A driver certification program designed to improve safety within the sweeping industry and help contract sweepers market their services could be in place for the start of 2014, according to Mark Carter, Bill’s Sweeping Service, Orange, CA.
Carter, who is spearheading the development of the program for the North American Power Sweeping Association (NAPSA), said the primary purpose of the program is to help sweeping companies differentiate themselves from other companies.
“Sweeping is a service business so companies have to differentiate themselves from one another and NAPSA is working to help them do that,” Carter said. NAPSA’s first big step to helping companies differentiate was its Certified Sweeping Company (CSC) program, which basically gives the association’s seal of approval to companies that have completed the program. Begun in 2003, NAPSA currently has 40 members who have completed the CSC process.
“A driver certification program would fit right in with that,” Carter said. “Once we get that in place companies will be able to say ‘Not only is my company certified by the industry association but my drivers are too.’ That’s going to be a big help when competing against non-NAPSA companies and companies that can’t offer certification.”
He says another benefit of the program could be improved safety within the sweeping industry, which might translate to lower insurance costs several years down the road. “If we’re putting better-trained operators out on the road then we hope to reduce the accident rate, and over the long haul reduce our insurance rates,” Carter says.
Carter said the plan is to develop the program using online traffic schools as a model. In those programs classes are offered in modules and can be completed at the student’s leisure, taken in segments at home or in the office. Following a test certifying passing the classroom portion, a “field” portion would be administered by a sweeping company’s senior management. It would include an MVR check, verifying minimum hours of actual field experience, and an oral exam where candidates would describe pre-start checks, operational hazards and safe practices.
While safety will be a huge part of being a certified operator, maximizing productivity and efficiency will also be a focus. Advanced topics like sweeping patterns, post-accident behavior, optimizing equipment life and ownership thinking will bring dividends to participating operators and companies.
NAPSA is gathering existing training programs from sweeping companies. The next step is to examine the programs and determine which elements should be incorporated into the NAPSA program. “At this stage we’re still putting the curriculum together, determining what needs to be in and what needs to be out,” he says. “Once we’ve made those determinations we can start structuring it and putting it together.” Carter says the program will likely include audio, photos, diagrams, text and video. Current plans are for a “general” section and then possibly separate sections devoted to parking lot sweeping and broom sweeping, though those plans are still in flux.