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Inside Schneider's diesel technician safety training and work environment

Sparks fly as a Schneider diesel technician performs a repair on a company trailer

At Schneider, our number one core value is Safety First and Always. It is a key focus area in our shops, as we want to ensure the safety of our truck drivers, the motoring public and our diesel technician shop associates.

One area of emphasis for our shops is the importance that we put on safety training for all of our shop associates. All new diesel technicians are required to complete a series of nine electronic training modules during their first week of employment. They are also required to participate in On-the-Job (OJT) Safety training with their leader or mentor covering a variety of topics, including:

  • tire removal and installation procedures.
  • forklift driving evaluations.
  • emergency evacuation procedures.
  • proper equipment operation.

Additionally, all associates receive refresher training on safety topics each month from their leaders during shift meetings. The purpose of the training is to continue to educate associates on safe work practices.

At Schneider, our diesel technician training program is a central function that combines both technical and safety training. I believe that this approach allows us to leverage our resources and streamline the development, delivery and tracking of training for all associates.

Safety beyond training — how we live it in our work environment

We don’t stop with training. Safety is an everyday focus in our shops. All associates are required to wear safety boots and safety glasses at all times when in a work area. Schneider also provides various other types of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to provide an extra margin of safety to minimize the risk of injury based on the type of work being done. This equipment includes but is not limited to:

  • gloves.
  • hearing protection.
  • knee pads.
  • face shields.
  • welding PPE.

In addition, all shops perform safety inspections on a weekly basis, and sometimes more often. The checklists are designed as an Occupational-Safety-and-Health-Administration (OSHA)-type inspection that include adherence to critical safety behaviors and compliance with regulatory requirements for facility related items. As an incentive, we have developed a Safety Recognition program where associates are rewarded each year based on the numeric score of their accumulated inspection checklists.

Shop safety benefits drivers

The work we do positively impacts our drivers. Our diesel technicians perform the equivalent of an Annual Vehicle Inspection (AVI) every 25,000 miles on our tractors. This equates to about four AVIs each year instead of the minimum Department of Transportation (DOT) requirement of one. Trailers are inspected every 6-12 months so they do not exceed the AVI requirement.

In addition to the safety inspections performed on the equipment, the preventative maintenance (pm) process includes lubing of components, filter replacements, adjustments, oil changes and replacement of components that are not likely to last until the next pm is scheduled. This helps us ensure that our equipment is well maintained to minimize breakdowns, as well as to protect our drivers and the motoring public from maintenance-related accidents.

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About the author
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Jim received a Diesel and Heavy Equipment Mechanics degree from Western Wisconsin Technical Institute in La Crosse, Wis., and a bachelor’s degree from the University of Wisconsin Stout. He started his career with Schneider 36 years ago as a mechanic. In his career with Schneider he has lived in Green Bay, Wis., Joliet, Ill., Charlotte, N.C. and Atlanta, Ga. His career path has taken him from a mechanic, to a lead mechanic, then to a shop floor leader, a shop supervisor to his current role as the safety and training manager for maintenance operations.

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