Webinar Recap: How to Get Safety Ideas Out of the Boardroom & Implemented Into Your Culture

Webinar Recap Making Safety Happen

In the past, Vertical Alliance Group hosted a free monthly webinar. Various guests joined us to discuss different aspects of the trucking business, especially safety.

In February, our newest expert partner, Brian Fielkow, CEO of Jetco Delivery was our guest. Many companies “talk” about safety, but draw out the implementation process. Fielkow shared practical tips for transforming your organization at every level. He spoke on the importance of everyone adopting safety; front-line employees, leadership and everyone in between.

Today’s post is a recap of this excellent webinar.

Making Safety Happen Webinar Discussion

Values vs. priorities

There is a myth that says “safety is a priority.” This sounds good but lasting organizational change comes when safety is a core value. What’s the difference? According to Fielkow, values are the glue that binds a company together. Values are immutable and you cannot make compromises in that regard.

Priorities can change, based on what is happening at the moment in the business. This is why no matter what; safety has to be the cornerstone of the organization. Leadership cannot send mixed messages to front-line employees. The commitment to safety is in the same category as integrity.

Safety is not a cost center

Safety is an investment; it is the hallmark of operationally excellent companies. Safety must be sought after, with intention, it is not happenstance. Yes, there is a cost associated with training materials, and rolling programs out to a team. But the ROI on safety is worth it. Having a healthy team is part of that investment.

Fielkow says, “Safety must be leader driven and employee-owned.” When you start with a strong safety culture, you gain more productivity. This, in turn, brings customer goodwill. No one wants to work with a rogue team, riddled with violations.

The accident pyramid

This was a sobering look at how all the tiny decisions to neglect safety lead to tragic outcomes. Fielkow says you should never dismiss an accident because it is “minor.” Prevention is the key, find the root cause that leads to the “minor” accident or near miss.

Employee behavior is the leading indicator in these situations. Always perform safety inspections when they’re required. These expectations have to be set so that employees can manage themselves. You have to teach the right behaviors.

There has to be a focus on minimizing distraction. Anything can cause a distraction, and you have to leave room for people to be people. Life happens, make provision for breaks, or to be able to take someone aside and speak to them if necessary. Training your team to focus on safety-sensitive actions helps.

99% is not good enough

When it comes to safety, you cannot rest on your laurels while things are good. You have to remain vigilant in adhering to safety best practices. Fielkow says you have to maintain the mentality of ZERO accidents. It’s an impossible standard, but your mentality must not tolerate preventable incidents.

Chase excellence and seek to be the absolute best version of yourself. Fielkow says leaders have to display these safety-focused behaviors. It starts with leadership and excellence is a good contagion that spreads to others.

When issues happen, address them. Find the root causes and behaviors and change them. Follow simple, easy-to-implement ideas, consistently; it will lead to profitability.

Safety: Improve your bottom line

Other than fuel, in transportation three of the largest expenses include:

  • insurance
  • auto and workers compensation coverage costs
  • employee turnover

A focus on safety can lead to profits in these areas instead of losses. Excellent safety ratings give you leverage to negotiate below-cost insurance. Your company may not be accident-free, but if you have plans in place, that matters.

Taking care of employees is important too. When employees know they’re cared for, they stay with you. Guide them toward safety behaviors. Put in place best practices that lead to better productivity and highlight safety.

Risk vs. Chance

There is a difference between taking a risk and managing chance when it comes to safety. Risk can be managed and controlled, but chance is all luck.

If a team member exhibits unsafe behaviors, it’s only a matter of time before luck runs out. Things like texting while driving or skipping pre-trip inspections, lead to poor consequences. Don’t play games with chance. Risk involves preparing for possible outcomes and making plans based on that.

Risk gives you some control; chance is out of your hands. Be sure your team members know the difference.

Toxic employees lead to tragic outcomes

An employee who will not change, who has no interest in following safety behaviors is a problem. Some people turn around with teamwork and coaching, which is always great.

It’s simple though, if employees refuse to receive coaching and will not change, you have to let them go. The safety of your team is at stake. Everyone has to be willing to work together for the literal health and safety of your business.

A company may be compliant, but that does not mean it is safe. Behavioral changes help to install safety ideas. These behaviors lead to better results. From this a true safety culture forms.

7 Winning behaviors

  1. Don’t accept defeat. Recommit to the important efforts.
  2. Safety setbacks happen. They are inevitable but they are not acceptable. Always remember, accidents are not the “cost of doing business.”
  3. You can be positive and transparent. Don’t hide information.
  4. Safety cannot be delegated, it must be owned.
  5. Employees must know you care about them. Know the basics and repeat them.
  6. Remain coachable, at all times.
  7. Open the lines of communication. It’s about having the input of everyone in the organization.
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