Safety Directors: Who Ya Gonna Call?
Like Rodney Dangerfield, safety directors at trucking companies get little respect. They make drivers watch video after video on everything from pre-trip inspections to avoiding accidents when the driver would rather be out making money. If a driver has the slightest mishap or messes up on their logs, sure enough, the safety director is going to be talking to them. Is there really a reason not to like the safety director though? Not really. After all they are just doing their job.
A safety directorâ€™s day may start at 2 a.m. when their phone rings. It is night dispatch alerting them to a major accident involving one of the companyâ€™s drivers. The safety director will call the driver to make sure they are doing the accident scene and reports correctly, after checking to make sure the driver is ok first. Their nightmares come to life when they have to call law enforcement and/or the hospital if the driver is dead or injured. At the regular start of the safety directorâ€™s day, they will fill out forms on the accident to give to the insurance company and/or the higher ups in the company. In the case of an injured or dead driver, they will contact the driverâ€™s family, and then begin regular business.
Safety directors wear many hats. For instance, Ginger, the office manager for a small 28 truck trucking company, is also safety director. It is her job to monitor log compliance, obtain and maintain insurance and permits, record accident reports and workman comp claims, keep the drivers updated on the latest regulations and safety information and give orientation to new hires; in addition to her duties as office manager.
Safety directors at bigger companies may have as many as 10-20 people working under them to deal with a larger number of drivers. Many safety directors oversee, or actually do, the recruiting of new drivers. They talk to prospective drivers and supervise the employees who check applications, then make sure that the vast amount of required DOT paperwork is complete. On the other hand, safety directors are usually responsible for the terminating of drivers who do not fit into company policies or who keep messing up.
Because of the nature of their jobs, safety directors have to continue their education on safety and insurance matters, and federal and state-by-state regulations of the area the company runs in. They too have to watch videos and read the actions of the DOT and FMCSA. They are the go to person for a driver who has questions about regulations, laws or if the driver gets a ticket.
A few safety directors do much more than just safety aspects of the job in the office itself. One safety director works closely with the shop foreman to make sure the trucks are in compliance. Another works with new dispatchers to educate them on hours of service and other regulations concerning drivers and the job of trucking, and then tests them to make sure they got it. Some safety directors are included in policy making for the company employees combining safety with human resource duties.
In the dark of the night or the light of day, when the worse things in trucking can happen to a trucker, the one person the driver can count on is the safety director. Accidents, claims, stolen trucks, a dispatcher expecting too much, you name it; the safety director at a company should be a driverâ€™s best friend and deserves respect. Who else are you going to call when things go wrong?