Tips on creating a safe and efficient delivery service

Added December 20, 2023

Delivery drivers are the unsung heroes of the horticultural industry, ensuring the timely and safe delivery of your valuable plant and flower orders. However, this indispensable role carries inherent risks as your drivers navigate through traffic, various weather conditions, and challenging road situations.

In 2020, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported 887 fatalities among delivery and truck drivers, highlighting the significant safety challenges they encounter on the road.

A safety-conscious approach can make a significant difference in creating a positive and secure work environment for your delivery operation. We've outlined some key strategies to help you implement robust safety measures and prioritize the well-being of your valuable delivery team.

Reassess your current delivery service

Begin by conducting a thorough safety assessment to identify potential hazards and gain firsthand insights into the specific challenges your drivers face. By understanding the unique risks they encounter, you can tailor safety improvements to address their specific needs.

Consider these questions as part of your safety assessment:

  • Where do most of your orders come from?

  • How far will your drivers have to travel and at what times?

  • Do you have the necessary tools to safeguard deliveries and help ensure their safe arrival?

  • What kind of insurance coverage do you need for your drivers, vehicles, and products?

“As important as workplace safety programs are, not all retailers have a fleet safety program in place for delivery drivers,” notes Zach Bruce, Hortica's Safety Services Manager.

“Garden centers and nurseries should have a handle on where they need improvements, such as where injuries or accidents have occurred, and then focus on those areas with a methodical approach.”

Ensure vehicle and driver safety

Once you've analyzed the results of your delivery program's safety assessment, it's time to focus on an essential element of any delivery service—vehicle safety.

Driving jobs are among the riskiest occupations, so it's crucial to establish a program that helps reduce these risks. If you're not sure where to start, use these key elements as a guide:

  • Delivery area optimization: Reduce driving risks and improve efficiency by cutting down on zones with lower order volumes.

  • No-contact delivery: While the initial surge in demand has subsided, many customers still prefer no-contact delivery for convenience and safety. Continuing this option and offering online payments can minimize risk exposures.

  • Driver selection: When hiring drivers, consider factors like driving tests, accident records, reference checks, and interviews. Consult your legal and human resources professionals about how to properly conduct such background checks.

  • Safety training: Provide comprehensive safety training for your drivers, including defensive driving techniques, handling hazardous materials (if applicable), and dealing with adverse weather conditions.

  • Regular vehicle inspections: Conduct regular vehicle inspections and maintenance to help prevent breakdowns and accidents. This also extends the lifespan of your fleet.

  • Emergency response plan: Develop a detailed emergency response plan for drivers to follow in case of accidents, breakdowns, or other critical situations. This promotes quick and effective reactions to unexpected events.

Elevate safety and efficiency through policy updates

You can foster a safety-first culture by consistently checking and updating your safety protocols. A robust safety program connected to your business's policies and procedures can also contribute to reducing insurance costs through injury and claims mitigation and help enhance productivity and employee morale.

When reviewing your policies and procedures, consider the following inclusions:

  • Safety reviews: At a minimum, schedule monthly safety reviews with employees at all levels. Keep safety protocols and communication at the forefront, ensuring everyone is well-versed in the latest procedures.

  • Delivery driver policy: Establish a delivery driver safety policy and reporting system that clearly outlines the steps dispatchers, planners and drivers should take to maintain safety. Include rules for driving, how to handle emergencies, and what to do if there's an accident.

  • Regular driver record checks: Consistently review your drivers' motor vehicle records (MVRs) to promptly identify any violations or concerns. Make sure to consult your legal and human resources professionals about how to properly conduct these MVR checks.

  • Drug-free workplace enforcement: Uphold a stringent policy against drug and alcohol use while on the job, reinforcing a commitment to a safe working environment.

  • Effective annual reviews: Leverage insights from annual reviews to make well-informed decisions about rehiring temporary drivers, potentially optimizing your workforce for safety.

Technology as a safety partner

To further enhance safety and efficiency in your delivery program, embrace technology as a valuable tool. It's not a replacement for comprehensive safety policies and training programs, but it can be a game-changer for keeping your delivery drivers safe and operations running smoothly.

  • Route optimization: When you optimize routes so your drivers are taking the most efficient path, you can cut the amount of time spent on the road, and thus the risk of crashes. You can also use route optimization to avoid congested areas and dangerous roads.

  • Driver assistance systems: Invest in driver assistance technologies such as collision avoidance systems, lane departure warnings, and fatigue monitoring. These systems act as an additional layer of safety, reducing the risk of accidents caused by human error.

  • Dash cams: Equip your vehicles with dash cams to capture on-road incidents. Dash cams record driving events, providing valuable evidence in case of accidents or incidents. It can help promote accountability among drivers and encourage adherence to safety guidelines.

  • Real-time monitoring: GPS tracking devices provide real-time updates on driver locations, allowing you to monitor routes, assess driving patterns, and proactively identify potential risks.

Securing your delivery success

Acknowledging the vital role of your delivery drivers helps support a positive work environment and establish the foundation for a secure and efficient delivery operation. As you prioritize ongoing training and safety measures, it's equally crucial to safeguard your delivery operations with appropriate insurance coverage—it can help keep your plant and floral deliveries rolling smoothly while keeping your team and business thriving.

If you have questions or would like help integrating safety into your delivery operations, don't hesitate to contact us. We can develop a program to meet your business's specific loss control or safety training needs.

Related links:

Cultivate defensive driving habits among your team. Explore these eight key strategies to help you protect your drivers and your business's financial health.

Does your horticultural business prioritize workplace safety? Dive into vital reasons why a robust safety program can be a game-changer for your operations.

Still have reservations on what type of insurance to choose for your horticultural business? We debunk the top five business insurance misconceptions.

Industrial shelves of plants packed in a delivery truck

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