Try a holistic approach to managing risk at a motor carrier

Truck driver talking on CB radio while on the road.

Taking a holistic approach to safety focuses on three key elements of a motor carrier’s operations: technology, people, and organization. When each of these elements is addressed in a company’s risk management strategy, the result can be the creation of a strong culture. This culture can design safety into its processes and procedures, identify and correct unsafe conditions before an incident occurs, and in the event an incident does occur, respond and investigate to prevent reoccurrences.

Holistic safety involves looking at the company as a whole, where all employees are working together toward a common goal to prevent losses. Keep in mind, the two ways to prevent a loss are by eliminating or avoiding the hazard altogether (i.e., fixing a leaky faucet to eliminate a slipping hazard) or replacing something hazardous with something that is not hazardous, like replacing a solvent-based paint with a water-based paint to eliminate harmful fumes and flammable vapors. If eliminating or substituting a hazard is not feasible, consider the following controls in your holistic approach.

Utilizing technology may help reduce the risk of an incident. Engineering controls often refer to various equipment, tools, and machinery that are designed to protect workers. Machine guards on a drill press and fender-mounted mirrors on the tractor are examples of engineering controls. In addition, an electronic logging device can help track hours of service, while onboard event data recorders can be used to monitor a driver’s performance. Both pieces of technology give managers valuable data.


Incident reports from one study concluded that 80% to 90% of “serious injuries and accidents have been attributed to human error.”1 Based on this statistic, motor carriers should be proactive in educating employees about any hazards related to their jobs. Consider conducting regularly scheduled safety meetings, on-the-job training, and daily safety communications involving the dispatchers (e.g., phone calls, emails, etc.).


Organization refers to how the company operates. The leadership team’s responsibility is to define the company’s mission, vision, and values. Considerations may include how the company views safety, how safety performance will be measured, and how employees will be held accountable. Additionally, the leadership team can contribute to the company’s holistic approach to safety by establishing administrative controls and providing support to safety initiatives.


  • Monitor SMS on a regular basis to identify negative trends.

  • Install fender-mounted mirrors on all tractors.

  • Conduct regular safety training with employees.

  • Perform road tests on all driver applicants as part of the company’s selection process.


The information in this article is provided as a courtesy of Great West Casualty Company and is part of the Value-Driven® Company program. Value-Driven Company was created to help educate and inform insureds so they can make better decisions, build a culture that values safety, and manage risk more effectively. To see what additional resources Great West Casualty Company can provide for its insureds, please contact your safety representative, or click below to find an agent.

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© Great West Casualty Company 2022. The material in this publication is the property of Great West Casualty Company unless otherwise noted and may not be reproduced without its written consent by any person other than a current insured of Great West Casualty Company for business purposes. Insured should attribute use as follows: “© Great West Casualty Company 2022. Used with permission by Great West Casualty Company.”

This material is intended to be a broad overview of the subject matter and is provided for informational purposes only. Great West Casualty Company does not provide legal advice to its insureds, nor does it advise insureds on employment-related issues. Therefore, the subject matter is not intended to serve as legal or employment advice for any issue(s) that may arise in the operations of its insureds. Legal advice should always be sought from the insured’s legal counsel. Great West Casualty Company shall have neither liability nor responsibility to any person or entity with respect to any loss, action, or inaction alleged to be caused directly or indirectly as a result of the information contained herein.