am just no good at it.
Angelo , when one rights articles or blogs like the ones I have been doing for the past number of years you have to make certain assumptions to get to the point in a reasonable amount of time or words. My assumption in this regard is that the managers that the rules are written for are actually managers and have some people skills and leadership characteristics or they shouldn’t be managers. The carrot or the stick reference is completely applicable when the manager’s primary role is compliance of rules in my opinion it does not speak down to drivers it is a reference to a management technique. A manager who has “the ability to inspire and motivate others with attention to the fine details of safety in trucking” is what every company should be looking for and as you point out knowledge of rules and regs in and of itself does not a manager make.
Merv O, thanks for the suggestion, I would like to hear what specifics your referring to in your comments, I bet their juicy, I to upon occasion have to shake my head at some of the so called experts who write for this industry. They don’t seem to have a clue as to what they speak of, the fact that they have a column and a venue somehow makes the experts.
Merv-O, I agree that your suggestion would make for a great edition of Ray’s Rules! I have many I’d like to add to this one.
I also would like to hear about your specific examples. As a card-carrying member of the Conservative Party of Canada, I know that #3 doesn’t apply to me. As for the other two, if they were directed towards me, I’d love an opportunity to respond. Let’s hear what specifically has gotten you riled up.
Ray, I think you could eventually write an entire book on Ray’s Rules!
I agree with all the rules, if I might put my two cents worth, a millions miles and a CDS in your pocket does not automatically make you a good Safety Manager, If you don’t have people skills, leadership and common sense, you are just like to many Safety Manager that I know who’s trying to impress and intimidate drivers with the amount of certificate they have of their office wall.