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Boost audit scores by taking credit for your work

It's easy to understand why those who run professional fleets still shudder when they hear about a pending facility audit. All too often, the dreams of "excellent" grades are replaced by the reality o...

It’s easy to understand why those who run professional fleets still shudder when they hear about a pending facility audit. All too often, the dreams of “excellent” grades are replaced by the reality of “satisfactory” marks.

The difference in the scores can be linked to your understanding of the audit process and an idea of the details that auditors want to see.

Why would your fleet be targeted by auditors? Each carrier has a carrier profile, which tracks events such as collisions, convictions and failed roadside inspections that occur anywhere in Canada. A facility audit is typically triggered as a carrier’s profile deteriorates. In Ontario, a high priority is given to carriers that have already faced a ‘First Intervention,’ which is typically a warning letter.

Facility audits can also be triggered by factors such as a disgruntled employee who files a complaint about your company procedures, a climbing Out-of-Service rate, or a high-profile collision that involves a fatality.

Regardless of the reason for such a visit, the final results of an audit will be reflected in your home province carrier profile. Either way, it will have an impact on your company’s reputation.

In Ontario, half of the points available in an audit are linked to vehicle profiles, which involve the records that pertain to equipment maintenance, while the other half are linked to driver profiles, which are dominated by logbook entries and related records.

Fleets also have the option of including an audit of safety programs and training profiles, which can account for 10% of the final score.

In these cases, the remaining 90% of the points are split between vehicle and driver profiles.

Fleets often lose these all-important points because they fail to take credit for the work they do. Training is conducted but not documented; mechanics repair minor defects but fail to complete the related paperwork; drivers are disciplined for logbook violations, but there are no documents to prove that warnings were issued.

A smooth audit process comes down to the quality of such paperwork.

Driver trip inspection reports will be called into question if they fail to identify a single defect for months at a time. And your company’s attention to detail will be questioned if a mechanic skips a comprehensive PM checklist and simply scrawls “full service” across the page.

Periodic Vehicle Maintenance Inspections (PMVI) also need to be conducted on a schedule that matches your company’s written Periodic Vehicle Maintenance Statement – even if that statement is stricter than the schedules required by equipment manufacturers. Auditors, meanwhile, want to see a record of such inspections that have occurred over the previous

Dennis DuBois

two years, complete with the dates and odometer readings associated with each visit to the shop.

The audit of a driver profile tends to focus on the paperwork that surrounds hours-of-service requirements. Log sheets are cross-checked with records such as toll and fuel receipts, and then compared to the rules for different duty cycles. (Don’t be surprised if an auditor questions a coffee stain or cigarette burn that conveniently obscures a time stamp).

The paperwork is also scrutinized to ensure that drivers have recorded dates, locations for duty status, on-duty time, and the names of co-drivers.

Companies that choose to include safety programs and training profiles in their audit scores need to provide files that reflect any convictions that have occurred since a driver was hired, details about individual road tests, and proof of training that involves hours-of-service and trip inspections.

Driver files will also need to reflect any required training for transporting dangerous goods, securing loads, adjusting air brakes, or removing and repairing wheels or rims. Details of issued safety bonuses should also be in place.

Drivers need to report every collision, and operators must also provide proof of the actions taken in its wake. The latter proof can include the findings of a safety review committee or police report, along with details about the driver’s remedial training.

If any of that paperwork is missing, it might be better to limit the audit to a focus on driver and vehicle profiles.

After all, the quality of the paper trail will mean the difference between a satisfactory and an excellent audit experience.

– Dennis DuBois is a senior advisor in Markel’s Safety and Training Services Department. Prior to joining Markel in 1995, he had served as a district safety manager for a large truck rental firm, and as an independent safety consultant. Send your questions, feedback and comments about this column to Markel is the country’s largest trucking insurer providing more than 50 years of continuous service to the transportation industry.

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