Let’s make sure our dedication to the safety culture stays constant no matter what state
we operate in and that we do all we can to change the culture of the industry that we all love.

By John Paglia, III

Improving our safety record as a company and an industry is something I plan to direct my attention to in 2019. Safety is talked about so often and by so many, sometimes I feel like it can lose its luster. Keeping safety engaging and interactive is an important step of making the topics that plague us daily fresh and exciting, not just monotonous. The collection side of the waste industry is as repetitive as a job can get. Routes are formed, customers are added or subtracted, drivers pick them up on a schedule day-after-day for years to come in many cases. Repetition without change can breed complacency, which, I argue, breeds opportunity for accidents, incidents or injuries.

Warning Signs
While reviewing our loss runs, I always try to look as unbiased as possible and see if I can notice trends or ways to reduce accidents from occurring/recurring in the future. No one has a crystal ball, but we all know the saying “history repeats itself” and that is usually correct if you do not initiate a change, good or bad. Most everything we evaluate at Florida Express Environmental and United American Recycling is based upon a cost per hour formula. When evaluating our accidents, incidents or injuries, I also track that at accident per hour ratio. It is more of an internal reference that we strive to continue to improve. In 2018, we had 87,911.3 total collection related operating hours. During those total operating hours, we had eight traffic accidents that our trucks were involved in. Of those, only two were cited to us as a potential at fault party. While it is not a perfect record, it is a stat that we will continue to look to improve upon in 2019. In our safety culture we define Incidents as called-in complaints, self-inflicted damage to equipment from operator error or other near misses that were witnessed in observations. Properly addressing these “warning signs” are the foundation to reducing recordable accidents. Naturally that number is in the hundreds on an annual basis.

Back to Basics
Improving our safety culture is always our number one goal. In January we had our 2019 annual safety kickoff meeting. The theme of the meeting was making sure everyone understands our company goal of 0-Accidents,0-Incidents,0-Injuries every day. We stress the importance of the team effort of safety starting with sales, office staff, dispatchers, maintenance, drivers, and managers of the company all singing the same tune and message of SAFETY FIRST in everything we do. When I evaluated our loss runs, I coined the term “back to basics” as a theme for 2019. Specifically, if any employee was involved with an accident, incident or injury in 2018, each example could have been avoided if the employee reverted to his/her training, applied logic to the situation, and decided to stay the course and avoid a shortcut.

As I stated earlier, change brings change. We want to improve upon 2018 so we have recognized faults from 2018 or tools we can add in 2019 to enforce our policies and procedures, which in return should improve the constant reminder of our safety culture to new and veteran employees as the year progresses. One of these tools being an AER onboard camera system per collection truck. These will play a role in improving safety efficiency across the fleet as we continue to expand. This will be very important as we move into a regional-based company operating out of many divisions. We will be able to make sure our dedication to the safety culture stays constant no matter what state we operate in. Let’s do all we can to change the culture of the industry that we all love. It starts with you. I look forward to hearing from you.

John Paglia, III is a 4th generation garbage man. Before he climbed the ranks to become Florida Express Environmental’s General Manager, he had a successful career in college and professional athletics. John has been around the garbage industry since his car seat days. Currently, John is focused on growing his company and offering the highest level of customer service and prolonging the world we live in today. John wakes up every day knowing the impact professional haulers have on their community is far greater than most realize. He can be reached at (352) 629-4349, e-mail John3@floridaexpress.us or visit www.floridaexpress.us.


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