We all have them. Veteran and rookie drivers of all different experience levels. Some drivers have the natural ability to learn quickly and become a swing driver in many lines of your business. Others may have one niche and stick to it. Being able to find these drivers’ average, or better, is a challenge I see in our industry. In order to mold these drivers into more thorough employees, I have a few tips to increase their education.
When a driver obtains his CDL, the formal training usually stops. What I mean by this is all of the little details that are important when obtaining your license often are forgotten as time goes on. I have found that drivers, young and old, sometimes need a quick refresher on the basics, which I will point out later in this article. For each department, whether it is residential, front-end load, roll-off or even portable toilets, we have created a 20-point identification test where the driver must be able to physically point and touch an item on the truck. Items vary from the intake hose on the engine turbo to the electrical wiring of a rear brake light. The reason for this testing is to make sure that the language spoken on a VCR (Vehicle Condition Report) is something the mechanics will understand. Drivers will go through a truck and are given a scenario of what could happen if a particular item started to fail. This way, when an in-the-field breakdown occurs (which they will), the driver can give clues to the mechanic prior to the truck arriving at the facility. With a decent education of how the truck operates, communication improves and downtime is reduced.
We also make sure that our employees understand not only the engine, but also the hydraulic systems, air systems, basic electrical components and basic drivetrain. I do not need every driver being a mechanic, nor do we authorize any driver to make a repair, as minor as it may be, but it does help if they understand the basics to shorten the detective work of the mechanic. In order to educate our employees, we bring in our vendors to specifically talk about DPF systems, brake systems, engine components, etc. We do this on a monthly basis in addition to our company-wide safety gatherings. Many times, we have them in addition to our safety meetings and the vendors will provide a short talk along with a PowerPoint presentation so all of our employees have a chance to understand each component from the source. I encourage you to reach out to your current vendors and see if they offer onsite classes to better educate your drivers today.
Increasing every employee’s knowledge in our industry is a direct benefit to an improved safety record and communication. When the left hand knows what the right hand is doing, plans can better materialize and come to fruition. Our business becomes complicated enough at times, so I would encourage you to practice these few tips to potentially save yourself an issue in the future. A better-educated driver is a safer driver. Safety is everyone’s job. | WA
John Paglia, III is a 4th generation garbage man. Before he climbed the ranks to become Florida Express Environmental’s (Ocala, FL) General Manager, he had a successful career in college and professional athletics. John has been around the garbage industry since his carseat days. Currently, John is focused on growing his company and offering the highest level of customer service and prolonging the world we live in today. John wakes up every day knowing the impact that professional haulers have on their community is far greater than most realize. He can be reached at (352) 629-4349, e-mail John3@floridaexpress.us or visit www.floridaexpress.us.