DOT Compliance Safety with Sun Tzu (Part 3) Prepare the Battlefield


Sun Tzu’s third lesson; “Prepare the Battlefield” . . . I’m not proud to admit this, but I started a 3-part discussion of the principles of Sun Tzu and how these time-honored management concepts might be well-used by a newly-hired or newly-appointed transportation safety manager today, a long damned time ago.

Sun Tzu part I – October 2016 –  “Know yourself”

Sun Tzu part II – October 2016 – “Know your enemy”

Sun Tzu part III – January 2018 – “Prepare the battlefield” . . . What can I say? I’ve been busy.

Here’s my suggestion; read parts I and II, THEN come back and read this one.

While you are at it, read the other blogs that follow Sun Tzu part II.

I just re-read them all, and I really mean it when I say they are good reading. And, if you are the new safety guy for a transportation department of a construction company, or a manufacturing company, or ANY entity that needs a truck or two as a part of it’s overall business footprint, this Read more of this post

In favor of on-site DOT training


If you are new in the business, I think a 4-day seminar is a great starting place.

But, there is some training that all members of management should have.

BLUF: (bottom line up front) – The whole management team needs some DOT training, because without it, you might make a bad mistake that gets you in trouble with the DOT, and also because the DOT requires training for every employee, including mgt and drivers.

The biggest reason I say this is, I’ve seen so many situations where Read more of this post

Who is DOT Compliance Help, Inc.?


So, who is DOT Compliance Help, Inc.? Any time I am introduced to a new company, I want to know:

  • Where did they come from?
  • What do they do?
  • Who are the key people?
    • In the next few pages, I hope to answer most of these questions
    • I want to help you know who we are

As many business managers have learned, DOT regulations are not just for trucking companies. If you are in ANY type business, including, but not limited to: construction, manufacturing, importing, distribution, etc., and you need a 10,000-lb-plus truck for any business chores, chances are the DOT regulations apply to you.

The way the agency puts it this way: “The rules. . . are applicable to all employers, employees, and commercial motor vehicles (CMVs) that transport property or passengers in interstate commerce.”

To fully understand this we have to look at Read more of this post

DOT Fines and Violations Updates


Someone reminded me a couple days ago, the DOT made some adjustments in their fine amounts earlier in 2016. Some of the changes were not terribly dramatic, some of them were pretty interesting. It doesn’t even show up on the DOT Website as a news release. But sometimes I think it is useful to review what some of the DOT’s potential fines are, as people have never heard them. I’ll touch on a few; and if anyone is interested in the chart, I can send it via email.

Failure to submit to a request for information: It was $1,000 Read more of this post

The Private Motor Carrier as Sun Tzu (The Art of War) Part 2


In our continuing discussion of Sun Tzu The Private Motor Carrier, we think about what the Chinese mercenary general might do if he was hired to run a private fleet for an existing construction company.

Last time we talked about the steps Sun Tzu might take in order to:

“Know Yourself” – the first part of Sun Tzu’s best-known quote:

“Know yourself, Know your enemy, and prepare the battle-field”

To review, I suggested he might:

  1. Make a list of his assets (CMVs)
  2. Study the accident register and loss runs, as well as moving violations
  3. Review all training records for the most-recent 24 months.
  4. Conduct his own informal survey of the organizations safety posture

Now, we’ll discuss how Sun Tzu might tackle the 2nd part of his most-well-known truth: “Know yourself, know your enemy, prepare the battlefield.”

When you are focusing on safety management controls, who is the enemy?

Some people think the FMCSA is the enemy, but they really aren’t.

I can see how people feel this way; but the FMCSA is really all about saving lives. I could spend all afternoon speculating about how the agency’s inconsistent enforcement effort levels the playing field, giving an advantage to the small motor carriers who don’t have much to lose, while handicapping larger motor carriers who fear being shut down as a result of even one or two mistakes.

The enemy is complacency. Read more of this post

Transportation Bill Thoughts


The US House of Representatives is apparently focused entirely on the transportation bill this week – there are some interesting articles coming out about it. The way they make laws in this country – it’s terrible and it’s ugly but it’s the best system ever devised.

Here’s this bill, all about transportation, and the country’s future and the (possible) solution to the crumbling infrastructure and everything, and the first step is, they have to vote up or down on a hundred amendments, many of which have nothing to do with transportation. But some do. Read more of this post

4 Solid Reasons to Attend a Conference


  1. Networking (Meeting People Like YOU)

Many times, you are the safety person for your company because NO ONE ELSE is. Which means you are working with people who aren’t doing what you are doing. It’s nice to meet, interact, and bond with people doing the SAME work as you are.

    2. Read more of this post

Are Printers needed for EOBRs?


I received a question from a client recently and thought I’d share the response to help clear up confusion about AOBRs (automatic on-board recorders), EOBRs (electronic on-board recorders) and some other related technologies out there.

“I had a driver pulled over yesterday Read more of this post

Costs of Transportation from ATRI


And now, for something serious. . . The American Transportation Research Institute – a not-for-profit organization affiliated with the DOT – just released the annual industry study on costs of transportation. Once again, costs are up – this time it’s $1.68 per mile but there are a lot of variables. To read the report, go to http://atri-online.org/ – there are a lot of ‘white-paper’ briefings there – you have to go through a few steps but it’s well worth it. One of my favorite recent ATRI papers was the one that looks at the utility of sending drivers to a simulator to make them better drivers (statistically a very good investment).

Required Vs. Recommended DOT Training


I got a client’s email question a few days ago asking what training is required annually, and I thought, “Wow, this guy must be a real go-getter!” as most motor carriers don’t do any training at all . . . this guy is looking for mandatory training topics to cover yearly!

So I gave it some thought, answered his question, and then realized it would be a good topic for a blog post.

 

The first question was, “What training is required on an annual basis?” 

The answer may surprise you: NONE.

In fact, the only training the DOT requires to be re-done on a regular (but not annual) basis is HazMat Training for HazMat drivers/other employees.

(A quick note: OSHA may require some training annually, but I’m not an OSHA expert. I think you are supposed to train on fire extinguishers annually.)

 

So, let’s put together a rundown on required training:

 

  1. I always tell people the MOST important thing (unless you are hauling HM or driving doubles/triples) is:

Supervisor Drug and Alcohol Training

The DOT nearly always asks for proof all members of management have had this training.

Best management practice is to do a refresher course each 2-3 years.

 

  1. HazMat training, for drivers and administrators.

This is required if you haul placardable quantities of HM, but note it’s also required for a lot of HazMat that is in LESS than placardable quantities.

And, some ‘universal’ HazMat safety training is supposed to be done for ALL CMV operators, regardless of their shipments.

So, is it required by the regs? Yes. Is it enforced by FMCSA though? Not so much (except for actual HazMat drivers – then it is really enforced).

Then, is it a good idea?

Yes, for everyone, once each 2-3 years. If you are a hazmat hauler, this has to be done each 3 years.

 

  1. Introduction to Drug & Alcohol Testing training for all CDL drivers.

This is required by the DOT, but hardly anyone does it. Most companies give the driver a copy of the company D & A policy (which usually is incomplete) and make them sign a receipt.

 

The regulation states you are to provide information to the driver about the 11 topics found at 382.601. If the company D & A policy is complete, and if this is presented to drivers as a training session and then it is documented properly, this can be acceptable.

 

  1. I like the fire extinguisher training as required by OSHA and NFPA regulations. 

The regulations are as follows 1910.157(g)(1) and 1910.157(g)(2) that require all employees to be trained and have annual refresher training. This training is not that long and has helped out on other areas also.

 

  1. And then there is Entry-Level Driver Training (ELDT) – it’s a good starting place. Four topics required in ELDT are: Driver Qualification\Disqualification, Hours of Service, Wellness, and Whistleblower training. Here is a comment I made on ELDT on a national website about 2.5 years ago:

 

“I think you should present, at a minimum, the 4 ELDT topics PLUS load securement to all new drivers, regardless whether ELDT is required by the DOT.

1 – If you as a manager understand driver qualification and disqualification, you should be the one training the drivers. This can be incorporated in the DQ process, along with any unique administrative requirements.

Be sure to cover the physical qualification to include if you are unable to work one day and you have to see a doctor, you MIGHT not be qualified to work – and you should check with the medical examiner (this is a ‘best management practice).

2 – Hours of Service – most drivers lie on their logs all the time.

I hope if you are participating in this forum you have made a business decision to put a stop to it.

Drivers deserve to hear this from you. And, you need to show them how you want the logs presented. Again, I don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings but I have to say “If you understand HOS documentation” because a lot of people don’t.
There is a new website with some training material on driver fatigue; if you have never seen it, you should invest a little time in looking at it. Go to http://www.nafmp.com/en/

I am NOT a fan of “canned training” – I think it conveys the message that you are just paying lip service or that you don’t understand it yourself.
A – you need to understand it if you are the safety manager, and
B – your policies procedures and paperwork need to be customized for your circumstances.

3 – Wellness – who cares if it is REQUIRED – It is a good idea to have a brief, frank discussion with your drivers on this topic. The health insurance industry says “Persons / employees / co-workers who are concerned about their personal physical well-being are less often missing time due to illness and injuries and return to work sooner” or words to that effect.
If you care about your drivers or the long-term success of your business, you need to deliver a brief, meaningful presentation on the topic of driver wellness. The occasional distribution of some literature on the topic has also been shown to have a beneficial impact.

4 – Whistleblower Training. As I understand it, OSHA requires this for any company that has more than 8 or 10 or 16 employees – I don’t remember the exact number because I am not interested in doing just the minimum.
I advocate doing what is right and what is smart, to the extent that I know what this is.
A driver deserves to know you mean it when you say you don’t want dispatchers pushing them inappropriately and that you WILL fix it if it is a safety issue (HOS and Maint. are the 2 whistleblower topics)

5. And the bonus segment – load securement.
Though not technically required as a topic of training, the regulation does say a driver is not qualified to operate a CMV unless he knows how to block, brace and secure cargo. And, since one of the required topics is on Driver Qualification\Disqualification, if you have never done any formal training on the topic, you cannot prove the driver is qualified to drive a CMV. So why wouldn’t you spend a few minutes to go over it with them during the entry-level training?

Again, I hate to step on toes here, but it would be a bad case of ignoring the elephant in the room if I didn’t address this:
 – SOME trucking companies hire a person and give them the title of safety manager with no regard for whether the person has a clue about motor carrier safety. If you are not competent to deliver a presentation on these 5 topics to your drivers, you should seek self-improvement such that you are comfortable with not only the DOT minimum, but the industry standard and best-management practices. There are a lot of people out there who have been given the title “Safety manager” without the proper background.
If you have been given the title without the perfect body of experience or educational background, you are not in the minority. When I was first instructed to “read this stuff and make sure we are doing this paperwork right” I was hopelessly unqualified – it’s like being tossed into the deep end of the swimming pool – you either figure it out or you have a bad experience.

If you don’t feel comfortable putting together a meaningful presentation – one that is customized for your company – on each of these five topics – MAYBE using some sort of ‘canned training’ product is better than nothing.
But, it should be a temporary solution, and you should strive for a better command of the material and you should be planning to develop your own unique treatment of each of these topics.”

This leads me to my final topic, which may be a bit self-serving, but I promise you it did not start that way:

 

When I first got into this business back in 1988, one of the helpful suggestions I got from a member of the state motor carrier association was to attend a 2-day seminar. There were several vendors of such educational events in the 1980s, and I was able to find one. It was helpful in getting my feet under me, so to speak, in this new area.

 

After I left the FMCSA in 2007, I started helping small trucking companies establish safety management systems; the first 10 or so people I visited with simply didn’t know anything about DOT safety regulations. So I told every one of them they needed to find and attend a 2-day seminar. They all called and emailed me back saying they were unable to find such a training event. So, I created one. I figured out later there were a couple major national providers of these training events that had simply dropped out of the marketplace, creating a vacuum. Today, I think we offer the best 3-day seminar there is on the topic.

 

The FMCSA has tried and failed repeatedly since 1982 to make driver training mandatory. (Other than the approximately 2-hour ELDT requirement for new CDL drivers, there is still NO mandatory training for CMV operators). But, in MAP-21 (the current transportation law), there is a requirement for the FMCSA to create a specific proficiency requirement for motor carriers. Not later than April 2014, the agency was supposed to create a regulation making this mandatory. I’m not sure what the current status is, but my point is the whole “go-to-a-seminar if you are new to the business” might be in the DOT Regulation someday.

Right now, it’s just a recommendation for those newly assigned to the job.

 

 

In summary:

If you are coming into this job from another area of management, and you are accustomed to a checklist of required training, note there is very little required by the FMCSA, but there are at least three types of training you should be thinking about:

 

-Topics above (A, B, and C) required by the FMCSA

-Entry-Level Driver Training / initial driver safety training (E)

-Training for management

 

This is just my 2 cents worth on the topic – but hey, I’m just a simple country boy with a public-school education from southern Missouri.
-Mike England