10 tips for establishing an OSHA-approved vehicle policy

Posted in Business

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), motor vehicle crashes are one of the leading causes of death in the U.S. For those who are required to operate a commercial motor vehicle (CMV) and other heavy machinery, when driving is a part of the job, it has to be done with the utmost safety.

And while OSHA is not responsible for regulating the use of a company’s CMVs, the agency has issued helpful guidelines for employers to follow in order to lower the number of accidents. In fact, by establishing an OSHA recommended safety program, employers are better able to protect company resources, prevent injuries and reduce liability risks.

In order to accomplish all three of those things, OSHA has laid out 10 must-haves for your company’s commercial vehicle safety program. They include:

  1. Regulatory compliance
    As mentioned before, OSHA is not responsible for regulating the use of company vehicles. Instead, the United States Department of Transportation controls all driver, vehicle and company regulations. As you’re implementing any company specific rules to your policy, make sure it also states that all trucks and drivers must comply with all applicable roadway safety laws.
  2. Written policies and procedures
    It’s one thing to say you have a driving policy in place; it’s another to have it actually written down and enforced. In order for your employees to fully understand the policy (and for you to enforce it to its full extent), make sure all rules about driver eligibility, moving violations, drug/alcohol use, etc. are documented and not just verbally agreed upon.
  3. Signed agreement
    In order to validate the policy’s legitimacy, drivers should sign an agreement stating that they fully understand and will follow the vehicle safety policy. This will hold them accountable for any rules they may violate.
  4. Background checks
    To help prevent a bad history of accidents from repeating itself, employers should include a background check of all new drivers’ motor vehicle records in their policy. In addition, current drivers’ records should be checked periodically for license restrictions, moving violations, and accidents.
  5. Crash reporting procedures
    Though it’s important to spend time instructing your truckers to drive safely, after enough time on the road, the occasional accident is unavoidable. That being said, it’s important that your drivers know what to do in case of a collision. No matter the severity of the accident, procedures should be in place to properly report and record the damage. In addition, make sure you conduct investigations into accidents to determine what caused the crash in order to help prevent it from happening in the future.
  6. Truck selection, inspection and maintenance procedures
    To help ensure the quality of the vehicles your drivers are using, it’s important to include your vehicle selection, inspection, and maintenance procedures into your company’s policy. For selection, you can use manufacturer’s crash test and safety ratings to help you select a safer truck from the start. Be sure to include rules for regular vehicle inspections, as well as procedures for how to report any defects. Lastly, make sure all repairs are made by qualified mechanics.
  7. Driver training programs
    Though a background check can prevent you from hiring a known bad driver, many drivers still need to undergo training to understand how to safely operate a commercial vehicle. Establish a driver training program for new drivers, as well as refresher programs for more experienced truckers.
  8. Disciplinary system for violations
    What good is having a policy if you don’t enforce it, right? In order for your employees to follow the rules, there should be a disciplinary program for drivers who violate your policy. Consider a system of consequences that increase in severity, with the driver being faced with losing his or her driving privileges for certain violations.
  9. Reward programs to promote good driving
    Rather than just punishing employees for violating your policy, give workers incentive to follow your policy, as well. Make sure you recognize those employees who are doing well by offering prizes and special privileges to reward safe driving.
  10. Management commitment and employee involvement
    The final piece of the policy puzzle involves commitment and active involvement from management and employees alike. In order for your policy to be successful, management must adhere to and enforce all rules of the policy; however, employees must also be equally involved in providing input. After all, they’re the ones who operate within the policy’s rules every day.

As you can see, there are many elements that go into creating a comprehensive commercial vehicle policy for your company. Now that you understand the basic framework for establishing an effective vehicle policy, use these 10 tips as an outline as your write your company’s own policy. To learn more about establishing a company CMV policy, as well as the OSHA and DOT regulations that apply to your transport company, contact your local independent insurance agent.