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Accident Management: Keeping your fleet safe & legal

By / 2 years ago / Features / No Comments

Martyn Collins considers all the options for fleets, large and small, to help keep their drivers and vehicles safe on the roads and compliant with current legislation.

Health and Safety Executive (HSE) reporting data does not include workplace road deaths

It may surprise you but Health and Safety Executive (HSE) reporting data does not include workplace road deaths, despite including figures relating to the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 2013 (RIDDOR). In fact, the only other exceptions are construction, demolition, alteration, repair or maintenance activity related on or alongside public roads. The numbers do not include road traffic incidents, as managed by the police and reported by the Department for Transport (DfT).

According to HSE statistics, 144 workers were killed in 2017/18, with the main cause attributed to falling from height, which made up 35 deaths during a 12-month period. However, the DfT in 2017 reported 499 people were killed in incidents involving a driver/rider whilst driving for work. In fact, in total, there were 1,770 reported road deaths during 2017-18 and these numbers have been fairly consistent for the last six years.

The Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act, which came into force on 6 April 2008, was the subject of a recent white paper by the IAM RoadSmart. The paper raised the question of why an act that was brought in to protect workers has only seen 25 successful convictions in 11 years for corporate manslaughter, with the highest annual recorded figure being six during 2014 and none of them related to employees driving for work.

Commenting on these figures, Malcolm Maycock, managing director, Licence Bureau, believes major discrepancies between the two sets of data need to be addressed, as they skew easily identifiable business risk profiles. “We believe road traffic incidents should be incorporated within data sets across the board because any vehicle driven for work is a ‘workplace’.”

This difference in data sets he believes also goes some way to explain why so few convictions have been by the HSE in relation to corporate manslaughter and driving for work. “There is clearly a disconnect that needs to be explored, as driving for work is now very much a part of day-to-day life for many and, as the data suggests, represents the greatest risk.”

Asked if he thinks businesses hold the act in high regard, Maycock believes that they do. “Driving for work arguably comes a little further down the list of priorities but, as the figures demonstrate, this is an area that carries the highest risk and should be an absolute priority.”

Adding another dimension to the challenge is the continued rise in the grey fleet, which shows no signs of slowing down. “Our concern is around companies’ inability to adhere or fully understand their duty of care obligations when employees use their own vehicles on company business.

“We already know, that of the estimated 14 million vehicles in business use across the UK, an estimated 13 million of those are grey fleet with only around one million being ‘company cars’.” According to experts, this ‘company car’ figure is forecasted to reduce by a further 11% over the coming 12 months.

This means there is already a huge number of grey fleet vehicles in circulation and organisations need to be aware of how this can impact their employee duty of care. One significant factor as the consequence of the growth in grey fleet is the ‘management’ of such vehicles and the resulting increase in risk profile, with elements such as insurance cover, vehicle condition, suitability for journey and fuel efficiency all being outside of an organisation’s control.

Remember, it is the management’s responsibility to check that a driver is fit for purpose for your business. Below are our suggestions and systems for keeping your fleet legal.

Records and documentation

Managing your fleet in-house? On top of keeping your drivers safe, it is essential that you make sure your vehicles are compliant as well. In the first instance, it is important that you have someone looking after the full records and documents for each vehicle on the fleet. This should include the V5, plus insurance and MoT documents, service records and details of maintenance carried out.

Regular daily checks on every fleet vehicle are highly recommended and a daily log should be used to prove that every vehicle is safe and roadworthy. This is the place to record any faults or damage and how they were rectified.  These checks together with a log can also be used for employees’ own cars or ‘grey fleet’, as if they’re being used on company business then it is that company’s responsibility to keep those vehicles legal and roadworthy. This also applies to contractors’ vehicles.

Licence checks, training and health checks

Any organisation that requires or allows its employees to drive on their behalf should have a system for checking driving licence validity, entitlements and convictions. Great British Fleet Event 2019 Innovation in Risk Management award winner, Davis by Licence Check, is far from being a basic check. On top of being GDPR compliant, via their own dashboard, these driving licence checks can actually paint a picture of the driver by ensuring they have the correct category entitlement and eligibility to drive and whether their driving licence has any current endorsements, penalty points or convictions. As a result of this information, the check can identify high-risk drivers.

The checks can also highlight potential training needs. IAM RoadSmart offers a number of options including a driving for work course that takes three and a half hours, covering topics such as how to drive efficiently and identifying areas of risk including personal safety, ergonomics, fatigue and mobile phone use. There’s also an Eco Safe driving course that involves five drives in a day, two on the same route, with hints and tips given for fuel saving.

IAM RoadSmart is also working on the next level of training and this, as yet unnamed preventative, education system will offer subscribers bespoke content, including videos on traffic hotspots local to the area of the company. All of this content will be accessed via a portal and a unique log in.

Finally, it is the company’s responsibility that drivers undertake annual health and eyesight checks. A recently launched solution for eyesight is the Driving Eyesight Toolkit from Specsavers, which aims to provide employers and their employees with all the information they need regarding the regulations and requirements for driver eyesight.

In-house or external management? 

Traditionally, company fleet management relied on an internal fleet manager or administrator.

However, with the advent of more legal regulations, environmental considerations, duty of care, driver training and staffing constraints, many companies are outsourcing their fleet to an independent specialist.

Whether you’re a large business with a number of vehicles, or a smaller SME with just a couple of cars, outsourced fleet management can be done with either just as effectively.

One such solution is from Chevin Fleet Solutions. Its fleet management software, FleetWave, supports duty of care and helps fleets stay legal. The driver management software can check that employees have the correct and valid licence for the vehicles and equipment that they operate. It can also be used to identify risk and support the creation of driver policies and training programmes. Plus, this fleet accident management software can record documents and other communications in relation to accidents, helping identify risk.

Driver management software readily integrates with the DVSA’s driver licence checking service, generating email reminders at check intervals with definable parameters such as mileage and date of birth. In addition, the service will alert the company if drivers are deemed ‘at risk.’ Such data can then be integrated into risk management or driver assessment solutions, in addition to HR systems.

Fleet accident management software stores important data relating to accidents, securely with a mind to GDPR compliance, and details of damage can then be allocated to job cards in order to fully describe any required or completed repair work.

Identifying fleet risks is the first step towards making your fleet run more smoothly. Data can be used to update company policies, while software can play an important role in improving safety both by preventing incidents from occurring in the first place, as well as learning from inevitable mistakes, and implementing training for the drivers that need it.

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Martyn Collins

Martyn has 18 years experience as a motoring journalist, working across a wide selection of B2B and consumer titles. A car enthusiast since his early years, Martyn has a particular interest in the latest models and technology and in his spare time enjoys driving his own Minis.