Creating A Safety-First Culture For Today’s Technicians

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Michael Renforth discusses safety at the forefront at Dickinson Fleet Services.

Safety first.

Two key words on a tattered poster that every organization has plastered on the wall in the company break room.

It sounds good. And the corporate lawyers sleep better at night knowing HR hung the poster in 1994, but how do we bring safety to life and take it seriously? How do you take the words off the wall and put them into action?

Over the last few years, we’ve worked hard to bake safety into our culture. Typically, when you think about a company’s culture, it’s more about work/life balance and company lunches. Safety rarely enters the culture conversation.

But to truly provide a safe environment for our team, and, in turn, our customers, we needed safety to be at the foundation of everything we do.

So we identified four pillars to successfully embed safety into every level of our organization: Belief, Attitude, Habits and Behaviors. If safety was going to be our No. 1 priority, we had to focus on these four areas.

We had to believe.

Our belief began with a simple mission: to never compromise on safety, period.

  • We would never allow our technicians or our customers to be put in an unsafe situation.
  • We would encourage and provide regular safety training.
  • We would certify our technicians on safety and industry standards.
  • We would provide the safest working conditions and best practices in the industry.

It wouldn’t make sense to operate any other way.

Having the right attitude.

If the mission was to put safety first, how would we get there? Vision. Our vision was to be the safest fleet service at every level of the company.

We would create an easy-to-understand acronym that could be put into practice.

And this too would be more than words on paper. It would be a mindset and attitude we wanted all technicians to learn, live and work by.

Making it a habit.

Our focus on building a strong safety culture could only exist if we approached every job using the acronym above. We would make safety actionable so that it would become a habit, built into our behavior on every job, and an indelible part of our culture.

Safety at every turn.

When we’re on a job, our skilled technicians also drive the mobile service vehicle. That meant we had to focus our safety efforts both on the job and on the road.  Utilizing cutting edge safety training, mobile technician best practices, and technology, we were able to keep technicians safe and customer fleets on the road.

The results are in.

When it came to building a strong safety culture, money didn’t matter. We were committed to doing what it took to keep our technicians and business partners safe, and we continue to be that way today.

And it has worked.

Our approach each day is to keep safety first with every decision. And with that, our technicians are more safety minded. On the job and on the road, safety is part of their structure. Most importantly, they have a voice when it comes to safety. They are at the head of the company and their input is critical to the success of our safety culture.

And consider this: We’ve added vehicles to our fleet, but our vehicle accident rate has decreased by over 70%.

We’ve grown in our number of technicians by nearly 50% in the past couple of years and our injury rate continues to improve.

Making safety the No. 1 priority, a part of our culture, has required effort and involvement from all corners of our organization – including right from our executive officers.

But because we believe, have the right attitude, and make it a habit and behavior with everything we do, we’re confident we’ll continue to be a safety leader in the fleet service industry for years to come.