Last week MoDOT employees from across the state gathered in Jefferson City for the quarterly meeting to discuss Tracker, MoDOT’s performance management tool. After a few words from MoDOT Director Dave Nichols, the group got down to work by reviewing every measure that contained new data for the quarter.
While many measures were trending in the right direction, Director Nichols and Chief Engineer Ed Hassinger pointed to two that needed more attention to get them on the right track. Statewide the number of lost workdays by MoDOT employees this year is only slightly higher at 371, but the exceptional performance by the St. Louis District with only four is carrying the rest of the districts. Nichols noted that we need to do a better job ensuring every employee goes home safe every day.
The second measure was final project costs coming in at 4.87 percent over the programmed costs for the first quarter of fiscal year 2015. Hassinger said he realized this was just one quarter of data, but most districts are trending in the wrong direction. He encouraged district staff to re-emphasize the “radical cost controls” we’ve used in the past to stretch our construction budgets.
| The most common employee incidents was part of the Tracker Focal Point discussion.
After all the measures were discussed, the team moved on to this quarter’s “Focal Point.” The Tracker Focal Point began last year as a way to take a deeper look at performance on the district and division levels. The Tracker Focal Point allows the department to examine and compare additional data.
“Taking this deep dive into the data from districts and divisions reinforces our goal of making every employee responsible for MoDOT’s performance,” said Hassinger. “It’s a way to make sure we are all accountable for our work.”
This quarter’s focus area was safety during winter operations. The meeting took a different approach than past focal point discussions, by focusing very closely on a few key areas of concern and getting lots of feedback from the group about how to improve.
Hassinger started off the discussion by reminding the group how many employees will be out this winter fighting snow with only a few years of experience under their belts.
“Many of you have maintenance buildings where the majority of the staff has less than three years of experience,” said Hassinger. “We need to double down on our efforts to make sure these people are successful and safe.”
Southeast District Engineer Mark Shelton then led the rest of the meeting, asking the group to help him develop an action item list of ideas everyone can use as we approach the winter season.
First up, the group focused on the maintenance building lots, and how crews can safely maneuver them whether on foot or in a vehicle. Supervisors suggested pretreating the maintenance lots and walkways, setting up a traffic pattern for trucks coming in and out of the lot, installing additional lighting around the salt and materials loading area, and taking the time at the shift change to talk to employees about what’s going on and reminding them to be safe.
The discussion then shifted to fleet. Again, the suggestions from the maintenance supervisors and superintendents in the room covered a wide array of topics. Keeping a supply of replacement wiper blades on hand, designating a full time loader so drivers don’t have to get in and out of the trucks as much, and appropriate radio and cell phone use were all discussed, among other things.
Risk and Benefits Director Jeff Padgett then addressed the group, asking them to think about ways to not only keep employees safe, but customers as well. The conversations ranged from adding additional lighting and flags to make wing plows easier for customers to see to taking extra care when backing, especially at intersections and at-grade crossings.
State Maintenance Engineer Beth Wright talked about the third and final focus of the meeting, which was the winter operations drill and training for employees. The group talked about how important it was to have as much training as possible for new employees, and many thought one day to prep and drill for the winter season wasn’t enough.
Hassinger told the group this year MoDOT will follow its snow plowing policy. “It doesn’t make sense for us to be out there beating up our equipment and pavements,” said Hassinger. He encouraged all MoDOT winter operations staff to reacquaint themselves with the policy. You can find MoDOT’s snow plowing policy at http://epg.modot.org/index.php?title=133.4_Snow_and_Ice_Control_Operations.
Shelton promised the group that the items discussed would be cataloged and organized so all maintenance buildings can take advantage of the safety tips and ideas.
“Making safety a priority means taking it seriously, paying attention, and promoting safe behaviors even when you think it might be inconvenient,” said Hassinger. “We can’t let up. Make safety your focus every single day, now more than ever.”