Omnitrans safety communications go interactive

Omnitrans Safety & Security team

Left to right: Director of Human Resources And Safety Regulatory Compliance Marjorie Ewing, Safety and Regulatory Compliance Specialist Terry Morocco, Safety and Regulatory Compliance Specialist Ross Hrinko , Security and Emergency Preparedness Coordinator Mark Crosby. Seated: Safety and Regulatory Compliance Manager Tim Campbell

Thanks to our dedicated Safety and Security team, Omnitrans safety has taken some innovative strides over the past few months. These include the “Text-A-Tip” campaign, video newsletters and safety reminders, and a greater focus on emergency preparedness.

The “Text-A-Tip” campaign was developed by Security and Preparedness Coordinator Mark Crosby in an effort to give customers, as well as employees, the opportunity to report non-emergency concerns directly to a security officer via text or phone. This real time communication has helped provide critical information about incidents and allowed us to respond to them more quickly. Information on the service is publicized through business cards, bus cards, and a sticker at the front of each bus displaying the text number.

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Since its launch, Omnitrans security officers have received 30-50 tips per month. The majority of these tips have been reports from passengers on rude or disorderly conduct on the bus. In these cases, the security office notifies Operations, and a Field Supervisor is immediately dispatched to provide assistance.   Other tips include observations of graffiti vandals or other suspicious behavior.

“We even have some people who text ‘Just wonder if you’re listening,’” says Safety and Regulatory Compliance Manager Tim Campbell. He laughs. “They’re always a little surprised because we answer them right away. It actually goes a long way in making our customers feel safe. They know we’re paying attention.”

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The team has also looked at new ways to better serve our employees. In October, the department switched its monthly text newsletter to a video format. Employee feedback has been positive. Many say they don’t feel like reading a newsletter and that watching a video is more interesting.

“It’s much more personal and interactive,” explains Tim. “If I’m talking about slips while I’m walking down a stairway, or if I’m out in the parking lot reminding people to be safe and walk with a buddy, you immediately see it in context. It also makes the message easier to remember.”

Omnitrans employees assume a duck and cover position during an earthquake drill.

Omnitrans employees assume a duck and cover position during an earthquake drill.

The department is also in the process of developing other systems to share workplace safety messages. By late spring, the Safety and Security team will introduce a new, streaming safety and security channel. This video presentation will be displayed on newly placed plasma screens located at West and East Valley Operations, and Maintenance areas. Current data pertaining to accidents, injuries and tips of the day will be continually presented. These monitors will also be used to provide training over multiple days for special topics.

Tim believes the new technology will be an effective way to get out important information. “There will be a ticker at the bottom of the screen, a video in the middle and safety and security messages on top. For example, we can upload KPIs, or show bus videos to teach safety prevention. We control the feed, which allows us to pivot at any moment to share real time information on weather, flash floods, or crisis incidents like the recent San Bernardino shooting.”

New disaster preparation instruction for everything from fire drills to major earthquakes to active shooter scenarios are in the works for all staff as well. Tabletop exercises will be held to outline potential emergency scenarios and the steps the agency will take to minimize impact.  Preparation walk-throughs will be held and documented, and lessons learned will be discussed.

“This kind of hands-on and video training will help ensure that everyone has the skills needed to maintain a safe work environment and face any potential crisis,” points out Tim. “Our goal is to develop short, midterm and long term plans to progressively improve our capabilities to provide safety and security to our customers and employees.”

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