Protecting Your Crew, Even While Driving

You must not only take care of yourself, you must be more focused to ensure that everything you and your crew do to complete work, including driving, is done with the highest level of safety possible.

Safety First
Adobe Photoshop | (C)2014 Igor Stevanovic

Most contractors recognize the importance of having foremen who not only can place good quality work, but also a foreman who can and does look out for their workers. Safety, both on the site and driving to a from a site, is both important and expected.

Recently, I worked with a foreman, a very good foreman, who was driving a material truck. He had a passenger, one of his workers, who did not have his seat belt buckled. When the truck, with more than three hundred gallons of material left in the tank, entered a ramp to exit a street; the truck was moving at 59 MPH.  The speed limit on the curve?  45 MPH!

This truck happen to have recently install a dashcam video, which caught all 8-10 seconds of the most horrific looking faces for the two in the truck. The passenger was thrown up against the roof of the cab twice.  The foreman tried to control the truck, but the video shows a picture of panic and stress trying to correct the steering.  Without the concrete Jersey Barriers that were strategically placed on the ramp, there is a very strong chance that the truck could have rolled over the embankment.  The rest of what could have happened, Thank God, didn’t!

Because of the high speed of the truck on the tight curve, a 5-gallon can of fuel fell over and leaked a good amount of gasoline onto the Billy Goat blower and a backpack. We’re not sure yet how it happened, but a spark connected with the gas and started a fire that completely burned up both blowers.  Again, the rest of what could have happened, Thank God, didn’t!

I bring this almost tragic accident to your attention 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 company. The fact is, he made a mistake…one that he now knows, how blessed he was to have lived through the experience.

Contractor and field leader, our foremen or your drivers, cannot control other drivers on the highway but there are a few things they can control.  Let me briefly line out a few.

  1. NEVER EVER drive or ride without your seatbelt buckled.
  2. Always enforce the wearing of seatbelts for every passenger in the vehicle.  If an employee does not want to wear a seatbelt…briefly state why they will have to wear the seatbelt.  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 have no room for any worker knowingly disobeying Federal, State, County, and City laws…not to mention your company policy requirement. 
  3. When driving large vehicles, such as the sealcoat truck, or whenever you may be pulling a trailer, do not drive over the posted speed limit.  Read your circumstances, road conditions, and the weather and drive a speed that is perhaps slower…in some situations, much slower.  
  4. Refuse to drive at the pace of the moving traffic.  It doesn’t matter if you are getting passed up by every vehicle, even if drivers are flipping the international hand gesture at you for “I love you.”  Be above such idiocy, remain calm and drive safe!
  5. Double-check that every piece of equipment, all hand tools, and especially any fuel cans are tightly secured. 
  6. Practice what is called “predictive driving.”  That simply means to look ahead, read the signs in front of you, or what is coming up from behind your vehicle, and take the appropriate measures to drive safely and to protect those in your care.  As you approach off-ramps, slow down…before you enter into the curve. 
  7. As part of “predictive driving,” should you see one or more speeding vehicles coming up behind you, cutting in and out of traffic at high speeds, don’t try to cut them off, no matter how mad their driving makes you.  Stay out of situations that can easily be called “road rage.” 
  8. Remember you are responsible for your life…and the lives of every worker reporting to you. 

Leaders, this article is meant for two things:

  • To scare the “bejesus” out of you.  Leaders, you don’t want to make that call to the wife, or parent, wife that any worker is seriously injured or worse.  If this real-life situation helps save one foreman or truck driver, then it’s been worth it. Nothing is more important than your life!
  • Remember, safety begins with you. You must not only take care of yourself, you must be more focused to ensure that everything you and your crew do to complete work, including driving or riding to and from job sites, is done with the highest level of safety possible.

Please make sure your passengers are safe, and buckled in.

Brad Humphrey, Pavecon's Vice President of Human Resources & Employee Development is known throughout the industry as the Contractor's Best Friend.