Safety Profile - Sam Sinclair

Sam SinclairHome town – Rotorua


Sam manages the trucking operations for Ken Holmes and both of them serve on the Zero Tolerance Scheme – which is a sub-committee (working group) under our PF Olsen, Central Safety Committee.

Recently Sam put together a Photographic Survey detailing Safe Driving Behaviour especially as it relates to dealing with large vehicles on forestry roads. Sam also presented this information to our Safety Champions at our August meeting – so the nomination comes on the back of this work, specifically, but also for safety excellence in his own business and the obvious leadership commitment.

Interview with Sam

Sam has been in the industry for approximately 30 years; he started as a fleet serviceman, before driving off-highway trucks which he maintained himself. He then took on shared ownership of a fleet, and has been in his current position for 8 years. Mike Lambert trucking has 110 trucks with 150 staff across a range of shifts, from Whangarei to Murupara.

Sam therefore comes to his current role with an understanding of what is being asked of others including the frustrations faced by his staff, along with the benefits and satisfaction of being a good driver. Sam talks of his early days when he and the bloke he worked with would drive the forestry roads to get home to Rotorua from Taupo, and the advice he was given, "when you see one of those big logging trucks coming, pull to the side." It is still good advice to give way to larger vehicles.

What do you like about forestry?

"I'm proud of this industry and its people who do meaningful and proper work; they're dynamic people who give energy to their job, their team and the forestry community.

"A camaraderie exists alongside a natural competitiveness – most drivers will strive to get in all of their scheduled loads but won't hesitate to stop and give someone else a hand."

What motivates you to act safely and to care for the safety of others?

"I realised that it was the right thing to do to care about people and that it is my own job to make a difference. This needs to be genuine and not just because someone says so. We must be accountable, and we can't give up even if we feel we have mentioned something many times before."

What motivated you to put together the Safe Driving presentation?

"It came from conversations with drivers and most of them assumed that anyone driving on the forest roads could [drive safely]! When we started to dig deeper the question remained – well can they?

We identified a lack of understanding and wanted to make it clear to all drivers. It's actually an issue for drivers of large and small vehicles and so we thought – let's start on the solution.

That solution includes helping all drivers understand that the focus must be on safety. Often our focus is on getting home at the end of the working day or finishing the last load of the day, when it should be on getting home successfully. Conversely if we are a little late for work then take the consequences of being late and not use lateness as an excuse to speed."

Sam remembers when: "knock off time in the bush was like the Wacky races; that's no longer acceptable we should think of the impact on the next bloke. That next bloke could be a van carrying a crew."

What advice and suggestions do you have for others in similar working positions?

"Act on what you see, and don't walk past something unacceptable, without doing something – even if this means staying later.

"Lead by example and keep your focus, it's easy to bury your head in the sand.

"Make sure employees are clear on what is required of them and support them when they do speak up."

What insights into safety management can you provide for others that have safety management responsibilities?

"The safety system must outline clear processes and consequences for non-compliance.

"Training is absolutely essential as is learning from the incidents that we have had in the past – when we have corrective actions we need to keep acting on them.

"Be prepared to sacrifice production and to make a safety decision and wear the consequences. To do nothing could have a significant impact on your staff and others."