Safety driven. It’s not only a philosophy and a commitment, it’s a website and it’s the public face of the Trucking Safety Council of B.C., which delivers free, confidential advice and training for the trucking, transportation, warehousing, shipping and logistics sectors.
But it’s the organization’s COR certification that seems to grab trucking companies the most. COR, or “Certificate of Recognition,” is kind of a “Good Housekeeping seal of approval,” proclaiming that your company has done its due diligence when it comes to running a safe ship, been awarded the certification, and can therefore display it proudly.
It’s more than that, though. According to John McMahon, executive director of the Trucking Safety Council of B.C., the COR program is also about communicating to others that you run a safe operation, because it enables companies to “clearly state to their competitors and potential employees that they care about workplace safety and they’re less likely to let you down.”
Getting certified basically requires that you develop and implement Occupational Health and Safety and injury-management programs. The COR is valid for three years from the date of certification, provided the company performs internal maintenance audits in the years between. An external audit is required for re-certification.
One of the companies that has qualified for the Council’s COR is Mission’s T-Lane Transportation & Logistics, which has a fleet of about 65 trucks, according to operations manager Jeff White. “We haul everything from soup to nuts,” he said. “The bigger and wider and uglier it is, the more we like doing it. Most of T-Lane’s drivers are owner/operators, backed by a support staff of 40 or so. Besides Mission, T-Lane has a presence in Edmonton, Calgary, Winnipeg, Toronto, Montréal and New Brunswick.
White said T-Lane came to the Trucking Safety Council because “at the end of the day, safety is a core component of how we conduct our business. We’ve always wanted to make sure that T-Lane is regarded as being a premier carrier, and in order to do that you have a strong safety record. COR certification helps promote the fact that we take safety seriously.” And while the company includes its COR certification proudly on all their e-mail signatures, White said “it’s not like I go up and down the street waving a flag, but when we’re doing RFPs and RFQs for large potential customers or jobs, it’s one of the main things we put out there to help promote our dedication towards safety.” He noted the company recently went through a major RFP where “having the COR certification pretty much answered 95% of the safety-related questions they had for us. So it’s certainly simplified the whole application process in that regard.”
BFI Canada, a Progressive Waste Solutions Company, had a similar experience. The company has 12 locations in B.C., employing about 300 people and running some 200 trucks. “We do everything from commercial to residential,” said district health and safety manager Nick Zivkovic. “We’re a full-service provider.” Zivkovic is based out of the company’s Coquitlam office, but he was well-versed in COR.
“When I found that there was a COR program for transportation in B.C, I volunteered to take the lead and got in touch with (the Council) and started the whole process,” he said. Certification started with some schooling, after which Zivkovic took the internal auditor course. “From that point on it was a matter of making sure that the entire province was relatively working under the same flag as well as we could,” he said, noting that different branches had different ways of doing things but that “the COR brings a certain consistency across the operation.”
And where a single audit or analysis may miss something, the COR process is designed not to. “Every time you think you’ve got everything covered, something else comes along and you need to tweak that, too,” Zivkovic said, “so it was a good exercise for us. You’re always going to find areas of improvement; there’s always going to be better ways to do (something). Your company and your program become stronger because of it.” Zivkovic said the company had done a gap analysis the year before pursuing its COR, noting that “we’re also part of a program with WorkSafe called ‘Focus on Safety’, so we’re always trying to find the gaps and improve on them. And the COR helped that.”
Other benefits of having your COR include a WCB rebate. “We qualified for a 10% rebate, so that was substantial when you spread it across the entire province,” Zivkovic said. He also visits the Council’s website regularly to check out new content his company can use to spice up their own material.
“Sometimes the stuff we put out here gets a little stale for our employees,” he said, “so we try to change it up and their website is a resource for us. Most of it’s on video, so I will utilize that.”
Like T-Lane, BFI appreciates the bragging rights, though they don’t brag much. “We’re not screaming it in the streets,” Zivkovic said. “The only place we actually use that right now is when we’re going for RFPs. We have a health and safety package we submit, and in that package is an explanation of what our program is and who is part of (it).” The package also contains bios and explains their training materials.
Rick Viventi, the Kamloops-based director of safety for the family-owned Arrow Transportation, has been involved with the Council since before there was such a thing. “We were…in the first Partners in Compliance program in Alberta,” he said, “and because of that we became involved in the Partners in Injury Reduction, the very first occupational health and safety-related program to measure company safety performance.” When discussions to come up with similar programs began in B.C., he got right on board. “Because of the experience our company had in Alberta,” he said, “we were asked to be part of the development process, and from that spawned the Trucking Safety Council of B.C.”.
Arrow used the Council to obtain its COR certification because it fit in with its corporate philosophy. “We believe that COR certification really allows companies to measure themselves against a standard and provides avenues for improvement,” Viventi said, “and in the end, that’s what we really want to do, make sure our people are safe and that we have safe trucking operations that the public can feel comfortable with when they’re going around your trucks and other trucks in the industry.”
Viventi said Arrow doesn’t use all the Council’s services, but not because there’s nothing they can use. “They have a lot of good programs,” he said, noting that “we haven’t used the mentorship program but we do use tools like the gap analysis and safety helpline, and I think there’s value in them because not every employer has a safety department. They’re a really good resource to access.”
Benefits to Arrow of having its COR include a better bankbook. “When a company manages occupational health and safety and over the road safety, there’s always going to be financial benefits,” Viventi said, “and if we reduce injuries we’re definitely going to have a saving on the bottom line.” He said the tools provided by the Trucking Safety Council are great and if companies would put them to use they’d see financial benefits over time for “a well-run, safe company.”
As it turns out, a well-run, safe company may not even have an onerous ordeal getting COR certification, just a reimaging of existing procedures to match COR standards. “It didn’t require a lot of changes,” T-Lane’s Jeff White said of his company’s qualification process, “but it required some fine tuning. When the initial audit was done, there were a few refinements of different things we had to do and a couple of different processes we had to add, but it didn’t require wholesale change in the way we conduct ourselves.”
BFI Canada’s Nick Zivkovic said the benefits of the COR program, and with partnering with the Council for its mentoring program, are huge. “There’s so much value that if something was to happen, you have a very good understanding of either why it happened, or you might be able to avoid it (in the first place) because your eyes were opened by dealing with the TSCBC.”
Perhaps White summed up the issue best. “As professional trucking companies, we owe it to the public to make sure that safety is first and foremost in all of our minds,” he said. “At the end of the day, it’s important to make sure that everybody is putting forth the right message in regards to safety. “
For more information about the Trucking Safety Council of B.C. check out their website at http://www.safetydriven.ca/. Visitors to TRUXPO 2014 in Abbotsford can speak to them in person at Booth 448