Safe driving policies implemented by Cogent Breeding, the company running the UK’s largest bull stud, have seen it become the newest organisation to join the RoadSafe-managed and Government-backed Driving for Better Business campaign as a business champion.
Cogent Breeding operates a 40-strong fleet of light goods vehicles equipped with forward-facing cameras and trackers to provide real-time journey information, as well as 50 company cars with almost 80 employees driving their own cars on work-related journeys invariably in rural areas.
The company, part of Wheatsheaf Investments , has joined the campaign, which aids the Department for Transport’s ambition to support and promote good practice in safer fleet management and occupational road safety, because of the best practice measures it has taken as a small and medium enterprise (SME) with employees clocking up thousands of miles on rural roads.
Ann Moore, fleet manager at Cogent Breeding, said: “Cogent is privileged to become a business champion and proud to be an advocate for safer driving practices positively influencing companies that want to improve and promote their fleet safety.
“This recognition will certainly spur Cogent on to continue to improve all areas of its health and safety.
"The well-being of our staff is always at the forefront of everything we do and this success reflects our continuing commitment to them.”
Cogent Breeding launched its safe driving initiative last year after identifying that the highest workplace risk for its sales teams, delivery drivers and artificial insemination technicians was driving, placing it on the company risk register alongside working with bulls and handling livestock.
Of the company’s 180 UK staff, more than 70% drive due to the nature of their daily work duties and, furthermore, they are classed as lone workers.
Most journeys undertaken are on rural minor roads often leading to remote farms with some employees clocking up around 40,000 miles annually.
Cogent Breeding’s fleet data collection procedures - all incidents including near-misses must be reported - identified that collisions were mostly low speed reversing; manoeuvring or inappropriate speed.
If any employee commits two or more, reportable accidents, an internal investigation is launched potentially resulting in implementation of an action plan.
To proactively promote improved driving skills among and to reduce incident rates all employees driving a vehicle on business have completed a 20-minute online risk assessment, which includes driving licence validation with the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency.
Results are analysed and acted upon by Moore and distribution manager Graham Ruddick.
Moore, who oversees the at-work driving risk programme and is a member of the company’s Health and Safety Committee where road traffic incidents, trends and issues form a major part of the agenda, said: “Cogent Breeding’s approach changed after identifying driving as a key risk, including to grey fleet drivers.
"We started to review our driving for work policy including health and safety driving practices, which promoted clear and concise rules and procedures to our employee who drive for work.”
The company’s comprehensive driving at work policy highlights to employees:
- The importance of undertaking daily, weekly and monthly vehicle inspections including on tyres, fluid levels and lights and their responsibility for ensuring timely service, maintenance and repair schedules whether they drive a company-provided vehicle or their own.
- The importance of insuring their own vehicle for business use
- That journeys should be planned to incorporate 15-minute rest breaks every two hours and overnight accommodation booked if a one way journey is in excess of four hours
- To use public transport rather than drive if at all possible
- A ban on the use of any portable mobile device while driving
- That lone drivers should ensure their line manager is aware of their work schedule.
The company also highlights that vehicles driven on business should be equipped with a fire extinguisher, first aid kit, warning triangle, high visibility vest, torch, road map and spare change for phone/fuel with regular audits held to ensure conformity.
CCTV was installed in light goods vehicles to improve driver behaviour, reduce poor decision-making and capture footage showing evidence of collisions, insurance fraud, bogus injury claims, incidents of road rage and physical attack.
Cogent Breeding also operates a reverse parking policy at all sites to make it easier, safer and quicker when leaving.