Establishing and Reinforcing Safe Behavior

Dec 10, 2015

Thomas J. Harris, Vice President, Safety & Human Resources for First Transit

 Reprinted from Mass Transit Magazine

Safety is a core value of First Transit. It is at the center of everything we do. We start every employee meeting with a safety message. So, how do we instill and reinforce safety so that it permeates throughout an entire organization?

First Transit believes that safety is not only found in a set of policies and procedures.

We believe that safety is a living, breathing attribute that begins the minute a potential employee applies for a job within our organization.

Our safety program starts with each employee going through a rigorous review during the hiring process, including:

  • Pre-employment drug and alcohol testing
  • Stringent background and record checks
  • Physical performance evaluations
  • Comprehensive customer service training 

Throughout employment, safety is reinforced through training proper thought processes and behaviors, preparing for specific scenarios, and knowing how to respond in ways that improve passenger and operator safety.

This is done through: 

  • The Smith System Defensive Driver Training program, which is completed as part of new driver training, as well as refreshers conducted throughout the year
  • Extensive ongoing driver training, including in-classroom and behind-the-wheel training

Supporting each other and being accountable for our performance are also core values of First Transit, and are reflected in our safety program. We encourage all employees to identify and help change any behaviors or thought processes they observe that could in any way compromise safety. 

We strive to build a culture that is focused on rewarding improvements in both individual and team performance, which is why we have employee-focused programs, including:

  • Rewarding improvements in both individual and team performance
  • Encouraging group safety awareness activities
  • Recognizing and rewarding personal safety longevity

Our First to Zero Initiative, which means we strive to achieve zero collisions, is yet another example of our ongoing focus on safety. These company-wide safety and injury prevention programs are designed to encourage employees to keep safety front of mind and bring attention to anything that could challenge our safety standards.

As we work to achieve our vision of keeping people moving and communities prospering, we do so fully dedicated to safety. It is among the many areas in which we hold ourselves accountable for setting the highest standards.