Any way you look at it, Hanson is a huge company supplying aggregate, including crushed rock, sand, gravel, crusher dust and road base along with an extensive range of premixed concrete and precast concrete products to some of the biggest projects across Australia.
It operates a huge fleet of trucks and hires a long list of subcontractors to service the customer base that varies from the home handyman to the country’s largest construction firms. As well as tippers and concrete agitators, Hansom operates cement tankers, a train and a host of heavy machinery making it one of the largest fleet operators in the country.
It has locations in all states and facilities include quarries and concrete batching plants, precast concrete factories and landfill services. Hence it is no surprise that it also has a well-orchestrated logistics arm that organises all product movement.
As a responsible company, Hanson and the logistics specialists behind it are acutely aware of safety requirements across all sectors of operations and take significant steps to ensure safety aims are extended to the general public. Everybody in the road transport industry knows all too well that public perception of trucks and all types of heavy machinery is not as good as it could be, and Hanson is actively involved in furthering public awareness and education to dramatically improve that situation.
For instance, the company has a ‘zero harm’ goal and to complement it, developed a safety culture through on-going safety projects, with training at the top of the priority list. But, Hanson takes it one step further than that – by engaging the community through a number of initiatives it actively informs the public about its business.
One of those initiatives is to talk to residents, virtually knocking on doors. At Wolfdene, south of Brisbane, the company operates a quarry and those using local roads, and living along routes to and from the site, were surveyed to identify concerns. Not surprisingly truck operation was top of the list according to Wolfdene Quarry Community Engagement Officer, Sarah Morgan.
“People in the district most commented on sharing the road with trucks, not just Hanson trucks but those operated from other quarries and from other transport businesses,” she explains. “Their concerns made us take a look at what could be done to educate people about sharing the roads with trucks, exactly what truck drivers do and demonstrate the company’s safety initiatives that have been developed to benefit all road users.
“We constantly strive to promote careers within the Hanson company and have excellent relationships with local schools, so it seemed natural to further promote road safety and present a special workshop at the local Rivermount College, helping raise awareness and educate current and prospective local young drivers about trucks and cars safely coexisting on our roads.”
Approximately 80 year 11 and 12 Rivermount College students took part in the interactive presentation and workshop held at the school and facilitated by Wolffdene Quarry Manager Reno Fabretto, South East Transport Manager Hayden Post and South East Queensland driver trainer Allan Bennett. The forward-thinking presentation focused on educating the students and future P-platers about safely driving around trucks and giving the students a practical insight into how trucks operate.
Reno Fabretto says the local team came up with the idea for the presentation after considering the resident survey and seeing a number of near misses on roads surrounding the quarry. “As part of our community focus, we realised we needed to widen our scope and spread the safety message with young adults to ensure our local roads are safe,” Reno says. “The presentation went really well and we hope to roll this out every year and branch out and include other surrounding schools.
“We were a little nervous going into the presentation as it has been a long time since any of us have been back in a school room. The students were so taken by what we had to say, particularly with Allan’s first-hand experiences as a young lad and life on the road,” he says.
“When Allan and Hayden were talking about the near misses and how quickly making a wrong decision can be fatal, you could hear a pin drop. We had 80 pairs of ears and eyes directed at us really taking in what we had to say,” he adds.
“We had so many students come up to us afterwards and ask questions about what quarries do, why we need quarries, how to become a truck driver and questions about the trucks we operate. It was a great way to interact with the next generation and also break down barriers about quarries and truck drivers and their role in the community.”
The workshop looked at what it takes to drive trucks; break down myths about trucks and truck drivers; show the ins and outs of a truck including blind spots and visibility on the road; and most importantly, discuss the key issues when driving around trucks such as overtaking, braking and tailgating.
Prior to the presentation, Hayden, Allan and Reno set up a tipper and dog combination in the school car park and a sedan vehicle was included to demonstrate blind spots and visibility from within the cab while on the road. Each student accessed the truck cabin and was shown how vehicle positioning affected visibility and each was given information on truck operation and what is involved in safe heavy vehicle operation and what it takes to be a professional truck driver.
The local newspaper reported the presentation and took photos with students and Reno looking over the truck. The story also ran in the school newsletter and the workshop notes will be uploaded on to the school’s intranet allowing parents and the wider community to share in all facets of the presentation.
“As part of our presentation, we provided some real life stories about life on the roads,” Reno adds. “While there were plenty of laughs as we engaged the students there were some serious moments where we provided the young drivers with some safety tips and hints, particularly learners to prepare them for when they eventually get behind the wheel. The whole process was about education and working together.”
Rivermount College Principal Richard Young congratulated Wolffdene Quarry for taking this forward-thinking step. “Staff and students at Rivermount College were eagerly looking forward to this presentation and we look forward to seeing the Hanson team again next year,” he says.
After all, Wolffdene Quarry and Rivermount College have a long history working together outside the classroom. Wolffdene Quarry provided materials for construction of the school and continues to work closely with it in by conducting school tours, science studies and job traineeship programs on site.
While the school students gained an excellent insight into safety and sharing the roads with trucks, Sarah reports comments are already filtering back about those tips being passed onto parents.
“From the outset we hoped the information gained by the students would be passed onto parents through comments made on the way to the school, and we have been advised this is in fact happening,” Sarah advises. “The young people involved have obviously learned some valuable driving tips and are keen to share them. This will undoubtedly be of immense value to them and those around them and we hope this will contribute to safer driving on the roads.”
Across the trucking industry companies concerned have conducted many similar programs over the years to promote safety and train our youth for the future. The Hanson Wolfdene Quarry staff recognised a need in its local area and acted in a very practical way to spread the safety message, not only to school students, but to the broader community.
Following the success of the exercise there are plans to extend the practical road safety workshops to other schools, not only in the local area but further afield. On September 12 this year another will be conducted at Ormeau State School, again taking the Hanson safety message to the community.