Fleet News

Guest opinion: Andy Price, Zurich Risk Services

ANDY Price, senior consultant with Zurich Risk Services, says a proper understanding of the road risks faced by fleets is the first step to implementing an effective policy

It may sound obvious but the first thing a fleet manager should do when implementing a risk management programme is to understand the risks actually faced.

Many organisations still implement measures before they truly understand those risks. It is not surprising that any control measures they implement do little to reduce their collision rates.

In respect of occupational road risk, there are three areas that have to be looked at in order to get a thorough understanding of these risks.

Collision data analysis

The most obvious area is analysing data on the collisions you are dealing with. On one level this is relatively straightforward, as the data will often exist either in-house or in reports from an accident management company.

This is usually sufficient to allow a crude analysis to take place, but it is rare to find companies who record sufficient data about each collision to allow the root causes to be determined, and what the control measures should be.

Occupational road risk assessment

The second area to look at is the risks individual employees face. This is one of the key recommendations in the Department for Transport/Health and Safety Executive 'Driving at work' guidance document. These assessments should look at three areas: the driver, the journeys and the vehicles.

Occupational road safety audit

The last area to look at is the organisational risks. This is a critical area, as it looks at an organisation's existing operating practices and procedures with respect to the tasks that employees making work-related journeys undertake. This is assessing whether an employee is able to drive safely in the current business environment.

A good example is the role of the sales director. Wearing his or her 'safety hat', the sales director instructs employees to drive safely in line with the company's driving policies.

With his or her 'operational hat' on, however, they will be telling their employees that they must hit their sales and call targets. This could mean increasing the time spent in a vehicle, or rushing between appointments. Clearly there is a potential conflict of interest.

So what steps can you take to understand occupational road risk? The first is to carry out a road safety audit, based on best practice examples from a wide variety of fleet types. This should not only look at the organisational risks, but also examine any existing control measures that are in place to assess their effectiveness.

The audit should identify any areas where there are opportunities for improvement, give best practice advice and also allow an organisation to benchmark their current performance.

Understanding the collisions you currently have is simpler for companies with a small number of occupational drivers, but gets much more complicated as numbers increase, or where there are very high collision rates. Here collision analysis tools will help as they determine the root cause of a collision and analyse trends, all of which influence the choice of control methods.

Occupational road risk assessments should be implemented by a person with an in-depth knowledge of occupational road safety issues to ensure that they are focused on the right issues.

These assessments then need to be managed in line with the management of the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999.

Understanding the risks you face is the first step of the risk management process. This will allow you to assess any existing control methods and, if required, plan the implementation of more appropriate interventions.

The next step is to ensure the scheme and employee awareness is maintained and monitored to check that interventions are being successful. Undertaking this first step will help ensure that you choose the right interventions that will reduce the risks your employees' face, bring down your collision rate and save you money.

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