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Re: Spreading the Message


Guest RReschran
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Guest RReschran

Ron commented that perhaps as little as 4-percent of all towers know how many tow truck operators are killed. The fact that less than 4-percent know about the number of tow operators killed can only suggest that towers aren't receiving the right training. I personally don't know of a source that can accurately provide a count of the number of towers who have attended a national TIM course. I personally don't know of any state associations who provide fatality numbers to their membership. Is it because no-one wants to talk about this topic, especially when it comes to new hire interviews? Tow operator fatalities, in the news, isn't a new topic and there are plenty of incidents and examples of those on-the-job dangers tower's face. Yet, how can the word be spread to the tow and recovery community including owners and tow operators?    R

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Great questions, and even with the media available such as American Towman, Tow Times, Tow Force, even Facebook we still are not reaching the majority of the estimated 200,000 towing operators in the United States. I believe the number is around 35,000 towing companies, so it is not an unmanageable population to get notifications out to.

 

My only concern, as it was presented to me by an OSHA official when discussing their involvement in the towing industry, they feel we have done a good job of publicizing tow operator deaths, so much so that they are now aware of the high loss of life and are investigating. While I personally believe that having the dangers of our job exposed to the general public may help our cause for safety, we must be prepared for the regulations it will also bring down on us.

 

This needs to be a wide spread dialogue between owners, operators, customers and third party entities such as motor clubs and law enforcement. It is sad when law enforcement and fire/ems don't even know how many towers are injured or killed roadside each year, and they are exposed to us daily! I have had many an enlightening conversation with law enforcement about the dangers of working roadside, some don't see any danger at all, others never thought of the towers.

 

I have to agree with an earlier post, it is sad, actually disappointing almost to the level it is maddening, that we can get hundreds of towers to sit in an arena and watch a flashy rotator demo but can't get but 30 towers to attend a safety themed class without twisting their arm to be there. I don't have statistics, just personal observations, but I don't see participation in TIM or SHRP2 training unless the program is a mandated part of a tower's law enforcement contract, otherwise maybe 10% of the towers in a given area participate when it is voluntary. This is a FREE program, all it costs you is 4 hours to complete, yet few bother.

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"Be prepared for the reregulations it will also bring down on us."

 

I know that those regulation will bring the industry down and likely not effect the annual number of deaths. The Industry must create a method to lower the number of incidents on it's own. Once again I look to National & State Association to develop a plan which reaches the entire industry. If that plan only saves one or two lives a year then while not the objective it will be successful. This losing at minimal one tow operator a week is insane. Who will we lose this we, will it be you, will it be me. I can assure you I will take every precaution I possibly can so that I can continue to rant about safety.

 

"law enforcement and fire/ems don't even know how many towers are injured or killed roadside each year"

 

When I tell these hazardous duty professionals that the towing industry on average loses 60 tow operators a year to roadsides tragedies thry are often unaware and speechless. That the tow industry which many don't really view as an industry, guy just shows up, just like the guy that takes the trash. 

 

"a mandated part of a tower's law enforcement contract"

 

Every Association can make this happen, I have always felt that it should be a requirement to be a part of a group which offers training and resources to the tow operators responding to law enforcement contract tows should be mandatory. I have taken some grief from that as many have felt disconnected from their associations. CTTA has programs and I believe those on at least CHP contract have to go through annual training if I am not mistaken. I'll see if I can get Eric or Quinn in here to comment.

 

@CTTA @WEDOTOWS @rreschran @brian991219 others to be added

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Ron … I can’t speak for CTTA, however, I can speak to California training for tow operator training. I am an authorized CHP safety instructor with my own stand-alone,  two-day, 16-hour, tow operator’s safety course.

 

The two-day course is 8-hours classroom, then 8-hours of hands-on module. I specifically cover causes that get tow operator's killed while driving tow trucks and as pedestrian workers. Tow operators of all classes must go to refresher training every 5-year regardless of class or experience level.

 

In addition, rotation/contract towers now must also attend or complete on-line, the 4-hour TIM course to go along with their background application. All tow operators serving California’s Freeway Service Patrol are mandated under California Vehicle Code sections 2430.5 and 2436.5, to attend 3-days of topic specific training taught by CHP instructors and specific to highway operations like HERO and Rangers. Currently, there are no requirements for non-contracted tow operators who venture onto the highway to respond for calls or services (mechanics, service technicians or tire companies).

 

It’s my opinion that ALL tow truck drivers should be required by state law that they are trained in topic specific highway related response. Because there are no requirements for non-contracted tow operators here, anyone, regardless of time and experience can come onto the highway to tow, service or do vehicle repairs. Although California mandates training for tow operators, it doesn’t necessarily create a solid safety factor in the tower’s mindset noting that … California leads the industry in tow operator fatalities and struck-by incidents both on the highway and off, next in line being Florida and then Texas. Texas has TDLR requiring state mandated tow operator training.    

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Randall C. Resch

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Randall, the states with the highest number of tow operator roadside instances would be an interesting topic of discussion. Death, Injury, reported near miss/close calls. I have California, Texas, Illinois, Florida and Michigan in mind. But, I need to look back through the reports as I have not keep up with the deaths. It's just too much as I myself have more near miss instances than I want to recall. Most of us have them, no one working roadside seem to be immune. Tow Operator just find themselves at the top of the list with more fatalities than any other group working in the danger zones.

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9 hours ago, rreschran said:

Ron … I can’t speak for CTTA, however, I can speak to California training for tow operator training. I am an authorized CHP safety instructor with my own stand-alone,  two-day, 16-hour, tow operator’s safety course.

 

The two-day course is 8-hours classroom, then 8-hours of hands-on module. I specifically cover causes that get tow operator's killed while driving tow trucks and as pedestrian workers. Tow operators of all classes must go to refresher training every 5-year regardless of class or experience level.

 

In addition, rotation/contract towers now must also attend or complete on-line, the 4-hour TIM course to go along with their background application. All tow operators serving California’s Freeway Service Patrol are mandated under California Vehicle Code sections 2430.5 and 2436.5, to attend 3-days of topic specific training taught by CHP instructors and specific to highway operations like HERO and Rangers. Currently, there are no requirements for non-contracted tow operators who venture onto the highway to respond for calls or services (mechanics, service technicians or tire companies).

 

It’s my opinion that ALL tow truck drivers should be required by state law that they are trained in topic specific highway related response. Because there are no requirements for non-contracted tow operators here, anyone, regardless of time and experience can come onto the highway to tow, service or do vehicle repairs. Although California mandates training for tow operators, it doesn’t necessarily create a solid safety factor in the tower’s mindset noting that … California leads the industry in tow operator fatalities and struck-by incidents both on the highway and off, next in line being Florida and then Texas. Texas has TDLR requiring state mandated tow operator training.    

Randy,

 

I don't have a theory yet on why, other than traffic density, are the highest tow operator struck-by incidents in the states that have strict mandates for safety training (TX and CA)? What reasons do you think may be the cause for this phenomenon?

 

I do agree that all service providers that work within the public right-of-way, which includes the highways, back roads and even parking lots open to traffic should have mandatory safety training in all 50 states. This is an area where the FHWA could easily make it happen, they already mandate so much other workplace safety within the right-of-way of all Federally funded roadways.

 

This is the reason why OSHA is not all over roadside injuries, yet, as they have deffered jurisdiction for workplace safety to the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). On a side bar, the FMCSA has almost zero workplace safety regulations in place other than occupant restraint, sleeper berth and exposure to noxious fumes.

 

Perhaps FMCSA could step in if FHWA does not and require a tow truck endorsement, something similar to what New York State already requires. The testing could cover basic roadside safety, there is a new entry level driver training program going into effect in January 2020, it would be easy to add a few curriculum pieces for a tow truck endorsement, they already have minimum requirements for all the other endorsements coming  in January. Make it so that you must have a CDL-C as a minimum to operate any tow truck or carrier, again taking pointers from New York, and make the renewal dependent on continuing education and retesting, similar to the haz-mat endorsement.

 

We, as an industry, want to be recognized as professionals, we need uniform license and training/certification standards nationwide and an almost 100% industry acceptance rate of safe working procedures, otherwise we will always be looked at as second class highway janitors.

 

Another safety side bar, I have always found it ridiculous that the difference between a CDL vehicle and a non-CDL vehicle has nothing to do with the Federal definition of a commercial vehicle, which is any vehicle with a gross weight rating greater than 10,000 pounds in interstate commerce, yet a "commercial vehicle" for CDL purposes is at 26,001 pounds or greater. Why not require a CDL-C for any commercial vehicle, it will eliminate many of the piss poor drivers that are driving non-CDL trucks because they can't get or keep a CDL.

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Hey Brian ... is it possible that California, Texas and Florida tow operators are NOT being adequately trained by the companies where they work? I'll pose this question for all tow companies, "When a new driver is hired, do hiring owners, managers, supervisors, or HR representatives, provide a "reality based" orientation as just how dangerous this industry is? Or ... do they not mention the dangers hoping to not lose the possibility of new hire? In every CHP tow operator safety classes I teach, I include a one-hour module on the dangers of roadside response, not to scare drivers away, but to tell them how they can be smarter in a defensive manner. I firmly believe that towers who get killed working shoulder events are NOT fully trained to those dangers ... including the most recent California tow operator who was killed reportedly working his second day on the job. I have no data to support that theory, yet have hundreds of (archived) tow operator fatalities that suggest their exists a whole lot of "experience" versus that of the new tower on the job. How can a company, in their right mind, send a novice worker into the lion's den?    R. 

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Randall C. Resch

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