Fleets told to manage actual risk, not just compliance
30 May 2019
Author: Sean Keywood
Fleet safety management needs to be more than just a box-ticking exercise, managers have been told. Sean Keywood reports.
Many employers fail to effectively manage driving risk on a day-to-day basis, despite being compliant with work-related road safety legislation.
That's according to Michael Appleby, a health and safety lawyer from legal firm Fisher Scoggins Waters, who has warned that many organisations go through a compliance 'tick box procedure', such as checking driving licences and encouraging defect checks, but then fail to translate the information gathered into practical management. Appleby warned this could put them at risk of criminal prosecutions or civil actions in the event of a crash.
Speaking at the first meeting of Fleet Service GB's new Achieve Driver Management User Group, he said: "Too many companies view road risk as managing compliance and not managing the risk itself.
"Employers should have the basic elements of managing safety in place, but frequently there is very little actual day-to-day management. When things go wrong businesses could be massively exposed because they do not have the answers to questions posed by investigators."
Appleby pointed out that business journey crashes, either in a company car or the employee's own, could be investigated by the police or Health and Safety Executive, while coroners, in the event of a fatality, may also be influential.
He highlighted how coroners now had a statutory duty to consider writing a 'Prevention of Future Deaths' report to any organisation or person where they believed action should be taken to prevent future deaths.
He said: "Coroners have a wide discretion as to the scope of an inquest.
"I can foresee the situation where there is a fatality in a work-related road crash and a coroner wants to enquire how a business is managing its vehicles, and how data is being used to manage the fleet and drivers."
Appleby also warned that employers could find themselves caught up in a work-related road safety investigation as a result of an associated incident.
"Investigators will want to know how a business manages safety and may find weaknesses in respect of managing vehicles, drivers and journeys that were a contributory factor to any incident," he said.
"When I interview company directors and other employees the speed at which requested documents are produced is a good indication as to how well safety is managed in the business."
Appleby said that another risk to businesses was in terms of reputational damage from a crash being mishandled, particularly due to the rise in social media use, which he said could subsequently affect a business's profitability and share price.
"People can become very vocal, particularly through social media, if there is an incident and a business is thought to be uncaring towards its workforce," he explained. "I can see problems in that scenario."
Achieve Driver Management is one of a range of Achieve-branded products from Fleet Service GB, which also include Achieve Crash Management, Achieve Maintenance Management, Achieve Fleet Manager, Achieve Management Services, and Achieve Fleet Service Partnership.
The firm says the Achieve Driver Management User Group has been set up to provide support, advice and mentoring to fleet decision-makers on all aspects of managing drivers, vehicles and journeys, by sharing knowledge and best practice to influence behind-the-wheel behaviour and performance.
Fleet Service GB says the group will also inform the development of new features for the product.