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AMTA presents safety person of the year award to lifelong advocate of a safe workplace

BANFF, Alta. -- A tragic incident long ago was a life-altering experience for Joe Woodcock, who was awarded the Alb...

BANFF, Alta. — A tragic incident long ago was a life-altering experience for Joe Woodcock, who was awarded the Alberta Motor Transport Association’s safety person of the year, at its annual conference.

“The safety bug bit Joe early in life,” said Marie Hibbard, the vice-president of Bow Valley Insurance, who made the AMTA presentation. “As an 18-year-old truck driver, he was amazed at the frequency with which his fellow drivers took life-threatening chances. He recalls being in the shop one day, when a fellow driver who was also a close friend attempted to replace and refill a tire from his truck. While his friend was leaning over to focus on his task, the tire and rim blew apart, killing him instantly. That incident had a lifelong effect on Joe. From that point on, he became an advocate for safety, believing in a concept he terms ‘safety compliance through education.'”

Woodcock’s interest in safety was also instilled by experiences working with the Calgary Police, where he served for 18 years, 10 of those as a traffic collision investigator and six years with the commercial vehicle unit, according to Hibbard. The past eight years have been with DECC Safety Services, as a safety consultant, advisor in transportation, instructor in air brakes, vehicle inspector, safety program developer and commercial vehicle driver evaluator, she added.

Woodcock’s own corporate philosophy for safety, is that he believes that when everyone: drivers, support workers, dispatchers, supervisors and senior managers; become educated about safety, share common safety goals related to accountability and common sense, compliance happens, said Hibbard.

“The challenge is to get everyone on the same page. Joe points out that safety goals cannot be achieved by one audit alone.”

Woodcock has expressed concerned to the AMTA, about new issues faced by the trucking industry, such as highway infrastructure problems, overcrowded roads, and driver impatience and distractions – such as cell phone use. “Joe believes these are concerns for all of us who use the roadways and it is up to all of us to solve the problem,” said Hibbard.

Woodcock’s AMTA accomplishments include joining the program and training committee in 2002, which became the injury reduction and training committee, of which Woodcock is a co-chair. With other members of the IRT committee, Woodcock has worked on developing the new professional driver improvement program, offered by the AMTA. In 2003, Woodcock was elected co-chair of the AMTA regional council, where he completed two terms. It’s a volunteer mission that is not confined to the trucking industry, according to Hibbard: the safety advocate is also concerned about international issues.

“In 2004, he went to Florida to provide relief work in the aftermath of Hurricane Charlie,” said Hibbard. “He said it was both humbling and rewarding to help people who had lost everything.”

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