Safety audits are a part of the transportation business. Because our cargo consists of humans, there are many organizations that want and need to evaluate us. This includes making sure you are operating safely, adhering to laws and taking steps to protect your employees and passengers from injury or death. Audits are performed by agencies such as the highway patrol, state and federal DOT officials, Public Utilities Commissions and of course, your insurance carrier.
With the attitude that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, you will be well on your way to receiving good marks during an audit. That is the premise you should constantly have on your mind when forming policies and procedures.
The biggest part of the examination is looking at documents; lots of documents.
Not having the documents is a critical mistake. You cannot simply give the examiner a verbal answer. You must be able to prove what you are saying is fact. For instance, you cannot say that your chauffeurs/drivers perform a pre-trip inspection every time they take possession of a vehicle for a shift.
You must show the inspector complete sheets showing the vehicle ID, the date and location the inspection took place, and what was inspected. The driver must sign a document stating the vehicle is road worthy and passenger worthy. When asked how often the vehicles go between oil changes, you can’t say you change the oil every 3,000 miles without receipts showing the date the service was performed, by whom and the mileage of the vehicle at the time. The examiner may look at five receipts or 50 of them.
Ignorance Is No Excuse
When you run a transportation business carrying hundreds or even thousands of people a year, you better know the law! You must know laws governing the hours of service a driver may legally work, both on the clock and behind the wheel. You need to know how to comply with drug and alcohol testing, supervisor training and even how to notate the results when they return. Having them in a locked filing cabinet is an absolute must. If your CDL drivers cross a state line or travel more than 100 air-miles from your base, they must have a log book and you must have copies of the log book entries filed with the trip and include fuel receipts for the trip. This is presumably a comparison of miles traveled in a day to fuel purchases. It is vital to know this information as there is no leniency for being ignorant. You can be cited or even shut down until corrections are made. Not knowing can be an expensive lesson.
Obviously with so much data to review, the examiner will appreciate you quickly presenting him with the information from the time he requests it. Do not offer anything more than exactly what is asked for. Do not volunteer information. Answer questions directly and briefly. When asked to provide all trip tickets for a single vehicle in the past two months, you should have them readily available. Not being able to produce trip tickets right away might imply you are disorganized and cause further and deeper probing into your operations. Be efficient. If you absolutely need some time, ask the examiner to move on to the next area of the evaluation while you obtain the data.