TORONTO, Ont. – The Fleet Safety Council of Ontario, at one time a very influential organization whose expertise was frequently called upon by regulators, is looking to enhance its profile in 2013.
The Council, founded in 1965, brings together fleet safety managers, workplace health and safety advocates and other interested parties for regular meetings through its 10 chapters consisting of 600 members across the province. They then gather once a year for an all-chapters annual meeting.
The quality of the content shared at these meetings is well regarded, but as with most organizations, competing for the time of members has been an increasing challenge. Don Danbrook, executive chair for the Fleet Safety Council, speaks enthusiastically of the Council’s history. Originally founded as the Council of Driver Trainers, the organization set out to heighten awareness of health and safety issues in the workplace.
“Back in 1965, the folks around the table were looking for a way to network and to share ideas,” Danbrook said. “They met on a fairly regular basis and talked about things such as MTO compliance issues – anything from freight damage to better training for drivers.”
As the Council of Driver Trainers gained prominence, it started receiving invitations to provide input on new legislation. As an example, Danbrook said the Council provided input when the Z air brake endorsement was being developed. Attendance at these meetings surged, thanks in part to the limited access to information in that era. Fleet safety managers couldn’t find an answer to their questions by Googling it; they relied heavily on the expertise and knowledge of their peers, which was most easily gleaned through face-to-face networking.
In 2007, the Council of Driver Trainers was renamed the Fleet Safety Council of Ontario. Its mandate remained the same, to raise awareness about health and safety issues in the transportation industry. However, one of the challenges facing the Council – and other groups like it – is the ability to continue drawing a crowd to its networking events.
“We meet monthly, for the most part, and we invite speakers to come in and discuss everything from compliance issues to health and safety issues,” Danbrook told Truck News, just one day after hosting an OPP accident reconstruction expert as guest speaker at one of the Councils’ gatherings.
For the most part, the various chapters of the Council meet once a month, usually in the morning. One of the greatest benefits for members is the ability to learn from the experiences of their peers, Danbrook said, adding there’s a willingness, even among competitors, to share information.
“Folks are more than willing to share success stories on compliance and health and safety, because we’re all in the same business here,” he said.
The meetings are attended by representatives from a diverse group of companies, ranging from one- and two-truck operations right up to reps from some of largest fleets in Ontario. Danbrook said there’s good representation from most of the segments within the province’s trucking industry, but he’d like to see more participation from the ready-mix and waste management sectors.
“Those are two huge industries,” he noted.
Membership is not expensive. It costs $50 per year to attend all 10 meetings. A corporate membership costs $100 and allows for three company representatives to attend the meetings. Each chapter is run independently, but they all share the same constitution and ground rules.
So, who should be signing up to attend the Fleet Safety Council’s meetings? As far as Danbrook is concerned: “I would say if you’re interested in finding out what’s working with your peers, to find out success stories and how your peers are working in certain aspects of training and the health and safety side of things, certainly there’d be a huge benefit in attending, because I know, coming from this industry and working in this industry for 20 years before joining IHSA, there were many days I sat at my desk trying to figure out something simple. This allows for some good networking opportunities, not just at the meetings, but by starting to build relationships so that you can phone or e-mail people (for help).”
For more information, visit www.FleetSafetyCouncil.com.