Want Safer Drivers? There's an App for that.

Posted by Matt Manoli on Sep 25, 2014 12:00:00 PM

Business casual male using a smart phone

 

We talked before about how we instituted a driving policy in 2010 that specifically prohibits drivers from using cell phones or any other devices while driving (you can read that policy here if you want: Dennis K Burke Distracted Driving Policy) in a nutshell, we have drivers call in prior to leaving their dispatched site for updates on loading instructions, next stops, etc, rather than answering dispatch or other calls while driving, loading, or delivering. 

The problem was, how could you know for sure someone wasn't using the phone? And what about the scores of sales people and others in company vehicles, how could we know for sure they were adhering to what we think is a critically important safety policy?

Good news.Turns out that "There's an app for that". 

The one we chose uses GPS to determine when the vehicle is in motion, and blocks the ability to text, email or use the phone until the vehicle is stopped. Pretty cool, right? 

You can read more about the app and why we chose to go with this method instead of hands-free devices or other options in Ed's September article for Oil & Energy here: Lock Down Phones Ensure Compliance

What do you guys think about locking down devices, or what policies or changes have you made that have helped reduce distractions for your drivers?

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How Do You Keep Staff Training At Pace with Product Changes?

Posted by Matt Manoli on Jun 6, 2014 11:11:34 AM

Definition of Training

 

In talks at a recent Driver’s meeting, I got to thinking about how much the products that companies in our industry handle have changed over the years, and just how important it is to make sure that everyone in the company is up to speed with those changes and what those changes mean for them, whether they work as a driver, warehouse worker, or customer service rep.  

Whether your fleet has expanded into diesel delivery in response to regulatory changes for generators, your state is going to ultra low heat, your company has moved into biofuels/bioheat or ethanol gasoline, or your fleet is now using DEF, it's critically important that your operations and safety teams look at different product properties, risks, and differences.

It's important because not only do you need to train your drivers on placard changes and different loading procedures at both the truck and terminal levels, but you also need to train service techs and warehouse or supply personnel. Beyond that, it’s also important to train sales and customer service, which sometimes gets forgotten in the chaos of adapting to new products or regulations.

For example, we all experienced the biofuels learning curve with solvent properties dissolving gaskets quickly, and filters needing to be replaced more often. If your company is supplying BioHeat, it's important to let your service techs and customers know about increased filter change intervals. Warehouse personnel should know to keep an eye on and ensure proper hoses and gaskets are being used to avoid leaks, corrosion, and safety issues. Station customers should be aware of micron requirements for biodiesel filters. Customer Service reps and Sales teams should be informed enough on the product specs and specifics to answer customers questions on safe handling as well.  

If your company fleet has moved into using DEF, it's important to not only train drivers using the fluid in their own trucks, but if you store it in bulk at your facility, service and warehouse personnel should understand how to store it properly and what problems can arise from non-closed systems or non compliant metal pumps gaskets or fittings, etc. This is critical to ensuring you don't contaminate your fleet (or a customer fleet if you deliver). It’s also important to train sales and customer service on these same items, even though they don’t handle the product themselves, it’s a huge positive for your company to have customers know that they can call anyone at your organization and get the information they need to make sure they too are handling the product safely and properly.

Environmental risks and proper response for spills or leaks of products is important for all personnel as well – not just drivers. The entire staff needs to be aware on what is risky to their health, what's an emergency, what the protocol is for spills or leaks, etc. not only is this important for your liability but more importantly your staff safety, and the safety of your customers.

I thought it would be a good idea to run through different product handling needs and changes in more detail in future updates – what types of product changes have affected your company and the way you train staff to handle and deliver products?

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Topics: DEF, Safety, Bioheat, Biofuels, Staff Training

Road Check is June 3-5 2014 - Are You and Your Truck Ready?

Posted by Matt Manoli on May 28, 2014 10:41:59 AM

Refueling truck parked

Road Check is upon us again! The dates for the 72 hour inspection period for 2014 will be June 3rd through 5th. According to the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CSVA), one of the programs sponsors:

" Since its inception in 1988, roadside inspections conducted during Roadcheck have numbered over 1 million, resulting in more than 220 lives saved and 4,045 injuries avoided. It also provides an opportunity to educate the industry and general public about the importance of safe commercial vehicle operations and the roadside inspection program" (excerpt from CSVA's website, which is an excellent source for commercial vehicle operators:  http://www.cvsa.org/programs/int_roadcheck.php )

So what are they looking for and how can you make sure your truck is ready? Last year saw over 73 thousand inspections of trucks and buses (thats 17 PER MINUTE on average!) with 22% of trucks, and less than 4% of drivers placed out of service. 

The inspections all come down to ensuring that drivers are operating safely and doing so in a safe, properly maintained vehicle. Most of the prep is just a matter of paying extra attention to the simple every day safety measures we all take - making sure you have your license, medical card, hours of service paperwork/elog, and any cargo documentation you need in your truck - and it sounds silly but make sure you fasten your seatbelt! The craziest part of last years inspection numbers was that almost 900 drivers were cited for seatbelt violations!

Last year the inspections primarily focused on load securement, and this is always a critical part of the test since its a huge safety concern, so make sure your straps, chains, tailgates are in good shape and proper working order. In terms of the overall vehicle inspection, what you have the most control over as a driver is making sure you have proper documentation for what you're carrying, especially hazmat drivers. Making sure your vehicle is properly placarded, you have the right paperwork, and if youre in a city like Boston, you know what routes you can and cannot travel with hazardous cargo. This years focus is HazMat compliance, so all of us fuel folks have to keep that in mind and be extra vigilant. 

We all work hard to do our jobs as safely as possible every day, so just make sure you're a little extra vigilant next week, and it'll all be over soon!

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Topics: Safety, Tank Truck Safety Training, Roadcheck, Hazmat

Safety Meetings - Keeping Things Current

Posted by Matt Manoli on Jan 13, 2014 1:25:00 PM

Hello there. One way to keep your safety program interesting and engaging for your employees is to keep it current. There is nothing worse than asking an employee to sit for 45 minutes watching a video that was produced in 1985. It makes me think of the very first safety meeting I conducted. I showed a video on winter driving that was so old there was St. Johnsbury trucks involved in the production. It was awful. On the other hand it shows how far we have come. Our last round of safety meetings I tried a different program called Prezi. While it was a little tricky and time consuming to prepare, it was different from the usual PowerPoint slideshow I have been using. Prezi is a web based program that involves zooming in and out across the screen. It is like a journey - as we called it, our journey to safety excellence. Using a device called Apple TV I was able to conduct the entire meeting wirelessly through my iphone. It was pretty neat and all our employees were very engaged. Check it out at www.prezi.com.

Good drivers take ownership of their responsibilities and the equipment they’re operating. It is imperative this desire is fed on a regular basis, and fed with the most accurate and up to date information possible. I rely on a variety of sources to keep me current so I in turn can keep our people current. Your state trucking associations can be a very good resource. The MMTA’s are particularly good (Massachusetts Motor Transportation Association and Maine Motor Transportation Association). They both send out email notifications of changing rules regulations. Things can change very rapidly in the transportation industry. Both associations will answer the phone and answer questions when needed. JJ Keller publishes a number of monthly newsletters that can be helpful as well. I particularly like their Hazmat Transportation Report. This publication keeps me informed of proposed rule makings in time to comment directly to the DOT before any proposed rulemaking are put into law.    

Any way you stay current works, but remember nobody will buy into an old, stale, outdated safety program, so to get your program working you've got to stay updated.  

Good Luck!

Matt

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Topics: Safety, Tank Truck Safety Training, MMTA

Making Safety Work - Some Things We've Learned

Posted by Matt Manoli on Sep 27, 2013 11:01:00 AM

This past week was National Truck Driver Appreciation week and boy do we appreciate our drivers! These guys are the best in the industry, they take pride in their work and we are extremely proud of them. 

Our drivers, Dispatch, Operations and Safety Departments have all worked really hard to create a culture of Safety and collaboration and have been pretty successful in doing so. I thought I'd run through some things we've learned over the years that have really helped establish that.

Hiring the Right Drivers: Beyond the obvious screening and drug testing requirements and road tests, another angle to make sure you are hiring the most qualified, safest drivers possible is to set up an employee referral bonus program. This is great for your existing drivers, because it shows that you appreciate their skill and professionalism, along with trusting and valuing their opinion and input... not to mention they enjoy the bonus! 

It's also good for your operations in terms of time - your existing drivers understand what the job takes, the culture of the company, and the skill level you are looking for - they know who is a good fit and more importantly, who is NOT. They can use this information to provide referrals that are of a high quality. 

Dont forget that RETAINING quality employees is the most important investment you can make. A clearly defined Safety Program with clearly set boundaries and requirements helps keep everyone on the same page on expectations and consequences. We spend a lot of time clearly defining driver benchmarks and goals - and we recognize and reward drivers who consistently meet or surpass them with a cash Safety Bonus program. Whether your company prefers to do cash, a gift card, movie tickets, whatever - acknowledging the above-and-beyond effort put in by individuals is really important to keeping a positive culture and letting people know you appreciate the professionalism and dedication they put into their work.

One of the ways we've tried to go beyond having a Safety Program and into having a Safety Culture, is through Safety Meetings. Drivers attend these meetings, where new regulations are reviewed or certain topics discussed - they also have time to ask questions, or get feedback from other drivers on situations they've encountered in the field, etc. Beyond keeping everyone on the same page, the meetings have really seemed to help make us a team.

Happy, engaged employees are your best employees, and we've found that the best way to make people happy is to keep things clear and transparent, recognize that they are a skilled professional with valuable input, reward them for going above and beyond, and let them know that we appreciate their hard work and loyalty.  

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Topics: Safety

Safety as a Culture at Dennis K Burke

Posted by Matt Manoli on Jul 11, 2012 4:09:00 PM

Hi guys - in case you missed it, dont forget to check out Ed's article in the May edition of Oil & Energy Magazine on Safety as a Culture in your organization. We have a strong belief in safety being the number one priority at all times and have worked really hard to create a Safety Culture and Program that not only benefits our company and keeps insurances costs lower but allows Safe Drivers to personally benefit from a focus on safety through compensation and bonuses tied to safer performance. Its worth thinking about for your organization as well.

you can read the article in PDF Here or read the Oil & Energy online magazine here

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Topics: Safety, Safe Driving Policy, Oil & Energy Magazine

DKB Tank Truck Safety Training with West Springfield FD

Posted by Matt Manoli on Apr 30, 2012 9:11:00 AM

This month Matt spent some time with the guys at the West Springfield Fire Department conducting tanker safety training. The focus of training is getting firefighters familiar with all the wiring and emergency shutoff setups in new tank trucks so that in the event of a rollover or emergency, they can respond more easily. Obviously we have seen incidents in the past where hazmat loads have caused a lot of damage - Matt's goal is to make it a lot easier for Firefighters to respond, because they are familiar with the workings of the truck, so we can avoid catastrophes.

We loved spending time with the West Springfield Fire Department, a group of well trained professionals, they were an absolute pleasure to spend time with.

You can check out a write up by the Springfield Republican on the training at masslive.com - click here to go directly to the article 

 

Fire fighter observing a lecture from a Dennis K. Burke driver

(Photo by John Suchocki: The Republican)

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Topics: Safety, Firefighter Safety Training

CDL questions in Massachusetts & Social Medias role in hiring drivers

Posted by Matt Manoli on Mar 1, 2012 9:54:00 AM

The crash on route 79 in Fall River last Sunday has raised a lot of questions about how CDL licenses are obtained in Massachusetts, and how companies can go about hiring safe, qualified CDL drivers to avoid catastrophes like we saw in Fall River. The driver of the truck involved had several violations on his driving record, as well as a drug distribution charge that temporarily suspended his license in the past. Obviously, certain types of violations ought to carry more weight than others, but incidents like this crash serve to highlight issues surrounding safety policy, and the importance of taking an overall assessment of a candidate for a drivers position. 

As I discuss in the article in the Taunton Gazette last week, most companies now do background checks on potential drivers, beyond the anticipated driving record check. At Dennis K Burke, we look at a candidates 10 year driving history for any infractions that would indicate habitual unsafe driving. Its also important to check references listed on applications, for any position, but especially a CDL driver. Any gaps in employment should be evaluated as well, to ensure a gap in work history was not due to a suspension or infraction as was the case with the driver involved in the Fall River accident.

(You can Read the Story in the Taunton Gazette here - it does a really great job explaining a lot of the rules and regulations related to CDLs in Massachusetts)

A new approach we also use, in keeping up with the changing ways people share and interact now is checking social media. Generally, social media accounts are harmless, fun ways for people to stay in touch but on occassion they can raise a red flag, much the way they would for a prospective university, job, etc. Its easy to overlook social media as a valuable tool to learn more about an applicant, but I think doing so is a mistake. People live their lives online now, for better or for worse, and by skipping out on social media, you skip out on an easy avenue to get a general feel for who someone is and how they will fit with your organization. Its free, it takes 5 minutes - why not give it a shot?

Speaking of Social Media - you can follow us at @DennisKBurkeInc on Twitter, or http://www.facebook.com/DennisKBurkeInc  - We'd love to hear your feedback, comments and insights!



 

 

 

 

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Topics: Safety, CDL Regulations Massachusetts, Taunton Gazette, Social Media and Job Applicants

Burke trains firefighters in Holyoke

Posted by Matt Manoli on Jul 13, 2011 1:00:00 PM

Matt Manoli, Dennis K Burke's Safety Director, hit the road again for more Firefighter Training on Tankers. The goal of the free training, which Matt has done at several Fire Departments throughout Massachusetts, is to provide firefighters an opportunity to familiarize themselves with the trucks and their shut offs and safety features in a non-emergency situation. Each of the firefighters has a chance to climb in and on the truck, turn on release valves, and learn about changes in safety technology.

Here's some photos of the Holyoke training session:

Group of fire fighters around a Dennis K. Burke truck recieving training   Group of fire fighters around a Dennis K. Burke truck recieving training  Fire fighter working the controls of a refueling truck      

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Topics: Firefighter Safety Training, Holyoke, Massachusetts

Dennis K Burke trains Firefighters in Taunton MA

Posted by Matt Manoli on May 23, 2011 11:10:00 AM

matt manoli, safety training

Matt Manoli, Dennis K Burke's Safety Director recently spent time with the fire department in Taunton, MA to teach tank truck fire safety - Here's the write up in the Taunton Gazette!

Also, here's the photo gallery from the day: Photos from Firefighter Training  (photos by The Gazette's Mike Gay)

 

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Topics: Taunton Firefighter Training, Tank Truck Safety Training