Shifting into Safety Excellence

Panoramic view from inside a truck driving on a highway.

Your mindset dictates your outcomes. The outcome of a 33-ton fully loaded transport truck containing possibly dangerous materials hurling down a roadway, can have catastrophic effects if your mind is in the wrong place.  How you view yourself and the world around you is important to your mindset.  But it can also create self-imposed limitations within your own belief system. Ones that recognize thought and not fact. Ones resulting in serious life altering collisions. 

The common mindset definition refers to an individual’s way of thinking. But the meaning of mindset differs among us all. Creating your modern mindset definition as a transporter of goods should be in a direction of excellence, overachievement, brilliance, and decisiveness… to help put you on the right road.

Important mindset synonyms to consider

You may have heard the term “mindset” referred to in a variety of ways. Some call it your outlook in life. Others refer to it as your mentality. Other words for the mindset that you may hear are psyche and attitude. How you choose to define your own mindset is entirely up to you. 

Noted psychologist Carol Dweck says there are two categories of mindset.

  1. Fixed Mindsets define all of your abilities as innate and you are born with all the abilities you will need in life. Those with a fixed mindset often feel like failures happen because something is lacking within themselves.

Growth Mindset feel that they can learn anything or acquire any ability if they put in enough effort. These people don’t let setbacks stop them.

What is Your mindset?  Is it keeping you and others safe on the road?

Our mindset is often influenced by life messages not readily noticed when they occur. They can lay pieces of your mind path forming your mindset. However, these mind deductions can play to poor outcomes as they may be thought based, not factual. As a transport driver you see several collisions, mishaps and near misses each day while on the road. Your mind carefully absorbs each traffic event, positioning it, logging it and filing it for future use, particularly where safety is concerned.  

Early in our lives we are sometimes given preconceived notions, by others, about what we will/can achieve.   As children we form Fixed Mindsets very early and the outside world sometimes reinforces this skewed thinking.  However, as we grow and there is a belief we can develop or enhance our talents with enough hard work and time, we’ll probably have a Growth Mindset.

The work drivers do is inherently dangerous. The complex and varied environments in which they perform services or do their daily work pose unique challenges to working safely. We see examples of truck collisions all too often in the news, most at no fault. The natural inclination is to avoid confronting these painful and difficult scenarios. The personal and potentially devastating impact of a safety lapse is something that we just simply don’t like to face.

The underlying organizational culture and safety mindset determines the degree to which safety is integral to everyday thought processes and work habits. That’s why creating and championing a “safety first” mindset must be everyone’s job.

Questions leading to a safety mindset.

  • Is there such a thing as an “acceptable risk”?

We take risks every day. We cross the street, play sports or fly in airplanes. For those of who drive truck their risk factor increases while at work. However, there is a belief we can get away with an unsafe practice or take a shortcut “just this one time” Bend the rule, Turn away, Cut a step, Delay a tire safety check. They don’t want to slow down work – and they can feel strong and in good physical/mental condition with deadlines to meet. There is no such thing as acceptable risk just ask  the truck driver in the Humbold Broncos tragedy.  

  • Are habitual risk-takers tolerated?

Perhaps it’s just human nature to believe we are so experienced at our jobs that we’re immune to accidents or injury. When we really do know our job cold and perform the same tasks repeatedly, we may begin to feel comfortable taking more risks as our safety mindset erodes. This false confidence can cause us to grow complacent in our safety practices. When the status quo involves taking even small chances routinely, the culture works to heighten rather than reduce the risk of incidents. Is it commonplace at your workplace to take shortcuts that put you and your facility at risk?

  • Is there a lack of safety training?

Transportation safety starts with learning best practices, applicable laws and regulatory requirements. Being properly trained and aware of your own safety and that of your co-workers is paramount. Getting proper training and information before you begin a job is your personal responsibility, for yourself and to keep co-workers out of harm’s way. Even if you’ve been trained and are experienced – and even if you’ve witnessed accidents before – complacency can slowly degrade your vigilance. Is your corporate culture lax or infrequent with safety reviews, training, updates and monitoring? Do they fail to communicate safety records and concerns on a regular basis?

  • Are company values communicated properly?

Valuing gain in either time or money over the safety and care of people is a policy that no respectable company would promote or knowingly tolerate. However, the daily focus on achieving a certain gross profit or margin on a product or to meet schedule may give truck drivers the impression that it’s okay to cut corners to achieve this so-called “success.” Under pressure for profit or schedule, have you ever bypassed a safety process or rule because it just seemed that following the right procedure “cost” more in time or money than it was worth?

  • Do employees feel empowered?

When budget and schedules drive operations, it can be difficult for a truck driver to stop and consider shut down for a perceived safety risk or minor issue. There can be fear of retaliation, repercussions or embarrassment for reporting observed safety violations or refusal to perform a task that doesn’t seem safe. Fear of negative opinions or management’s reaction when they make the tough call to stop work or shut down a process could ultimately cost everything. Does your corporate culture support behaviors that are safety-conscious and responsible to yourself and others? Do you report to upper management and refuse to continue work until the risk is eliminated?

Creating and maintaining a safety-conscious culture in your transportation workplace is critical to protecting people and living up to your responsibility to provide the safest working conditions possible We must focus on creating and ingraining a cultural mindset that promotes safety to every person in the transportation organization regardless of their job function. An integral safety-conscious culture requires an organized themed company-wide effort, taking every opportunity to emphasize and reinforce the safety mindset.

Embrace a Growth Mindset. Practice it until it becomes a habit and the fixed mindset voice will fade away. You and others will be safer for it!