Safety focus helps keep bottom line in line

WITH profit margins slim in the tank truck industry today, an effective safety program brings advantages more than the top priority of public and employee protection — it can improve a carrier's bottom line, said Dennis Loy of Marsh USA.

He discussed a fleet safety evaluation tool called GAP, which represents the difference between a safety program's successful measures and its problems. The larger the gap, the more demand for evaluation and improvement.

Strengths come from upper management safety commitment, a structured driver selection/qualification program, thorough loss reporting and investigation, and an intensive vehicle inspection and maintenance system.

Weakness in safety programs often appears in driver trainer certification and remedial training programs, company safety manuals, plans for emergency response procedures, and safety advisory committees.

Loy advised carriers to assess safety programs in order to determine both strengths and shortcomings.

“You cannot manage something you do not measure,” he said, adding that carriers already measure other operational elements, such as fuel usage and vehicle performance.

To examine safety programs, he recommended carriers survey employees from various departments, not just the safety department. He pointed out that all departments have to be responsible for the overall safety of the company.

The good news is that bulk carriers, particularly those that haul hazardous materials, are already ahead of many other types of transportation companies where safety is concerned. Bulk carriers run more disciplined programs, utilize more safety procedures, and have drivers with better driving skills, Loy said.

He recommended that carriers develop safety advisory committees composed of members from all company departments. Tuning up all phases of the driving training program enhances safety and reduces risk, he said.

One critical element of the overall evaluation program is to assert that the goal is fact-finding, not fault-finding.

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