September 15, 2011: The “safety first” mantra at UPS is a daily ritual. Our phones are often answered “safety first.” Safety first has become as common as hello or good morning, and rightly so because the safety of our people and the general public should be our first and far most concern, as stated in the UPS Policy Book.
Seldom are the safety exceptions ever mentioned; i.e. when it is not convenient or when there is a substantial cost or when safety first would compromise schedule or arrival times.
It is at these times that the safety exception is invoked. Drivers are sometimes instructed to violate the safety first directive, DOT regulations, common sense, or common courtesy. Drivers may be threatened or intimidated into driving equipment with no lights, or no brakes, or no current FHWA inspection, just to name a few.
Drivers may be disciplined for refusing such orders. It is not uncommon for such work to be forced upon drivers that can’t say “no”; the new hires, the probationary, or the low seniority.
Such hypocrisy occurs all too often. When the choice is safety or production, production often wins. It is up to us, the employees of UPS, to be steadfast in our opposition to the safety exception. We must protect ourselves, our livelihoods, our families, and the general public by practicing “safety first!”
By Michael Savwoir, UPS Feeder, Local 41, Kansas City, MO.