Alberta weather is unpredictable — but we all do know one thing: the days are getting shorter and colder. 50,000 lbs of semi is always a hazard, but when the snow falls, the risk rockets up.
According to Alberta traffic collisions data for 2016, December was the worst month for casualty collisions involving truck drivers.
If you want to keep incidents down over the winter, it’s worth your time to run a winter trucking safety refresher for your drivers. New hires brought on in the summer may be hearing these tips for the first time, but even experienced drivers can start cutting corners when under pressure.
Be Safe Trucking on Alberta's Winter Roads
First, and foremost, encourage drivers to take it slow in bad conditions. Just because it’s legal to drive the limit doesn’t mean it’s the right choice. And yes, you’ve got money riding on timely deliveries, but it doesn’t compare to what an accident will cost you in upfront damage, increased insurance premiums, reputation, and time for repair and driver recovery.
Don’t expect your drivers to meet unreasonable deadlines when safety’s on the line. When conditions are at their worst, this may mean the best decision is for the driver to take the truck off the road entirely until the situation improves.
Be Wary of Ice Wherever it Is
Accidents happen on the road. They also happen in parking lots. With drivers at various ages and levels of physical fitness, a fall on a patch of ice as they’re walking to their truck can still put a driver out of work for weeks or months.
Just because the scale of an accident involving a moving truck is huge in terms of damage doesn’t mean a fall on concrete can’t be as inconvenient to you and potentially disabling to your driver. Extend winter trucking safety awareness to all work-related areas your truckers will traverse.
Keep the Truck Clean — Safely
With long hauls through dirty conditions, it’s easy to put off cleaning the truck. But when taillights are covered in caked-on dirt kicked up from the road, it means other drivers aren’t able to predict how the driver intends to move the truck. Encourage your drivers to give their lights a wipe any time they stop — and to take regular breaks in bad conditions to check.
Winter trucking also means cleaning snow off the top or pulling out tarps to cover product. Again, conditions themselves may be poor in terms of temperature, ice, and lighting when they’re doing these tasks — but they’re also potentially high enough off the ground to require fall protection. Make sure your drivers know how to complete these tasks safely in all conditions if you want to make it through the winter incident-free.
What to Do When a Winter Trucking Accident Does Occur
You can reduce risk, but you can’t completely eliminate it. You can, however, be ready when something does go wrong.
Employers often find themselves at a loss when navigating a truck driver injury. An incident may have happened out on the road or at a client’s facility, which means you’re putting the facts together from whatever information you get.
What you can do is look into an Independent Medical Examination (IME). These tools are a way of getting a specific, expert medical opinion on an employee’s condition — expeditiously. They can help you understand what’s really going on, and facilitate a faster, safe return to work.
If you ever need advice on a trucking-related medical issue, our Medical Director Dr. Roger Hodkinson is always available for a quick, no-obligation chat at 780.433.1191. You may also want to attend our upcoming webinar, A Roadmap for Best Practices in Disability Management which has special focus on the Alberta trucking industry.