Shops must adopt a ‘culture’ in which safety is of top importance, according to experienced fleet managers. - Photo: Government Fleet

Shops must adopt a ‘culture’ in which safety is of top importance, according to experienced fleet managers. 

Photo: Government Fleet

The city of Glendale, Arizona, fleet management safety program includes three main components: employee safety, equipment safety, and environmental safety.

For that latter component, the city’s environmental team inspects the fleet maintenance facility once a year, checking for anything that could be an environmental hazard. To prepare for that, members of the Fleet Management team track areas such as fuel, oil, batteries, and filter disposal to ensure environmental compliance.

“So it really keeps us in check as far as what we need to be doing on a daily basis, not just trying to pass some inspection that’s happening at the end of the year,” said Craig Croner, CPFP, the city’s deputy director of field operations.

Implementing a Fleet Safety Program in Your Organization

The city of Knoxville, Tennessee, fleet department director of fleet services, Nicholas Bradshaw said his department’s safety approach is about creating a culture of “being intentional” every day, and then also implementing “a robust compliance operation.”

A safety program can’t just be about compliance, he said. “I feel like that’s not sufficient because you’re checking the box, ‘I don’t want to get caught, I don’t want to have a violation,’ but that’s not the same as having a safety
culture,” Bradshaw said. “We’re trying to prevent injuries, which is the real name of the game, so it’s both things. It’s creating a culture of being intentional and it’s about compliance.”

Creating a Culture of Shop Safety

In addition to environmental safety and driver safety, equipment safety is another prong of the city of Glendale, Arizona, shop safety program. New technicians must complete several hours of safety training before they are allowed on the floor.

They must also get certified in forklift operation in certain jobs. Technicians undergo overhead crane training as part of their onboarding, and shop floor hoist training is required annually.

“We haven’t had any significant incidents since I’ve been here, and I think we run a very safe operation because of some of the training and employee awareness that we put into place,” Croner said.

Bradshaw, who oversees about 1,700 vehicles and pieces of equipment for the city of Knoxville, oversees four maintenance shops and believes that “shop safety is critical.”

“Our mission is to send everybody home at the end of the day as good or better than they were when they got there,” he said. “That’s part of running a workplace, so safety is a critical part of that.”

A dedicated safety manager for the city helps the department conduct mock OSHA inspections. 

“It's creating a culture of being intentional, and it’s about compliance" Knoxville, Tennessee, Fleet Department Director of Fleet Services Nicholas Bradshaw

“There are great vendors out there that we’ve contracted with, and they can do a full-on OSHA report as good as the OSHA inspector can,” Bradshaw said, adding that the department tries to conduct those once per year.
OSHA surprise inspections are important, because “they help folks stay on the ball more consistently,” he said.

But planned inspections are also important, because the preparation for them is important, he said.

“We’ll say, ‘On this date, we want everything to be in ship shape,’ and then everybody knows what it takes to be in ship shape, so that has its own value,” he said. 

A department is more likely to get hit with violations during surprise inspections, and that keeps staff members on their toes, he said. 

OSHA violations tend to be fairly consistent, with common ones involving liquids, Bradshaw said. Inspectors check if fluids are stored and labeled properly and if walk areas are free of debris. But OSHA can’t have inspectors at the fleet shop all the time, so planned non-OSHA inspections are important.

“You’re sort of responsible for your own compliance, and I think it's helpful to be as close as possible to real-life OSHA inspections on a regular basis and then sharing the results with the team,” Bradshaw said. “So we either do that internally with our risk department or we will get outside folks just to get the diverse perspective of what other folks might think of our environment.”

And he believes communication is a key aspect of shop safety, expanding on the toolbox talks that he says are one-page lessons.

“We assembled all those in some three-ring binders,” he said. “They are supposed to be five minutes or so, and each shop has its own binder. The supervisor is in charge, but sometimes other members of the crew will actually help deliver the lesson.”

Bradshaw describes his approach to safety as “two-pronged,” with the first prong being about “creating a culture” of safety. The second is to have a “robust compliance operation.”

But having a compliance operation doesn’t work well without that safety culture, he said. “We’re trying to prevent injuries, which is the real name of the game, so it’s both things,” he said. “It's creating a culture of being intentional, and it’s about compliance.”

About the author
Daryl Lubinsky

Daryl Lubinsky

Freelance Writer

Daryl Lubinsky is a former managing editor for Bobit Business Media's Auto Group. He has written and edited content for publications in industries such as automotive, energy, and chiropractic. He holds a bachelor's degree in journalism from California State University, Long Beach.

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