Training New Employees

Thu, Aug 13, 2015 at 10:45AM

Training New Employees

The evolution of the garbage industry continues to get attention with regards to the use of increased technology in all of the trucks. Technology is being applied to every sector of the industry. No matter which technology it is that makes engines run more efficiently, cameras, backup alarms, sensors and LED HID bulbs are all are designed to help employees work safer and create a less stressful environment. Training new employees is now a multi-step process. You must be able to them on safe operation of a truck, know how to understand and work with technology, and also understand the importance of safe driving habits.

Safe Operation

Getting a route completed day in and day out, without incident, should be every driver’s goal. Training should not have an emphasis on time, but rather be based on efficiency. If a driver is trained to work safe and efficiently, time will take care of itself. In my years as a driver, while I was being trained on an FEL, I was told a simple quote that is still preached to this very day, “When you take a shortcut, that’s when accidents or incidents occur.” With my experience, this statement is always true—shortcuts invite accidents. Train your employees to be almost robotic. Although promoting routines are effective ways to ensure uniformity across divisions, continue to monitor them because routines can become cumbersome and lead to employees “going through the motions,” which is just as bad.

Working with Technology

As previously mentioned, trucks are now equipped with more technology features then they have ever had. Understanding how to use this technology as an additional tool rather than as a necessity makes the safest driver. I would much rather have an employee that can operate the truck safely, assuming all safety features are not working (let’s face it, electronics fail on a regular basis in our industry with all of the water and garbage juices our trucks come into contact with). A driver that can back up without a camera or sensor, a driver who can operate if a prox sensor fails, those are the safest and more skilled drivers. Our management team trains drivers to back up using mirrors and many other safe driving habits. If technology does fail, do not let that be your excuse as to why a backing incident or accident occurs. Train your drivers from day one to use those as “additional vision” but never discredit a mirror and good judgment—“when in doubt, get out.”

Safe Habits

Training is an ongoing process. I do not want it to sound cliché, but everyone should learn at least one new thing a day that can make him a safer employee. With the added distracted drivers around us, it makes the garbageman’s driving job much more complicated. It also comes down to common sense. Does it make sense to back out onto a main highway? Should I drive 45 mph because the speed limit says so, when there are low wires, trees and kids playing in the yard? Asking yourself questions like these and answering them with safety in mind is paramount to success. You can see where it pays not to rush and to always take your time. It is also important to remember just as we learn from the good, we can also learn from people’s mistakes. I encourage safety to be an everyday part of everyone’s routine. At a minimum, hold a companywide safety meeting on at least a monthly basis. For an added touch, have anyone involved in dispatch or communicating with the drivers, end each and every conversation with something as simple as “work safe.” These two words from someone in the office will continue to show how seriously you take safety. | 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 professional haulers have on their community is far greater than most realize. He can be reached at (352) 629-4349, e-mail or visit

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