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June 01, 2009  |   Comments (0)   |   Post a comment

Spotlight on safety

by Frank Di Giacomo, Publisher


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We in the pupil transportation community are well aware of the superior safety record that our buses, drivers and other staff members maintain year after year. But it’s nice to get a little recognition from people outside of the industry.

I thought about this in late April as I attended a dinner event held in New York by the National Safety Council (NSC). The NSC is a nonprofit organization that’s dedicated to preventing accidental injuries and deaths in all aspects of our lives, from work to the roads to home.

For the past 10 years, the NSC has been presenting its annual Green Cross for Safety Medal to a company that “demonstrates a steadfast commitment to improving safety and health in the workplace, its community, and through safety leadership demonstrated by its CEO,” as the organization puts it.

The award has gone out to such distinguished firms as Delta Air Lines, UPS, DuPont, Liberty Mutual Group and Intel Corp.

Putting safety first
This year, the Green Cross for Safety Medal went to none other than FirstGroup, which you may know as the parent company of First Student, the largest school bus contractor in North America.

In addition, FirstGroup America provides transit services, fleet maintenance and intercity bus lines through its other subsidiaries.

The NSC cited FirstGroup’s outstanding safety record and called the company “a trendsetter and an industry leader in safety and health.”

Even more impressive, NSC President and CEO Janet Froetscher noted that FirstGroup was the first potential Green Cross recipient to invite the NSC team to spend “two full days examining its records and witnessing its promotion of safety at every level.”

At the dinner event, FirstGroup Chief Executive Sir Moir Lockhead accepted the award, explaining that the phrase “If you cannot do it safely, don’t do it” is more than a motto —“It represents our relentless pursuit of injury prevention,” he said.

The company’s approach includes regular fleet investments, adoption of new technologies and enactment of stringent safety policies and operational procedures.

Worthy of praise
It’s easy enough to get excited about our industry’s successes just by looking at them on paper, but being at an event like this stirs tremendous pride in me.

It was rewarding not only to witness one of our own earn such a high-profile award, but also to see other industry members there to show their support. There were top executives from Collins Bus Corp., IC Bus, Thomas Built Buses, SafeGuard and Child Check-Mate Systems, to name a few.

I feel the same sense of pride when I attend the annual awards banquets at the National Association for Pupil Transportation and National School Transportation Association conferences.

At those banquets, we have the pleasure of handing out our own Administrator of the Year and Contractor of the Year awards among the many other honors.

Our industry is full of unsung heroes. They don’t do it for fame and glory, but they all deserve a moment in the spotlight.


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