I had a thought about this topic the other day after watching another flatbed driver working the controls from the traffic side on the shoulder of the 210 Freeway in CA. . I used to work at GM in a warehouse facility and we had an incredible safety record for a warehouse. Something like 500 days without a lost workday accident. So seeing a "Tower down" every few weeks is sickening. One thing we did was if there was ever a serious injury at any facility an accident report was done, recommendations for change made and the report was distributed throughout the warehouse system and it was covered in every employee meeting with every employee. Is there anything like that that has been created for the Tow industry? I know in this very forum there are like 50 safety topics but they seem to focus on loading procedures and the like. Do the towing associations put out safety talks on these fatalities?
My though on this was this. When you cover an operator death with your employees what source do you use? I would imagine the newspaper article about the accident? Does anyone ever get the police report on the accident?? One thing about those safety reports we did at GM the employees name was never used for confidentiality. But it was also never used because we wanted to get across that this could happen to anyone. Making it not about a specific person the person reading it can be like "Oh I have done that exact thing" . The newspaper articles generally focus (rightly) on the person and thier life and not the actions of the victim on that day.
I went back a few years and pulled some police reports on Tower Down situations. One good thing is the agencies do not give you the gory details. But I think they give you enough to make it hit home.
Just as an example how do you think the following would go over with your employees?
Time of Incident: 2:40am
Road Surface: Dry
Driver of Vehicle 1: 25 Year old female. Injuries (None) Distracted (No) Vision Obstructed (No) Use of Alcohol (No) Use of Drugs (No)
Vehicle 1 was traveling northbound on the service road from the Interstate at approximately 55MPH. Tow Truck 1 was parked on the inside shoulder of the Interstate service road, partially in the inside travel lane with emergency lights activated. Tower 1 and Customer 1 were standing in the roadway in the inside lane of the northbound service road from the Interstate. Tower 1 was not wearing any reflective clothing.
As Vehicle 1 proceeded northbound it swerved to miss the Tow Truck that was partially in the left lane and collided with Tower 1.
Tower 1 became airborne and impacted Tow Truck 1's right side mirror.
Tower 1 came to final rest in the inside travel lane of the service road north of Tow Truck 1.
Vehicle 1 continued north and collided with Customer 1
Customer 1 became trapped underneath Vehicle 1.
Vehicle 1 continued north on the service road dragging Customer 1.
Vehicle 1 veered to the right and Vehicle 1 overturned onto its roof.
The front of Vehicle 1 then collided with the concrete barrier wall on the north shoulder of the service road.
Customer 1 came to final rest in the left travel lane.
Tower 1 was pronounced deceased on scene by Lieutenant Rycus of the Fire and Rescue Department at 2:51 a.m.
Tower 1 was removed from the scene and transported to the District Medical Examiner's Office.
Customer 1, was pronounced deceased by Doctor Beth Chase of Oak Park Medical Center at 5:15 a.m.
The incident reports we did at GM would then go into root cause analysis. Called it the 5 why's. Ask at least 5 why's and see if you can get to the root cause.
Why did the Tower get hit? He was standing in the Travel lane.
Why was he standing in a travel lane? He was loading a disabled car with the bed controls located on the right side of the tow truck.
Why was he using the right side bed controls? (and that is something we cannot answer without further information as the drawing above is not to scale and not clear if they had enough room to use the left side controls)
Then you could do another 5 why for the customer to get a root case as to why he was hit.
You could also to 5 Whys as to why the driver of the vehicle did what they did, might be some speculation of course but good to approach it from all angles.
Then you would go into recommendations and changes.
They always told us the weakest recommendations were ones you had no control over.
So a recommendation of "remind employees to follow the rules" would be similar to us saying "remind the public to move over" it's a weak recommendation.
What they would rather see is actual changes that eliminated the problem. Something like elimination of right and left bed controls. All done from a remote or in the cab. Then if the area was tight the tower could stand on the K rail and operate thier bed after hooking up the car. There are limits of course but you would be surprised what solutions you can come up with if you get down to the root cause.
And Like I said before the agencies release these mild versions of the accident reports to the public. The next level after a simple report like this is the detailed drawings and photos. And that can sometimes be borderline gore. But I am wondering if that is what it would take to get folks to take it seriously. I also think it might scare some people right out of this industry and in the back of my mind I have a sneaking suspicion the drive to keep employees working every day might be behind the lip service we as an industry pay to this topic. I really hope I am wrong about that.