Within the road transport industry safety is a prominent concern and one that has been paid significant attention.
I personally spend a lot of time thinking about how we keep our people at Ron Finemore Transport (RFT) safe, particularly those drivers who are out on the road for prolonged periods.
Recognising that safety and wellbeing go hand-in-hand is an important part of this, and where I believe technology comes as a significant benefit.
Ensuring drivers are safe in doing their job supports them to ease stress and remove some of the anxieties that are often associated with operating a heavy vehicle and working long hours.
At RFT safety encompasses a wide range of components from staff training and education to investing in prime movers and trailers with the latest safety improvements, all of which are supplemented with added technology equipment and programs.
We know that fatigue is a common risk factor for drivers that often leads to increased stress and anxiety, in response to this we fit our cabins with Guardian By Seeing Machines.
This real time device alerts the driver by a seat vibration and alarm in the case of a fatigue event and further sends an alert to our operations team — in turn, allowing them to make immediate contact with the driver to see if they are okay and suggest they take a break if necessary.
This technology also notifies the operations team when a driver may be distracted, in some cases looking down at paperwork or illegally using their mobile phone.
Having this system allows us to have informed conversations with our drivers about unsafe driving behaviours and to make the required improvements to ensure they and the community are safe.
Our vehicles are also fitted with forward and driver facing cameras, these play a significant role in understanding what has occurred in the case of an incident or if a member of the community has notified us of a driver at risk.
For our drivers, knowing these systems are in place and the information is available to all parties involved can help remove anxieties that may arise.
Similarly, RFT uses telematics systems that enable us to know where a driver and their vehicle is, which ultimately tells us if their trip is going to plan.
Through these we can understand if harsh braking events are occurring too frequently, know the amount of time they are using adaptive cruise control and collate information on their speed.
Having this information allows us to have informed discussions with our drivers to ensure we are able to maintain quality driving performance, with the intention of keeping them and other road users safe.
In my history in the industry and at RFT, more often than not, we use the information received from safety technology to demonstrate that the driver was in fact practicing safe behaviours.
Outside of our vehicle safety equipment, it is important that our drivers maintain vital safety knowledge. Uncertainty around key safety learnings can cause stress.
To manage this, in a workforce that is often disconnected and lacking significant opportunities for face-to-face interactions, RFT delivers training and education campaigns with all drivers via Yarno, a digital remote learning platform.
Yarno allows us to deliver burst campaigns to our drivers that are designed to reinforce key learnings and provide us with insights on any gaps that require greater attention.
With this information we can adjust our campaigns accordingly and introduce other communications that might be required to rebuild on the driver’s knowledge.
Personally, I have the view that technology should be embraced as a ‘shield’ that protects our drivers and the community.
At RFT the next stage of our journey is to have our prime movers fitted with tablets that will have many features to aid the driver including notifications of upcoming hazards as they occur, in real-time, giving them control and confidence to shield them and the community from potential hazards.
As a Director of Healthy Heads in Trucks & Sheds, I am continually seeking new opportunities to embrace technology and to ensure our driver’s health and wellbeing is prioritised while they are away from their homes and families.
Ron Finemore Transport