Safety Week Lesson 5: Complacency on articulated dump truck rollovers gets a rude awakening

Updated Jan 5, 2016
A Bell B50E at the Intermat 2015 tradeshow in Paris.A Bell B50E at the Intermat 2015 tradeshow in Paris.

Articulated trucks, because of their design and the uneven terrain they work in, have a habit of rolling over. Don Swasing, chief operating officer at Schlouch Inc., knew this, but was bothered by the fact that some number of rollovers were considered inevitable.

There was a lot of complacency, he says, and that was unacceptable—the number needed to be zero.

So Swasing started doing root cause analysis of the rollovers that had occurred at jobs where Schlouch ran artics and found that the problem was bigger than just complacency. There were a lot of gaps in operators’ knowledge. There was an attitude that artics were meant to be thrown away. There was also a culture of fear among operators who didn’t want to be accused of being a screw up and so didn’t report near misses.

“We had to eradicate that process,” says Swasing. The company engaged Cat Safety Services and the Graham Company to provide qualified instructor partners. Together they designed a re-education program aimed at changing the culture and attitudes.

“We found a lack of consistency and personal accountability, says Steve Nester, Schlouch’s estimator/project manager and department coordinator. “The key was to use setbacks to train other people and slow down and share the information,” he says. “We learned not to get hung up on the accident and play the blame game, but to use it as a learning tool. Don’t manage by fear. Inspire people as a leader,” he says.

In addition to further safety audits, the company also beefed up its general safety awareness with a Speak Up-Listen Up campaign for all employees. Key leaders took the OSHA 30 hour construction-training course and personnel were also certified in the Safety Trained Supervisors Construction (STSC) course put on by the Board of Certified Safety Professionals.

Additional investments in safety training planned for 2016 include the OSHA 30 hour course for all foremen and crew leaders and additional field safety audits.

The program to date has resulted in a 14-percent reduction in accidents and employee engagement in safety issues has consistently increased says Swasing.