Red Hats: Cultivating a Culture of Safety

May 4, 2022

Red Hat Culture is a core value at Chief Carriers. Preventing collisions or infractions before they occur is a top priority on the road and off. There are so many benefits of completing every day on the road and the docks with the absence of a single incident report, whether it be small or large. Do you think your hefty and always-prepared hauling crew has a high chance of being toppled with a nuclear ruling? Other unpleasant surprises such as a negative FMCSA audit or insurance rates climbing through the roof could happen to you quickly if you neglect to have safety as your top priority.

As difficult as it is for any of us here at Chief Carriers to think about, the Network of Employers for Traffic Safety estimates the final damage of a fatal accident at over $750,000, and has noted that some jury awards have even topped the savagely lofty $1 billion mark. As spring is officially here and so many various forms of goods are being moved by us across the nation to eager consumers, we wanted to focus on safety culture and some tactics that always promote the highest and most efficient operation level.

With our “Red Hat” program, drivers are rewarded when they are observed exemplifying their commitment to our safety values. Chief Carriers values prevent collisions or infractions before they occur and that’s one of the reasons training is completed quarterly with our drivers with a 100% completion rate.

Safety Culture Defined

Every specific trucking fleet has its own safety culture, but the mystery lies within the fact of whether it is positive or negative. Safety is an issue that can greatly influence every single area of your business, and dictate whether you are riddled with problems or prosperity. If we undergo an audit from FMCSA, the thorough compliance review is a probe into whether our fleet has been running without the nuisance and hazard of multiple violations. The auditor will render our operation as:

  • Satisfactory: This rating means that everything is “aligned on I-80 and beyond”, and that the fleet is adequately put into place good safety management practices.
  • Conditional: This category deems a few things that need work or are not up to par. Those that provide your fleet insurance, lending, and leveraged buying power may see it as a warning, and this is the regrettable step where some can suffer the exit of a valuable customer.
  • Unsatisfactory: Here your operation is in direct non-compliance with safety protocols. As with many other business incidents when an entity is not up to par, you have 60 days to take effective action and pursue the right to stay in business.

Our Red Hat culture is no secret at Chief Carriers. When we see it, we recognize it. Safety influences every single interaction we have on and off the road. It’s one of the many reasons we were recognized as one of the best fleets to drive for in America!

Signs of the Changing Times

Accident-free drivers are being recognized at a recent Fleet Safety Awards banquet at Chief Carriers.

We are fully aware that there is a shortage of employees in our industry, and that these times provide specific challenges. It would feel nearly commonplace to get behind a rig for many and feel as if they could call the shots themselves. Why not? If the industry is in such dire straits for reliable workers, isn’t now a good time to grab a hold of that slack rope and give it a massive tug? Many new employees think short staffing can buy them some reckless freedom, and here at Chief, we want to promptly dismay that type of mantra! We won’t compromise safety by simply filling seats on the road. If they’re not red hat culture quality, they’re not a fit for Chief Carriers.

Savvy Ways to Construct an Organic and Functional Safety Culture

Don Wilkes, driver of the year, at our Fleet Safety Awards Banquet.

We have long noticed that a company that is crushing it regarding safety culture must make it their number 1 priority and have those highest levels of their organization offer up full commitment. The culture needs to begin with those who not only have influence but have power.

A driver’s handbook is necessary to assure that everything needed for a positive workflow is put in writing, but it is so crucially important to review what has been said regularly. This is NOT in any way going to be a hassle! The reason why so many of our drivers have been loyal over the years here at Chief is because of the family atmosphere we offer, and frequent safety meetings will give you a chance to reach out and see what the other members of our vast workforce’s common interests and values are.

Once you have developed a policy you all can agree on as a company, the training and implementation are going to be a consistently evolving effort. Our best practices involve periodically auditing safety managers and driver compliance with our own form of evaluations, meant to keep preparedness and productivity at a peak. It’s better to hone in and see what is happening with a fleet before an official audit and figure out ways to stop ANY and all breaches of safety protocol before anything serious occurs.

Corrective action is difficult, and no one within our ranks here at Chief would take pleasure in letting our best driver go because they won’t double down and follow protocol or have a late-on-dock delivery because we MUST assure our drivers are rested and coherent. As we find any issues within our safety protocol early on, it doesn’t mean that our tempers will flare and we will be unreasonable: any corrective action is for the profit and progression of our entire family, and we already feel confident about every single one of our new hires’ abilities and what they bring to the table.

A safety culture is a living, breathing process that is constantly evolving. Training and coaching never stops”. Andrew Winkler

Our Red Hats program here at Chief is in place to recognize drivers who are going above and beyond when it comes to safety, and our two new safety specialists are on hand to assist our team members in securing loads to our high company standards. Our General Manager, Andrew Winkler, and Brett Kleier, our safety manager both know safety from A to Z. Andrew stresses, “A safety culture is a living, breathing process that is constantly evolving. Training and coaching never stops”. Stay with us right here on the Chief Blog to read about red hat culture, get further tips, news, and what’s happening next at Chief, where we will securely provide and keep our customers loyalty one well-prepared load at a time!

Creating a culture of safety….one red hat at a time.