British Gas, which operates one of the UK's largest fleets including more than 10,000 vans, almost 1,900 company cars and 24 HGVs, has implemented numerous initiatives to reduce the risk of crashes among its workforce. In addition, almost 2,000 employees who drive their own cars on business trips are included in British Gas's safe driving programme.
Those initiatives have seen incident rates tumble by more than 30% in five years, which has resulted in improved employee well-being, considerable financial savings, increased efficiency and reduced staff absences.
Thanks to its commitment to occupational road risk management British Gas is a Driving for Better Business campaign champion. This campaign is managed by RoadSafe.
There are now 52 business champion organisations across the UK in both the public and private sectors. They are used by the campaign to promote the financial, legal and moral benefits of occupational road risk management to other organisations across the UK.
There are an estimated up to 200 road deaths and serious injuries a week resulting from crashes involving at work drivers, and more employees are killed and seriously injured on Britain's roads while driving on behalf of their employer than in any other work-related activity.
Jon York, fleet operations manager at British Gas, said, "Many organisations, particularly smaller businesses, often don't have the capacity to implement specific road safety initiatives. Through this innovative mentoring scheme British Gas and other ‘business champions' can work with organisations in their respective areas to help them put measures in place.
"Improving safety on the roads benefits all employers, and by working together and providing best practice advice we can all help each other.
"I‘m already looking at mentoring organisations that are local to me and I'm also working with our sub-contractors on the introduction of safe driving initiatives."
Michael Parish, programme consultant for the Driving for Better Business campaign, said, "British Gas's idea of mentoring local organisations to help them introduce at-work driving risk management schemes is fantastic.
"The whole idea of the business champions’ network is to act as advocates to promote the business benefits of managing at-work driving. As a result of the mentoring programme I hope we gain more ‘business champions'.
"British Gas and all of our business champions have cut crashes and related costs significantly, and, consequently, employee well-being and safety have been improved. The result is complete legal compliance and a measurable contribution to business efficiency with savings that go straight to the bottom line.
"They are real world testimony to the ability to significantly impact costs and reduce on-road incidents and risk exposure generally by putting in place a range of interventions."
In 2005, British Gas saw its vehicles involved in almost 5,300 incidents - an average of 441 incidents a month - resulting in insurance claims. In the first eight months of 2010 the average monthly incident rate has been reduced to 342.
Last year's introduction of a continuous Driver Risk Management Scheme, designed to contribute to the company's objective of reducing ‘lost time injuries', is one of the major drivers behind the most recent reduction in incidents. In 2009, British Gas recorded a 25% cut in ‘lost time injuries' and a 10% cut in actual driving incidents.
The Scheme allocates risk points to a combination of driver-related incidents. The output is a system of red, orange and green traffic lights for individual drivers, who then receive specific interventions or training, appropriate to their perceived risk.
Mr York said, "The Scheme enables us to identify and increase the visibility of risks, so they can be managed effectively and the number of associated driving incidents can be reduced. An important part of the Scheme is to incentivise employees to drive safely and reward them for achieving a zero risk rating, while drivers with a high risk rating receive additional training and advice to help them improve their score. If someone's personal attitude to safety is an unacceptably high risk for the business, however, the right to drive can be withdrawn."
The Scheme is in addition to long-established British Gas safety measures which include driver licence checking linked to a Permit to Drive scheme, pre-employment driver risk assessments, a one-day fleet safety induction course for young drivers and new recruits, training for all drivers and additional training for any driver involved in two or more collisions a year as well as initiatives targeted at own-car drivers. The company has also introduced its own BTEC Level three advanced driving course.
Mr York added, "We also believe that promoting sound driving practices at work extends to private driving, which can reduce the chances of employees, their family members and people in the local community being injured in vehicle collisions."
For more on risk management, come to the Fleet News risk management section.