The Health and Safety performance of businesses is under constant scrutiny in this day and age, with the Health and Safety Executive and industry trade organisations alike enforcing ever stricter regulations. Mobile workforces can pose a significant Health and Safety risk for today’s businesses. Here, Jayne Pett considers how effective road risk management can help companies in meeting their legal and moral obligations.
The 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 higher priority has been given to on-site Health and Safety than to road risk.
In fact, estimates suggest that between a quarter and one third of reported road casualties result from accidents involving someone using the road for work purposes.
To help ensure legal compliance, 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’s 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 bottom line.
Uninsured costs, as the Health and Safety Executive points out, can outweigh insured costs. When you consider that driver training, for example, can be introduced from as little as £15, the financial case is clear.
Road safety: fostering a company-wide culture
A Best Practice approach to road risk management can only be effectively sustained with the co-operation of everyone involved in the business. Such co-operation calls for strong leadership, establishing clear expectations and a set of guiding principles that outlines a company-wide commitment to road safety.
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 as regularly as practicably possible to ensure that it’s roadworthy. This means all employees driving for work – whether grey fleet or company vehicle drivers – should be mandated to conduct vehicle safety checks.
Good communication holds the key for grey fleet drivers, while for commercial vehicles that are driven on a daily basis, daily walk-around checks should be conducted with inspection reports retained by the company. Mobile technology advances over recent years have meant that this process can now be automated.
Records on service schedules and MOT renewal dates should also be kept, with proactive management undertaken to ensure that company vehicles are compliant.
Helpful advice on everything from driving in adverse weather through to dealing with fatigue can be provided up front in a driver safety handbook, but ongoing training and staff communications are vital if long-term behavioural change is to be realised. This might include everything from safety seminars and Intranet resources to posters and e-mail bulletins designed to help ensure the road safety agenda is kept front of mind.
Data-driven route to change
Identifying where road safety may be being compromised is vital if remedial training and development initiatives are to be targeted where they’re most needed.
Risk assessments should be conducted on every employee. Online risk assessments offer a good opportunity to continue assessing risk on an ongoing basis. These can cover everything from hazard perception and observation skills to 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 cornering, for example, can be monitored and drivers scored based on their performance behind the wheel.
In addition, a root cause analysis should be conducted on every incident, whether a serious accident or minor collision, and recommendations made on the most appropriate and tailored training programme.
Training in action
If fleet risk data suggests mobile phone usage is a problem, for instance, e-Learning courses can be undertaken that address this issue, supported by internal communication campaigns on mobile phone use by company drivers.
Dangerous driving styles, such as speeding, may be addressed with in-car training sessions.
In a similar vein, if alcohol’s identified as a problem, training workshops can be held that remind staff of a company’s alcohol policy and raise awareness of the wider associated dangers.
Such steps to protect what is a vital business asset are paramount for an industry sector that not only prioritises safety, but also the minimising of business disruption for optimal service delivery.
Effective road risk management should sit at the very heart of corporate risk strategies.
Jayne Pett is Sales and Marketing Director at Fleet Operations