Safety Is About Convenience

For many operators, safety depends on the accessibility of the proper tools and equipment.

Safety Is About Convenience

Emergency lights are also recommended for work trucks. Having safety reminders in rearview mirrors is a way to keep employees thinking about safety.

Whether you have one vehicle or 100, your operators spend nearly all their time in or around their service vehicles.

Often, whether or not an operator follows proper safety protocol hangs on how easy it is for them to do so. They perform these job duties every day, and it is easy to become complacent when safety means going out of your way.

That’s why it’s important to have proper safety gear incorporated into your everyday fleet and to have all crew members properly equipped.

While some aspects of vehicle safety are required under Department of Transportation regulations, many are just good sense.

For starters

When it comes to DOT regulations, most important is researching and understanding exactly what is required for your specific service vehicles, as they don’t all require the same gear.

For example, larger trucks often require fire extinguishers, and if you are hauling trailers or other equipment, DOT specifies a certain grade of chain for securement.

“That’s important for compliance; a lot of companies don’t know that your chains have to be rated for all of the various equipment,” says Eric Wright, vice president of safety for Northwest Cascade, a multifaceted service company with over 300 service vehicles.

On a more basic level, most service vehicles are required by the DOT to carry reflective triangles or cones in case of roadside maintenance or road accidents. Consider adding flashlights and emergency phones for those incidents as well, especially if operators are driving long distances regularly.

Best practice

It’s a good idea to stock all vehicles with first-aid kits, which can be as basic as bandages and antiseptics or as comprehensive as including emergency supplies like eyewash.

First-aid kits are a universally applicable feature, which could be expanded depending on the nature of the work. They can be tailored to specific applications, such as adding an eyewash kit for workers around hazardous chemicals.

Bel-Art carries two mobile eyewash products — a larger version that can rinse both eyes simultaneously, in any orientation, and a smaller, 120 mL belt-pouch version.

“It’s highly mobile. It’s one-time use, but it’s sealed, and it has a long expiration date. So they can bring it wherever they need,” says Peter Yoo, product manager for SP Scienceware, parent company of Bel-Art. “The solution — it’s great, not just for physical dirt or debris, but also different things like acids and alkalis.”

Northwest Cascade not only keeps first-aid kits on their vehicles, but also issues a personal first-aid kit to each operator.

The personal first-aid kit is part of a basic personal protective equipment bag that is provided. It also includes safety gear like a hard hat, two pairs of gloves, an orange vest, safety glasses (regular and tinted), headlamp, earplugs, and a safety regulations booklet.

In many cases, it’s not just providing the necessary equipment for operators, but making it as convenient as possible for operators to use that equipment.

Bel-Art offers an eyewear holder for safety glasses or goggles that can be installed in service vehicles. Other shelving units and organizational products across the market could be used for similar easy-access safety items.

Worth a try

Beyond the basics, there are many safety-enhancing additions to consider on your trucks.

Laws against cellphone and mobile device use are becoming more prevalent in states across the country, which makes Bluetooth and hands-free GPS options increasingly helpful.

Northwest Cascade stocks spill kits on their vehicles in case of oil or other hazardous waste spills.

“The spill kit we carry as just a company policy type thing,” Wright says. “Same as the first-aid kit.”

Needs are different for every operation, but some outfits benefit from going toward the far end of safety precaution, as Northwest Cascade has done with the addition of dashcams.

Their dashcams are integrated into a vehicle monitoring system that also records hard braking, speeding and other driver habits that could affect safety.

“It has parameters that you can set, so it ties in with the vehicle, what’s happening with the vehicle, as well as the driver,” Wright says.

Backup cameras are fast becoming a standard feature on both service and pickup trucks, but they may be something worth adding to older trucks as well.

Small things can make a difference too, like stickers in the cab and on the mirrors of service trucks — reminders for the busy operator to observe common safety practices.

“On the newer trucks, obviously there are lots of new safety features being incorporated,” Wright says. “Our newer trucks actually come with an orange seat belt, so you can tell if the drivers are wearing their seat belt or not.”

Careful consideration

Safety shouldn’t be a throwaway checklist item for any company. That being said, every organization has its own needs, and managers should think carefully about what is best for the operators.

In the end, it depends on the specific jobs that operators will be tackling and frankly the operators themselves. All of these factors need to be considered when assessing safety protocol. The only thing that’s a certainty: There is no shortage of options.


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