Northeast Iowa Division holds first ever Driver Safety Rodeo
Published: Jun 28, 2023
Driving is one of the most significant risks that the majority of Nutrien employees face each day, according to Filemon Guzman, Senior Manager of Safety, Health, and Environment (SH&E) for the Cornbelt Region.
“You can never be safe enough. We can’t control everything that happens on the road, but what we can control is giving our drivers the best training we can so that they feel safe behind the wheel and confident to share the road with their neighbors,” says Filemon.
As part of this dedication to road safety, Nutrien’s SH&E teams, in collaboration with the Nutrien Department of Transportation (DOT) Team and the Northeast Iowa Division, organized a two-day event in Peosta, Iowa to educate drivers on the importance of safety measures and to provide them with the necessary tools and resources to promote a safe work environment: the Driver Safety Rodeo. The goal was to create a training experience that was challenging, informative, and engaging, thus, the Driver Safety Rodeo was born.
Over the course of two days, 120 drivers participated in the unique take on driver training by working in teams to tackle different tasks, such as pulling up to a loading station or parallel parking, with the goal to get more points than the other teams for safely and effectively operating machinery in the safest and most precise way.
To make sure facilities weren’t left without drivers, the participants were split into two large groups to attend an assigned full day of training. On their day of training, drivers participated in a driver skills course consisting of three distinct stations designed to demonstrate their ability to follow driver safety skills.
“The Driver Safety Rodeo was a creative take on traditional driver training. We wanted to do this training before busy season as a reminder that despite feeling the pressure to get going as fast as we can to get out in the field, we need to take the time to make sure we’re being safe on the road for the sake of our drivers, our customers, and our community,” says Peter Allen, Northeast Iowa Division Manager.
Walking through the day’s events
The first station in the skills course involved hauling processes which included demonstrating how to strap down loads. Hauling is a key part of the job of a driver and it’s important they understand proper safety practices for securing properly. As part of the Nutrien Way, we want to be first in safety, which is why the Nutrien protocols are more extensive and exceed the requirements of the standard legal protocol.
The second station tested each driver’s ability to meet and exceed inspection requirements before their vehicles leave the facility. Each vehicle must be thoroughly inspected before heading out to be sure that these are safe vehicles on the road. The drivers were given 10 minutes to set up their vehicles and go through the entire inspection process. Under normal working circumstances, drivers have much more time to thoroughly inspect their vehicles, but the 10-minute time cap created more pressure for the competition. Drivers were awarded extra credit for finding additional inspection items that were not part of the original 13 item inspection checklist.
The final station was focused on parking – which Filemon says was particularly challenging because the drivers had to park in very tight areas which also challenged them for depth perception. The drivers were required to demonstrate their abilities to back up and parallel park a large truck, which is not something they have to do regularly in the course of their day-to-day work. Not only were drivers scored on how close they could park next to the curb without hitting it, they were also scored by how long it took to finish parking.
“Our families and other people's families share the road with Nutrien vehicles every day. While we want to have fun here, we also want to look at where we have opportunities to be even that much better. When people see a Nutrien vehicle on the road they know that the driver is doing everything they can to make sure the equipment we're hauling is as safe as possible before we leave the facility,” says Filemon.
After completing the skills course, the drivers moved into the classroom for a training session that focused on specific safety measures that employees could take to mitigate safety hazards. The training included topics, such as the Department of Transportation’s regulations for hauling hazardous materials and handling accidents.
At the end of the day, the drivers were walked through a final breakdown, not only to discuss performance and award prizes, but also to review opportunities to improve based on the results at each station. The end-of-day debrief helped fuel the competition and provided lessons on improving overall job safety.
While the main objective of the Driver Safety Rodeo was to train our drivers how to operate vehicles safely, the event also perfectly exemplified Nutrien’s Culture of Care.
The teams behind the training hope to continue the driver safety rodeo program and make it an ongoing part of Nutrien’s safety training curriculum.