6 steps to better risk management
We talk to the experts about how to minimise exposure to risk, improve driver skills and comply with duty of care regulations. By Katie Beck.Seek expert advice
Being ignorant of duty of care laws is unacceptable in today’s corporate climate, where information is readily available and hundreds of risk management solutions exist to help fleets stay legal. The challenge is often greater for SME businesses, however, who may find it harder to stay compliant.
“The volume of changes and updates to the law can be hard to keep track of for an otherwise hard‐pressed SME business owner,” comments Jenny Powley, sales director corporate, RAC Business.
“As such it is vital to consult business service providers about the best approach for your business. At the micro end of the scale, the business owner usually has so many other responsibilities that the detail can easily be overlooked. If you’re not an expert, speak to somebody who is, invest in the right approach now and protect your business.”
Penalties for Health and Safety at Work convictions can be draconian; with fines only limited by the size and profitability of the company. Organisations must be able to produce a tailored policy for business users that includes the drivers’ own responsibilities and guidelines for ensuring vehicles are compliant.
“Statistically, driving for work is the riskiest thing anyone will ever do as part of their job,” says the IAM’s Duncan Pickering.
“Companies need to demonstrate that these risks have been mitigated and the best way is to implement a driver risk management programme; one that includes licence checking, risk assessments and driver training at the very least. Without it, employers are wide open to being convicted of negligence under health and safety and corporate manslaughter laws.”
Maintaining an overview of driver behaviour is essential: “Implementing a data audit trail weighted by factors such as driver age, previous road traffic accidents and business miles per annum is crucial for duty of care compliance,” explains Martin Evans, managing director of Jaama.
“The weighting points associated with each area can then be accumulated to produce an individual driver total risk profile score according to a company’s individual risk criterion. Depending on an individual driver’s profile, targeted remedial action can then be implemented.”
Telematics systems can also be hardwired into the cab or moved between vehicles to build up an invaluable picture of an employee’s driving style over a period of time, pinpointing potentially risky behaviours such as harsh braking or regular speeding.
Manage grey fleet
Given that the average grey fleet vehicle is more than six years old, it is no surprise that they are often more polluting, inefficient and prone to complications than rental or lease cars.
Grey fleets require constant monitoring to ensure that vehicles are safe to drive and fit for purpose, and that employees are licensed to be behind the wheel.
“If an employee drives their own vehicle on business then checks for convictions/ points and traffic offences must include the employee’s personal vehicle,” explains Carlos Montero, commercial director of FleetEurope.
“As well as license checks, the driver should be asked to complete a vehicle health check sheet (which may include MOT and insurance). These should be recorded as part of your duty of care and checked frequently.”
Increasingly companies have a zero‐tolerance policy on using a phone while driving, even Bluetooth hands‐free systems. Simon Turner, director of risk consultancy Fleet 21, believes this should be a standard policy across the board: “People think that because using Bluetooth is legal it is safe to use in the car, when it is categorically not.
When an employer allows a driver to use a hands‐free set they are potentially exposed to prosecution if the employee is involved in an accident.
“In law, it doesn’t matter if you are holding the phone or not in the event of an accident, the term that is used is ‘cognitive distraction’ to measure how distracted the driver was at the time of the collision. The only way to ensure compliance is to ban Bluetooth and other in‐cab technological distractions altogether.”
Reap the rewards As well as helping to ensure the safety of employees and reduce exposure to prosecution, Diarmuid Fahy, fleet risk manager at Alphabet, believes an effective risk management policy can positively influence all areas of an operation.
“Providing fleet risk workshops is a highly cost‐effective means of improving driver performance,” he says. “By placing the emphasis on driver behaviour and risk awareness this generally leads to more efficient driving, lower fuel consumption and reduced maintenance and repair costs.”
“An investment in driving assessments will help reduce costs, including fault and none fault accidents, save fuel, reduce wear and tear, improve green emissions and help the operation remain legal,” agrees Peter Brabin, head of training at Bill Plant. “Don’t wait until it’s too late to act!”CASE STUDY: How software significantly enhances data accuracy
Speedy, a provider of tools, equipment and plant to the UK’s construction and infrastructure industries, implemented Jaama’s Key2 Vehicle Management system in 2014 to manage a fleet of 1,000 commercial vehicles, 600 company cars and 200 trucks.
Key2 enables Speedy to integrate fleet information with its new cross‐company IT platform so the systems can ‘talk’ to each other with data, updated in real‐time. With legislative compliance a key concern – Speedy received the Fleet Safety Award at road safety charity Brake’s annual awards last year – software integrations means, for example, updates by the company’s HR department (such as an employees’ change of address) will automatically amend fleet data and, in that example, trigger driver licence amendments.
Speedy has also equipped commercial vehicles with telematics devices and cameras are fitted to allow the company’s fleet administration team access to all fleet management data and information transmitted.
“This strategy gives us a comprehensive overview of the fleet and from the data we can identify inefficiencies and targeted initiatives can be implemented. Without such a system it would be impossible to achieve maximum compliance,” states Mark Woodworth, logistics project manager at Speedy.CASE STUDY: The benefits of licence checking
Independent plumbing and service company Pimlico Plumbers has signed an ongoing deal with the Freight Transport Association’s Driver Licence Checking Service to ensure drivers remain compliant as they attend callouts around London.
Pimlico uses the online Compliance Managed Services (CMS) portal to manage its fleet of 160 Volkswagen Transporter vans and Golf cars. Because all vehicles are permanently kept by their drivers, licence checking is essential to ensure that they are qualified to operate within the busy confines of London, where it is easy to quickly acquire penalty points.
The FTA’s Driver Licence Checking service provided by Licence Bureau also guarantees that drivers can safely operate vehicles that are equipped with potentially hazardous materials, giving the fleet operator peace of mind about the safety of Pimlico employees.
George Lusham, transport manager at Pimlico Plumbers, said: “Our reputation is built on the quick and proficient service delivered by our engineers, and with Licence Bureau’s easy-to-use licence checking portal, we can focus on providing our clients with the high-quality work they can depend on.”