Evaluating Different Types of Training

I recently had the opportunity to speak in person before a number of professional truck drivers and Owner Operators. It is always a privilege to address the people who keep our roads safe, day in and day out. It made me consider the importance of the “live” Saturday safety meetings where drivers gather to hear about safety & training. These weekend meetings can be very inconvenient for many of us in the transportation industry – with the advent of technology, isn’t there a better way?

With online video training programs such as Infinit-i, can’t online training replace the live safety meeting? This is a question that I have been asked by several of my clients as they look for ways to control their costs. The answer to that question I believe is, yes and no.

In my business as a safety consultant, I promote both online video training and live safety meetings. I am convinced that they are both beneficial when used correctly. Nothing replaces having a live speaker who is able to communicate with the drivers and to engage the audience. Not every safety consultant is able to do so but the live safety meeting, when done well and by a professional, can have a great impact on the drivers.

The advantage of the online video training programs is that they can be delivered anywhere, any time and there is a written, time and date stamped record of completed training. Drivers can be on the road and during their downtime, receive safety training or remedial training. And a number of subjects can easily be addressed in a video format.

In the same vein, a number of subjects are best delivered in the group format. I do believe that many drivers derive benefit from both online training and live training.

With both forms of training the company needs to be diligent in selecting the training subjects and how they are to be delivered. Too often, companies rely on only one method to convey their safety programs. I believe safety issues need to be delivered in a variety of methods. Written memos are still a good way to convey a safety topic. Monthly phone calls from team leaders are also very useful as these are a one on one conversation with the drivers. Yes this takes time and effort but the rewards are worth it. Online video training should absolutely be a part of the program and as previously stated so should live safety meetings. So I have named four methods of conveying or distributing the safety messages: written, telephone, online videos and live meetings.

But all of these methods will fall by the wayside and will not have the impact desired if upper management does not believe in training or communication! Management needs to be consistent with its message. When I use the word “consistent”, I mean that management must live by the safety message given. They should never imply by words, action or in their writings that safety can be compromised. An example of not being consistent would be something like this: a driver calls in to say that he is going to be late because he’s run out of hours to make the legal delivery on time. The response from management on the phone could be “see what you can do”. If a driver hears that, all of the safety messages that have been told and explained to the driver just got thrown into the garbage. The driver now knows that getting the load delivered on time is more important than the law which is there for everyone’s safety. That is an example of management not being consistent and not living by their safety messages.

So although safety meetings are an extremely important form of giving out messages to the drivers, nothing is more important than the absolute backing of management. Thank you to all of the companies who use a combined safety program. By using written, phone, online video and live safety meetings you are using a variety of message forms to engage your drivers. This is only done by the best companies and the most committed safety cultures. Congratulations to those who use all four.

About Chris Harris, Safety Dawg

Chris has been involved in trucking most of his adult life. He drove truck for and worked in various office/management positions for a major truck company. His last position of 5 years in the safety department where he was responsible for the recruiting of Owner Operators and their compliance. He joined a trucking insurance company in 2001 and has been in the insurance side of things until making Safety Dawg a full-time endeavour.