Companies Have a Legal Obligation to Train & Keep You Safe

Why do most companies give you a policy and procedure manual to review
and then train the heck out of you when you first join the organization?

And why do some companies get you to sign that you have received the policy and procedure manual, even though they may know that you have not read it, nor do you understand it?

Is the company playing CYA (cover your ass)? Companies are indeed required to have written policies and procedures. After a crash, the prosecuting attorneys will want to see the policy and procedure
manual. That attorney is trying to see if the driver was adhering to the company policies. Company policies play a huge role in any court action. But it is more than that. The company has a legal obligation to train and keep you safe.

And the company policy manual plays a different role during an audit. An audit is much more likely to happen than a court case. The outcome of the two can be similar. By that I mean, both can put the company out of business.

Regulations stipulate that a company must train their drivers in fundamental areas such as hours of service, load securement, safe driving, and distractions. (This is by no means a complete list of required training, just some examples). The activity must be backed up by documentation and policy. So, the Policy Manual and the training do go hand-in-hand.

You can judge how seriously a company takes their legal obligations, at least
in part, by their new hire orientation program. If they throw a stack of papers at you and tell you to sign them without any associated training, then the company likely is not very serious about their orientation. On the other hand, if much to your dislike, you must spend hours reviewing the documentation videos and perhaps, an in-person training program, then the company is serious about meeting its legal obligations.

What should I tell you as a newly hired driver? I would much rather work
for a company that takes their legal obligations seriously because I would
assume that they would also take their other obligations of keeping me safe just as seriously.

It also signifies that they are likely to obey other laws and encourage me to
do the same. These laws might be the Hours-of-Service regulations. Instead
of dispatch pushing me to complete the load, dispatch may have also been
trained in their legal obligations. Dispatch must understand that it is part
of their role to keep me safe and legal. Notice that I put “safe” first? We all know of situations that may be legal but are not safe. (an example might be driving while tired but legally having hours available according to the law).

Dispatch will do precisely what management allows and encourages
them to do. Drivers must come first in the dispatcher’s mind. In companies with a driver-first attitude, their retention is much better.

So, the company puts you into a new hire orientation and gets you to sign
the policy manual. If this whole process takes hours and hours, then you might be working for a great company. If this process takes only minutes, you should find a new employer, not one that tries to meet their minimum legal obligations. The companies that do the training and onboarding take trucking seriously and are in it for the long haul. Don’t work for the bottom feeders. You are a professional truck driver and deserve to work for an appreciative and safe employer.

Chris Harris
Top Dawg, Safety Dawg Inc.
@safety_dawg (twitter)

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.