All roads lead to safety
- CEMEX Philippines’ Ligtas 24 Oras is more than just a manifesto, it is a way of life
Can a truck and its driver set an example for road safety? One company believes it can.
According to the Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA), there have already been 1,512 recorded vehicular accidents involving heavy equipment during the first quarter of 2013 alone. In addition, there have also been around 15,500 road accidents in Metro Manila from 2010 to 2012, which involved pedestrians.
The numbers don’t lie. When you’re a mammoth heavyweight roaming the streets, everyone below you is in danger. For this reason, safety measures must be put in place— most especially for trucks. One company is a few steps ahead with its own Road Safety Program, holding itself accountable for its more than 500 trucks that roam nationwide.
“It’s everybody’s right to live. We want them (employees, drivers, contractors, helpers) to go home everyday to their families,” says Mike Teotico, Logistics Director for cement manufacturer CEMEX Philippines, and one of the leaders who planted and watered the seed of road safety in CEMEX’s plants.
“In Logistics, we have been very successful in integrating both operational efficiency and safety— one of which cannot exist without the other,” Erwin Dearos, CEMEX's Transport and Operations Manager, calmly puts in perspective how safety fits in CEMEX’s Solid Plant in Antipolo and APO Plant in Cebu.
Championing the battle cry of “Ligtas 24 Oras,” various bits and pieces hold CEMEX’s Road Safety Program securely together— from painstaking 360-degree inspections and the latest safety gear in trucks, to community engagement for safety awareness.
Pinning down change
Having big trucks traverse the roads graciously was nowhere near easy. When CEMEX recorded 12 fatalities involving its trucks on the road in 2007, a collective change has been triggered in the company’s safety policy. “That was the time we thought, enough is enough.” recalls Teotico.
They then began creating the early blueprints for what would be the Road Safety Program, starting with compliance. “The first stage was really more on adhering to regulatory requirements and complying with our local standards,” says Edmundo Trazo, CEMEX’s Environmental Health and Safety Corporate Manager. He completes the trifecta of the safety pillars at CEMEX.
Teotico expounds further, “First it was the anti-overloading, next we did our contractor management program. This includes a more enhanced driver certification, defensive driving, and medical exams. Then we had to improve the trucks. There were roadworthiness checks, and then we had the 360-inspection program. We have the drug testing and the alcohol tests with the use of the Breathalyzer,” Teotico adds.
In 2009, CEMEX took one big step in their quest for zero fatalities by installing Global Positioning System (GPS) in their trucks to fully monitor truck and driver activities, particularly potential dangers such as speeding and sudden brakes.
Arguably the most valuable piece in the Road Safety Program is contractor management. It’s common practice in the country to hire third party contractors or haulers to provide trucks and vehicles for the delivery and transportation requirements of a company. This makes it much harder to set in place safety standards that encompass those third party contractors.
“We would really partner with contractors who can commit to our health and safety objectives. It’s important that the contractors understand that it’s not only to comply, it’s for them to live it, for it to be a part of their work,” Trazo explains. Every truck that comes in and out of the plant are subjected to a 360-inspection where everything from brakes, wipers, and tire thickness would be inspected to make sure that it is in top shape for its next trip.
The hard work did not go unrecognized. The Safety Organization of the Philippines, Inc. (SOPI) awarded CEMEX last week the Most Outstanding Road Safety Program for 2012, highlighting their contractor management that has already been cascaded to around 50 countries that comprise CEMEX's footprint worldwide. In the CEMEX global organization, the Philippine team was likewise lauded in its 2012 Global Health and Safety Awards for its best practices, besting CEMEX operations from the Americas and Europe.
The journey continues
While CEMEX is reaping the rewards of its hard work now, years after they began, the work doesn’t stop here.
“I think safety is top priority. We’ll sacrifice our profits or production just to stop work because it is unsafe. The awareness is something that we want to change and also the way of life and culture,” Teotico expresses his hope for their program.
Trazo breaks out of contemplation and speaks with as much determination, “The system is in place. What we are addressing now is the behavioral issues of drivers. We’re trying to change the culture, so it’s not an overnight thing.”
Amid the hustle and bustle of maintaining and enhancing the system, giving back is never set aside.
CEMEX incessantly engages drivers through safety seminars. They partnered with Honda to impart safety measures to motorcycle drivers, who, along with children, are at greater risk for accidents involving trucks. The 2K2S or “Kayang-Kaya kung Sama-Sama” Road Safety Program helps in informing the community members, young and old alike, on the importance of a safety culture in Rizal. Various road safety fora and immersion activities are likewise regularly conducted in the City of Naga, Cebu where the APO plant is situated.
Fortunately, the Road Safety Program seems to have found its bearings and legitimacy, gradually decreasing fatalities to two in 2010, and finally achieving zero fatalities by 2011 up to the present. “It’s a never-ending journey. We will continue to strive to be safe. We have to change the way people think. We are here to save lives, not to do some lip service or to just be compliant,” Teotico speaks with conviction and trust in what they are doing.
In contrast, Dearos speaks softly but with just as much firmness in his tone, “CEMEX safety is sincere. Everything we do is anchored to a simple truth: that each and every one wants to go home to their families. It’s that sincere and it’s that simple. It is something very personal to us.”
With much hard work, sufficient time, and boundless perseverance, Teotico, Trazo, Dearos, and the rest of the CEMEX community have achieved the positive change they desired. "Hopefully, with a little more time, a little more persistence, and a little more push, the change that is now rooted in our plants and surrounding areas will have spread to more cities,” concludes Trazo.