Almost all risk management policies that are provided by outsourced providers, software packages or finance and HR departments are falling short of required standards.
According to new research, 94% of policies held by more than 300 fleets ranging from 30 to 2,000 vehicles do not fully comply with the Health and Safety at Work Act.
The six-month investigation by Total Motion Fleet Management, which was carried out in association with a health and safety expert, a HR expert and a barrister, uncovered major problems with compliance.
“The level of failure in these policies and misselling by outsourced providers about what their services could do was terrifying,” said Simon Hill managing director of Total Motion.
“The biggest areas of failure were risk assessments – some companies didn’t even have one - and policy and compliance.”
Mr Hill said that a number of fleets who went to their leasing companies for help were given unsuitable advice.
“We looked at one fleet policy where the company went to their leasing company for policy advice - they were handed a policy and just told to change the name on the document,” he said.
“Other policies were out of date – surely leasing companies should be updating them for their customers?”
Mr Hill also said that there was no link between spending a lot of money and the level of service provided. It found the firms that spent the most money – usually on driver training and risk management software - had the most problems.
“Fleets can buy and run software but that doesn’t mean they’re doing all that they need to do manage risk,” said Mr Hill.
“My feeling is that there’s been a lot of hype around risk and there have been a lot of companies selling solutions and not understanding the real issues or giving people the right policies.”
Jason Francis, managing director of software provider Jaama, said: “You can go out and spend thousands of pounds on a risk management system but to implement it correctly individuals need to be doing risk management effectively.
"Software just provides a structure for fleet administrators; it doesn’t do the job for them. “
The British Vehicle Rental and Leasing Association (BVRLA) said responsibility lies at more than the feet of the outsourcing and leasing industries.
“The outsourcing industry has an ongoing responsibility to help ensure that people who drive at work do so in as safe a way as possible.
"There are still too many companies that think they are doing enough if they have insurance, their vehicles have a valid MOT and their drivers have a licence,” said John Lewis, BVRLA director general.
“Health and safety policies must be applied and enforced within company vehicles as well as at any other place of work.
“However, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) also has a role to play.
"It has continuously refused calls from the Motorists Forum to include road-related incidents within its RIDDOR system for reporting workplace accidents and incidents.
"This omission may explain why some senior executives remain unaware of the issues and don’t put pressure on their fleet managers to take the necessary actions.”
The HSE reminded fleet managers of their responsibility to carry out appropriate risk assessments.
“Companies are obliged to have risk assessments and policies in place for the protection of their staff,” said a spokesman.
“They don’t have to be big weighty documents but they do have to be fit for purpose, identifying real risks and acting on them.”
Dr Will Murray, research director at Interactive Driving Solutions, said: “I agree with much of Total's anecdotal information, however, there is a great deal of good work being done – not just by health and safety specialists but by fleet managers, HR managers, leasing companies, insurers and other industry suppliers.
"It takes years to develop an effective, sustainable, work-related road safety program and safe driving culture – and requires a great deal of leadership by well motivated managers who understand the risks and benefits.
"The main message is that work related road safety is important for a range of reasons – societal, business, legal and costs – and that a long-term holistic approach, looking at a range of factors such as driver management and compliance, vehicle suitability and journey planning, is required."
Additional reporting Emma Cooper