Fleet risk management


The successful operation of a motor fleet is subject to increasing legislative responsibilities, none more so than the safety and wellbeing of employees and other road users. Vehicles are increasingly being viewed as an extension of the workplace and as such should be treated as a business critical tool of work, subject to the same health and safety requirements as machines or equipment that are factory or site-based.

Recent studies have shown that driving a company vehicle is rated among the most hazardous work activities with approximately 45% of work place fatalities resulting from workplace transport- related incidents. Despite this, some managers still seem to believe that work-related road accidents resulting in damage to vehicles and injury to their staff are an inevitable cost of running a business. Each day 10 people are killed and 1,000 injured on the roads of Britain.

This makes driving a company vehicle the third most deadly work activity after deep sea diving and mining.

Other common UK motor accident statistics are:

Legislative Aspects of Occupational Driving

As an employer, if you fail to adequately address the duty of care owed to your staff, with respect to the driving of company vehicles or operating mobile plant, you can be seen as committing a criminal offence for which there can be a prosecution, fine or, in extreme circumstances, imprisonment.

Work-related vehicle incidents are an increasing health and safety issue for which all levels of management could be held accountable. An estimated 65% of fleet sector vehicles are involved in work-related crashes every year. Recent legislative changes have led to the death of an employee or a third party involved in a work-related vehicle incident potentially being regarded as caused by a ‘failure of management systems’ which could result in company directors being prosecuted.

In 1999, two company directors were convicted of corporate manslaughter following a fatal accident involving a staff member. Subsequently, the employers of a lorry driver who died on the M11 were found guilty and jailed for a number of charges including breaches of health and safety regulations.

In a more recent incident a lorry driver was sent to prison for causing the death of two people while travelling on the M62. The vehicle he was driving toppled over onto the car the two people were travelling in and crushed them to death while still in the vehicle. The subsequent police investigation found the lorry driver had been texting on his phone at the time of the incident and it was also found that he had sent and received in excess of 40 text messages on the same day while he was driving!

Operational Aspects of Fleet Risk Management

In addition to the safety aspects associated with the fleet, enhanced understanding and management of the risk exposures will result in significant bottom line savings, including having safer drivers. A better managed workforce also means:

Controlling the number of accidents and the costs of such accidents, both at fault and non-fault, is important irrespective of how the fleet risk is financed. It could also be argued that where a company self-insures a large proportion of the exposure to relatively low cost incidents, effective risk management is a fundamental element in the success of the financing strategy when dealing with incidents on or just above the policy excess.

Detailed claims analysis will assist the chosen financing option as it will highlight the root causes of accidents and provide meaningful management information which can be used to implement effective targeted risk control measures either by Depot location, vehicle type or by individual drivers.

Fleet Risk Management

There are two overriding issues in managing the risks of a motor fleet.

Key to the management of fleet risks is the introduction of a strategy to set out the policies, procedures, awareness and training in respect of how the company manages its vehicles from the top down as well as the bottom up.

This will assist in ensuring a safer environment for all employees required to drive on company business and should lead to reduced incident frequency rates and the severity of accidents.

Reducing the Risk

Henderson Risk Management is able to assist in the planning and implementation of effective fleet risk management strategies.

It is our experience that the most effective risk management strategies are those implemented with the full support of the senior management, enabling the buy-in of employees at all levels of the business.

Management of the fleet risk exposures to the organisation, its people and the public at large must become an integral part of any safety strategy.

Areas where we can provide advice or hands-on support include:

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