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Monday, 22 December 2014 00:00

bluetooth_portable_rotary_phone_-_redWhen I was young, we had a rotary telephone on the kitchen counter (for those of you under 40, you may have seen one of these babies in a museum!).  When someone wanted to get in touch, they called and the phone rang.  If no one was home, the caller eventually gave up because there was nothing called an answering machine then.  Those came later with those tiny little cassette tapes.  If no one was home to answer the phone, you were disappointed, but simply called back.  In the intervening years (you can guess how many) we have seen the aforementioned answering machine which morphed into voice mail, fax machines that sent documents over the phone line, email and cell phones and text messaging.  Smart phones with games and web browsers, text messaging and email access are the norm now for most of us and we are addicted.

We are addicted to being connected and as with most other addictions, its killing us.

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Few people would argue that they can text and drive safely, and most now accept that handheld cell phones are equally dangerous while many will continue to argue that hands-free calling is safe because it does not involve manipulating the phone while driving.  All the research is contrary to this as the distraction is not principally as a result of using your hands; it's the cognitive distraction that results from processing the conversation while simultaneously attempting to attend to the driving task.

GPS, mobile music players, radios, and any other activity that pulls your attention from driving is a distraction as are the ongoing challenges of children and pets as well as other passengers.

Auto makers are now including technology that will allow drivers to interface with the web, text messaging and email as well into new vehicles which causes me great concern.  While they assure us that they will recommend that this technology is used in a responsible way while not driving, the seductive lure of instant information is, I fear, too great for many to resist.

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How many of you have heard the tone of a text, email, voicemail or the ringer of your phone while driving and responded with "just a quick peek"?  I'm guilty, and I feel guilty because I'm supposed to be a safety professional.  I know the risks, laws and penalties and I have had that 'quick peek'.

So I guess I'm addicted too.  I recognized my addiction slowly as I came out of denial and at first tried (as many others addicted to alcohol or drugs will) to control my compulsion to use my device constantly, even while driving and I was somewhat successful but the temptation was great; particularly if I was expecting a call or waiting for a text or email.  I tried to be a good boy and pull over to answer my phone and only check text messages at traffic lights.  This created a whole new set of distraction issues as I looked for a quick, easy, safe spot to pull over where often there was none and recognized early that taking my eyes off an intersection while waiting for the green was just as dangerous (and illegal) as texting while moving.

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Cold turkey was the only real solution.  Now I turn off the phone or switch it too silent when I get in the vehicle.  Problem solved.  I can check when I have reached my destination or plan a stop to deal with business along the way.

Recently, I had the good fortune to travel in Europe where my mobile phone didn't work, and even spent a week on a boat where there was no internet connection either.  The world didn't end, my business continued to operate under the guidance of my staff, and I detoxed from the addiction.  I recognized that I can indeed turn back the clock to when someone called and I didn't answer; they would just have to wait, as would I until I was able to connect safely.  It was kinda nice, totally out of contact.  Weird, but nice.

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Written by: Spencer McDonald, President, Thinking Driver

Reprinted as previously published in Canadian Occupational Safety Magazine.

Published in NEWS
Monday, 06 April 2015 00:00

fleet-safety1Good training is a key element, but only part of the puzzle for vehicle safety!

Employers with vehicle fleet or employees who drive are aware (or should be) that the greatest probability of an injury incident is going to be vehicle or driving related.  Many organizations have, therefore, incorporated driver training into their OHS program.  This is as it should be.

Unfortunately, in many cases, this is where vehicle safety stops.

Training is too often expected to become 'the answer' to vehicle reduction.  A driver involved in an incident, for example, is automatically sent back to re-attend the training program where he/she would almost always pass with flying colours, seemingly without effort.  Lack of skill is clearly not the problem here.

In this situation, is retaining really the answer or are there other forces at play?  Could this be a motivational problem, an attitudinal issue, maybe a medical condition?  Was the vehicle appropriate for the work and equipped correctly?  Training alone can't address all these issues.

A driver training program labouring under the expectation that it should solve all of an organization's driver safety or incident problems is destined to fall short.

Training is undertaken for a variety of reasons:

  • to train and qualify new operators,
  • to provide refresher or upgrade training/education,
  • to reinforce previously learned skills,
  • to re-qualify experienced operators.

But there are many more elements to an effective vehicle safety program.

How does yours stack up?  Compare the features of your vehicle/driver safety program with this list of critical key elements:

1. Senior Management Commitment

Is driver safety seen and acted on by senior management as a critical safety issue?  Frequently we see lip service paid to driver safety, with strong statements of corporate commitment but an absence of meaningful action.  In many cases, senior executives are visibly absent in the training courses associated with the program and have a belief that they are somehow exempt from vehicle safety policies, like pre-trip inspection and circle checks.

Enlightened organizations implement driver safety programs by starting with attendance and qualification on course from executives very early in the process.  These managers lead by example, by committing to the program and adhering to policy (like cell phone prohibition, backing in to park, circle checks).  Workers need to both hear about safety from management and also see management participating and in compliance.

2. Written Policies and Procedures

Vehicle safety policy and practise should be identified and detailed in its own section in your health and safety manual.

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The policy should state the company's expectation of employees who drive, as well as specific policy related to job tasks involving vehicle use or movement - on or off-road.  In addition, the policy should state qualifications for use of various vehicle types or classes and the training testing required to achieve these qualifications.

Consequences for non-compliance (if different from the corporate disciplinary system) should be stated clearly.

3. Driver Abstract / Record Checks

Check the driver records of all prospective employees who will be driving for work purposes. Screen out applicants who have poor driving records since they are most likely to cause problems in the future. The driving record should be reviewed annually to ensure that the employee maintains a good driving record, and action should be taken if the record deteriorates.

Clearly define the number of violations an employee/driver can have before losing the privilege of driving for work, and provide training where needed.

4. Incident Reporting and Investigation

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All vehicle incidents should be reported and investigated.  Acquire the services of an experienced trainer or vehicle operation expert if one is not available in-house.

Root causes should be identified and action items (if applicable) developed to help prevent future incidents.

5. Vehicle Selection, Maintenance and Inspection

Selecting, properly maintaining and routinely inspecting company vehicles is an important part of preventing crashes related losses.  Ensure the vehicle selected for a particular application is suited and properly equipped to permit safe use in that application and environment.

A pre-trip/shift inspection routine should be incorporated into the vehicle safety policy, and vehicles should be inspected daily by the driver.

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Regular maintenance should be done at specific mileage intervals consistent with the manufacturer's recommendations.  A mechanic should do a thorough inspection of each vehicle at least annually.

 

6. Disciplinary System

Develop a strategy to determine the course of action after the occurrence of a moving violation, policy breach, complaint and/or preventable incident.

There are a variety of corrective action programs available; the majority of these are based on a system that assigns points for infraction and/or incidents.  The system should provide for progressive discipline if an employee begins to develop a pattern of repeated problems.

7. Reward / Incentive Program

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Safe driving behaviours contribute directly to the bottom-line and should be recognized as such.  Positive results are realized when driving performance is incorporated into the overall evaluation of job performance.

Reward and incentive programs typically involve recognition, monetary rewards, special privileges or the use of other incentives.

8. Driver Training / Communications

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The training program should be an integral part of the OHS program and be ongoing.

Conduct initial training and qualification for new hires; even those with clean driving records may have never experienced professional training and only passed a basic government driving exam (perhaps many years ago).  To set a baseline for driver performance and to document competence in case of future problems, employees should be trained, evaluated and qualified on the vehicle type(s) they will be assigned to, in the environment they will be operating in.

Regular refresher/requalification should be an integral part of the program.

The best programs incorporate a driver safety related course, seminar or event annually to keep vehicle safety at the forefront of employees' minds and demonstrate the corporate commitment to safety.

Every two to three years, requalification by on-road evaluation should be conducted.

Keeping vehicle incident rated low goes beyond just providing training, it includes a comprehensive system of the key elements discussed in this article.

How does your organization measure up?

Written by: Spencer McDonald, President, Thinking Driver

Published in NEWS
Tuesday, 11 February 2014 00:00

SAFETY MEETING PLANNER & AGENDA

INSTALLING & USING TIRE CHAINS CORRECTLY

Meeting Leader:

  • Prepare in advance to make this meeting effective. Click HERE for a link to instructions on how to best use this information.
  • Print and read over this entire agenda (or download a PDF version here).
  • Think about how you want to lead the meeting.
  • Is there anything that is specific to your company or operation that you can include to personalize the information?
  • Review the video for this session.
  • Save the link to the video in your favourite folder on your browser for easy access.
  • Open and then minimize the viewer just before the meeting to make the video introduction smooth.

Video Template - Chains

NOT A SUBSCRIBER YET?  You will see a watermarked sample.  Get the 'clean' video for your meeting now by clicking here to get the order form and fax/email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .  We will send you a link to the non-watermarked video.

START YOUR MEETING!

Opening Statement:

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If you drive in northern or high altitude areas with extreme winter conditions, you may use traction devices like tire chains to assist with control in winter but if you are not sure how to install them or drive with chains installed, you could be in for frustration and possibly vehicle damage or worse!

Questions for this Meeting:

Q: How many people here have used tire chains?

Discuss

Tire chains have been around for many years and are still a great choice to add a massive amount of traction in difficult conditions.

Many people have chains in their vehicle in winter but have not yet needed them and therefore have never installed them.

Q: When is the best time to learn how to install chains?

The best time to install chains on your vehicle, the first time, is BEFORE you need them.  If you have a heated or at least dry garage or underground parking area to practise, this is best.

Tailgate Tips:

  • The video that we will watch shortly, shows a common and popular style of light duty truck or car chains but yours could be different.
  • Read the instructions first and follow them carefully to avoid vehicle damage or injury.
  • When installing on the roadside, wear a reflective vest.
  • Install the chains on the drive axle tires, on an all-wheel drive or four-wheel drive, install on the rear axle.
  • The first steps are to lay out the chains and depending on the type,pass them behind the tire and then connect them at the top or lay them out in front of the tire and drive forward onto the chain before pulling up both ends and connecting at the top.
  • It's important to ensure that the chains are snug on the tire tread and the elastic straps crossing in front of the wheel are also snug.
  • After installing the chains it's a good idea to check the tension after driving a short distance.
  • What is the maximum safe speed to drive with chains installed?  50 km/h or 30 mph is the maximum safe speed.R-047
  • If you are headed into the mountains and the roads are snowy and slick, before you approach a hill, install the chains in a safe area before you get stuck.  Many highways provide a 'chaining up' area.  Use this area and avoid the hazard of being stuck on a hill in a traveling lane trying to stay safe while installing your chains.  Always wear a safety vest to be seen as you work.
  • Remember to take the chains off in a safe area as soon as you are back on clear pavement to avoid damage to your vehicle, the chains and the roads.
  • Once your trip is over, take the time to clean and dry the chains, inspect them, then spray them with an anti-rust coating and re-pack them to be ready for the next time that you need them.winter_car_kit
  • Always carry an emergency winter survival kit including a flashlight with extra batteries, a cell phone, blankets, water, snacks, gloves, boots, first aid kit, ice scraper, jumper cables, extra windshield washer fluid, a reflective vest and reflective markers or flares.

Summary:

  • Learn to install your chains in advance and practise to ensure that you can do this in difficult conditions.
  • Choose a safe place to install and remove the chains.
  • Wear a safety vest while working outside the vehicle.
  • Check for tension after driving a short distance.
  • Keep your speed below 50 km/h or 30 mph.
  • Clean and store chains properly after use.

Practical Challenge:

If your vehicles have tire chains, install them on a vehicle now as a team.

Download a PDF version, of this meeting planner, HERE!

Friday, 13 June 2014 00:00

SAFETY MEETING PLANNER & AGENDA

Meeting Planner:

  • Prepare in advance to make this meeting effective.  Click HERE for a link to instructions on how to best use this information.
  • Print and read over this entire agenda (or download a PDF version here).
  • Think about how you want to lead the meeting.
  • Is there anything that is specific to your company or operation that you can include to personalize the information?
  • Review the video for this session.
  • Save the link to the video in your ‘Favorites’ folder on your browser for easy access.
  • Open and then minimize the viewer just before the meeting to make the video introduction smooth.

Video Template

START YOUR MEETING!

Opening Statement:

Pretty much all rear end collisions can be prevented by maintaining a safe following distance from the vehicle in front of you.

Questions for this Meeting:

Q: What is a safe following distance and how can you check that you are leaving enough room?

Answer:

The only way to accurately check your following distance is by using the ‘time interval formula’ which works by picking a fixed landmark like a sign or some other stationary object and counting seconds as the vehicle in front of you passes it.  The number of seconds that you count is your time interval.

Under the best conditions, the minimum number of seconds needs to be 2 and more as conditions change or deteriorate.

Q: Why is this so important?

Answer:

Stopping distance is a combination of reaction distance and braking distance.  Reaction distance is the distance that your vehicle travels from the time you see a reason to apply brakes to when you actually move your foot to the brake pedal and begin to slow down.  If you are too close to the vehicle in front, you will hit them NO MATTER HOW GOOD A DRIVER YOU ARE because you can only get to the brake as fast as a human can move and by the time you get there, if the guy in front is already braking hard, you don’t stand a chance.

Q: What are some conditions that would require an increase in following distance?

Answer:

  • Weather condition: like rain, snow or other weather problems.
  • Road condition: such as gravel or broken pavement or other problems with the road.  In slippery conditions, such as snow, ice or wet pavement, much more space is advisable.
  • Lighting condition: at night or if you are looking into reflected sun or glare, you need more space because you will not see things as easily.
  • Traffic condition: as traffic gets heavier, you need to stay aware of much more than in light traffic, this occupies your attention so more space in front buys you more time to react.
  • YOUR condition: if you are tired or otherwise not 100%, leave more space because your reactions may not be as quick.

Introduce the Video:

Spencer McDonald discusses how to reduce the chances of a rear end collision and notes multiple additional benefits of maintaining a safe following distance.  Time interval formula is discussed and demonstrated and the benefits of enhanced vision, when keeping a good following distance, are also discussed.

Practical Challenge:

Today as you drive, count your time interval and see just how much space you are actually leaving.  Make adjustments as necessary and practise re-adjusting pretty soon, you will be able to judge the distance accurately and will only need to check once in a while!

Let’s all have a safe day!

Download a PDF version of this meeting planner HERE!

Tuesday, 14 October 2014 00:00

SAFETY MEETING PLANNER AND AGENDA

Meeting Leader:
• Prepare in advance to make this meeting effective. Click HERE for a link to instructions on how to best use this information.
• Print and read over this entire agenda (or download a PDF version here).
• Think about how you want to lead the meeting.
• Is there anything that is specific to your company or operation that you can include to personalize the information?
• Review the video for this session.

Video Template

NOT A SUBSCRIBER YET? You will see a watermarked sample. Get the ‘clean’ video for your meeting now by clicking here to get the order form or visit our online store.

Save the link to the video in your ‘Favourites’ folder on your browser for easy access.

Open and then minimize the viewer just before the meeting to make the video introduction smooth.

START YOUR MEETING!

Opening Statement:

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You hear it on the radio traffic report whenever the weather gets bad.  Accidents all over the place and everyone is blaming the weather!  Weather is rarely the cause of an accident or incident.  Instead, it’s usually a driver who doesn’t adjust his or her driving to accommodate the weather.

The Questions for this Meeting:

Q: What are the kinds of bad weather that we face in this area and what types of challenges do they present?

Answers could be:

  • Snow – causes traction problems and often steering problems if there is accumulation on the road.
  • Ice – causes traction and control problems.  Black ice can be particularly hazardous because it doesn’t appear on the road.imagesCAF8UE72
  • Heavy Rain and Flooding – can cause visibility problems and traction issues if it pools on the road.  This situation can result in hydroplaning where the vehicle tires rise onto a cushion of water and lose contact with the road.
  • Blowing Snow – can create whiteout conditions that are extremely dangerous.
  • How many more can we identify?

Q: Why does too much speed cause problems in all of these (and other) extreme weather conditions?

Answers:

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  • As speed increases under any conditions, the energy stored by the vehicle movement also increases and needs to be somehow absorbed or dissipated enough to permit steering and braking on whatever road surface you are on regardless of the traction conditions.  If traction conditions are poor and you are going too fast to stop or steer, you will end up out of control; either briefly until your speed comes down enough to regain traction, or long enough to crash.  That’s just a fact.  You can’t change the laws of physics, even if you are an excellent driver.
  • A human being takes between 1/2 and 1 second to react to something when driving, and even more time to move the right foot to the brake pedal if stopping or braking is necessary.  If your speed is too great in conditions where you can’t see well ahead, you will be overdriving your vision and will be unable to react fast enough to avoid problems.  Again, just a fact of nature.
  • Combine slippery surfaces and poor visibility with too much speed and you have a recipe for disaster.

Tailgate Tips:

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  • When you are driving under any condition, regularly assess your speed and adjust it as necessary to ensure that you are able to slow or stop to avoid a hazard.
  • When you know that conditions are poor and you must drive anyway, leave early or call ahead to notify people that you may be late and take it slower.
  • Choose the right lane on multilane roadways and just stay there unless traffic is moving impossibly slow.  The guys in the fast lane on slippery roads are almost always going too fast to effectively control the vehicle in any situation except straight line, ‘no problem’ driving.
  • Make sure that your lights are clean and are giving you the best possible light and drive at a speed that allows you to stop in the distance that you can see.

Introduce the Video:

Spencer McDonald discusses the importance of adjusting your driving to accommodate current weather conditions.

Practical Challenge:

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For the next week make a conscious effort to check your speed regularly in good and bad conditions and try out driving a bit slower; especially in poorer conditions.

If you are a ‘left lane just go as fast as the fastest traffic’ kind of person, try out the right lane for a change and hang out with the ones going a little slower.  It’s safer, and you may find that it is less irritating that you imagine when you choose it!

Think about how important it is for you to hurry and take chances in poor conditions.  Ask yourself: is it worth investing a couple more minutes to ensure that I get home safe to my family?

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Would it kill you to train your drivers?

It could kill them if you don't

Vehicle Incidents are the most probable way that your employee will get hurt on the job. Protect your investment today with driver training.

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The Thinking Driver Program was created by Spencer McDonald, driver psychology and counseling specialist to improve driver attitudes and reduce aggressive driving and fleet incident rates.

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