By Martin Walker
Three Newton Aycliffe truck drivers will now help to train up their colleagues as part of a national safety training programme after achieving gold awards.
Graham Bedford, John Parker and Michael McFarland – all employees of Aycliffe family firm Stiller Warehousing and Distribution – were awarded gold certificates after taking part in driver assessor courses run by the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA).
It will enable the trio to coach other Stiller drivers to help make them safer and more fuel efficient.
More than 14,000 people die as a result of accidents across the UK each year, while there are millions of other injuries.
RoSPA, a registered charity, has been at the heart of accident prevention in the UK and around the world for almost 100 years and promotes safety and the prevention of accidents at work, at leisure, on the road, in the home and through safety education.
A leader in health and safety, RoSPA has used its vast experience to develop an extensive range of safety training courses and delivery methods.
Stiller, which boasts a proud driver safety record, has invested in training up the three senior drivers so they can now help the business in its development of driving staff with a programmed approach to review and assess all drivers.
The firm’s site and facilities manager Herbie Blaser will oversee the programme which will see all drivers assessed at least once a year.
Managing director Paul Stiller said: “Safety is paramount when it comes to our drivers so we feel enrolling three key staff on these driver assessor courses is not only important, but will be beneficial to the business.
“We have our own in-house training programme, which is fully accredited, and all our drivers are assessed annually if not more.
“Our three driver trainers will work on specific assessments and training will also be undertaken at pre-employment for drivers, either with new employees or when any new equipment is brought into the business, as well as covering drivers returning to work following a period of absence.
“This move will help our drivers gain the benefit of the training undertaken by the assessors and will also increase our drivers’ skills base.”
Stiller has also invested further in five new vehicles to help cope with a major new contract.
The firm announced earlier this year a new five-year deal with Coveris Rigid UK, worth £3m a year, involving the management of Coveris’ 264,000 sq ft Drum Park, on Drum Industrial Estate in Chester-le-Street.
The contract will increase Stiller’s annual sales, which stood at £10m in 2014, to between £12.5m and £13m this year.
And Stiller has brought in five new Iveco trucks on a contract hire from Billingham-based North East Truck and Van to further boost its fleet of vehicles.
The distribution company bought 12 new vehicles last year, including two 12-tonne vehicles, two urban trailers and four long double-deck trailers.
It took the firm’s total investment in facilities and trucks to £4.5m over the last two years.
Paul added: “The five new vehicles consist of two replacements and three additions to help us accommodate the new contract with Coveris Rigid UK.
“But further strengthening our fleet of trucks not only enables us to handle that extra workload, it also helps us to increase our capacity and ability to take on new work.”
Pictured (above) is Stiller Warehousing and Distribution site and facilities manager Herbie Blaser (second left) with drivers Graham Bedford (left), John Parker and Michael McFarland alongside the firm’s new Iveco trucks.