“Don’t Chew Your Fingernails”

“Don’t Chew Your Fingernails”

I was just thinking about an old friend from the MO National Guard a few days ago. His name was Mike and he was in charge of a construction platoon. He was a skilled plumber and project manager, and I told him I was impressed with his skill set.

“Plumbing is Easy” he said, “there are only a few things you have to remember:”

 – Righty tighty, lefty loosey

– Hot on the left, cold on the right

 – Payday is Friday

 – Don’t chew your fingernails


You know, I thought, this idea of breaking down a process into several simple imperatives can be a valuable tool.

So when Mike was running a renovation project, I made a list of the things he had to do to be successful:


 – When tearing down, work from the top down

 – When building, work from the bottom up

 – Get older workers to be patient with younger ones 

 – Get younger workers to listen to the old hands

 – Detect defects early so they can be repaired with a minimum of demolition and reconstruction

 – Schedule material deliveries to avoid workstoppages   

 – Entertain visiting officers so they don’t interfere with the project


Like Sun Tzu’s 13 principals, you can apply this concept to anything worth doing.  


People in the trucking industry would like the whole DOT compliance system to be broken down into bullet points and printed on an index card.

Now, I don’t mean to say DOT Compliance is more complicated than construction or plumbing, but I’m not sure I can actually get it down to 7 or fewer bullets or one card.

But I will try to make it really simple and easy to remember.


–  First, be safe – no one can afford the real costs of accidents and fatalities

– Second, try to get all this paperwork stuff figured out so the DOT doesn’t shut you down.


There are about four different types of paperwork:

–      Driver Qualification

–      Drug and alcohol testing and record keeping

–      Hour of Service monitoring

–      Maintenance management


Once you get a handle on these things,shift your focus to accident prevention.

The FMCSA calls this the ‘accident countermeasures system’:


The first part of every accident counter measures system is, try really hard not to have wrecks.

As simple as that sounds, you need scheduled safety training to focus drivers on just driving safely.


The real job of a safety manager is to develop an organized approach to accident prevention, and a HUGE part of this job is driver safety training.


You will need an internal accident register. Then, you need to study it.

Look at all the minor accidents and near misses and try to identify a trend.

Then, ask yourself the three goldenquestions of accident prevention:

1 – Based on this set of observations,what type accident is most likely to occur?
2 – Based on the same set of observations, what is the most serious accidentyou can foresee?
3 – What can we do differently to keep (1) and (2) from happening?


Once you have answered thethree questions, stop the cycle of crashes by putting a “Cuntermeasure” inplace to stop it before it happens.

Quite often, but not always, theanswer is “get drivers to do this or stop doing that

– this is why drivertraining is such a big part of accident prevention”



And don’t chew your fingernails.

It can cause stomach problems.

And make your hands look funny.


Just my 2 cents worth


Mike England

DOT Compliance Help Inc




About DOT Compliance Help Inc
Phone: 847-836-6063 web: www.dotcompliancehelp.com e-mail info@dotcompliancehelp.com DOT Compliance Help, Inc. is a full-service consulting firm specializing in the interpretation and execution of the regulations and guidelines set forth by the US Department of Transportation Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. •Mission Statement• To assist our clients in establishing proper safety management controls in order to minimize accidents, injuries, and fatalities. The ultimate goals are safer roadways for the public and increased profits for our clients. Our core consulting competencies include FMCSA Assessments (mock audits), DOT compliance training (on-site and via webinar) and custom safety plans and policies. We also hold DOT compliance workshops and conferences all across the country. Utilizing a proprietary curriculum developed by our President, Mike England, our classes cover everything you need to know about the FMCSRs, how to survive your next DOT Compliance Review, and how Comprehensive safety Analysis (CSA 2010) will affect you. www.dotcompliancehelp.com

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