Old School

Drivers of all skill levels can benefit from ongoing safety education.

Editor's note: This article continues the driver safety series that appeared in the April, June, September and November issues. Previous articles focused on driver selection, screening, orientation and training, and supervision.

This article covers the fifth key to driver safety, a program of on-going education and training. Remember that the third key was a program of driver orientation and initial training. While newly hired drivers certainly require the most attention from a safety training standpoint, the safety education process should be continued throughout the length of a driver's tenure with a company.

Seasoned drivers and helpers may develop a level of complacency about their job and about safety issues. Management may notice a pattern of accidents, injuries, near misses or unsafe behavior that needs to be addressed with all employees. Additionally, the introduction of new equipment or new technology also may necessitate additional training and education.

The most common venue for on-going safety education is the safety meeting. To ensure the meeting is productive, prepare a defined agenda and clearly identify what topics will be addressed. Allow time for discussion, even when a video is shown. While the facilitator of the meeting should not allow the meeting to deteriorate into a gripe session, two-way discussion should be encouraged. This discussion allows more experienced employees to share their working knowledge with those who have less time on the job.

Meetings are most effective when the group size is kept to 20 employees or fewer. For large companies or in situations where employees may have varying schedules, it might be necessary to have more than one meeting on the same topic to ensure that everyone has a chance to attend. Meetings should be no longer than thirty minutes to keep participants focused. They should be held at least quarterly, although some waste companies may prefer monthly safety meetings.

In addition to meetings, many waste companies periodically distribute bulletins or pamphlets on various topics to their employees. These materials can be handed out as part of a meeting or used as paycheck-stuffers. Other companies employ safety posters, which should be rotated frequently to keep the messages fresh in employees' minds. Finally, an in-house driving skills competition allows drivers to show their prowess while demonstrating safety in a hands-on manner.

A waste company should document all on-going safety education and training activities. This documentation should include sign-in sheets from all meetings, the topics discussed and copies of any materials distributed to employees noting the dates distributed and the scoring sheets from skills competitions. Regardless of the methods used, a waste company will benefit from having a program of on-going safety education. Each time a meeting is held or a bulletin is distributed, a clear message is sent to all employees that safety is important and that the company is serious about it.