Incentives Help Drive Safety Performance at Landstar

In Part 2 of our series on safety in the most dangerous industries and occupations, we detail more of the safety initiatives of Jacksonville, Fla.-based transportation services provider Landstar System Inc.

As we noted in Part 1, Landstar has a unique business model: Its 8,700 or so truck drivers are independent contractors, not full-time employees. That business model requires some unique approaches to keeping drivers safe and healthy on the job, and the company has risen to the challenge with programs such as Safety Thursday Conference Calls.

Another way the company encourages its drivers to stay safe is its incentive program.

The concept is simple: Drivers Landstar refers to them as "business capacity owners," or BCOs who make it 1 year or more without a preventable accident are eligible for awards. Awards currently being offered to accident-free drivers include a denim shirt (1 year); a hard hat and long-sleeve T-shirt (2 years); a personalized jacket (4 years); a computer briefcase (6 years); a 3-day, Caribbean cruise (10 years); a laptop computer (20 years); and a portable DVD player (22 years).

For a complete list of awards, visit http://www.landstar.com/Safety/BCOannualawards.html.

The incentive program isn't Landstar's only vehicle for encouraging drivers to focus on safety.

Awards Encourage Participation in Safety Events

The company recognizes drivers who have made it 1 million miles or more preventable accident-free miles at a banquet held every January in Jacksonville as part of Landstar's Appreciation Days. As of 2005, Landstar had more than 400 drivers who had driven 1 million accident-free miles as well as several who had driven 2, 3 and even 4 million accident-free miles, according to the company.

During Appreciation Days, the company also raffles off major prizes including a Peterbilt truck this year which are tied to safety performance. To earn an entry in the raffle, BCOs must participate in a Safety Thursday Conference Call or one of more than 100 Landstar safety meetings held throughout the country that year. Attend five safety events and earn five raffle entries, and so on.

At Landstar's annual sales agent convention, the company awards a Freightliner truck to another BCO for safety event attendance and participation.

While Vice President and Chief Compliance, Security and Safety Officer Joe Beacom acknowledges that raffling off a new semi-truck is "a pretty significant incentive" to attend safety events, he also notes that participating in such events helps build camaraderie among an otherwise fragmented work force.

"We don't just want to see you once a year," Beacom says of the message the company sends by providing incentives to attend safety events. "We want to see you three, four, five times a year."

Program Empowers BCOs to Offer Input

An important part of any successful safety program is giving workers an opportunity to offer input and suggestions on ways to make the workplace safer.

At Landstar, that vehicle for input is the M.U.S.T. program.

M.U.S.T. which standards for Mutual Understanding of Safety Together empowers Landstar BCOs, sales agents and other workers to identify potentially hazardous situations at customers' facilities and work with the customer to correct them.

An example: To get to a shipper's loading dock for pickups and deliveries, trucks must drive through an alley that has a great deal of forklift traffic. After a BCO has a near-collision with a forklift, the BCO, the local Landstar sales agent and a Landstar safety professional contact the shipper and describe the situation. They work together to resolve the problem, eventually choosing a safer, alternate route to the loading dock.

"A flexible, cooperative venture, M.U.S.T. invites those on loading docks, in shipping and receiving and behind the wheel to build a collaborative safety effort," Landstar's Web site says. "From roundtable discussions and site surveys to extensive training and awareness programs, the results are safe, effective procedures for the transportation environment."

Safety Initiatives Have Paid Dividends

Highway incidents are the No. 1 cause of workplace fatalities, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and the transportation and warehousing sectors in 2004 recorded 829 fatalities, the second highest total among industry sectors. Clearly, it behooves transportation services companies such as Landstar to focus on safety.

But Beacom says Landstar's safety initiatives have had other benefits as well.

"There have been significant bottom-line savings over the years as we've taken our accident frequency and improved it," Beacom says. "We've been pretty effective in doing that over the last several years."

Another perk of Landstar's safety-first mentality: The company tends to attract quality drivers.

"The intangible is the number of drivers who are looking for a place that operates with the mentality that we operate with," Beacom says. "We tend to not attract guys who don't want to operate safely and compliantly or those who run like a cowboy, like they used to do 20 years ago."

For more on Landstar's safety initiatives, visit http://www.landstar.com.

In Part 3 of our series on safety in the most dangerous occupations and industries, we will discuss safety in the construction industry.

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