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Ten Safety Lessons: #4 Hire the Right Drivers

Posted by Mark G. Gardner on March 4, 2013 in the category Uncategorized

Safety pioneer H.W. Heinrich introduced his domino theory of accident causation in 1932 in his breakthrough paper, Industrial Accident Prevention.  The first domino was based on worker personality, including traits like recklessness, stubbornness and greed. He demonstrated how specific behaviors, when repeated often enough, lead to accidents.

In the past several years, many well-known business gurus have posited similar theories for achieving organizational success.  Peter Drucker asserts that business success begins with, “getting the right people on the bus and making sure they’re in the right seat.”  Jack Welch introduced us to Top-Grading, a systematic methodology for continuously removing C players from the workforce.  Both experts, and a veritable host of others, agree that the quality of any team or business is predominantly dependent upon the talent acquisition process.  Just taking a driver who meets the minimum and hoping for the best isn’t a strategy, it’s a gamble

If winning begins with selecting and hiring winners, why is it that many are willing to settle for the first applicant who shows up with the minimum qualifications?  Worse, why do recruiters seemingly ignore the most important traits during the hiring process and, instead, focus on qualities and characteristics that are rarely predictive of on-the-job success?

photo of a Mack truck driver

One of the keys is finding people who will not get into accidents. So what is an accident? An accident is an unplanned event that disrupts activity, affects people and has a cause.  Almost without exception, that cause is a driver’s behavior.

To increase safety either:

1)     Correct the unsafe behaviors or
2)     Eliminate operators from the work force who are willing to behave in unsafe ways.

This cries for a better method of hiring. There’s a better way and, at a minimum, it should have at least six parts:

  1. An applicant attraction process with a big mouth (generating lots of applicants).
  2. A realistic job preview to self-eliminate unfit candidates
  3. A comprehensive application process
  4. A pre-employment psychometric assessment to eliminate risk takers
  5. A structured, behaviorally-anchored, job interview to select the best
  6. A thorough background check

These aren’t pie-in-the-sky concepts that only industrial psychologists can appreciate. They are common sense when you look at the risks any carrier faces and the need to insure the safety of all your stakeholders.
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Mark G. Gardner
Chief Executive Officer
Avatar Management Services, Inc