Drivers the Foundation of Fleets’ Safety Culture

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Posted on March 19th 2015 8:23 PM

A healthy safety culture helps a trucking company recruit better, safer and more professional drivers, says Rob Penner, executive vice president and COO of Winnipeg-based Bison Transport.

Speaking as part of a panel discussion at the Truckload Carriers Association annual meeting in Kissimmee, Fla., Penner and other trucking execs explained how building a culture of safety pays big dividends.

As reported by

“You know you have a culture when you start to attract like-minded people,” Penner said. “Few drivers come to our door and are surprised that we are focused on safety and high performance. They know what our standards are and want to learn how to fit in.”

“Culture is about your people,” he continued. “In trucking you’re in the service industry. The value of our business is not in iron or bricks and mortar. It’ s not about putting a rulebook in front of people and making them focus on performing to a standard. You have to have them ‘bought in’ to your business.”

bisonPenner pointed out that a safe fleet requires everyone’s commitment, not just drivers. It takes people who spec trucks for safety. It takes maintenance people making sure the trucks are safe and compliant. And it requires buy-in from the dispatchers or fleet managers who are working with the drivers each day.

“You have to put your money where your mouth is,” he said. “You can’t just throw down a rulebook and expect people to follow it. You have to show you care about them and you’re invested in them.

“It is [driven by] the leaders – but the true leaders of your business are the people leading your drivers every day. If those people don’t get it, nobody gets it. You cannot put pressure on that driver, if he’s not fit to go, whether it’s personal health or weather, it’s our job to pick up the pieces, repower, reschedule, whatever we have to do, we carry the ball.”

“You have to survey your workforce and understand who you have in the business, why they come to work for you, why they leave your business, then set up a specific and committed path,” Penner said. “Culture’s not something you can change overnight.”

Bison Transport, a member of the Ontario Trucking Association and Canadian Trucking Alliance, was also given the TCA’s  National Fleet Safety Award.

Full story here

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