The lights (2 red, 1 white) on each side of the license plate were installed to supplement the original taillights.

Caution: Safety culture shift in progress          

By Dave Kuisti, D2 District Engineer

Disclaimer:  By using this example, I am not pointing the finger of blame or saying anyone did anything wrong…but this example illustrates the culture shift we need to make in valuing employee safety just as much as we value the safety of the traveling public.

A few weeks ago, I received a note from a concerned TTO. His concern was the lack of taillight visibility on our new Crew Cab pickups that have “Tommy Lifts” installed. He was tentative in bringing his concern forward for fear of others being cast in a negative light. I understand his concern because we are all busy, but I applaud him for bring the issue forward and seeking an answer to his question.

When the concern was brought to me, I questioned what our plan was to address this issue. Turns out we had a solid plan to fix it, but we had placed this lower on the priority list while we worked to get our snowplows and other winter maintenance equipment repaired and back into service. I have no doubt in my mind that everyone was doing exactly what we have always done (our current culture) by focusing first on the equipment needed to deliver a safe road for our customers. This has been ingrained in us for many years.

However, If we are going to shift our “safety culture” to one where employee safety is just as important as getting the work done, we need to recalibrate our thinking. When someone brings a safety concern forward, we need to give it careful consideration, and take appropriate action.

In this example, the additional lighting package was ordered and the trucks were sidelined until they could be installed. Some would say that it was a bit drastic to park the trucks until they could be modified. If you are in that camp, consider how horrible it would be to see one of your co-workers injured from something we knew about but did nothing to address.  We can’t put ourselves in that position.

So going forward, if you see something unsafe, say something about it, and let’s get it fixed!  

Published 02-16-18