Protect your crew, even while driving


Adobe Photoshop | (C) 2014 Igor Stevanovic

Most contractors recognize the importance of having foremen who can not only do a good quality job, but also a foreman who can and takes care of their workers. Safety, both on site and behind the wheel of a site, is both important and expected.

Recently, I worked with a foreman, a very good foreman, who drove a truck of equipment. He had a passenger, one of his workers, who had not fastened his seat belt. When the truck, with over three hundred gallons of material left in the tank, entered a ramp to exit a street; the truck was traveling at 59 MPH. The speed limit in the curve? 45 km / h!

This truck recently installed a dashcam video, which captured 8-10 seconds of the two’s most gruesome faces in the truck. The passenger was thrown twice against the cabin roof. The foreman tried to control the truck, but the video shows an image of panic and stress trying to correct the steering. Without the concrete Jersey barriers that were strategically placed on the ramp, there’s a good chance the truck would have tipped over onto the embankment. The rest of what could have happened, thank goodness, did not happen!

Due to the truck’s high speed in the tight curve, a 5 gallon fuel canister fell out and spilled a fair amount of gasoline on the Billy Goat blower and backpack. We don’t yet know how this happened, but a spark connected to the gas and started a fire that completely burned out both fans. Again, the rest of what could have happened, thank goodness, did not happen!

I draw your attention to this almost tragic accident, because it could happen to any of us. The foreman in this story is like any foreman you might have working for you today. He’s a great worker, has a great attitude, loves his family, his job and loves his business. The point is, he made a mistake… a mistake he now knows, how blessed he was to have had that experience.

The contractor and the foreman, our foremen or your drivers, cannot control other drivers on the road, but they can control some things. Let me briefly highlight a few.

  1. NEVER drive or ride without wearing your seat belt.
  2. Always ensure that seat belts are worn for each passenger in the vehicle. If an employee does not want to wear a seat belt… briefly explain why they will need to wear the seat belt. If they still don’t want to wear the belt… then strongly consider that they call a friend or family member to pick them up. We don’t have a place for a worker who knowingly breaks federal, state, state, and municipal laws… let alone your company’s policy demands.
  3. When driving large vehicles, such as the Sealcoat truck, or whenever towing a trailer, do not exceed the posted speed limit. Read your situation, road conditions and weather and drive at a speed maybe slower… in some situations, much slower.
  4. Refuse to drive at the pace of moving traffic. It doesn’t matter if you walked past each vehicle, even if the drivers give you an international “I love you” wave. Be on top of such idiocy, stay calm and drive safely!
  5. Check that every piece of equipment, hand tools and especially fuel cans are securely fastened.
  6. Practice what is called “predictive driving”. It just means looking ahead, reading the signs ahead or what’s going on behind your vehicle, and taking the appropriate steps to drive safely and protect those in your care. As you approach the exit ramps, slow down… before entering the curve.
  7. In “predictive driving”, if you see one or more vehicles accelerating behind you, entering and exiting traffic at high speeds, don’t try to cut them no matter how crazy their driving drives you. Avoid situations that can easily be characterized as “road rage”.
  8. Remember, you are responsible for your life… and for the lives of all the workers who report to you.

Executives, this article aims at two things:

  • To scare the “bejesus” out of you. Leaders, you don’t want to tell the wife, or the parent, the wife that a worker is seriously injured or worse. If this real world situation saves a foreman or a truck driver, it is well worth it. Nothing is more important than your life!
  • Remember, safety starts with you. You don’t just have to take care of yourself, you need to be more focused to make sure that whatever you and your team do to complete the job, including driving or commuting to and from job sites, is done with the most high level of security possible.

Please make sure your passengers are safe and strapped in.

Brad Humphrey, Vice President of Human Resources and Employee Development at Pavcon, is known throughout the industry as an entrepreneur’s best friend.

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Shanta Harris

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