You may think you’ve heard it all when it comes to construction safety, but really, you can never hear enough. Eliminating construction accidents and building safer structures starts with safer jobsites. That’s only possible when you put safety at the top of every project’s priority list and lead by example; you have to focus on safety in order for your employees to focus on it, too.
Vehicle and equipment operators have a special responsibility to operate safely, on the jobsite and on the road. Sitting behind the wheel of a big rig, a several-ton machine or any other machine requires a genuine commitment to safety and a thorough understanding of what can happen if you don’t honor that commitment.
There are countless incidents that could happen when safety isn’t top of mind. This is just one example, and it could have been much worse. As you’re reading, consider how your current safety program prevents similar accidents from happening — or if it is at all.
Reckless operation: a cautionary tale
One hot Kentucky morning, a contracting company loaded an excavator onto a flatbed truck bound for a jobsite on the other side of town. Delivery driver Jimmy was behind the wheel.
Jimmy, an impatient driver, wanted to complete the delivery and get back to the yard as quickly as he could. As soon as he left the lot, he floored the gas pedal on the big rig and began driving well over the speed limit.
He was nearing the jobsite when the two-lane highway he was on took a sharp turn. Jimmy barely touched the brakes, and as he entered the curve, the truck began to shake. He lost control, and the entire rig overturned. Jimmy was pinned in the vehicle.
The fire department was called to the scene, where they had to use ladders to reach Jimmy. It took over an hour to get Jimmy out. Complaining of back pain, Jimmy was transported to a nearby hospital where he was admitted with injuries that put him out of work for weeks.
The rig and the excavator were both severely damaged and required thousands of dollars in repairs. The accident impacted his employers’ insurance premiums and necessitated mandatory safety training for every employee.
This wasn’t Jimmy’s first time driving recklessly. He sped regularly and had had near-miss accidents in company vehicles previously, but there was no record of that behavior. Had his employer only known about it and had official documentation of these behaviors, they could have addressed it before the accident and potentially prevented it. They would have saved thousands of dollars and weeks dealing with the consequences.
But how could they know? Their company vehicles weren’t equipped with smart jobsite technology.
Identify and eliminate risky operator habits
Hauling and operating heavy equipment is dangerous. With hundreds of horsepower driving tons of equipment, the slightest mistake can have serious consequences. And then there are bad operators. With the help of telematics, you can cut down on risk, identify operators who consistently cause problems, and make jobsites and roads safer.
People can be irresponsible; they can take unnecessary risks and make honest mistakes. These facts of life may not pose serious problems in some industries, but in construction and transportation, recklessness or carelessness can be fatal. That’s why it’s important to have a smart jobsite technology solution like Track telematics in place.
Track allows you to monitor driver behavior so you can easily identify problem operators before an accident occurs. Automatic alerts about speeding, hard braking, sharp turns and other careless behaviors are accumulated into a driver scorecard that tells you exactly how safely — or unsafely — any given employee is driving. You can generate driving reports not only for individual drivers, but also for each asset to determine which vehicles may have more wear and tear than others.
Awareness of recurrent unsafe operating habits means you can address them much more effectively. Talk to an employee one-on-one about their driving habits, or conduct training with the whole team if everyone is making mistakes. If a machine or vehicle has been operated particularly aggressively, then you can easily pay extra attention to its maintenance schedule. All of its maintenance data and records are documented in Track.
Fatigue and distractions cause accidents, too
Even good drivers make mistakes when they’re tired. Fatigue can impair reaction time and decision making, and it greatly increases the risk of being involved in an accident. According to the National Sleep Foundation, drowsy car operators cause 1,550 deaths, 71,000 injuries and $12.5 billion in damages every year. And when you’re operating a three-ton piece of equipment on the jobsite or a loaded-down delivery truck on the highway, the risk is even greater.
Track helps you document and enforce operator Hours of Service. Its data recording capabilities also help you stay compliant with federal requirements from OSHA and the ELD Mandate about driver hours. You can automatically log operating time and generate alerts when drivers are nearing their limits. This ensures your drivers are rested and alert, plus it reduces accidents and avoids costly fines, too.
Distractions like cell phones also contribute to accidents, so ensure none of your policies compel operators to use their phones while driving. This is important to emphasize: Nearly every state has laws against using cell phones behind the wheel, and you don’t want employees getting pulled over and ticketed on the job.
When drivers know their vehicles and machines are monitored by telematics, they’re more inclined to operate safely. But that only happens if you’re diligent about addressing problem behaviors and correcting them quickly.
Start by putting safety first and investing in a smart jobsite technology solution that gives you the tools to prevent accidents and run safer jobsites.