The very nature of maintenance and heavy-duty truck repair work can pose an increased risk of injury to employees. Private fleets that operate a vehicle maintenance facility have most likely experienced the risks and hard costs of hazardous waste, inadequate or outdated tools, and injuries.

Private industry employers reported 2.7 million nonfatal workplace injuries and illnesses in 2020, according to the latest figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). There were also 1,176,340 nonfatal injuries and illnesses that caused private industry workers to miss at least one day of work in 2020. Ten occupations, including maintenance and repair workers, accounted for 38.3 percent of all private industry cases involving days away from work, BLS reported.

The National Council on Compensation Insurance found that the average workers' compensation indemnity and medical cost per lost time claim was $53,700 in 2020. Plus, companies can incur tens of thousands of dollars in indirect costs. Also consider that a single workers' comp claim of $105,000 for a company with a 10 percent profit margin must be matched by an additional top line $1.05 million in revenue just to break even.

However, outsourcing maintenance operations can transfer the risk, along with the cost of maintaining a qualified technical staff, to a third-party provider. Penske can provide on-site management of private fleets' existing maintenance facilities, which enables maintenance facilities to reap the benefits of a cost-efficient, in-house maintenance program while mitigating risks associated with the shop.

Penske operates maintenance facilities for its customers nationwide, giving private fleets the convenience of an on-site shop, along with a well-maintained fleet. Customers also enjoy additional peace of mind because Penske assumes the responsibility of shop safety, compliance, staffing and operations.

With each company's operations unique to their business and culture, Penske's on-site operation is adapted to meet its customers' requirements and goals. Penske also offers a workers' comp risk assessment and professional safety assessments for its customers.

When taking over a fleet's maintenance facilities, Penske partners with its customers on retention and staffing goals, which may include improving the skillset of the current team or adding to the fleet's talent pool. Penske assumes the responsibility of human resources management and offers employees a competitive pay scale as well as ongoing training and career advancement opportunities.

Penske's investment in a fleet's vehicle maintenance facility also includes upgrades to systems, diagnostic tools, and tooling to ensure technology is brought up to date and remains current. That can require a significant investment. Diagnostic tools alone can cost an additional $10,000 to $20,000 a year or more.

Penske also takes on the expense of managing inventory and will purchase existing, usable inventory so customers can free up capital to fund key strategic initiatives.

Partnering with Penske also allows private fleets to take the risk off their own balance sheet and put it on Penske's. Penske's record proves that it's a responsible, safe and preferred fleet maintenance service provider. Penske's team of fleet specialists can work with customers to create a tailored maintenance plan to best meet their fleets' needs.

November 2021

Penske takes pride in our technicians who are fulfilling their lifelong dreams, harnessing childlike curiosity, and investing in a lifetime of growth and learning. That's why we support TechForce Foundation as they raise the question this Future Tech Tuesday: How did the kid in you start?

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Penske joins with TechForce Foundation to support veterans transitioning into civilian maintenance careers and recognize the unique strengths that lead to their success as technicians.

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Penske Truck Leasing has selected new software to enhance testing capabilities for the 2021 Tech Showdown. BTL Surpass Inc. is now entrusted with the creation, delivery and scoring of this competition.

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Every point counts for drivers and fleets under Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA), the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration's (FMCSA) data-driven safety compliance and enforcement program. Proper maintenance is one of the best ways to minimize the risk of a violation. However, in some cases, a violation is beyond a driver's control, such as a truck crash when the driver was not at fault. While this type of event had resulted in points in the past, CSA has announced its plans to change this.

Recording Crashes

FMCSA said it plans to make a demonstration program that allows truck crashes in which the driver was not at fault to be listed as "not preventable" in CSA scores permanently beginning in August.

"Based on positive feedback from industry stakeholders, the department will propose to make this demonstration program permanent," said U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, while speaking at the 2019 Mid-America Trucking Show.

The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) launched its two-year Crash Preventability Demonstration Project on Aug. 1, 2017. Before the demonstration project, fatal crashes listed on a fleet's safety profile did not identify whether or not the carrier was at fault in the crash. Under the demonstration program, a crash that was deemed as non-preventable would mean the carrier's private Crash Indicator Behavioral Analysis Safety Improvement Category, or BASIC, score would be recalculated with the crash omitted.

FMCSA said eight types of crashes would be automatically eligible for a review, including a commercial motor vehicle being struck by a motorist driving under the influence, by a driver driving in the wrong direction, or when the commercial motor vehicle is legally stopped or parked.

FMCSA would also review crashes when the commercial motor vehicle (CMV) is struck in the rear as well as a crash that damages a vehicle after striking an animal in the roadway, a crash in which a vehicle is struck by objects such as falling trees or rocks and when a vehicle is struck by cargo or equipment from another vehicle. It would also review crashes caused by an individual's attempt to commit suicide by stepping or driving in front of a CMV.

Minimizing Violations

Regular maintenance as well as thorough pre- and post-trip inspections are one of the best ways to reduce violations at roadside inspections.

The top three violations at roadside inspections nationally in 2018 were an inoperable required lamp, clamp or roto-type brake out of adjustment, and operating a CMV without proof of a periodic inspection.

Some violations result in out-of-service orders, which negatively impact a carrier's CSA BASIC score, which could lead to a compliance review and may ultimately affect a carrier's Safety Fitness Determination rating, the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance said.

During the 2018 Roadcheck, the top vehicle out-of-service conditions were for brake systems, tires and wheels, and brake adjustment.

Mike Hasinec, vice president of maintenance for Penske Truck Leasing, recently provided a list of items that should be checked regularly as a best practice. He suggested drivers as well as technicians:

  • Check for fluid leaks
  • Check for air leaks
  • Ensure brakes are in adjustment – for vehicles with automatic slack adjusters, vehicles can be cited as out of adjustment even if they are on the verge of adjusting, but the hard application (over 90 PSI) several times should force-adjust any brakes that were close to adjusting
  • Inspect trailer light cord and air lines for condition – and confirm there's no chafing
  • Inspect glad hand seals on tractor and trailer for condition – and confirm there are no leaks
  • Inspect tires for irregular wear and proper tread depth – steer requirement is 4/32-inch but a best practice is to look for 6/32 or better; the drive tire requirement is 2/32-inch but a best practice is to look for 4/32 or better
  • Check all lights for being operational
  • Check wipers
  • Check both air and electric horns for proper operation
  • Overall walk-around to check all fasteners (frame, wheel, etc.) for looseness or rust
  • Ensure there is no broken glass
  • May 2019

The transportation industry is evolving at a faster rate, arguably, than ever before. The amount of freight needing to be hauled continues to grow, leaving a positive outlook for private fleets into the next five to 10 years.

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