Safety Information and Updates

Policy & Process are Key to Safe Operation during COVID



 
Kevin Coughlin 3

 

 

With the recent rollback in the Massachusetts reopening plan, we wanted to take a minute to talk about protocols in place to protect employees and customers while still operating at full steam. 

As an essential business, we have continued operating and delivering as normal during the pandemic, although the way in which our office works looks a little different these days. Because of the nature of the business, we were fairly well prepared to work remotely when possible, since we have had to do so (although for MUCH shorter periods of time) in emergency situations previously.

Touchless deliveries, electronic dispatching, and integrated back office systems have been critical facets of our ability to pivot to the "new normal" we are living through. Additionally, the ability to use Microsoft Teams to switch meetings to a virtual format was a huge help, as it allowed us to conduct safety training without risking contact or spread. If you'd like to hear about some of these and the additional processes we put in place to keep running while adhering to the new guidelines, you can do so in Oil & Energy Online here: Tackling our New Normal 

In addition to processes, we found it helpful to adopt a comprehensive policy on COVID-19 for both our internal and external (customer facing) operations that we rolled out to all employees to make sure everyone is on the same page on exactly what is required. 

The policies clarify social distancing & masking requirements and govern the level of contact between our employees and our customers, as well as our internal employee contacts. (If you are a customer or vendor and require a copy of our corporate policy regarding COVID-19, please don't hesitate to contact us for a copy)

We hope everyone is staying as safe as possible out there. 

 

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FMCSA Proposes HOS Changes on Breaks

HOS

The FMCSA has just closed the commenting for changes they are considering in Hours of Service rules, particularly concerning breaks. The commentary period was meant to solicit opinions from drivers and transportation industry folks to see what those that the rules would affect in real life thought about the proposed changes. 

Below is a quick breakdown of some current HOS rules and how they could change under this proposal:

  • Currently drivers are limited to 11 hours of driving within a 14 hour on-duty window, and then are required to take 10 consecutive hours off-duty before driving again. Additionally, they cannot drive after working more than 8 hours without an off-duty rest break of at least 30-minutes.
  • Proposed changes would count 30 minutes of "non driving" time as a break, so for instance, if there was an accident, or roadwork, or traffic was horrendous and you pulled off the road, you could be on duty but not actively driving and have that be a break, versus having to go completely off duty. Another example would be 30 minutes spent loading or delivering product being counted as on-duty break time, so taking an additional 30 minute break would no longer be required.
  • An additional off-duty break of at least 30 minutes (but less than 3 hours) would pause the 14 hour window (so say you stopped an hour, you would essentially "gain" an hour on the other side because of the pause, so instead of having to clock out at 3pm it would bump to 4pm, etc) but this would only be in effect if you had a 10 hour reset (consecutive) following.
  • Short-haul truckers would also be allowed up to 14 hours on duty (from the current 12) and the mileage radius would expand to 150 miles (from 100). 

All of the above are meant to address some rigidity in the HOS rules as they are currently, where often road conditions, accidents, construction, or simply the timing of traffic adds up to essentially non-productive time for drivers and potentially causes people to push through versus taking breaks as needed. 

Having some flexibility in taking the 30 minute break, for example, could mean that instead of sitting in gridlock at 7am behind a major accident, you could pause 60 minutes then jump back on the road at 8am, when it cleared, without losing the hour on the other end - and without sitting at a standstill in traffic. (The fuel savings, and decreased aggravation of that option alone makes it seem appealing).

The idea with flexibility is to improve the efficiency and the experience for drivers, and allow them to make safety conscious decisions about when and how long they need to be taking breaks, without being too boxed in by HOS hard lines to get their work done. The goal being balance, where there is still rest and ample breaks, but the on-hours remain flexible enough to allow people to actually TAKE the breaks without worrying about scrambling to catch the time or distance up to hit deadlines.  

 

 

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Reminder - FMCSA Clearinghouse Mandatory Registration Deadline is January 6th

Drug Testing

The FMCSA Clearinghouse deadline is January 6th, 2020, which believe it or not, is only a few weeks away. While CDL drivers do not technically need to register immediately, they will need to do so for mandatory employer pre-employment inquiries so it's better to just get it out of the way now.

The clearinghouse will be a comprehensive database with information on CDL holders' drug or alcohol violations, as well as information on whether that driver has completed required rehabilitation in order to return to work legally. The requirements are applied to ALL CDL drivers, from school bus drivers to interstate truckers. Violations will include any positive drug or alcohol test, DUI conviction, refusal to submit to testing, or acknowledgement of a substance abuse issue. 

Employers, medical review officers and third party administrators will be legally required to report drug or alcohol violations to the database. Employers will also be required to query the database to confirm new hires are eligible to work (no violations, or have completed required rehabilitation) and will also need to annually query to make sure current employees remain eligible to be a commercial driver. State licensing agencies (like the MA RMV) will also be required to query the system when reissuing CDL licenses. 

The goal of the database implementation is to ensure that CDL holders who have drug or alcohol violations are removed from the road until they have fulfilled steps to show they are a safe operator again.

This past summer the State of Massachusetts had an extremely tragic example of what can happen when CDL license holders are not properly vetted by licensing agencies and/or employers in regard to their drug or alcohol violations when a multiple violator killed 7 motorcyclists in New Hampshire while under the influence. Comprehensive, multi-agency efforts like the FMCSA Clearinghouse are put in place to make sure the proper checks are in place to get unsafe drivers off the road, and try to reduce the likelihood another incident like the one in New Hampshire happens again.     

 

The DOT has a great powerpoint presentation that runs through some of the major points regarding the Clearinghouse that you can access here: Final Rule: Commercial Driver's License Drug & Alcohol Clearinghouse

You can also access the full rule text here: Commercial Driver's Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse

 

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Reminder: Electronic Logging Device (ELD) Deadline is December 16th

ELog

Friendly reminder that December 16th 2019 is the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Association (FMCSA) hard deadline for the Electronic Logging Device Mandate. There have been some "soft" deadlines and delays on this mandate over the last several years but there is no indication we will see another delay, so if your fleet is not fully converted to ELD, definitely get moving on that ASAP.  

We have personally been running E Logs for almost a decade, it made sense for our fleet and our footprint and we like the accuracy and uniformity of the data we get from our system. I will say there is definitely a learning curve involved in making a change over of any kind though, especially one involving software.  But this particular change actually does really make life easier in the big picture when it comes to making sure you are in HOS compliance, and in terms of pulling information for any kind of audit or certification, etc. 

Anyway - if you haven't moved your fleet to ELDs, the time is now. Don't wait til you are fined to get compliant. Good luck! 

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I'll take 'Best Safety Meeting Ever' for $400, Alex

 

new haven group

This summer we had another successful round of our annual "Safety Jeopardy" game at Driver Safety meetings. We've discussed before how we try to cover as much relevant safety info and training as possible to all our drivers at our monthly meetings. Safety Jeopardy has the same goal, but even the Safety Department will admit it's more fun to review safety stats and info via Jeopardy. 

It's easy to lose sight of the truly monumental amount of information that drivers need to know and remember on multiple topics in order to do their jobs safely, and Jeopardy is a fun way to refresh everyone's memory with a little friendly competition. 

Looks like the team enjoyed it, based on those smiles (even Ed Burke and some Sales Reps got in on the action!)

 

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Weight Limit Compliance Across States

Let's talk about something that seems easy but can easily trip up your operations if you miss something. Weight Limits.

Weight limits for trucks are governed by the Federal Highway Administration (FHA) to ensure safe weight limits for Interstate travel. In addition to this, individual States set limits for their roadways.

Compliance on these rules is pretty simple, IF you are running within a state or across a smaller group of states with similar limits. However, in regions like New England, its a lot less likely you're within one state (versus say, running trucks in Texas) and so it becomes very important to make sure you know what the rules are where, and which of your units need what permits to be in compliance. 

This is something that comes up for us a lot, as we are running trucks across several state lines, and it comes up a lot for our customers as well, partly because the states in the region are smaller, and they can have vastly different rules on weights and permitting.  So we thought it would be good to share a chart of the limits we see in the region for you to check against. There are also links to broader resources below if you are out of a different part of the country (or if youre just curious about how complicated it all gets nationwide :) )

This is the chart we use in our Safety Department. So basically if you are adding a unit in MA that will be running MA, NH, ME your process for permitting and the limits will be different than a unit running NY to CT. 

weight chart trucks

(Feel free to snag this chart for your own use, and don't hesitate to reach out if you have questions on it.)   

 

If you need more states or more info, this is a great reference chart by State by CargoAgents. net: Road Weight & Size Limitations .. most states rules reference the Federal Bridge formula to some extent, a breakdown of that and the accompanying detail from the DOT & Congress  is available here: Federal Bridge Weight (<-- this is a very very detailed breakdown, more than you would ever want to know, but a lot of it is helpful) 

 

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Heavy Snow & Ice in the Forecast - Make Sure You're Ready

This weekends forecast calls for snow and ice storms, particularly Saturday into Sunday for the entirety of New England. 

Because it is still early, there are HUGE variances in the amounts of snow and ice predicted, which is frustrating, but there is little doubt we will be getting hit head on by this winter's first major snow event. There is also pretty much consensus that the coast is likely to see flooding and severe icing, which is definitely something to be aware of if you are on the coast or have travel plans or work obligations in the metro Boston or Providence areas.  

We will try and keep you updated on expected impacts & developments on our social channels as the models become more predictive. 

If you're expecting a delivery, please make sure you are using fill ports that are properly coded, and make sure the pathway to the fill is cleared of snow and ice so your driver can make the delivery as quickly and safely as possible. (If you're at home, the same goes for making sure your fill pipe is accessible and there is a clear path to access).

The easier it is for your driver to deliver, the quicker he can get home and off the roads himself. 

If you run backup generators, we highly recommend ensuring they are operational and fueled up prior to the incoming storm. Several of the projected forecasts are prediction damaging ice accumulation and high winds, so it is entirely possible large numbers of New Englander's could lose power.

You definitely don't want to miss the Pats game, so make sure you and your generator are ready to go. 

In terms of general winter preparedness, ready.gov has a great overall guide, you can access it here: 

Ready.Gov - Snowstorms & Extreme Cold

Below is a refresher on the API fill port coding. 

Stay warm & safe out there & GO PATRIOTS!

 

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Sharing Safety with Fire Departments

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For several years, we have been offering free training for Firefighters on fuel trucks. This has been a great way for them to see and get familiar with current setups and the technology involved in today's fuel trailers & straight trucks in a non-emergency situation.

Usually the training involves a Safety Director and a veteran driver, who can talk about potential hazards, the day to day work of being safe with hazmat materials, and who can answer firefighter questions about different scenarios. The firefighters always end up asking questions that make us think about how we look at some day to day safety routines as well, I always say we learn just as much, if not more, from them. 

Ed wrote an article for the December issue of Oil & Energy Magazine that goes into what we typically do for firefighter training, and why we think its so important. You can read that article here: Sharing Safety with Local Fire Departments

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DKB Hurricane Relief Team Heads Home from FL

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BOSTON, MA, Sept. 26, 2017/PR Newswire/ -  Two weeks after Hurricane Irma hit Southern Florida, ten fuel trucks from New England are on their way home after working with FEMA in both the Texas and Florida restoration efforts.

When the trucks were requested to head to Florida, Massachusetts-based fuel distributor Dennis K. Burke, Inc. already had trucks working with FEMA in Texas. Diesel fuel and gasoline were needed for generators, first responder vehicles, and other needs on the ground.

Along the way, the drivers saw convoy after convoy of utility trucks and tree-cutting crews heading there too. At the peak of Hurricane Irma, 15 million people were without power. Fuel trucks were sent to help support the utility vehicles traveling to some of the worst hit areas of Florida.

One of the Burke trucks was assigned to meet up with utility trucks from Texas, and traveled with them through the night, fueling their trucks and equipment as they worked their way down to a staging area in the Orlando area. Support was pouring in from around the country, and their vehicles needed fueling too.

About 27,000 utility workers were working their way across Florida to restore power. That’s not including the tree-trimming crews that worked alongside the utility workers.

The utility crews and tree-cutting crews stayed overnight at 20 staging areas across the state. At these staging areas, trucks and equipment were fueled while they were parked and out-of-service. Each of these sites provided fuel, food, water, showers, and a place to sleep for about 1,000 workers.

Power has been restored in most areas, except in areas where there was extensive flooding or tornado damage. Clean up continues, and for many storm-ravaged neighborhoods, the long road to rebuilding has begun. 

“We’re so proud of our drivers helping with storm recovery,” said Dan Hill, director of operation for Dennis K. Burke, Inc. “They worked hard and under difficult conditions for many days. We look forward to welcoming them home.”

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DKB Heads to Houston for FEMA Emergency Response

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Boston, MA, August 30, 2017 - On behalf of FEMA, early Monday morning Dennis K Burke mobilized several tankers to head out to Fort Hood military base outside of Houston, Texas, to help with the area’s emergency management needs in the wake of unprecedented disaster from Hurricane Harvey. Dennis K Burke Inc. has worked with FEMA before in a post-storm emergency response capacity and look forward to doing everything they can to help Texas recover from this devastation as quickly as possible.

As you probably have seen, Harvey made landfall as a Category 4 storm and has dumped a years’ worth of rain on the Houston & Southeast Texas areas, causing devastating floods. To put the amount of rain Texas has received in perspective, according to the National Weather Service, “if Southeast Texas were New England, the area in which 20-30 inches of rain had fallen over the first 3 days of the storm would encompass all of Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut.”

The NWS is keeping an eye on the storm, which is impacting Louisiana currently on its track back to the Gulf. Obviously, this storm could continue to have substantial impacts. To keep up on the latest alerts, visit the National Weather Service here: http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/#Harvey
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Final Version of E-Log Regulation to be Released This Month

ELog

This week the White House signed off on a final version of the proposed regulation to require e-logs to be used across the trucking industry in order to more efficiently track driver hours for both employers and, more importantly, to ensure DOT hours of service compliance.

The DOT has announced that the final language of the regulation and its effective dates will be published by the end of this month.

E-logs have been a contentious issue in the trucking industry for the past several years - So much so, in fact, that the proposed regulations have been pushed off and delayed several times.

There’s some consensus that e-logs are a good thing, a lot of the issue is a feeling that implementation costs etc.  affect smaller fleets and owner operators much more severely than say larger, or national fleets. That’s very true. There’s also concern about yet another mandate.

A pretty good summary on what the for and against arguments are that I read was recently published on a CCJ Point-Counterpoint Recap and you can read the whole thing here:( Point-Counterpoint: Truckers Square off in Debate)   (As an aside, CCJ is an excellent news source on all things trucking)

For our part, we have been using e-logs for quite some time and would never go back. It definitely simplifies tracking compliance for the DOT, and even more importantly it saves our drivers from the time and aggravation paper logs can be the source of.  However, we’re a pretty large fleet, so it made sense for us and our drivers, that may not be the case for everyone.

It will be interesting to see what the final ruling looks like and how long fleets will have to implement, and if there will be any exceptions for smaller operators.

What are your thoughts on the e-log mandate?

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New Hampshire goes 100% Hands-Free Driving July 1

Road sign reading, Don't text and drive, arrive alive. 

In case you missed it - the State of New Hampshire is going Hands Free. The new law, effective July 1 2015 bans the use of any hand held electronic devices including cell phones, tablets, or any other electronic device requiring user input. 

The use of handsfree and bluetooth communication devices will be allowed. 

You will still be able to use one-hand, non cell phone radios as well. 

Emergency calls to 911 or public safety agencies are exempt from the ban. 

So what happens if you break the law? Some pretty steep fines, from $100 dollars for the first offense, up to $500 for the third offense within two years - not including possible additional penalty assessments. 

Why is NH going hands free? Distracted driving is a serious issue, and the State reports that 116 fatal crashes occured in the last 4 years as a direct result of distracted driving. 

I think this is a positive safety move for the State - we adopted a company wide hands free policy in 2010 (you can read the policy here: Distracted Driving Policy

If you are concerned about employee or driver compliance with hands free or no cell phone policies, there are several apps on the market to ensure compliance - you can read about the one we use here: Want Safer Drivers? There's an App for That )

Any thoughts or questions about the rule, feel free to give us a shout.

Thanks for reading! 

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Get Your Trucks Ready - Road Check is June 2-4!

Woman performing a truck safety inspection

The Annual Road Check 72 hour inspection blitz on Commercial Vehicles is set to take place this year from June 2-4. 

The CVSA inspects an average of 17-18 Commercial Vehicles PER MINUTE during the 3 day period, so it's important to make sure you and your truck are prepared. The purpose of the annual blitz is to ensure the safety of the public traveling on highways, but it also serves to protect drivers themselves by reminding us to be vigilant checking on all possible safety issues on our vehicles and stick with best practices to ensure everyone is as safe as reasonably possible. 

The top categories for violations are: Brakes, Lights, Tires, and Cargo Securement. 

Quick steps to make sure you pass:

  • Make sure youre wearing your seatbelt! It sounds silly but this is actually the most commonly cited violation on inspection, and its the easiest one to correct.
  • Make sure your brakes are working properly and dont show excessive wear, corrosion, or air leakage
  • Make sure coupling devices are present in proper number and are in acceptable condition - no excessive wear, missing parts, or cracks. 
  • Make sure all your lights are working properly
  • Make sure your tires are in proper condition - acceptable tread depth, proper inflation, no obvious visible damage
  • Make sure your cargo is secured properly! This is the 4th most common reason for being put out of service, and really should be something we are all on top of every day. 

The above points are critical for the annual inspection, but they're also things you should really be checking in your pre and post trip vehicle inspections daily as well. It takes very little time to give your truck a once over and make sure everything is as it should be, and the payoff for doing so is enormous. 

We pulled the information for the above points from the CVSA's published "The Inspectors Seat" chart, which you can read in full here: The Inspector's Seat . There is also a lot of excellent information about the Road Check program, prior year results, and general safety info at the CVSA's website, which is www.cvsa.org 

If you have any questions, feel free to contact us in the comments section. Good luck everyone!!

 

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Gov Baker Issues Hours of Service Waiver for MA

Snow plow plowing a snow covered road

Governor Baker has issued an Hours of Service waiver for Heating Oil and Propane deliveries in Massachusetts. This follows the Declaration of Emergency and State-Wide Travel Ban issued for Monday's blizzard.

The travel ban is lifted, but the HOS waiver is in place as of January 28th until the Governor declares it's over.

The executive order is attached for your review, if you're a carrier in MA make sure you check it out and keep a copy to make sure you remain in compliance. 

As an aside - The travel ban might be lifted but its still crazy driving out there, take it slow and be safe! 

You can access the official waiver document here: Governor Baker - HOS Waiver 2015

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Extreme Driving Conditions - Quick Tips to Stay Safe

Snow covered road with a road sign showing the road is slippery

We all know the running joke, no one in New England seems to remember how to drive the second it starts raining or especially snowing. But in all seriousness, its important to take a step back when the temperature drops and the snow starts falling, and make sure you're taking the simple steps necessary to make sure youre handling the tougher conditions safely.

Stay Back - Leave Time to React

In ideal road conditions, the safest following distance is 3-4 seconds. In snowy or icy conditions however, you want to leave at least 8-10 seconds of following time between you and the vehicle ahead of you. No easy task on some of our more infamous Massachusetts highways, but still an important proactive and simple measure you can take to vastly decrease your odds of a collision.

Be Aware of the Day's Varying Hazards

Is there a rain or wind advisory? Fog? Is the sun glaring off all that snow and ice? 

In rainy or slushy conditions, speed management is critical for avoiding hydroplaning, and keeping a safe distance between your truck and other vehicles is of paramount importance. The same goes for speed management and distance with foggy conditions, as the lack of visibility means its more important than ever to give yourself the most possible reaction time.

Sun glare can be mitigated with sunglasses and a visor, obviously. But keep in mind also that the difficulty in visibility even with those measures in place means you should still be watching your distance from other vehicles and speed, because not everyone else on the road is taking the steps to maximize their own visibility. 

Snow Driving - the worst, right? In any type of snow, but especially thick, slushy snow managing your speed and making sure youre taking your time on accelerations and decelerations is absolutely essential. In both snow and ice your braking distance can be much greater than it is in ideal conditions, so distance from other vehicles is key. Reduced traction from snow or ice packing on a road can result in it having 20% of the traction of a wet road. Poor traction means spinning wheels, so paying close attention to your speed, acceleration and deceleration is critical.

Black Ice - one of the most dangerous driving situations out there in the winter. Drivers should pay attention to the spray thrown from other surrounding vehicles - if it suddenly stops, it may indicate black ice is forming ahead.  

Reduced visibility from snow and ice buildup is hazardous. If you cannot see in ALL directions, it is not safe for you to be driving.

Additionally, should your vehicle break down in any of these extreme conditions, immediately call into your dispatcher or supervisor. You should not attempt to walk for help unless absolutely neccessary, and if so leave a note indicating your direction and attempted destination, etc. If your engine is able to run, remain in the truck with the engine running and the window cracked to prevent carbon monoxide buildup and wait for help to arrive. 

 

 

 

 

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It Pays to Pay Extra Attention to Your Truck for Winter Driving

Semi-truck driving on a snowy mountain road

It Pays to Pay Closer Attention to your Truck Inspections in Extreme Weather

In addition to your regular daily vehicle inspections, once the cold weather hits its important to remember to pay extra attention to certain parts, fluids, and accessories. 

  • Coolant & Antifreeze - both of these fluids need to be full at all times to help prevent any cold related engine problems
  • Windshields - Make sure your defrosters are working properly at all times, your wipers are properly fitted so they press the window hard enough to completely clear the vision field. Your washer fluid should always be full, and you should be using a cold weather fluid, like a -20 formula.
  • Tires - you need to make sure your tires are in good condition for winter driving, good tread, properly balanced and inflated. 
  • Brakes - Make sure your brakes are properly adjusted, and make sure you are regularly checking for ice on the brake linings, and keeping air tanks as moisture free as possible. In a winter where youre dealing with a lot of ice driving & braking, pay attention to wear.
  • Fuel Tank - you should be keeping your fuel tank full at all times if possible, especially overnight. Definitely do a top off when the forecast is calling for bad weather the next morning. 
  • Lights & Reflectors - make sure that your lights are working, and make sure that all lights and reflectors are free from ice and snow before heading out - in this weather you need all the visibility advantages you can get.
  • Exhaust - make sure exhaust fittings are tight to prevent carbon monoxide leaking. Also make sure your exhaust piping is free of snow and ice.
  • Wiring & Airlines - any exposed airlines and wiring on your vehicle should be free of snow and ice
  • Coupling Devices - Before coupling its critical that all snow and ice is removed from the 5th wheel. In below freezing temperatures, the jaws of the coupling device may not lock if the grease is frozen. The locking should be double checked, and the 5th wheel should be lubricated.
  • Handholds, steps, and deck plates - should always be cleared of ice and snow to avoid falls. Always remember the 3 points of contact rule!


Winter Driving Equipment

The following items should ALWAYS be in your vehicle for winter driving:

  • Windshield scraper
  • Snow Brush
  • Small Shovel
  • Flashlight
  • Warning Devices 

Its also advisable to think about your safety too - keep bottled water, some snacks, a cell phone/CB, and something to keep you warm should the need arise.

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Ensure A Safe Winter Delivery with these 3 Steps

Winter is officially here! Just a quick reminder on simple steps that help DKB drivers deliver safely and efficiently to your business during inclement weather. 

First, when snow is predicted, please utilize a Safety cone over fill ports.  This deflects snow and ice from covers and fills which allows drivers to locate the fillports in a timely manner.  Time spent searching for fills and chipping ice is time not spent delivering fuel.

Second, please make sure fills are properly color coded per API specifications.  We have attached a chart for reference below. 

 Third, please be sure that all drive isles, stairs and access ways are clear of snow and ice so Drivers can safely make deliveries to your tanks.

 Thank You all for your business and cooperation this winter season.  Remember, you are never the last stop!

API fill chart

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Maintaining SPCC Plan for Proactive Safety & Environmental Compliance

Red circle with a line through it covering oil barrels with an oil slick coming from the barrels

There are dozens of things to keep in mind to stay on the right side of Environmental Regulations for us fuel dealers, one of which is the SPCC plan.

Spill Prevention, Control, and Countermeasure Plans (SPCC's) are a critical part of operating safely. If you store more than 12,000 gallons of petroleum products, regardless of packaging, you're required to have one but its actually a positive requirement when you think about it, and one that insures that your company and employees are always taking safety into account by knowing exactly what to do any time there is an issue. 

We retrain all our drivers on SPCC plans annually to make sure we keep everything fresh, and this also lets us get feedback from drivers on issues they see in the field, so we can proactively address them as needed. Your drivers are your eyes in the field and boots on the ground and your best source of information for both keeping everyone operating safely,and keeping them happy!

Making sure everyone is up to date and has a step-by-step detailed plan of action is a relatively simple way for us to make sure we're all focused on safety all the time. 

Ed wrote an article for Oil & Energy on SPCC plans and staying on top of regulations for the November issue, you can read the full article here at Oil & Energy Online 

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

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?

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

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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Safety Meetings - Keeping Things Current

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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Making Safety Work - Some Things We've Learned

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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Safety as a Culture at Dennis K Burke

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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DKB Tank Truck Safety Training with West Springfield FD

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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CDL questions in Massachusetts & Social Medias role in hiring drivers

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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Burke trains firefighters in Holyoke

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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Melrose Firefighters Learn about Fuel Truck Safety Features

MELROSE FREE PRESS

Melrose Firefighters Learn About Fuel Truck Safety Features

by Andy Frongillo

 

MELROSE – Earlier this month, Melrose firefighters were brought up-to-date with the latest fuel tank and trailer safety technology.

At the request of Melrose Fire Department, Dennis K. Burke, Inc. brought their company’s safety team to the Main Street firehouse to help firemen learn more about fuel truck safety. The Chelsea-based fuel distributor offered presentation on three days to accommodate the shifts and schedules of the firemen. Burke recently offered similar programs to the Revere, Cambridge and Norwood Fire Departments.

When the Burke Safety Team visits with one of the local Fire Departments, they take along a fuel trailer for firefighters to get a hands-on tour of current trailer technology.

“For many of these guys, it’s the first opportunity to check out these vehicles in a non-emergency situation,” notes Burke Safety Director Matt Manoli. “We try to share our drivers’ experiences. We address some of the hazards that drivers might encounter while making deliveries or just traveling through the city.”

There were great discussions regarding placarding, responding to hazards, and learning about a trailer’s emergency shut-off mechanisms. Emphasizing that it was a hands-on demonstration, Manoli then pointed to the top of the trailer and urged the firemen to climb up and look inside the tank compartments, ask questions and try to get familiar with the vehicle’s emergency safety features.

 “For 50 years, our focus has been on delivering fuel safely,” adds Manoli, “we’re really proud of the reputation we’ve earned over the years, and this additional role that we can play in our community.”

  

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Safe Driving - Dennis K Burke's Distracted Driving Policy

dennis k burke, burke oil logo

On May 24, 2010, Dennis K. Burke, Inc. will adopt a policy that will allow our drivers to be safer at work and further set us apart from many in our industry.

 Distracted driving is quickly becoming an epidemic in our society and the statistics showing the results should make all of us pause and realize the importance of this topic in both our work and personal lives.  

  • According to the National Highway Traffic Administration, in 2008 nearly 6,000 people died in crashes involving a distracted or inattentive driver and more than half a million were injured.  
  • While we would never consider driving a commercial motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol, talking on a cell phone while driving extends a driver’s reaction time as much as having a blood alcohol concentration at the legal limit of .08 percent.

Stop and re-read those two bullets… those are staggering statistics. Sadly our brains are often too stubborn to allow us to learn from statistics until we are affected by them personally.

Dennis K. Burke, Inc. is committed to providing the safest possible environment for its employees and the public. As such, it is the policy of Dennis K. Burke, Inc. that no employee will use any type of handheld electronic device while operating a company vehicle or while driving their personal vehicle on company business. This includes, but is not limited to: cell phones, CB radios, laptop computers, and GPS systems. While we realize the large role that these devices play in our lives on a daily basis and the inconveniences and inefficiencies eliminating their use while driving may cause, we are not willing to sacrifice safety.  While we are confident that legislation to this end will follow soon, until such time Dennis K. Burke will be on the forefront leading the way.

Attached is the formal policy as well as a few bullets on how we intend on modifying our business practices to accomplish this change in policy. Please read and be prepared to put in place on May 24, 2010. We also urge you to talk your families and to those who are important in your lives about this serious issue. Thanks in advance for your cooperation and your daily efforts towards keeping our roads safe!


Changes to procedure once policy is in place

  1. You are still required to call in after completion of each load. You are to call base prior to leaving the site after each load if single stop or at the conclusion of a multi-stop run.
  2.  If you are unable to get thru on either of the 2 base phones and nobody has returned your call within  10 minutes from the time of your first call, you are to then contact the Dispatch Hotline at 617.304.1906 or 181*25103*70. This phone is not to call dispatch unless you have been sitting for 10 minutes or longer
  3. If dispatch needs to contact you and you are driving, they will call from the Dispatch Hotline phone. This phone will be set-up on your phone with a special ring tone. If you hear this ring tone while driving, it means dispatch needs to talk to you immediately. You are then to SAFELY find a SAFE location to pull over. Do not pull over into the breakdown lane on the highway. Get off at an exit and find a safe spot to pull the truck over and call the base phones back.
  4. In the event of a personal emergency call from home, we recommend you set up your phones with a special ring tone as with the dispatch hotline. If this call is received, you are then to SAFELY find a SAFE location to pull over and return the call.

 

 

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The Three Point Rule for Safety

Dennis K Burke, Burke Oil LogoTHE THREE-POINT RULE

Falling while getting into or out of heavy equipment, a truck or tractor cab, hooking up air and electrical lines, or mounting or dismounting trailers is a sure way to get seriously hurt. Even an ankle sprain can make it difficult for you to use the clutch. Minor injuries can cost you big in terms of lost income and downtime.

No matter what type of access system your vehicle has available, use the THREE-POINT system to significantly reduce the chance of a slip or fall. The THREE-POINT system means three of your four limbs are in contact with the vehicle at all times-two hands and one foot, or two feet and one hand.

The THREE-POINT system allows you to have maximum stability and support, thereby reducing the likelihood of slipping and falling.

DO'S

  • Wear shoes with good support -- not sandals, bare feet or high heels.
  • Exit and enter facing the cab.
  • Slow down and use extra caution in bad weather.
  • Get a firm grip on rails or handles with your hands.
  • Look for obstacles on the ground below before exiting.

DON'Ts

  • Don't climb down with something in your free hand. Put it on the vehicle floor and reach up for it when you get down on the ground.
  • Don't rush to climb out after a long run. Descend slowly, to avoid straining a muscle.
  • Don't ever jump out. You may land off balance or on an uneven surface, and fall.
  • Don't use tires or wheel hubs as a step surface.
  • Don't use the doorframe or door edge as a handhold.
  • Don't become an injury statistic.
  • Don’t get complacent! - The only person who can prevent a fall is you!

 

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