Protecting Drivers - Priority #1
Each day, thousands of drivers will load, transport, and unload goods throughout Canada. These tasks are regularly completed alone. Often, drivers with an early morning shift, will load cargo onto the trailer, or truck, secure the load, and leave the yard before the office staff arrives.
Similarly, night drivers tend to start their shift after most of the office staff have left for the day. Unless a driver is working with a crew, or a team driver, all their drive time will also be completed alone.
Trucking companies must protect their drivers during their work shifts. Drivers must also protect themselves. This can be accomplished by having a journey management plan in place, that explains steps drivers need to take while working alone, in the yard, on a customer's site, and on the roadway.
One of the first things a driver needs to do when they arrive at the yard is checked if anyone else is at the office/yard in the area in case of an emergency. This can be completed by checking the parking lot to see if any of their colleagues’ vehicles are parked. If no one else is there, drivers need to ask the question “what I would do, if I got hurt and no one else is here.” This is an extremely important part of the journey management plan, which is making sure drivers know who to contact if they were injured. This could be 911, an office staff, a colleague, or the owner of the company.
Before walking into the yard, drivers need to check the area where they will be working and find any hazards that would cause an injury. This is called a site-specific hazard assessment. If the area is dark, make sure lighting is used. This could be a flashlight or light tower. Other hazards to look out for could include items on the ground that may cause the driver to trip and fall, slippery ground conditions, falling from heights, etc. Drivers need to use three points of contact when climbing up and down the trailer.
After the cargo has been loaded onto the truck or trailer, and drivers should confirm exactly where they need to go, before leaving the yard. It is important for drivers to understand what routes they will take, so they can arrive at the location on time, and only travel on truck routes. Trucking companies need to know the truck routes from their yard to customer locations and make sure their drivers only travel on these roadways.
Drivers need to pay close attention to the different hazards around them while traveling on the roadway. This includes paying attention to the road conditions and driving at a safe speed. Watch out for the distance between other vehicles, to make sure there is a safe stopping distance. At no point should a driver drive while distracted, such as holding a cell phone, iPad, etc.
Trucking companies need to use a check-in system that their drivers follow, during their drive, when an event on the roadway occurs, or any time they arrive at their destination.
The check-in system is a way to make sure drivers that are working alone are safe. For the check-in system to work, three things need to happen.
First, the company needs to assign someone to be the check-in contact. This could be another work of the company, the owner, or a third-party company. Second, each driver needs to know who the check-in contact is, and make sure they have the contact details for them. Finally, trucking companies must make sure their drivers comply every time.
Remember, both the trucking company and driver need to do everything they can to make sure the driver is safe while working alone. If a driver feels at risk, they need to speak with the trucking company right away to make sure the hazard is removed or mitigated.
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