Focus on Safe Driving
Responsible Equipment Use
by April, Safety Coordinator Admin, West Texas
Oilfield roads are notorious for their safety challenges. Back roads are riddled with potholes, sudden turns and even the occasional livestock. Highways are riddled with other drivers, most of whom are racing against deadlines.
In a mining business like Black Mountain Sand, which operates every size of vehicle from pickup trucks to the heaviest earth movers, it’s important to establish a safe driving culture, where every employee begins their day inventorying any safety or repair issues with the vehicle/machine itself and surveys the immediate area before putting that equipment in gear.
Once the vehicle is deemed operation-worthy and the area is clear to drive in, our operating procedures apply, and they’re with us all day. Here are some examples:
- Everyone must be properly seat belted—we never go anywhere with more people than the vehicle has seat belts.
- We sound the horn once before we move the vehicle forward, twice if in reverse.
- And maybe the biggest one, no cell phone use while driving a vehicle or operating mobile equipment.
Most of our procedures could be considered common sense, but we don’t assume anything. We want to make sure our procedures are basic, simple and understandable for everyone, whether the employee has worked in this industry before or not.
Back on the topic of pre-op inspection, cell phones have simplified a lot of that. Not only do operators go through a written list, they take a picture of every side of the equipment including the inside in order to verify its condition.
Pictures happen at every change in shift or operator so management can pinpoint the origin of any damage or other maintenance situation. These pictures also show us if there are any repair issues or safety defects that need immediate attention, so we can alert our maintenance people. The photo can often tell maintenance exactly what the issue is, so they can get the right parts and tools for efficient repairs.
Keeping safe practices top-of-mind involves constant reminders. Working shifts in seven-on, seven-off rotations, we have a one-hour meeting to start each weekly shift, covering trends we’ve noticed and reminding everyone of key safety issues. We work hard to keep this at the top of everyone’s mind.
To freshen up these meetings, we bring in outside speakers to address issues from a different perspective. It’s rewarding to see the light come on in our peoples’ eyes when they “get” the message in a new way, whether it’s through humor, illustrations or just a different voice.
Safe driving also involves well-designed spaces, on and off property. We’ve contributed significantly to adding deceleration lanes on roads and highways in front of our mines, and have helped other road and community projects. On site, we’re always evaluation the layout of the facility to reduce blind corners or congested traffic flows.
Whether our people are driving company vehicles across the lot or on the road, or they’re simply driving to and from work, we want to make sure they get where they’re going safely.