Arbitration ruling reinforces need to ‘get out and look’

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A shunt truck driver who was initially fired after crashing into four vehicles in a Brampton, Ont. fleet yard is being reinstated without back pay in the wake of an arbitration ruling that reinforces the need to “get out and look” (GOAL).

The driver had a clean record over the 15 years that he worked for Stericycle – a business that collects, transports, treats and disposes medical waste — before Nov. 18, 2021. But at 5:45 that morning he reversed an empty trailer into a parked car, stopped briefly, then continued to push that car into three other vehicles before coming to a stop.

Teamsters Local 847 grieved his termination, arguing that while discipline was appropriate, termination was too severe given his clean record and long service.

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(Illustration: iStock)

The driver had completed several training programs that touched on incident management and investigation, distracted driving, defensive driving and backing. His supervisor had also stressed the need to use a spotter and “get out and look” every time backing is involved.

Video footage showed him stop and exit the truck before opening a gate to ensure he had enough space to maneuver.

No spotter requested

While the union said he performed a GOAL check at this time, the company disputed that.

The driver reported the incident, and an incident report noted the collision was “preventable” because the employee should have asked for a spotter. But he said he didn’t see the first vehicle because it was dark outside and the vehicle was black.

“Had he done GOAL thoroughly, he would have noticed that the parked cars were close to the back of his trailer, and he had to be careful to avoid them. His subsequent driving suggested he had not sufficiently appreciated this,” arbitrator Christopher Albertyn noted in his Jan. 4 decision.

While early in the day, there were employees on the premises who could have been called on to act as spotters, Albertyn added. And six months before the incident, a supervisor had concluded that the driver needs to use a spotter and GOAL when backing.

“He expressed sincere remorse for his errors of judgment causing the incident,” Albertyn said.

“He reported the incident immediately. He took responsibility for what he had done right away, and he has been consistently remorseful.”

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John G. Smith is the editorial director of Newcom Media's trucking and supply chain publications -- including Today's Trucking, trucknews.com, TruckTech, Transport Routier, and Road Today. The award-winning journalist has covered the trucking industry since 1995.


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