The Week's Features
Seven of the industry’s finest to be inducted to Hall, October 12
Herring Motor Company keeps classic line alive
Recovery management and technology services now one
Delivers Class 6 capability in a Class 5 Super Duty package
Recovery “dance” lifts overturned truck
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BYOD (Bring Your Own Device)

cellphone e0348By Don Archer

Did you know that if your employees are using their own devices while working for you, and you don't have policies in place that restrict certain behavior, you can be held liable?

As an employer of tow truck operators, you are responsible for making certain they are not engaging in unsafe acts while on the road. To meet that responsibility, you must require drivers to operate trucks safely, not to drink and drive, use drugs and to refrain from texting or using personal, or company-provided devices in a way that takes their attention off the roads.

But do you have a policy that addresses all this?

"Bring Your Own Device" policies are relatively new. They were created with the intent of keeping proprietary company information secure while allowing employees to use their own devices to access information required to do the job.

On the employee's side, being allowed to access company information from multiple locations is a plus. They're allotted more freedom and autonomy rather than being tied to a desk.

Allowing employees to use their own devices can be a challenge; but with a BYOD policy in place, the employer has the ability to monitor behavior, and to "wipe clean" any company information from an employee's personal device when a separation occurs. This is done so that an employee cannot use the information to harm the company ... such as going to the competition with the customer list.

Although some of the security issues mentioned above aren't a huge cause for concern in the towing industry, there are two reasons why towing business owners will want to have a BYOD policy in place. They are: safety, and to "cover your rear."

Safety
If you allow or require tow truck operators to communicate through the use of either company-provided or personal devices, you must have policies in place that govern their use to ensure safety at all times.

When drivers know their cellphones may be audited should they be involved in an accident, they end up acting more responsibly. Your BYOD policy works to minimize negative behavior and create a safer working environment.

Cover Your Rear
Second only to safety is that your company may be held responsible if these devices are used improperly and you have no guidelines in place. For example, in the event of an accident occurring because a driver was texting while driving.

When you implement a policy that gives YOU access to your employees' phones, there's a chance you'll scare some of them off. To avoid scaring away good employees, you must first create a policy that's easily understood. And when your policy is in place and it becomes necessary to enforce it, do so in a way that you'd want it enforced upon you if the tables were turned.

Your policy should:

1. Detail specific instances for its use.
Vague and ambiguous language will put-off good employees and be picked apart by an attorney, if you're ever taken to court.
A good example of specific language: "Management reserves the right to request employees' cell phone bills and usage reports for calls and messaging made during working hours to determine if use is excessive or if any other policy/procedure has been violated (ex: texting while driving)."
2. Discuss boundaries and refrain from going outside those boundaries.
If you're ever required to use the BYOD, have a discussion with your employee to let him know exactly what you are looking for—then stick to it. Don't delve into areas not specified in your policy. If you've told him that you're only looking at texts during a specified time and date, don't stray into personal emails.
3. Explain that the policy is in place to protect them as well.

Most tow truck drivers don't understand how having a BYOD policy can serve to protect them. But, if they're ever involved in any type of incident and are required to appear in court, the judge and opposing attorneys will ask for and expect all relevant data pertaining to the circumstances. Not having that information can be detrimental to their case.

If they've done nothing wrong, having a BYOD policy can remove any shadow of doubt and clear them of any wrongdoing.

Having a BYOD policy goes a long way in deterring negative behavior. With such a policy, you can minimize exposure for your business while maintaining safety on the roads.

Don G. Archer is also multi-published author, educator and speaker helping others to build and start successful towing businesses around the country at TheTowAcedemy.com. Don and his wife, Brenda, formerly owned and operated Broadway Wrecker in Jefferson City, MO. Don is the Tow Business Editor for Tow Industry Week, and his bi-weekly column in Tow Industry Week is a must-read. E-mail him direct at don@thetowacademy.com
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Spotters for Rotators, Heavy Wreckers

image7 6a8f2By Randall C. Resch

I taught a California Highway Patrol Operator's safety course recently that included tow operators of all ages and experience levels. At the start of every class, I hold a safety briefing to remind all hands to have their heads on a swivel; especially when tow trucks, carriers and forklifts are on the move during techniques and scenarios.

About mid-way through one class, a young tower wasn't paying attention as a carrier was backing up across the yard. When I saw his actions, I immediately stopped the class. His naïve, but unintentional, movement seemed like the perfect segue to have a discussion regarding the safety and dangers of backing up.

Too Often

Many years ago as a budding tow driver, my dad gave us his version of on-scene, in-the-yard, backing safety. It was simple and to the point, "Don't put your wrecker in any location where you have to back up unnecessarily."

In our line of work, it's not always possible to avoid backing.

At the San Diego Police Department, their own policy says, "If there are two officers in a police vehicle, the passenger officer will exit (the) vehicle and provide a visual, 'second set of eyes' to the backing movement."

If a two-officer police car had an incident while backing, both the vehicle's driver and the second officer would be held accountable. Officers working alone were required to make a full walkaround of their car before travel.

How many of you take a walkaround of your tow trucks and carriers to see if there are any obstacles or other persons before you drive off?

Who's to Help?

Enlisting a spotter is a perfect-world situation if there are others around to become your spotter. Many of the world's tow companies are mom-and-pop operations and spotter availability is not always possible. Still, the truck's operator must be aware of their surroundings at all time.

The same applies when you're on the road. Due to the sheer size, bulk and blind spots, every backing movement can be potentially deadly. A solid set of hand signals is the best way to communicate between the tow truck's driver and the spotter that's behind them.

In this litigious time for accidents and injury, not having written narrative in your company's employee handbook could weigh heavy on the outcome of the lawsuit. When these situations occur, an injured plaintiff or representative of the deceased will assuredly attack your tow operator's driving record, their background and your company's training.

If your company's employee handbook makes no mention of safe-backing protocol, the total price of a lawsuit could be monumentally increased. It may not be not fair, but failing to make any attempt to prevent a backing incident plants the seed of incompetency. It makes perfect sense to include a spotter when big rigs are backing up. Like other dangerous tow-related situations, get people out of harm's way.

Randall Resch is American Towman's and Tow Industry Week's Operations Editor, a former California police officer, tow business owner and retired civilian off-road instructor for Navy Special Warfare. Randall is an approved instructor for towers serving the California Highway Patrol's rotation contract. His course is approved by the California law enforcement community. He has written over 500 industry-related articles for print and on-line, is a member of the International Towing & Recovery Hall of Fame, and, a recipient of the 2017 Dave Jones Leadership Award.
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