‹ All Episodes

#27: Big wheels keep on turning

June 5, 2019 | 57 minutes 28 seconds

Today, Jill James talks with Andrew, JB Hunt’s Regional Safety Manager. Andrew helps keep those 80,000 pound big rigs rolling safely down the highway. In fact, Andrew can maneuver a semi truck like a pro. He looks forward to the journey ahead by embracing new technology and the challenges it will bring.

His key piece of wisdom? Earning a little street cred goes a long way.

Transcript

Jill:

This is the Accidental Safety Pro brought to you by Vivid Learning Systems and the Health and Safety Institute. Episode number 22. My name is Jill James Vivid's, chief safety officer, and today I'm joined by Andrew, who is the regional safety manager with JB Hunt. Andrew is joining us today from Dallas, Texas. Andrew, welcome to the show.

Andrew:

Hi. Thanks, Jill. Glad to be with you.

Jill:

Well, Andrew, I think that transportation industry ... I don't think we've had a guest in the transportation industry yet, so this is maybe a first for the podcast, so thanks for agreeing to talk with us.

Oh, of course. Glad to. I've enjoyed listening and my interactions with Vivid, so being on the podcast is a kind of the next cool step.

Andrew:

Great.

Jill:

Andrew, you didn't just land in the transportation industry. You found your way into safety and transportation through different means starting out somewhere else. Can you sort of share with the audience your story of what your winding path is to safety?

Andrew:

Yeah, it definitely was a winding path. Growing up, I didn't really have a whole lot of safety in terms of a profession around me. My dad's an electrical engineer on the software and hardware side and an amateur kind of a handyman around the house. We did a lot of ... were getting wiring or installing a speaker system or things like that.

Jill:

Did you have a really cool stereo system in your house growing up?

Andrew:

Oh yeah. We installed and actually one of the skills that I still have to this day is being able to drop in fish cabling to do wiring for a house or for surround sound or televisions.

Jill:

That is a talent.

Andrew:

Yeah. My dad taught me how to do that. Now, the apartments I've lived at don't necessarily like the fact that I get into the walls and drop wires, but I like not having cables out on the floor but safety. That was always like, "Hey Andrew, we're going to work on the system without tripping the breaker because I don't want the AC or the lights off."

Jill:

Oh, gosh.

Andrew:

"Don't touch these wires and don't touch anything metal." "Okay, all right. I will do those things."

Jill:

Oh, man.

Andrew:

You just never think about it when you're not involved in the industry.

Jill:

Because you don't know.

Andrew:

Right, because you don't know. My dad has made it however many years he had made at that point and hadn't had an accident or an incident and was perfectly healthy, and so I trusted him and just kind of went along with it. We never did anything really dangerous. The most dangerous thing we did was working on household 110 voltage wires without the breaker turned off, which can be dangerous. We weren't out there working on a table saw with a guard taken off or doing really what I would call stupid things. We were just taking chances, we probably shouldn't have.

Jill:

It got lucky.

Andrew:

Yeah. It got lucky. Right. Then in college, I was never in a safety role or anything really. The biggest safety thing we did was when I did food safety because I worked a lot in restaurants and bars, but there wasn't a whole lot of safety. Graduating college, my thought was, "I'm going to go into financial advising. I've got a degree in economics and political science and I'm going to go help people make money." For anyone who remembers what the market was like in the summer of 2010 when I got out of school, bad time. I take the worst four months to try to make it in selling stocks and insurance, and so safety came along out of failing to succeed in finance. I got an opportunity to go to a five star hotel brand in Austin, Texas for what they call the risk management job. What drew me to it wasn't even ... I didn't even know safety was a part of it.

I had done work in college as a door guy. I don't like the term bouncer, but yes, a bouncer [crosstalk 00:04:04] bars and so I saw, "Oh, security job. Well, it pays which finance wasn't paying."

Jill:

You need it.

Andrew:

I need a job and I can do this. I can chuck people out of out of bars if they're getting unruly, I'm sure I can keep five star hotel guests-

Jill:

In check.

Andrew:

... from getting unrelieved. Then I show up and it's a lot more than that. It's security, but it's IT and it's safety. I'm thinking, "Oh cool, I get to be involved in safety." I thought at the time that this was like, "Oh, wow, this is like real safety." Looking back, it was a quite lax.

Jill:

What did you think it was? When you heard it was about safety, what was the first things that popped into your mind then?

Andrew:

Yeah. At the time, I thought it was going to be a lot of like training hands on, working with the employees, maybe helping keep them safe, do some incident investigations, and it really wasn't. I mean, it was on the security side. We definitely did all of that. But on the safety side, if someone had an injury, we basically took a report. If we could give them first aid we did and then, if it was beyond that, we made sure they got to wherever they needed to go for proper care and then turn to the file over to HR. That was-

Jill:

The job was really more reactive than proactive. It wasn't a prevention one?

Andrew:

Very much so. We didn't have anything that approximated a job safety analysis program or really robust training or safety training. We did some preventative in terms of drills, fire drills, testing our communication-

Jill:

Sure.

Andrew:

... and our protocols.

Jill:

Life safety stuff.

Andrew:

Right. The risk team we all got first aid and CPR trained, which was good. Fortunately, I didn't have to use that training much, a little bit of applying a bandage or helping someone with a sprained wrist or something, but fortunately no CPR or anything major, but it just wasn't as ... you're right, it wasn't proactive. The name OSHA would have been just a complete foreign language to anyone at the hotel. I never heard OSHA once the entire time I was there, and so it get-

Jill:

It's not that the hospitality industry is devoid of safety because there's definitely risks.

Andrew:

Oh yeah. For sure. There were things we tried to do the best we could, keep facilities clean. Housekeeping was a big thing on the safety side of, "Hey, make sure that we've-

Jill:

Sure.

Andrew:

... if you're in the kitchen, make sure that all this stuff is out of the way so that the people walking back and forth with hot food don't spill it all over themselves or get burned," things like that.It's not as robust as it definitely should be for the risks. I mean, you talk about a department like the housekeeping department and their exposure to something like bloodborne pathogens and the complete absence at least that I experienced of a BBP training program. I didn't even know at the time that the hepatitis B vaccine was mandated to be made available.

I didn't even know there was a vaccine for hepatitis B at the time because I never had any reason to know.

Jill:

You had a degree in economics and political science. This was not your wheelhouse.

Andrew:

But I will say I did learn how to interact with people and how to get people together. We struggled with our injury frequency at that property. We could never get more than about 20 or 25 days, and so I got to develop some of my motivational skills, mindset devising skills, and some of the getting people to pull together and pay attention, but hamstrung by having a safety team as we could call ourselves that were really devoid of any real good safety education, and standards, and practices.

Jill:

Or resources, I suppose as well.

Andrew:

Yeah, for sure.

Jill:

When you talk about the hospitality industry and housekeeping department and you already mentioned bloodborne pathogens, I think about ergonomics and the ergonomic stresses of the repetitive work of-

Andrew:

Very much so.

Jill:

... cleaning the rooms and the repetitive stress involved in the laundry facility and the things that have happened on a loading dock.

Andrew:

Oh, yeah.

Jill:

If you have forklifts moving and you're moving and lifting equipment and the kitchen you already mentioned that, there's certainly things that happened in that industry. One of my very first jobs, first thing I did to earn a paycheck outside of babysitting when I was a teenager was in housekeeping at one of those drive up motors. I was the summer help and the ladies that usually did the cleaning a full time took one look at me that summer and said, "You get the bathrooms all summer," so that they could skip it. I didn't know what OSHA was either, but again, another industry that devoid of safety. There wasn't any training on the chemicals that I was using with my bare hands and I wasn't offered any personal protective equipment and there was no talk of infectious agents or bloodborne pathogens and hopefully that tide is changing for the hospitality industry. It'd be interesting to talk with a safety professional in that industry and get a take on what's the modern practice now.

Andrew:

I would agree. I would hope it's changed. I would hope that over the years is OSHA's has stepped up enforcement of a lot of industries that maybe they've hit the hospitality industry and people realize that it's something to take seriously.

Jill:

When you were doing that job, was there kind of a light bulb going on for you that you thought, "This safety thing is kind of something-"

Andrew:

A little bit, yah. It was definitely something I thought, "I don't mind what I'm doing right now," which is for the job that it was, was probably as good as it was going to get. I was working third shift, so I was working 11:00 PM to 7:00 AM shift dealing mostly with security. But the safety side of it, I got to deal with the overnight crew and we were a very limited crew, and so we formed a really good bond and so I was actually able to get people to pay attention to what they were doing and to be a little bit safer than they had been.

Jill:

How did you do that?

Andrew:

I've always been a connector of sorts, being able to connect with people and get people to connect. I'm really good at just getting people to agree to be a team and that's all I really did was, "Hey guys, if you get hurt, we have to bring someone from day shift to night shift." They don't understand our night shift culture, they don't understand how night shift works. They don't understand the dynamic and they're probably not going to be as willing to go above and beyond to help each other because they're used to the day shift where you stay in your lane. As an example, on the night shift when I was a security, you know, officer most of the time, that's kind of what my main job was. But there were times where room service would be in over their heads and there was only one person on staff.

At one point, the lady who was working room service, I saw her in the hallway and she tripped and spilled a pitcher of water all over her uniform and herself and had to go make deliveries. I was like, "Okay, just refill the pitcher of water, give me the trade, and what room we're going to. Won't be the world's best delivery service, but I'll get the food there and you can go change uniforms," or whatever. We would help each other like that. Things that were in our wheel house and we were a really cohesive team, and so we knew, "Hey, if I do something stupid and get hurt and I'm out of work, it's going to hurt everyone else on the night shift. Everyone will-

Jill:

It will upset the rhythm.

Andrew:

It will, it will. We kind of just had this communal look, "I'm not going to hurt you by hurting myself. I'm not going to let you down by not being here." That's kind of as far as I got with that team, but it was definitely successful. We didn't have very minimal, if any frequency of out of the overnight employees. Generally, it was daytime stuff that would cause injuries.

Jill:

What a great start? What a great start? How long were you there and what happened there?

Andrew:

I was there for almost year and a half, almost two years, and I got tired of night shift and didn't really have any upward mobility at the hotel. I was in a department that didn't tend to pull from the college educated and the upward mobile. It was kind of, "Hey, you come here, you do your thing and you just stay in this lane." That's not what I wanted. My wife and I had gotten married while I was working for the hotel and she was working in the optometric industry. As an optician, she really loved her career and that was great, but I wanted more for what I was doing. A college friend of mine was working for JB hunt and I'd applied a couple of times over the two years I think at that point since I graduated and I hadn't really gone anywhere. He finally said, "Hey, I'll go talk to our HR reps, send me your resume, put in an application." He said, "I can only promise that I'll ask her to give you a call and to start the conversation. It's on you from there."

That's all I really needed. All I wanted was a foot in the door and that led to me getting an offer to join them as a manager trainee in the operations side, which I wanted to ... Safety was fun and safety was something I enjoyed, but I was really interested in, "I've got to make a career change." I figured, "Hey, they hire into this manager trainee role. It's in operations. I'm going to go be an operator." What I found out very quickly, actually day one of our orientation. I pack up my wife and our one cat at the time and we drive to Dallas from Austin unload and I show up for work.

The first thing I do day one is I get to go sit through driver's safety orientation. I sat through two days of driver orientation with the other new manager that was hired the same week and with all of the drivers that were joining the company through Dallas. Then on day two, they tell me, "Okay, tomorrow morning be prepared for this thing called Smith system. I'm thinking, "Okay, what's Smith system?"

Jill:

What's that?

Andrew:

Show up the next morning and it's advanced defensive driving. They teach us all a class on advanced defensive driving and then put us in cars and make us go out and do these very specific advanced defensive driving technique drives and trained us all in Smith system. Then the drivers went off and did things that weren't really relevant for the managers, and they put us through some maintenance, what they call maintenance 101 where we learned about how the trucks have their oil changed and what the maintenance shop runs like. Then the final day, they put us with an area risk manager, and it's a full day of introduction to safety culture, the JB Hunt way.

We watched training videos. There was a PowerPoint and discussions and there were a couple of videos about, "Hey, these were some major events." This is what we learned from them, really impressing the importance of culture and the importance of, "Hey ops folks, new ops managers and managers and training. It's not just that you get to push a button and dispatch a driver. There are real consequences to having an 80,000-

Jill:

The gravity of a job

Andrew:

... an 80,000 pound vehicle rolling down the highway." This light bulb went off like, "Oh, this is a company that actually cares about safety. They care about their people and about doing things the right way." In addition to doing the training, I would also review what we called safety events. We have telematics on our trucks and if a driver hit the brakes too hard or the roll stability in the truck's activated, we would know about it and we'd sit down and have a discussion and try to come up with how to change that behavior.

Was it something the driver was doing wrong? Was it something the driver didn't know? Was it something that driver just needed an attitude adjustment or something of that nature and try to keep the drivers safe. It really opened up this whole new idea of, "Okay, I'm not an operator. I'm a safety guy, has operations responsibilities." Because that's really how we feel is that safety is owned by the operations. To give kind of a picture, now in my current role, I've got seven risk managers that work for me, and we have almost 2000 drivers across four states at over 100 different, what we call accounts fleet locations. The safety manager can't do it all, and I learned very quickly that because the safety manager can't do it all and really shouldn't, the operators had to own it.

I didn't have a safety title, but for my first four years I was very embedded in the safety and the culture of the individual account locations that I worked at. I worked at a couple of different ones. I went from the palate customer that we had to a water distributor, to a restaurant that we used to run for or we still do. Excuse me. We still do run for them. I kept promoting up and promoting up. In about a 2015, so I joined JB Hunt in very early 2012 and in the middle of 2015, they opened up a new area risk manager role in Dallas. At the time, there were only four in the region. We were a smaller region. Well, they opened up a fifth position and I put my name in the hat because I really enjoy working with my RM.

My RMs had been mentors to me, and since they had been good mentors and kind of liked when I heard about the job, you get to travel, you get to see different accounts, you get to be deeply involved in starting up new operations and the planning, I thought wanted to go at it and yeah. I was fortunate enough to get the job and-

Jill:

Congratulations.

Andrew:

Now I had a real safety role. I was focused as a safety person and that was a whole different experience. The safety that I knew as an operator was very tactical and very-

Jill:

Sure.

Andrew:

Okay. If A happens, you need to figure out if it was root cause B and then you're going to take action C. It was very procedural, which is what it needed to be for the-

Jill:

Of course.

Andrew:

For the operators in the field. But as an area of risk manager, I got a whole bunch of extensive training. There was several weeks of you attend this training course. One of them is, we go up to Oklahoma City and attend the DOT Transportation Safety Institute. They have what they call intro to the federal motor carrier safety regulations, which is a week solid of going through the code of federal regulations that applies to trucking and transportation and really getting expertise in how those interact, those regulations work, and how to interact with them.

Jill:

Sure. I'm going to say that that sounds fun. Anyone who's not a safety professional listening to this would be like, "What?" But really, I mean, who gets to have that kind of dedicated training? When I was with OSHA and I got to go to the OSHA Training Institute, handfuls of times for like a week of training. I mean, it's intense book. Gosh, you learn so much, so what an awesome opportunity.

Andrew:

Oh, 100%. Yeah, it was great. Now, very dry because-

Jill:

Of course.

Andrew:

... for anyone-

Jill:

It's regulatory.

Andrew:

Anyone who's read the CFR knows. It's the cure for insomnia, but very informative. They brought in enforcement officers to teach certain sections, particularly on the maintenance side. They brought in a safety director from an oil field company who actually at one time helped develop the TSI program and he talked about logging and regulation, and we spent half a day on a very particular part of the logging regulation that I'd say 90% of people mess up if they're not really careful. It's what's called the split sleeper birth provision, and it allows the driver to not take a full break but to split their break over a couple of different periods. It's a very easy one to find yourself a foul, the regulations. They knew this obviously, and they said, "You guys are going to learn this backwards and forwards so that you are our experts." You've got to do that, got to go become a Smith system instructor. So-

Jill:

Oh, cool.

Andrew:

Three, four years on from joining JB Hunt and taking my first missed system class and then doing the every three year research that we do, I got to go to their Smith's systems headquarters in Arlington, Texas, just down the street and become an instructor, which is a week of advanced defensive driving. More than just that, they taught us a lot of adult education, how to teach adults.

Jill:

How to teach adults.

Andrew:

Yeah. Which is very different than teaching children, very different-

Jill:

Certainly is.

Andrew:

... than teaching college students. It's a unique perspective. Then I got to be an advanced defensive driving instructor and had to go through to where I could do this course without notes, basically, because once you're in the vehicle, it's all about what's going on and even as an instructor, you've got to be thinking six or seven steps ahead of what's going on while still engaging everyone. It was a great experience and-

Jill:

Wow.

Andrew:

All of that learning got me ready to then start learning how to actually be a safety guy in the real world because-

Jill:

So, you were getting your baseline at this point?

Andrew:

Yeah. That took a couple of months of getting the baseline. At this time, while I'm doing the baseline training, I'm also working as a safety professional and-

Jill:

Sure.

Andrew:

... walking with my accounts, and I got thrown immediately into starting up new business within the first couple of weeks of getting the job. I'm on the fly developing JSAs and really understanding the back end of, "Okay, so we have this task. Now, how do we figure out how to do it safely and how do we figure out how to do it in the most compliant manner while also making it easy to understand and easy to follow?

Jill:

Some of the best ways to learn is like you're saying, doing it on the fly when it's urgent, and specific, and you have real lives on the line, and you have an end goal.

Andrew:

It was the first time in my life doing this. We started up a customer that required the use of Moffetts, which are the mounted forklifts. A lot of people have seen them. They just don't know what they are. They're the forklifts that look like they're hanging off the back of a flatbed or a delivery charge. Moffett's the most common brand, and we needed to be able to teach this. Well, I had never even seen one up close, let alone operated one. I had to shut myself down to one of our operations in San Antonio that had an expert trainer there. He put me through all of the training and the regulatory things I had to know how to do the inspection.

Then I had to do some training with him and I got my ... I was internally certified to be an operator and a trainer to then come back up and train the new drivers at this new operation. I'm going through all the training with them thinking, "Okay, I know what I'm doing." But this guy just told me he's run this equipment before at another company for a couple of years and here I am. I just learned about it last week and how long the guy who has to do the class.

Jill:

How green that feels very, right?

Andrew:

Oh yeah, oh yeah. But it started a habit of mine where I have become the specialized equipment kind of guy in our region, the guru, for lack of a better words. When I was an area risk manager, I would always leap at the opportunity, "Hey, we got some new specialized, I want to learn it." Then when we get together as a team for our next quarterly meeting, I want to do the specialized training. My boss had to pull back on the reigns a little bit and say, "Okay, you can't always be the one to teach, but I'm going to-

Jill:

You love it?

Andrew:

Yes. But I'm going to let you be my specialized equipment guy." I learned everything that I could.

Jill:

Oh, that's so fun. That's so fun.

Andrew:

And so the ... Go ahead.

Jill:

Well, I was just thinking about what your evolution has been like from the hospitality industry, which was luck, and then you come to your first days at JB Hunt where you're hearing the importance that they place on safety. You go through this pretty massive sounding orientation, which is fantastic, where you're really getting as a new operations person ... The right word might not be indoctrinated. But you're really learning like what the expectation is for safety, for the culture in the organization. When you were taking that in, I'm curious if you can kind of pull yourself back to that time. Your voice started to get excited. You were excited and animated at that time. Did you think, "Oh man, what a relief I landed in the right place," though it might not have been exactly the right fit for the job at that time.

Andrew:

I definitely thought I landed in the right place and the fact that they cared that much about the line employees, the drivers, and they cared enough about the managers to give us the training to understand the expectations, it really made it feel like a family. That's the atmosphere that I've always had working for JB Hunt is we may be this very large fortune 500 transportation company, but it feels very familial. You know why? I have a good relationship with all of my employees. I used to say I knew everyone in the region and we've just grown so much that I tell people I'm naturally not good with names and remembering people, but if I see you enough, and I shake your hand, and we talk, I'll remember you eventually.

I try to remember as many as I can, but when you've grown, like we've grown over the last seven years, it's hard to know everyone, but I try, I still try.

Jill:

Right, right, right. Then when you landed in the job in 2015 as the risk manager role, did you feel like you came home like, "Oh, this is what I've been preparing for all these years."

Andrew:

Yes, I did. I really did feel like it was a homecoming of sorts. I didn't know it was home, I didn't know it was what I was looking for, but when I got into it, I was like, "Yes, this is what I enjoy doing," because it's a very problem solving application. Like I said, the operators own the tactics and own the ground level of safety. But as an area risk manager, it was my job to help with the strategy and to help them understand where they needed to go, understand, "Hey, you're having this issue, so this is how we strategically plan around it and train around it." Then a lot of special projects, the startups, the specialized equipment training, when customers come along and say, "Hey, we've got this brand new thing we need you to do for us. Can you make it happen?" They look to the safety guy and go, "Okay, safety guy. How do we do this safely?" Because none of us have ever seen it before.

Getting to be that, that relied on resource really was what I loved about the role was that I became this guy that my ops leadership, our region ops managers would call on. I was assigned to two of them and when they had big deal projects, they'd call on me. We've got a custom or a group of customers in the oil field, in the oil and gas industry. When I got into this role, I had to go become a trainer for our mobile cranes, which we use. Then I had to go take a safe land, which is the training orientation that allows you to go onto a rig site.

If you don't have this card, they literally tell you, "Well, that's nice, but sit on the other side of the street, you're not allowed here." With that, then I had to do hydrogen sulfide training as an instructor for both safe land and hydrogen sulfide safety training, and had to be up to date on all of that. It allowed me a lot of cool experiences, one of which was kind of really building our company's hydrogen sulfide protocols and response plan because we had just gotten into this industry. Then I come along and I get my training, I realize, "Hey guys, let's put this all together." The coolest thing I got to develop was ... Our customer came to us and said, "Okay, you normally haul these oversize tanks. That's nice. We would like you to hold the largest tank we make, which is a tank that's almost 22 feet across width wise-

Jill:

Wow.

Andrew:

... and is oversize in every dimension." It is the supreme of oversize that we do now. It's not the biggest thing that's ever moved down the highway, but for JB hunt was the biggest thing. We don't carry it at the time. I got to develop, "Okay, how are we going to secure this load properly? Not just properly, how are we going to do it in a way that doesn't damage the product because the customer, what had happened, they had a specialized carrier for these who got in a lot of trouble for damaging the product because of how they secure it using the chains." I had to develop a method that would secure the product, meet all of the regulations for load securement, but wouldn't mark up the paint, and wouldn't damage the flange [inaudible 00:30:32] and anything else. Then how are we going to handle this going down the road? That was a project-

Jill:

These are-

Andrew:

Go ahead.

Jill:

These are all the things that people don't think about. Well, I mean I do because I'm a nerd that way and many of us listening to this do because we're nerds in that way. But when I'm going down the highway and I'm coming up behind or next to a semi that's hauling a load that secured, I'm looking at that load and how it's secured. I'm looking at its straps, I'm looking at its chains and my naked eye, of course, can't see whether it's right or wrong because I haven't had the specialized training that you have. But I always think about A, did the person that secure that have proper training? B, what a big responsibility that is-

Andrew:

Oh yeah.

Jill:

For not only the product, like you're saying, and of course the safety of your employees who are hauling it, but everybody else on the roadway. I mean it's a big deal. Well, thanks for doing that training with everyone-

Andrew:

Well, you're welcome.

Jill:

... and becoming a specialist in there. That's pretty cool.

Andrew:

Yeah, of course. Well, you said people don't really think about it and you're right. I know I didn't think about it until I got into the role. I never considered what it took to secure product on a flat bed or have equipment in the right condition. Now, if my wife is driving and we're on the road and we pass an 18 wheeler, I'm almost leaning out the window and watching the equipment and taking notes and is that strap the right way round and did it go through the rub rail the right way and, "Oh hey, look at those chains." My wife will just put the pedal down and get past the truck, so I'll stop talking about it.

Jill:

This sounds very familiar in my life when I'm naming types of cranes on the horizon or types of scaffolds. My son will say to me, "Mom, please, please." But your eyes can't help it. Once you see these things, you can't help.

Andrew:

Yeah, I know. Safety is not a job that you can turn off. I don't get to clock out at the end of the day. I just am a safety guy. That role, for the time that I was in, it was one of the most rewarding things I think I've done so far in my career because I got to develop these relationships and then see the results. I would have drivers that would come up to me and say, "Hey, thank you for showing us this." Or I have a driver call me and say, "Hey Andrew, I've got this problem. I don't know how to solve it and neither does my manager because we've never come across this, but I need an answer. What do I do?"

Being that resource and knowing that I've done a good enough job that the people that I work with trust me was really confidence inspiring and it told me I'm doing the right thing. Then as careers will do, I had an opportunity come up to me. I'd actually pushed this opportunity away a couple of times internally. They had not offered me this role so much as they had said, "Hey, would you consider this role?" I'd said, "Well, no, it's out. It's permanently based in west Texas." At this time, I'm still based in Dallas, and I don't want to go out there. I have no problem traveling and visiting, but I don't want to live out there. They came back around and our director of operations and one of the regional ops manager, they kind of sat me down and said, "Hey, we're going to ask but we really need you to do this." I had the opportunity to move back into operations and head up one of our accounts out there delivering to a retail customer.

We kind of went through a management transition for various reasons. The management team by the time I got there as the general manager was all new. We changed that over and there was a need for some kind of grounding and reestablishing of all the operational and safety cultures. I went back into an ops role.

Jill:

Evolution of companies, that happens everywhere.

Andrew:

It does. I went back into an ops role. But as a former area risk manager, I went in knowing not only the importance of a safety culture that JB hunt develops in all of its employees, but hey, I've actually been on the other side of the line on the safety side. I'm going to start making decisions as an operator like I'm still a risk manager and I'm going to keep my risk manager from having to bother us. Not bother us but having to ... and won't bother us one, but not having to worry about us. I actually told the guy and that took over my territory when I left to take this operations role. I said, "Hey, you don't worry about me and this account. If you see that I'm messing up, call me out on it, please. It's still your job, but I'm going to take care of this like I'm still an area of risk manager and keep it off of your plate."

With varying degrees of success, we were able to do that for the time that I was out there, and I thought I was going to be out there for quite a while. I was prepared for that. In late 2017, I moved out there and right around Thanksgiving of 2016 and in late 2017, the gentleman that had been my boss when I was an area risk manager he got promoted. He went from the regional safety manager for our region and actually moved to another division as their safety director. Once again, your region leadership came to me and said, "Hey Andrew, would you come back to safety and be our regional safety manager?" I was fortunate enough to ... I interviewed and there were a couple of us that really wanted the role. The guys said, "It's going to be one of you." I was fortunate enough to get it and I got to come back and now lead the team that I had been a part of.

I've been in that role now since late 2017 in charge of the risk management team for our little four state region.

Jill:

Did that feel like a big yes when that opportunity came your way? Like, "Oh yes."

Andrew:

It did. In fact, I had a ... because I still came to Dallas a lot to visit friends and one of the friends was, at the time, the current regional safety manager and we were sitting on his back porch after dinner just catching up.

Jill:

Like you do in Texas?

Andrew:

Yeah. It's a very Texas thing to do. You have dinner and then you go sit on the back porch because in the evenings it's quite pleasant.

Jill:

Beautiful.

Andrew:

He was talking about, "Well, something may come along in my career." I just offhandedly said out, "Well, if you ever up and move and vacate this role, I know what I'm going to put in and apply for." He just kind of said, "Oh, well that's good to know." Then magically, a couple of weeks later he's promoted and they're coming around to me go and "Hey, would you like to interview and be a part of this?"

Jill:

Nice.

Andrew:

I wanted to come back.

Jill:

Sure. You had made a home there.

Andrew:

Yeah. I came back and I have been in this role and we've had a lot of change on the risk management team and I've got to do a lot of training with my area risk managers and bring new guys on and keep the culture going. I still hold true to how my previous regional safety manager and the guy before him ran safety, but I do it in my own way and it's really ... we've continued to push as we've grown and had additional customers added that it's got to be a cultural thing for us. I really tell my guys when they come on board that we are sort of the vanguard of the culture. We-

Jill:

That's so true, and that's a beautiful way to say it.

Andrew:

It's our job to teach the culture, to preach the culture, to live the culture, and to make sure it's properly owned by the operators, but it's not our job to micromanage. It's not our job unless we absolutely have to be what I call a compliance cop. I think we all know the safety guy that is a compliance cop and walks-

Jill:

None of us wants that job.

Andrew:

... walks around thumping the regulation book and it doesn't endear you to your people and it definitely doesn't make you effective. Everyone knows the risks. All of my operators know when their driver has to shut down. The thing a risk manager has to do is make sure that the managers are teaching the drivers and holding the drivers accountable. When we successfully do that, we're really successful as a region. When we stop holding people accountable and we get a little bit lax, then trouble creeps in.

Jill:

Right, right. Andrew, I'm curious to know with the now years of experience that you've had and the training that's kind of behind you, all of your career starting back in hospitality to today, what would you say are the three biggest things that you've learned?

Andrew:

The three biggest things I've learned, first, is his expertise. I always tell people that join my team, "Look, you're never going to be an expert the first time around, but you must become an expert at the things you are going to be expecting of your people." Particularly, I'll take specialized equipment, things like forklifts, power pallet jacks, the Moffett's flat beds, even our yard tractors. I myself I'm trained and certified on all of them and have operated all of them at one point or another in my career with JB Hunt and I expect all of my risk managers to do the same. In fact, just recently, because we had a whole bunch of new risk managers join the team as I've promoted as people have gotten promoted from the team and have moved on to other roles, we did our yard tractor certification and I got to take several guys who had never even hauled a trailer behind a pickup truck and teach them how to move 53 foot dry vans around the yard and do backing maneuvers.

I told them, "Hey, I'm going to get you started but you have to become the expert." I told them, "Go to your accounts that have this equipment, wait for the down hour or the down 30 minutes, and go get in the yard tractor. Make sure the operators know what you're doing, but go get in the yard tractor and practice. Because when next year comes around and you have to do the re certifications for all of your yard drivers, you need to be comfortable not only doing it but teaching it and the only way you can teach it is by knowing how to do it."

Jill:

Buys you street credit with the people are expected to do that work.

Andrew:

It does. I've got a funny story on street cred. This was back when I was in every risk manager in Oklahoma City. We had a group of accounts and we had some newer drivers struggling with what we call close quarters maneuvering, generally backing, but really anything you do on a lot or in a dock situation. I went up and I set up this training course. It's an old test really, that drivers used to be given, it's called a serpentine. You basically have to move the truck and the trailer like a snake through a course and then park it in a spot and it's set up very tight on purpose. Anytime I need to trainings like that, I've got a whistle that I hold onto and I tell the drivers, "If you hear the whistle stop, that means you have had a collision and we're going to look at where you're at and review."

I spent hours out there just blowing the whistle constantly because the drivers couldn't get it and one of them finally hops out of the cab and goes, "Okay, safety man, this isn't possible. You do it if you're so good." And so, okay. Yeah. I get the truck set up and it's a sleeper truck with a 53 foot trailers, so it's about 75 to 80 feet long. I get in and I get it in gear and I go back through the course and get it back into the spot at the end of the course where it's supposed to be. I get out and I walk over and I call the drivers together and I pull out my wallet and I pull out my driver's license and I say, "I'd like you guys to tell me what's special about my drivers license compared to yours."

They all look at it and then one of them kind of hangs his head and goes, "You don't even have a CDL." I said, "Yes, that's the point. I don't have a CDL and I'm not a driver." The first thing I tell them is, "I'm not a driver. I'm a safety manager. I'm a risk manager." But I said, "I don't have a CDL. I just took that truck through the course and put it into the spot. It's not impossible. Who thinks they can do it?" One by one they lined up and walked up to the truck, got in the cab and in one shot, put it all the way through the course, each one of them, one right after the other and they didn't have to touch my whistle again the rest of the day.

Jill:

You mentored your way through that one or there was competition?

Andrew:

Yeah. Well, actually, I got to see how I was thinking about telling the story if it came up. I got to see one of the drivers who was in that course this past week. I was back up in Oklahoma City and I saw him and I shook his hand and he's like, "It's been a while, but why do I remember you?" I said, "Well, do you remember the close quarters coast?" He goes, "Oh yeah. That's where I've seen you from." Because it's been a couple of years since I've been up at Oklahoma City as the risk manager. We got to laughing and talking about it and it's that thing that the guys remember, they go, "Yeah, there was that risk manager didn't even have a CDL and could do this course."

Jill:

That safety guy.

Andrew:

Yeah. That safety guy. Street cred is incredibly important. After expertise, the next big thing is culture. This is the biggest thing I've learned. JB Hunt having a very strong and well developed, mature safety culture kind of helped me learn this, but safety is everyone's job. That's not just a cliche that we say in the safety industry to make ourselves feel better about the fact that we're out there fighting this battle against the world, but it really is it. It has to be the line supervisors, the line employees, the next level managers, the directors, all the way up to the Chief Executive Officer of the company. They've got to believe in. If they don't believe in it, it's going to break down. It's the job of the safety manager, like I said, is to be the vanguard of the culture and to grow that culture.

You can't encourage safety culture if you yourself aren't really good at believing in it and abiding by it. It can't be a do as I say, not as I do. You have to be that example. I really work with my guys on presentation on walking the walk as well as talking it. That means things like your worst Smith system instructors and your Smith system driving company. Well, that means, "Okay guys, back upon arrival, park your car backwards in the spot when you get there," because that's what we expect our people to do. You can't be this teacher and this leader if you yourself don't believe in it and don't act on it. Then making sure that the culture doesn't lose focus of what's really important particularly with how we handle safety events. There's the coaching, the training, the safety side, but there has to be behavior modification as well.

We have to change behaviors and that unfortunately means sometimes discipline. Through my training, there's always this real sharp divide between safety and discipline, and review and discipline. There's a lot of very good instruction that says, "The point of doing reviews and the point of doing investigations is not to discipline employees, it's to figure out root causes and learnings and make sure it doesn't happen again." That is 100% true. However, there are those that don't take it the next step that goes, "Okay. And once you've done that, if an employee's behavior needs modifying, how do you modify it and how do you modify it in a way that's going to be effective and fair?"

As an area risk manager and now as the regional safety manager, we have to manage both sides. The culture can't just be a nice time to talk about.

Jill:

Absolutely.

Andrew:

It also has to be something with some real consequence to give it some weight. We try to avoid bringing down a hammer and disciplining when we don't need to. But unfortunately, there's some people whose behavior you have to modify and they only modify their behavior a certain way is when you make it uncomfortable for them not to modify their behavior.

Jill:

Right. I mean, it's the genius of knowing how adults will react.

Andrew:

100%.

Jill:

I had a mentor to me who was not a safety person, but really deeply mentored lots of aspects of my career who's industrial psychologist. We were doing some training around safety together, and then he was teaching me more than I was doing anything with him, frankly, because he was so genius. He had this thing that he taught me stop, start, continue. When you're having conversations with people that might be difficult and framing it ... and you could think about this with even not how you want it to change a behavior. I need you to stop X, Y, Z thing, thing, thing. I need you to start doing blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, or this way. I need you to continue really highlighting the things that are done well. It's a way to present information to people that acknowledges what's right. But clearly, clearly using the word stop, like this is the part of this now.

Andrew:

That's an incredible way to think about the conversation because it really is ... If I'm having that conversation with the driver, I recognize you do a lot of things very well. Driver, I recognize that you've got experience in the truck that I will never have and you've got a good record, but I need you to stop doing this one thing and then instead, I need you to do it this way, so that you can continue doing all the good things that you do. That's a big part of where I see my team's role now and my role is to be the mentor to the operators who have to have those tough discussions on a daily basis and to teach them about, "Hey, this is how you need to address this and if you need me to sit in with you or is, sometimes I have to sit in with you." This is how I'm going to approach it, so that they can learn as well because the best thing as a risk manager is that your people manage safety and you get to be the one who has the oversight and then gets to work on the special projects and the really challenging things.

If you're stuck in the weeds, managing the day to day tactics of safety when ... Now every industry is different, but in my industry and how we work, if my guys were doing the day to day, every little detail of safety, we'd never get anywhere. The whole thing would stop working.

Jill:

Because you've just been fire fighting all the time.

Andrew:

You can't build anything to last. The culture is the most important. You can have everything else in the book, you can have all the posters and the training and the PPE and everything else and the most advanced safety knowledge. If there's no culture, it's all for naught. Having that really well defined culture is what's truly the most important thing I've learned, but the most important part of being a good risk manager, safety manager, is being able to be that culture champion. Then along with that, my third thing-

Jill:

Your third thing?

Andrew:

... is the importance of embracing the new. By new, I typically mean technology and approaches. There's a lot of ... and I've just talked with other safety pros in my industry and in others, there is a lot of what we've always done it this way and it's always kept us safe, so we need to continue. To some degree, that's probably a good idea. We've always worn hard hats on this job site and we've always kept our people safe. You know what? You're right. Let's continue wearing hard hats on this job site. But then there's things like technology and how can technology be our friend and be our supporter? We use a couple of technologies, collision mitigation, forward radars on the trucks. My safety director likes to say, "If you jump into one of the new freight liners, it is the exact same suite of safety tech that you get on an S class Mercedes because it's made by the exact same person Daimler."

Daimler is the parent of both companies and makes the same tech. There's some really cool advances in truck safety tech and that also includes the deployment of forward facing, not forward facing cameras. The way that the camera and the radar can make a safe driver better because every one of us gets what we call transiently and attentive. You're going down the road and, "Oh, that's a nice cloud." It happens to the best of us and there's nothing wrong with that. That's how the human mind works. But having this technology that can say, "Oh, we're coming up on that car a little too quickly and I'm going to slow your speed down to increase your following distance." Or, "You're in cruise control and I'm going to make sure you don't get any closer than however many seconds from the vehicle in front of you."

It makes drivers better and it helps us keep these behemoths that we call tractor trailers upright in their lane and going from point to point, not getting involved in collisions or incidents. Go ahead.

Jill:

What's your favorite piece of technology that you think specific to our practice, maybe that you or your safety managers?

Andrew:

My favorite one right now is as far as on the truck is the safety director and other associated camera systems that look forward because nothing helps a driver understand what you're talking about more than being able to show them a video of the incident or the event. Then in addition to that, nothing protects your driver better when he's doing everything right than having that video and being able to turn over to our claims and the legal teams and say, "Hey, here's the video of what happened. The other party is accusing us of X, Y, or Z, and the video very clearly shows that we didn't do X, Y, or Z.

In fact, we did everything the right way and they're at fault party." And being able to show drivers that, "Hey, if we didn't have this video, it's word on word and 90% of the time, guess who's losing because of the cultural perception these days of all the ambulance chasing lawyers that get on television and say, "Have you been hurt in the truck wreck?" It creates this false perception about the trucking industry and being dangerous when really the statistics back it up. The majority of the collisions are caused by your personal vehicle mode operator not operating safely around us and having that video, it'd be able to back a driver up and to be able to get a driver off the hook and say, "Hey, now that you did everything right, and we've got your back, and here's the video proof."

It's a really cool piece of technology, and it's moving forward. I can talk about this because we've publicly already stated our partnership. The next step is actually replacing the mirrors with cameras. We've publicly supported a company called Stone Ridge that is doing this, they call it mirror. The FMCA just earlier this year, approved it for on road testing, and so we've been testing it with mirror still installed and now we're going to start pulling the mirrors off the truck, opening up the driver's visual space around the truck and giving him a near infallible view of the sides. I say near it-

Jill:

Of the side. I was just going to say-

Andrew:

I say near infallible because I've actually been in the truck and it has such a wide angle that we had the truck parked and we were sitting in it and we had one of the people who was there had had his daughter with him and she was seven or eight year old small kid and she walked around the edge of the truck trying to hide from us. Outside of being directly behind the license plate, we could see her through the camera system in almost any point on the truck. That sort of visibility, not only is-

Jill:

Fabulous.

Andrew:

... not only is it going to help the driver, but it's going to help the general public because drivers are now going to be able to see the mistakes that car drivers make that normally we couldn't see because it's this big bulky piece of equipment that it's really hard to see around it. It's going to be the next way forward I think. Anyway, this is the world according to Andrew. I think it's going to be the next big way forward and trucking safety is taking those mirrors off and replacing them with these systems.

Jill:

That is fascinating.

Andrew:

I'm super excited about that. I mean, the big things, like I said, got to have a good culture. You've got to have expertise. If you're a safety guy who thinks safety can be done from behind the desk or behind the clipboard, please do all of us a favor and go get hands on because you have to have that hands on expertise and then embrace the new. Don't fight the new because new is never going to stop and technology is going to keep changing and it's going to keep making us better. Those of us that rely on it are going to be better in the long run. I've complained for years that baseball is being ruined by analytics, but safety is not being ruined by analytics. It's that sort of stuff makes us better. Being with the company that has bought into that and believes it and wants to promote it, is one of the best things about being in safety with my current role is that I know it's not me against everyone. I know it's all of us together in the mission of getting drivers safe.

Jill:

Beautiful. Beautiful story. Andrew, thank you so much for sharing really an uplifting story about safety. I really appreciate it. Really appreciate it today and to love what you do and feel that it matters what could be more fun?

Andrew:

Right?

Jill:

Right? That's a quote that I've stolen from Washington Post editor Katharine Graham and I just love that one and I think about that often with our work. Thank you for sharing your love of the practice, your excitement around it and pretty exciting to hear about new technologies.

Andrew:

Thank you for having me on. I've really enjoyed this.

Jill:

Thanks so much, and thank you all for joining today and listening and thank you for the work that you all do to make sure that your workers make it home safe every day, including your temporary workers. You can listen to all of our episodes at vividlearningsystems.com or subscribe in the podcast player of your choosing. If you have a suggestion for a guest, including if it's you, please contact me at social at vividlearningsystems.com. Until next time, thanks for listening.