Focusing on Safety at Your Truckstop Boosts Employee Morale and Cuts Costs

At Sapp Bros. safety starts with its safety mission that is hanging up in every lo­cation: Sustain zero accidents by pro­viding a safe environment worked in by safety minded employees.

Mary Eriksen, human resources and safety manager at Sapp Bros., said the mission statement sets the expectations for a safe envi­ronment. The company supports the mission with ongoing training throughout the year and manda­tory monthly programs for all em­ployees. Sapp has also developed safety manuals for each depart­ment and has a safety director in each of its locations.

“There is someone in charge who coordinates safety at the location,” Eriksen said. “We also review all accidents in our general manager meetings each month and safety performance is part of our bonuses.”

Jerry Leemkuil, field manager, as­sociation risk management services with Federated Insurance, said, “Building a safety culture within the business is critical. It starts with management buy-in. When em­ployees see that safety is important to management, they make it a pri­ority as well.”

Improving safety helps Sapp save money on claims costs. “We have a large deductible so it hits us directly,” Eriksen said, adding that reducing claims also reduces insurance premi­ums, increases productivity and im­proves employee satisfaction. “There are a multitude of costs that turn up when you’re unsafe. There are a lot of costs due to accidents—manager time tied up with it and overtime for people covering for the employee.”

Improving safety was a conscious choice Sapp Bros. made, and the company got serious about it when it saw how high its MOD rates— the amount it paid each month in workers’ compensation premi­ums—had gotten. By taking a stra­tegic approach, the company was able to reduce its rates. “That is a measurable figure, but I can also tell you it helps with your employees and your managers,” Eriksen said.

Training is a key component of Sapp’s approach to safety. “It starts with OSHA training, and there are about 10 different OSHA programs for the average employee, but then it gets more specific. In the store we talk about how to stock a cooler, but in the restaurant we talk about food safety,” Eriksen said.

The location has also crafted trainings and best practices that ad­dress the top causes of injuries at the location. For example, the top cause of accidents at the location is over­exertion, second is slips and falls and third is struck by.

“Addressing overexertion starts with trying to eliminate as much manual exertion as you can. We have equipment—wheels, pallet jacks, forklifts—so we have people carry­ing as little as possible,” Eriksen said, adding that the location also requires certain personal protective equip­ment, including non-slip shoes ad steel-toe boots for certain areas.

Leemkuil said slips and falls are always a challenge for truckstop and c-store operators as a signifi­cant number of slip, trips and falls happen inside c-stores each year. “These incidents can involve both employees and customers,” he said, adding that hazardous areas are near entrances, beverage stations, coolers and in aisles. “We have rec­ommended best practices designed to cut down on these types of in­cidents.” [See Leemkuil’s tips for increasing safety on page 15].

Driving is also directly related to safety, particularly for businesses such as Sapp Bros. that operate tank­er trucks. “They understand that a tanker rollover can happen in an in­stant and have chosen to periodically train their drivers using Federated’s Tanker Rollover prevention program materials,” Leemkuil said.

Earlier this year, Federated In­surance delivered 50 copies of its distracted driving prevention pro­gram that educates drivers about the dangers of texting behind the wheel to the Sapp Bros. “Their safety team sent these copies to ev­ery location and it was presented to every employee who drives a com­pany vehicle,” Leemkuil said.

Although a safety-related culture may take time to build, making safety a regular part of business operations and consistently re­warding desired behavior can yield long-term results. “It can help im­prove employee morale and public perception of the business. It can also positively impact an opera­tor’s bottom line by helping reduce employee and customer injuries, downtime, and costly lawsuits,” Leemkuil said.

Quick Tips for Improving Safety
Sometimes it is the small, everyday behaviors and activities that can have a huge effect on safety. Jerry Leemkuil, field manager, association risk management services with Federated Insurance, has years of first-hand experience on concrete actions operators can take to improve safety for employees and customers alike. He sat down with Stop Watch to share his insight.

3 Ways To Prevent Accidents Inside The Store

  • Have employees wear proper personal protective equipment, including stable shoes and cut-resistant gloves when using box cutters
  • Equip ladders with a grab bar that allows employees to steady themselves
  • Train employees on the importance of safety

2 Ways To Minimize Accidents Outside The Store

  • Have employees wear bright, high-visibility clothing when working in areas with traffic
  • Wear proper footwear to prevent slips, trips and falls

10 Tips For Preventing Slips, Trips And Falls Inside The Location

  • Place mats in areas where spills might occur and near entrances
  • Monitor floors at all times
  • Promptly mop up spills or wet areas
  • Display wet floor signs
  • Regularly inspect and document the state of the store’s interior
  • Keep aisles clear
  • Stack inventory high enough to be clearly seen and not tripped over
  • Have general good housekeeping practices
  • Keep the store well lit
  • Have video surveillance on the inside of the store

10 Tips For Preventing Slips, Trips And Falls Outside The Location

  • Keep all stairs, ladders, walkways, sidewalks and driveways in good repair
  • Properly mark elevation changes on the ground
  • Properly maintain public and employee walkways during the winter
  • Keep snow or ice to accumulate around the store
  • Direct downspouts away from foot traffic
  • Keep the area well lit
  • Keep the area free of trash and debris
  • Have video surveillance on the outside of the store

5 Ways To Prevent Fires

  • Embrace good housekeeping practices, such as removing trash and debris
  • Make sure fire extinguishers are serviced and easily accessible
  • Perform recommended maintenance on cooking equipment and extinguishing systems
  • Regularly clean hoods and duct systems to remove grease
  • Regularly clean exhaust filters

 4 Common Safety Issues Operators Overlook

  • Wet and slippery surfaces inside walk-in coolers that present a hazard to employees
  • Fire extinguishers that may be moved or blocked, preventing easy access
  • Floor mats that are missing or have upturned corners or become saturated, which could lead to a slip, trip or fall
  • Cleaning supplies that make a surface slicker than it was before 

via Business Feeds

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