Fleet Speak: Safety & Fleet Working in Tandem

Friday, June 16, 2017
Heavy-duty locking devices

New heavy-duty locking devices for cargo trailers help eliminate potential equipment theft (new lock pictured on right side, old lock on left side). Rear door cables are replaced with lower door hinge springs to reduce potential finger, hand and back injuries.

By Reid Altavilla, Corporate Fleet Manager

Reid Altavilla

Our fleet and safety teams are a partnership. We need to have our eyes on both things in order to keep our vehicles and equipment in the best working order and our people safe. This synchronicity is no accident (pun intended). Both teams work together regularly to ensure that all production vehicles are Department of Transportation (DOT) compliant, all equipment is operating at the highest level of quality every time they leave the yard and that all employees understand how to safely operate both vehicles and equipment.

Here are a few tasks that are performed daily, weekly, monthly or yearly to ensure the highest possible safety standards for our fleet and equipment:


  • Performing annual DOT inspections as well as surprise A.M. gate inspections as vehicles leave the yard, filling out DOT Annual Preventative Maintenance forms and filing them in the truck and vehicle maintenance file
  • Inspecting daily pre-trip forms to make sure that all individuals are performing a proper pre-trip inspection (the previous three months of the form are saved for each vehicle)
  • Installing and repairing DriveCams in all production vehicles as needed
  • Making sure that all vehicles are properly loaded (not overloaded or loaded incorrectly) to ensure that our vehicles and crew, as well as the public, are as safe as possible
  • Performing regularly scheduled repairs with the highest quality in all of our shops to safeguard the operation of our fleet and uphold our image
  • Inspecting the housekeeping of vehicles to maintain a safe environment:
  • ○ No papers or trash on the dash; floors clean and free of debris
    ○ Equipment properly secured

  • Continuously improving our fleet design to decrease potential injuries, maximize efficiency, and minimize theft of our equipment.

Ladder and Grab Handles

Pictured right: New grab handle and steel ladder (instead of aluminum) on the rear of trucks help individuals safely climb in and out of the truck bed.


  • Working with crews during pad maintenance (preventative maintenance for mowing and two-cycle equipment) to ensure that all equipment is performing properly:
  • ○ Inspecting and repairing all safety guards and Operator Present Controls (OPC) on equipment
    ○ Inspecting and repairing all seat belts and Rollover Protection (ROP) on riding mowers
    ○ Providing tips for proper operation with the end-user and discussing abuse when necessary
    ○ Helping the manufacturer produce a safer product through redesign or labeling. (For example, the new Exmark Standon safety decal to indicate a pinch point.)

  • Participating in operator training to help company personnel understand how to maintain and operate equipment in a safe manner

Our fleet department understands its role in helping to keep our vehicles and equipment in safe operating order. Safety is a partnership and everyone at Ruppert plays a critical role in ensuring safety is top of mind. Please help us continue to improve by following the “see something, say something” motto when it comes to protecting you and your co-workers and getting them home safely every day.

Winter Driving Safety Tips

Saturday, December 10, 2016

With the freezing weather conditions right around the corner, the time to prepare is now. Here are a few tips to help you keep you and your vehicle safe:

  • Dress in warm layers. It is very important to keep warm and dry when working outdoors.
  • Check your tire pressure. A change in weather means a change in pressure. Adjust tire pressure to the recommended pounds per square inch (PSI) indicated on the sticker inside the driver’s door of your vehicle or in the owner’s manual
  • Keep your gas tank full. This keeps condensation from building up and freezing fuel lines. Also, this reduces the likelihood that you will run out of gas in bad weather.
  • Be sure all fluid levels are at their proper level. Coolant should be strong enough to prevent freezing and fresh enough to prevent rust and corrosion.
  • Change your wiper blades if they’re more than nine months old.
  • Don’t use your emergency brake, if possible, in severe cold. The cable can freeze.
  • Turn your windshield wipers to the “park” position before turning your car off. You can burn up the wiper motor if the blades are frozen on the windshield when you turn them on.
  • Clean windows thoroughly before driving.
  • Warm your vehicle up for at least a minute before driving. In cold weather, your oil runs thicker and needs more time to reach all lubrication points. However, do not warm it up in a garage or other enclosed space and make sure that the tailpipe isn’t clogged with snow to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning.
  • Use your headlights when it’s raining or snowing, so that other vehicles will be able to see you. NOTE: Maryland traffic laws require all drivers to turn on their headlights whenever they are using their windshield wipers.

Stay safe and have a happy holiday!

Safety Spotlight: Preventing Injury from Pests and Poisonous Plants

Monday, August 8, 2016


By Dave Sanders, Safety and Loss Prevention Manager

Summer is here, and you’re not the only one who enjoys the warmer weather—a wide range of dangerous plants, insects and reptiles thrive in the summer months. Be on the lookout and learn to prevent contact with these threats to avoid discomfort, at the very least, and at worst, serious illness or disease.


  • Poison Ivy/Oak/Sumac:
    • Learn to identify and avoid these plants (see images above). The oil that is released by these plants when damaged or touched is called urushiol—and just 50 micrograms (or less than one grain of salt) will cause a rash in about 80-90% of adults. 
    • If you see these plants on the job, treat them chemically with herbicide. If you must clear them, DO NOT cut or burn them (this helps spread the urushiol). Before pulling the plant, apply Ivy Block to your skin (if available), wear gloves with long sleeves tucked in, and wash immediately after.
    • If exposure occurs, immediately rinse skin with rubbing alcohol, specialized poison plant washes, degreasing soap such as dishwashing soap or detergent and lots of water. Note: Urushiol can remain active on the surface of objects for up to five years!
    • Good products for treatment include Zanfel, calamine lotion, or hydrocortisone cream

  • Snakes and Spiders:

    Poisonous Snakes

    • Know which venomous snakes and spiders live in your area and how to identify them
    • Wear gloves when handling brush and debris, and watch where you place your hands and feet
    • If you see a snake, DO NOT try to capture or kill it—step back and allow it to proceed
    • If you or a coworker is bitten, take note of the color, pattern and shape of the snake or spider. If possible, even take a picture of it. Being able to identify the species is key to treatment.

  • Ticks and Mosquitos:
    • Use insect repellent containing 20-30% DEET on exposed skin and clothing. If the product contains permethrin (which kills ticks), spray on clothing but not on skin
    • Avoid wearing perfumes, colognes or scented hygiene products
    • Inspect your skin and clothes daily—check armpits, groin, and scalp areas for ticks

  • Bees, Wasps and Hornets:
    • If you know you have an allergy to stinging insects, take the necessary precautions (i.e. carry an EpiPen®)
    • Know where nests and hives are often found—in trees, under roof eaves, on equipment such as ladders. Stinging insects typically congregate near flowering plants, trash cans, and outdoor eating areas.
    • Keep work areas free of food and open containers—put away soda cans and leftover food
    • If a stinging insect is near you, stay calm and DO NOT swat at it—move away slowly

Proper Attire and Prompt Attention are Key

For all of the above threats, the first step in prevention is proper attire. Wear a hat, a long-sleeved shirt tucked into pants, and long pants with pant legs tucked into boots. Shake out your clothes, shoes and gloves before putting them on to be sure they are free of ticks and spiders. Shower as soon as possible after working outdoors and wash and dry work clothes at high temperatures. Inspect your body daily for ticks, mosquito bites, and poison ivy/oak/sumac.

As always, if you come into contact with any of these pests or plants or if you start to notice symptoms of more serious conditions, alert your supervisor or seek professional medical attention immediately.

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