Essential Fleet Operator takes a look at how effective road risk management can help you to meet your legal and moral obligations while delivering a return on investment.
The Public Sector and the Social Housing Sector are under increasing pressure to drive efficiency savings whilst meeting customer expectations. Increased scrutiny and ever changing regulations, means maintaining service levels whilst achieving the highest operational and safety standards, is a difficult balancing act.
The industry-wide requirement for companies to ensure the health and safety of all employees, is rooted in the Health and Safety at Work Act. Although this applies to all areas of work, a report published by the Transport Research Laboratory found that a high priority should be also been given to on-site health and safety, as well as to road risk.
To help companies stay on the right side of the law, the Health and Safety Executive has advised companies to integrate work-related road safety into their wider health and safety at work arrangements.
The legal and reputational costs of not doing so can, of course, prove business-critical, but there is also a clear and immediate financial case for implementing road risk reduction initiatives.
Vehicle off-road time, maintenance costs and insurance premium hikes can all have a sizeable impact on the already stretched budgets.
A best practice approach to road risk management can only be effectively sustained with the cooperation of everyone within the business. Such cooperation calls for strong leadership, the establishing of clear expectations and a set of guiding principles that outlines a company-wide commitment to fostering a positive safety culture.
These principles can be reinforced in a comprehensive ‘driving for work’ policy, detailing everything from high-level goals to the code of conduct expected of every employee.
Any vehicle used for work purposes, for example, should be checked regularly to ensure it is roadworthy. This means all employees driving for work should be mandated to conduct vehicle safety checks at the start of each working day – not just on those vehicles governed by Operator Licensing regulations – with inspection reports retained by the company. Mobile technology advances over recent years has meant that this process can now be automated.
Preventative maintenance inspections should be carried out, typically every six weeks, to ensure roadworthy standards are met under O licence obligations.
Records on service schedules and MOT renewal dates should also be kept, with reminders set to ensure company vehicles are compliant.
Helpful advice on everything from driving in adverse weather to dealing with fatigue can be provided upfront in a driver safety handbook, but on-going staff communications are vital if long-term behavioural change is to be realised. These might include everything from safety seminars and intranet resources to posters and email bulletins to help ensure the road safety agenda is kept front of mind.
In addition to on-road driver safety, attention should also be paid to vehicle access, with a particular focus on minimising the possibility of falls from height. This access will not only be restricted to drivers’ cabs, which continue to increase in height, but also to vehicle load areas and to specialist equipment.
According to the HSE, the most common area of the vehicle for people to fall from is the load area, followed by the cab and access steps.
Identifying where road safety may be being compromised is vital if remedial training and development initiatives are to be targeted where they are most needed.
Every employee should be initially screened and rated as a low, medium, or high risk driver, based on several factors including age, annual mileage, licence origin, endorsements, previous driver training and incident prevalence.
Drivers’ risk profile can then be further evaluated with mandatory online risk assessments covering hazard perception, observation skills, attitude, and the all-important highway code.
Licence records should be checked directly with the DVLA as part of the process, either via a third party or online with the individual drivers’ consent.
If possible, risk factors should be assessed regularly to help ensure risk ratings are as accurate as possible. Telematics data can play a big role here by providing live feedback to managers, and employees, on driving behaviour. Incidents of speeding or harsh braking, acceleration, or corning, for example, can be monitored and drivers scored based on their performance behind the wheel. Having such technology, can enable further driver training to be targeted more effectively.
In addition, a root cause analysis should be conducted on every incident, whether a serious accident or minor collision, and recommendations made.