Oil and gas worksites can be dangerous places for drivers and vehicles. From well or fracking sites to refineries to depots, drivers face harsh, hazardous, unfamiliar and congested areas bustling with people, vehicles and machinery. Whether hauling containers or flatbeds, drivers must load, secure and move a host of often non-standard materials and items, like fuel, chemicals, water, sand, valves and machinery and pipe.
Amid this backdrop, how can trucking companies and drivers heighten safety in the dynamic oil and gas sector?
The pursuit of safer trucking is much the same across industries. At the recent OSHA Oil & Gas Safety and Health Conference, Ryder Senior Manager Randy Tomlinson discussed the role of the “Three Es” – employees, equipment and environment – and how root cause analysis of the operating system can help create a safer trucking environment.
Randy recommends you consider these five tips when creating your own safety strategy:
- Safety starts with leadership. Leadership must demonstrate that safety is the Number 1 mandate. Safety is not a bullet point in a larger discussion, one easily trumped by business decisions. This highly-visible, top-down commitment also requires leadership to surround itself with executives, decision makers and drivers who embrace this belief.
- Empower thoughtful employee participation. Just as a pilot before departure personally inspects the plane’s exterior – and is expected to delay departure if something seems amiss – drivers should be similarly entrusted to check everything from vehicle maintenance and load securement. If a safety issue is discovered, drivers must have leadership support to stop work and demand correction. It’s not about inviting delays and inefficiency, it’s about realizing that almost every accident is preventable and personal accountability trumps an “It wasn’t my fault” mindset every time.
- Develop meaningful training and foster feedback. Safety training isn’t about checking a box and moving along. Training, support and commitment across the organization creates a dialogue, seeks out best practices and creates an organization focused on continual improvement. Training can range from seasonal, like during fall back-to-school or winter-time preparedness, to load securement by vehicle type or jobsite. Deliver classroom and online training and mentoring, and encourage open dialog across the organization.
- Invest in safety technology. Technology can help both the driver and the business bottom line. In-vehicle monitoring systems can ensure compliance with federal driver guidelines and thwart driver fatigue, especially during long hauls in remote areas. Cruise control and early warning systems improve braking or avoid lane departure. A cost-benefit analysis might not reveal immediate returns, but the commitment can help eliminate a potential risk.
- Reflect. Leadership’s commitment to safety must include personal observation, two-way engagement and reflection of what’s been learned. Visit job sites, talk with employees, seek input on solutions, then implement – or readdress. This can help reveal leadership’s safety buy-in and create a safer trucking environment.
About the Author
Steve W. Martin is Vice President of Operations in the Ryder Dedicated division, responsible for the growth and operational execution of customized transportation solutions for Ryder customers in the Eastern region of the U.S. and the Oil & Gas industry. Prior to this role, Steve was Vice President of Supply Chain Excellence – responsible for engineering, quality assurance, program management and LEAN six sigma functional teams.