Safety Matters: Corporate Culture, Operations, and Legal Perspectives
by Staff, on Sep 11, 2023 3:14:00 PM
Most food companies with private fleets or for-hire trucking companies have safety at the top of their corporate priorities.
There are many ways to reduce serious injuries or fatalities by supporting comprehensive, system-wide, multimodal, data-driven, and proactive operations and procedures. Top executives experienced in minimizing risks in transportation company operations and building safety-focused cultures share their thoughts on how to ensure safe operations and procedures.
“We've seen an increasing number of fatality crashes now that we're coming out of COVID,” says Donna Fielding, Director of Safety, Intermodal at JB Hunt Transport Services, a Fortune 500 company that specializes in technology-driven freight shipping for large and small businesses, including food shippers. “Through COVID, J.B. Hunt saw a decrease in collisions decrease in fatality crashes. And, you know, the rise of nuclear verdicts is a challenge for every trucking company in the industry.”
Fieldings explains a nuclear verdict as a jury award where the penalty exceeds $10 million or more. She says nuclear verdicts have risen in the last several years, and one way J.B. Hunt Transport combats that is through safety technologies and driver-facing cameras.
Jill Snyder explains that technology being placed into fleets was initially met with some resistance by drivers. Snyder is Director of Safety and Compliance for Zonar Systems, a smart fleet management solutions and patented technologies provider to make roads safer.
“Drivers felt like it was a little bit of a ‘big brother’ type attitude,” Snyder says. “But what they're finding now is that, especially with the cameras, both outward facing and inward facing, those are helping to kill a lot of those nuclear verdicts.”
Cameras are providing the evidence companies need when showing which vehicle caused the accident. The technology also can monitor driver speed. Attorney Stephanie Chesney with MG+M The Law Firm says the data that comes from using cameras helps to eliminate a “less savory legal analysis.”
Chesney says there is a visible distaste coming up, especially from jurors, for corporations that start and utilize a less safe tactic when there could be a safer option available. On the flip side, the positive safety infrastructures are revealing more data and more transparency.
Fielding says it’s important to get operations and leadership buy in.
“Sometimes people look at safety and compliance as a nuisance, but it's something you have to have,” Fielding says. “In order to get loads from customers, having those good customer relationships, you got to think about your return on investment, you've got to think about your insurance premium–all of those things are factors that you have to consider whenever you don't have a safety culture versus when you do have a safety culture.”
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