As we enter the upcoming winter weather season, it’s always a prudent step to review safety measures and company policies/procedures as it relates to the safe operation of motor vehicles and the safety of your facility during this time of year.
All safe carriers employ qualified and professional commercial drivers who have experience operating during/after winter weather events. The corporate direction for many companies during these events is to allow each professional to make a decision of driving based on the real-time conditions they are experiencing for the region they are located. For some carriers, due to the vast regions which they cover and the potential varying weather conditions, it is typically not prudent to make a blanket statement advising of when they operate their fleet and therefore the decision is a mutual one reached by the driver and the respective company personnel.
Maintaining ongoing communication with your drivers reminding them that conditions may change at a moment’s notice and for them to remain diligent is critical during many winter weather events. If a driver calls in notifying that he is operating in hazardous/unsafe road conditions, a best practice would be to instruct that driver to remain stopped in a safe location until they are comfortable with conditions to allow them to operate their unit safely. Never overthink nor underestimate any winter weather event, but if a driver states that they are not comfortable operating their unit, you clearly do not want them to be in that position. Afford them the professional courtesy they deserve and simply allow them to either stand down or pull over (whichever their situation is). Always encourage communication from the driving group so the appropriate personnel can learn their real-time conditions and then reinforce the company’s position of respecting their judgment calls based on their experience.
As it relates to managing your facility, best practices would be to verify that your location has applied the appropriate de-icing substance on their walking surfaces and sidewalks and that wet floor signs are set in place within the facility near the front doors and other heavily used entrances. A valid slip/fall claim by a customer entering your facility can start as high as $5k, so you should take all practical measures to reduce/eliminate this exposure. Maintaining the integrity of all walking surfaces and sidewalks at your facility must be a priority to be focused on.
As with all events of this nature, the need to remain flexible with on the road operations is critical. Ensuring the safety of your facility is imperative. If there are any unique situations that arise and dictate a change to your plan, as a best practice, you should have contingency procedures in place that can adapt accordingly to ensure the safety of all of your employees and customers.
Be safe out there this winter weather season.
Robert D. Flaherty, Jr. is the Regional Vice President of Safety & Loss Prevention-Mid Atlantic for eRisk Solutions.