Whether you've just started your motor carrier operation or have been at it for some time, you undoubtedly know that trucking is a heavily regulated industry, and for good reason. Operating large trucks and buses is inherently dangerous. The consequences of unsafe operations can be severe.
Navigating the multitude of federal and state safety regulations that govern highway transportation and implementing effective policies and procedures to minimize accidents are tall tasks. And they probably have you wondering at what point you should consider hiring someone to help. Indeed, we're regularly asked by our clients when they should consider hiring a dedicated safety director or manager.
While there's no one-size-fits-all approach to this, here are some things to consider:
Size and complexity of your operation
The size of your fleet plays a big role in the decision of whether to hire a dedicated safety director. We recently posed the following question to our LinkedIn followers:
As your fleet starts to grow, so do the number of compliance-related headaches. The quantity of required compliance documents alone can grow exponentially with your fleet size. At some point, it becomes simply impossible for trucking company owners to manage the compliance aspects of the operation themselves. And that's when things start to get missed.
Obviously, a dedicated safety director can help ensure your company is meeting all regulatory requirements and standards, helping you avoid costly penalties and keeping your business in good standing with regulatory agencies. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has strict regulations for motor carriers, and non-compliance can result in fines, suspended or revoked operating authority, lost business, higher insurance premiums, and increased highway accident exposure. A dedicated safety director can help you navigate these issues and make sure your company is in compliance and out of the crosshairs, so to speak.
Training and education
A dedicated safety director can develop and implement training programs for your drivers and other staff, making sure they are knowledgeable on safety protocols, regulatory obligations, and industry best practices. This can (and should) include regular safety meetings, as well as ongoing education on industry changes and updates to safety regulations. By investing in the education and training of your staff and drivers, you can improve overall safety and reduce the risk of accidents and violations.
If your company has a history of safety violations or accidents, hiring a dedicated safety director can help identify areas for improvement and implement strategies to prevent future incidents. A dedicated safety director can conduct thorough safety audits and assessments, looking for areas where improvements can be made and developing a plan to address any issues. This can include implementing new policies and procedures, providing additional training, and making necessary changes to equipment and vehicles.
While hiring a dedicated safety director will bring additional costs, the benefits in terms of improved safety and compliance can often outweigh the financial investment. In the long run, a dedicated safety director can help reduce the number of accidents and violations, leading to lower insurance premiums and reduced downtime due to repairs, maintenance, and inspections. This can save your company money and improve overall efficiency and productivity.
In addition to the criteria listed above, there are a few other factors to consider when deciding whether to hire a dedicated safety director. These include the overall culture of your company and its commitment to safety, as well as the availability of qualified candidates for the position. The culture of your company plays a major role in overall safety. If safety isn't a top priority for your organization, it can be tough for a dedicated safety director to effectively implement and enforce safety protocols. It's important to have buy-in from upper management and all staff members to create a culture of safety within your organization.
Availability of qualified candidates is another important factor to consider. A dedicated safety director should have a strong background in safety, as well as experience in the transportation industry. They should be knowledgeable on current safety regulations and best practices, and have the ability to develop and implement training programs and policies. It may be necessary to conduct a thorough search and interview process to find the right candidate for the position.
Overall, hiring a dedicated safety director can be a valuable asset for motor carriers looking to improve their safety standards and ensure regulatory compliance. By carefully considering the size and complexity of your operation, regulatory requirements, training needs, and your safety record, you can determine if a dedicated safety director is the right fit for your company.
About Trucksafe Consulting, LLC: Trucksafe Consulting is a full-service DOT regulatory compliance consulting and training service. We help carriers develop, implement, and improve their safety programs, through personalized services, industry-leading training, and a library of educational content. Trucksafe also hosts a monthly live show on its various social media channels called Trucksafe LIVE! to discuss hot-button issues impacting highway transportation. Trucksafe is owned and operated by Brandon Wiseman and Jerad Childress, transportation attorneys who have assisted some of the nation’s leading fleets to develop and maintain cutting-edge safety programs. You can learn more about Trucksafe online at www.trucksafe.com and by following Trucksafe on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.