Fleet News

Fleets face road safety spotlight

RADICAL proposals that could put fleet risk management in the boardroom of every company in the country have been unveiled by an influential independent group tasked with helping the Government to find ways to cut accidents. A new discussion document from the independent Work-Related Road Safety Task Group has called on companies and fleets to take a central role in deciding their future by providing their opinions on how best the industry could cut accidents.

The document lays out nine key questions the industry has to consider which will help create potential policies on fleet safety that will mould the industry's future. It was published as the Health and Safety Executive revealed shock research that showed between 25% and 33% of fatalities in road accidents could involve at-work drivers, totalling more than 1,000 people. By comparison, 622 people died in all other work-related accidents, covering everything from nuclear power stations to mines and construction sites.

The task group's aim is to examine how reducing at-work road accidents can help the Government meet its 2010 targets of a 40% reduction in deaths and serious injuries on the roads and a 10% reduction in the slight casualty rate. The discussion document is neither the work of either the Government nor of the Health and Safety Executive, officials are pointing out, as at present it is an independent point of view, but its views are likely to be highly influential. The document says that while recommending new legislation is not ruled out, there is potential to work within current Health and Safety rules.

However, the research behind the report shows what one civil servant said showed the 'true scale of human misery' caused by at-work road accidents, is almost certain to lead to a Government initiative based on the document. The core proposition of the document is that employers should actively manage road risk as they manage health and safety risk in workplaces, while also retaining the responsibility of employees to drive safely on the road.

Instead of setting down rules upon which companies can comment, the group asks questions about key areas of fleet operations. The nine key issues are whether the risk management approach is correct, how a balance can be struck between employers' and employees' responsibilities, whether there are more radical solutions, how attitudes can be changed, how small firms can be persuaded to be more proactive towards safety, how to enforce safety standards and how accident statistics can be monitored more closely in future. Although the discussion document is independent, it signalled that Health and Safety rules in the workplace could be widened to the road, without the need for any further legislation.

A draft guide to fleet risk management is published with the guide. How best to enforce any procedures is also a key point, along with how to encourage small businesses to take up the risk management principles set out. The document said: 'Our vision for the future is the adoption of good practice in the management of at-work road risk. We believe that if effective measures were put in place, there could be a significant reduction in road incidents and casualties.'

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