The logistics and supply chain sector must be proactive in adhering to stringent safety standards because companies’ rubber-stamped policy documents locked in lever arch files cannot govern safety on the roads, says logistics and supply chain management company Crossroads MD Arend du Preez.
“As logistics and supply chain operators, we have to ingrain safety into the daily routines of each and every one of our employees. Our large, heavy vehicles operating on public roads where they come into contact with every type of road user, including pedestrians and even stray animals, mean that we must always be on our toes.”
He says, while it might be a relatively straightforward process to develop the necessary standards required to be successful in the logistics and supply chain business for a business with a single yard with a few employees and one or two vehicles, the task becomes exponentially more challenging as the business expands its scope across the country and across borders.
He advises that one of the ways to be successful in implementing a safety strategy is to keep historical records of all incidents to measure the present against past performance and establish future improvements. He also urges managers to effectively communicate the safety activities to employees.
“That stems from engaged managers who understand the fundamental operations and therefore the success factors that stimulate customer happiness and more than that, their comfort that the risk is being properly managed on their behalf,” he adds.
Du Preez says managers should have good relationships with employees irrespective of cultures, income groups, levels of education and geographic considerations, among others.
“One of the first ways you see the successful outcome of this approach is in the infrastructure. The vehicles are clean and well maintained. The depots are clean and tidy. It gives us – and our customers – a sense of satisfaction and comfort because we intrinsically know it is an indicator of good safety procedures.”
However, he says safety is not necessarily about the infrastructure itself and whether or not it is in good repair – although that is a powerful factor; it is more about the people and their attitude to running safe and secure operations.
“If we have the right attitude, throughout the organisation from top to bottom, then the infrastructure will naturally be well maintained and we will automatically live the policies locked in a lever arch file,” Du Preez concludes.