If you want to get in shape and stay in shape, it’s not enough to spend a week lifting weights and running. You need to keep-up with an exercise routine to hit your goals, maintain your desired level of fitness, and avoid regression. It works the same way with light-duty safety and defensive driving training.
When you first train a new-hire, they’ll take the safety messages to heart and apply the principles and techniques necessary to prevent accidents. However, without any follow-up training, they’ll be sure to slip into unsafe habits. That puts you, them, and everyone on the road with them at risk. You need to make safety training a regular part of driving for your company.
But, what’s the best way to conduct on-going safety training? And how often should you do it?
How to Implement On-Going Safety Training
Safety training should not be a singular event. If you want to protect your people and reduce accidents, safety training must be a continuous process that is deeply embedded within your culture.
An effective safety training program:
- Leans on monthly safety meetings to reduce your biggest loss-leaders
- Delivers important safety messages on a daily basis
- Features larger training events throughout the year
We could write a novel on the relationship between on-going safety training, building a safety culture, and accident reduction. However, for the sake of time, we’ll try to give you a few short and sweet tips on each of the items listed above.
Monthly Safety Meetings Done Right
Monthly safety meetings are a set time where all of your drivers get together to learn about and discuss a pressing safety topic in your company. These meetings and their topics are set in advance, mandatory, and must be treated as extremely important by everyone in your company. They are non-negotiables for your drivers.
The meetings focus on a singular topic that is a loss-leading indicator for your company. For example, if your company experiences many rear-end collisions, you would cover maintaining a safe following distance.
However, the safety training doesn’t stop after the meeting. For best results, you will want to focus on the topic the entire month. Follow-up with your drivers after the meeting. Ask them how they have been applying what they learned in the meeting throughout the month. Ask them questions to test their knowledge, memory, and understanding of the topic days or weeks after the meeting.
You’ll also want to use media such as posters, safety pledges, and short videos throughout the month to keep your drivers engaged on the topic. Most learning management systems have the ability to push out 2-3 minute videos to your entire company for follow-up training after a meeting.
If you’re looking for a fast and easy way to access these safety meeting materials, check out our program The Monthly Safety Initiative.
The timeframe of a month wasn’t selected randomly. In our experience of working with clients in dozens of transportation industries, monthly safety meetings provide the best return on investment.
If you were to host formal safety meetings less often - say, quarterly or twice a year - your accident numbers would likely be poor.
If you were to host training more frequently - say, twice a month - you’d be spending more time and resources for diminishing returns. You wouldn’t see the needle move on your accident numbers much more than you would by hosting monthly meetings.
In addition, your monthly meetings will cover important topics such as maintaining a safe following distance, preventing accidents with pedestrians and cyclists, and performing safe turns. You want your company to focus on these topics for several weeks at a time.
Communicating Safety Messages on a Daily Basis
Paired with your monthly safety meetings, you want to communicate safety messages on a daily basis. Afterall, safe workplace behaviors and driving practices don’t begin and end with a safety meeting. They should be ingrained in every moment spent at work.
Here are some tried and true ways to make safety a part of everyday life at your company:
- Start each and every day with a safety briefing. Gather your employees and spend a couple of minutes talking about a pertinent safety topic.
- Send out daily safety messages over the dispatch radio to all of your drivers.
- Spend time every day chatting with some of your drivers one-on-one about safe driving practices.
- Send out daily safety tips via email to all of your drivers. Include a quiz or survey to make sure that folks actually read them.
- Hang physical safety messages throughout your company. These could be flyers, posters, pictures, etc. However, you don’t want to leave them up for too long. They become wallpaper afterwhile and people will walk right by them without a second thought. Swap them out for best results.
For the most clear and effective safety messaging, you should pair these strategies with the topic covered in your monthly safety meetings. Focus your conversations, physical media, and daily safety tips on what your drivers learn in your safety meeting.
Conducting Training as a Special Event
With recurring training such as monthly safety meetings and daily safety messages set, it’s time to plan some larger events.
Throughout the year, we recommend scheduling 2 to 3 special training events to focus on more in-depth concepts. Hosting these special events will accomplish several things:
- Your drivers will see the focus you put on training and consider it more important themselves.
- Your drivers will appreciate the resources put into their safety, making them want to stay with your company.
- Your accident rates will plummet by spending time tackling complex safety issues.
Here are two ideas to get you started.
Annual Driving Skills Text
Once a year, pull out the orange cones, bring everyone together, and have folks participate in a skills course. Don’t make it just another hum-drum day at work, though. Make it a fun, special event.
Host competitions with rewards to see who can successfully complete the most challenges. Set-up tables for a picnic and order in food for everyone. Give people a chance to talk, catch-up, and interact in person. Conducting it this way makes it feel like a reward rather than just training.
Best of all, while your employees connect and improve your company culture, they’ll be learning in the process. Coach drivers through challenges they’re having difficulty completing. Allow others to offer support and guidance. Let people reflect on what challenges they would like to improve on, and offer them one-on-one follow-up coaching.
How can you be sure your drivers are putting what they learn in safety training to use? One way is to conduct manager ride-alongs.
Twice a year, each driver should have a manager or frontline supervisor spend a few hours with them in the vehicle. This one-on-one coaching session is a great way for drivers to receive specific tips on how they can improve their driving. It’s also a chance for them to engage with their manager, improve their relationship, and talk to their manager about any challenges they have at work.
Your drivers will appreciate the time and attention while improving their driving habits.
It’s Time to Get in Shape - Conduct Safety Training Year-Round
Just like you can’t stay in shape for a year by lifting and running for a week, you can’t expect your accident numbers to go down if you only train your employees upon hire. You need to make safety training a regular part of working for your company.
Host monthly safety meetings to reduce your biggest loss-leaders. Make safety training a part of everyday work-life with daily safety tips and briefings to start the day. Host larger training events a few times a year to dig into complex safety issues.
If you implement these strategies together, your accident rates will drop, your people will get home safe everyday, and your bottom line will drastically improve.