Accident Prevention & Scene Handling

In this video, we’re going to review a few accident prevention tips while also reviewing our accident scene procedures, should an issue ever arise.

Proper Load Security:

One of the most common accidents that can occur in our industry comes from loads that are not properly secure. When transporting equipment, it’s vital that you check (and recheck) all equipment on your vehicle to ensure it’s properly secure. This includes restrooms, sinks, dollies, chemical bottles, buckets, scrub brushes, paper products, and any trash or debris that’s made its way onto your truck or trailer throughout the day.

Remember, restrooms and sinks can often shift and become loose during transport. To ensure they’re secured safely, it’s important that you always secure them with 2 straps. ​This redundancy will serve as extra protection to you and to those around you, should a strap fail. The only time you may use one strap is when units are loaded on a truck bed with the liftgate closed. In this scenario, the liftgate will serve as your redundant backup strap. When securing your straps, be sure that they’re tight enough to hold the units in place, but not so tight that they damage them. Inspect and re-secure all straps at the beginning of your day during your pre-trip and before leaving each stop.

Proper Backing Techniques

Let’s be honest, backing up a vehicle isn’t always easy, especially when it’s large or it’s hauling an oversized trailer. According to the National Safety Council, one out of four vehicle accidents today can be blamed on poor backing techniques. The good news is that accidents involving backing are almost always preventable when you as the driver are properly trained on the correct and safest ways to do it.

Plan Ahead:

  • One of the first steps to backing up a large vehicle is to always start by planning ahead. This includes finding a place to park your vehicle that requires minimal backing to begin with. The less ground you cover in reverse, the less chance you have of striking an object. ​

Know Your Surroundings

  • When shifting to reverse, always check your surroundings. Look for obstacles such as overhead power lines, light poles, and awnings. Are there any potholes, curbs, or pavement obstacles in your path? Have you checked for pedestrians that could potentially walk in your path of travel? Will ice, snow, fog, or glares restrict your vision?
  • Remember, the only surefire way to know of all potential obstacles is to get out of your vehicle and walk the path of travel looking for depressions, obstacles, soft ground or pavement.

Use Your Mirrors:

  • After you’ve walked around your vehicle and made note of any potential obstacles, head back into your truck and look for those obstacles in your mirrors. As you begin to back up, it’s important to get visuals on all angles of your truck. Move slowly, scanning your mirrors frequently to help you maintain full control of the vehicle and judge distances correctly.

Using a spotter:

  • When available, it can be very helpful to use someone as a spotter. If using a spotter, be sure to agree on any hand signals prior to backing. Make sure your spotter can always be seen in your rearview mirror. If you lose sight of your spotter, stop moving until you regain your line of sight. If a spotter is not available, you can signal your intentions to other drivers by tapping the horn and using your 4-way flashers.​ Make eye contact to ensure recognition of your presence by both you and other drivers or pedestrians.

Following Distance Policy

Rear end collisions are often the most severe and costly vehicle accidents that we encounter. Following distance policies have been established to reduce both the frequency and the severity of rear-end collisions. Our following distance policy states that all drivers must allow five to seven seconds of clear between their vehicle and the vehicle in front of them. This “cushion of safety” is crucial in assuming that our drivers have ample time to stop their vehicle or take evasive action in an emergency situation.

To determine if there is ample space between you and the car in front of you, look for a fixed object along the roadway. When the vehicle in front of you passes that fixed object, begin to count; one Mississippi, two Mississippi….and so on. Stop counting when you pass that same object. Whatever number you reached is the following distance between you and the vehicle in front of you.

Check Your Blind Spots

One-third of all accidents between large trucks and other vehicles occur in the blind spots. As previously mentioned, your mirrors can’t see everything. Adjust your mirrors when you start your day and continue monitoring them throughout the day to best suit your needs. Be sure to check your blind spots regularly, especially before changing lanes and turning. For this, it’s best to use the look and lean method to check your blind spots. Keep an eye out for tailgaters and try to keep an open area around your truck whenever possible.


Accident or Incident Scene Handling


Reporting an Accident

Should you ever be involved in an accident during your employment here at Service Sanitation, it’s important to familiarize yourself with our accident scene handling procedures. This process begins with reporting the accident as soon as it happens.

First, contact 911 if there is an emergency or 311 for non-emergency accidents and then contact dispatch. Contacting the authorities is especially important if another vehicle is involved as we MUST have a police report for insurance reasons. If no one is hurt or damage is minimal, a 911 dispatcher may encourage you to go to a police station to obtain a police report. If this is a non-emergency accident that does not require emergency medical services or involve another vehicle you will only need to contact dispatch and inform them of the situation.


Complete the accident/ incident form

Once dispatch is made aware of the incident, they’ll advise you to complete an accident and/or injury report while on site. This should always be completed on site while the information of the accident is still fresh in your mind. Copies of those documents can be found inside your clipboard, assuming you verified they were there in the morning as part of your pre-trip inspection. If you’re missing them, please notify your manager and they will direct you to the location where they are found.

When completing an accident form, it’s vital that you complete the form in its entirety. Each section of this document is crucial when we need to contact insurance or the other parties involved in the accident. NEVER skip any blanks!

If the accident you’re reporting happened outside of a Service Sanitation property, remember to not only turn in the completed accident or incident form, but also a copy of the police report at the end of the day. Failing to do so could lead to disciplinary action.


Accident/ Incident Scene Photos

Along with competing an accident/incident form in its entirety, we also require photos from the accident from various angles. Suggested photographs include pictures of damage to the other person’s vehicle, to your vehicle, property, and any obstacles which may have contributed to the accident. Include photos of roadways, street markers, traffic signals, signs, lane markers, road marks, skid marks, tire tracks, or property damage. The more pictures the better.

For accidents where there are vehicles involved or there is damage to property, it’s important that you take…

  • At least 4 photos of your own truck from various angles of the vehicle, ensuring your truck number and/or license plates are visible. Do the same for trailer tags/plates if your trailer was involved in the accident.
  • You’ll also need to take at least 4 photos of the other vehicles damage from various angles as well as all 4 sides of that vehicle. Take pictures of their license plate and trailer tags.
  • You’ll also need at least 4 close-up photos of the damage from various angles. If there is damaged property such as ruts in the grass or similar, take multiple angles to show the depth or extent of the damage to the area.
  • Lastly, we encourage you to take pictures of the drivers or passengers involved. Include them in other pictures if possible, without being too intrusive. It’s also wise to take photos of the license plates of the vehicles belonging to persons who claim to be witnesses. Take as many as possible as this will help show how or why the accident happened.

Once you’ve taken photos, contact dispatch or your manager and ask them where your pictures will need to be sent. Remember, these photos, your accident/incident report, and police report (if one was given) must all be turned in by the end of shift.

Proper records of any, and all accidents, incidents, or injuries are required on both state and federal levels. All employees are responsible for immediate reporting ALL accidents, incidents, and/or personal injury. Anyone found in violation will fall under Work Rules Section 1. Safety Violations: c. Failure to report all accidents and incidents (including personal injury) immediately. Failure to do so will lead to disciplinary action.