Health and safety law isn’t confined to your office or workplace – for businesses running vehicles, it stretches onto the roads, too. It starts with a fleet risk strategy, and in this article we’ll explain what you need to know to help inform yours – from the big legislation to the small, daily checks.
As well as there being a legal obligation to manage risk, effective fleet management can help to save money and, most importantly, keep drivers safe. You can find out more in our latest whitepaper, Fleet Risk – What it is and how it can be avoided, which is now available to download.
A fleet risk strategy details your company’s approach to managing road safety. It needs to be an ongoing process that is regularly being reviewed and updated, rather than a one-off document.
The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 states that you must ensure, so far as reasonably practicable, the health, safety and welfare of all employees while at work.
This means you are legally obliged to ensure that your company-related vehicles are roadworthy, that your drivers are safe and have the necessary qualifications and experience, and that you have a proper risk management strategy.
The best place to start when setting out a fleet risk strategy is the Health and Safety Executive’s (HSE) Driving at Work guide, which summarises both the law and how you can meet its requirements, – encouraging a common-sense approach. There are some key themes to look at to measure your current performance, so you can identify how to overcome any shortfalls.
Risk management has to be part of a company’s everyday work and processes. It needn’t be complicated, either. For instance, a simple way of helping to fulfil obligations, keep vehicles safe and make sure they’re roadworthy is to ensure that drivers carry out daily vehicle checks, looking at:
• Wheel fixings
• Windscreen wipers
• Trailer couplings
• Number plates
• Load security
• Ancillary equipment
Risk management involves more than just the vehicles that are owned or leased by a company; it includes the ‘grey fleet’, too. Grey fleet is the term for all employee-owned vehicles that are used for work purposes, excluding commuting.
The HSE recommends check-ups and training initiatives for even the most infrequent business drivers. This could include:
• Induction training when drivers join your company
• Role-specific training – such as how to load and unload safely
• Refresher training for all drivers
• Special training for high-risk drivers – those covering many miles a year or with an accident history
Everything should be recorded and reviewed, including:
• Regular driving licence checks
• Accidents or vehicle damage
• Feedback about driving conduct
• What training a driver has received and when
• A driver’s average mileage
• Vehicle maintenance – including servicing, repairs, tyre changes and so on
• Telematics data – increasingly important to monitor fleet health and safety and can offer valuable insight to reduce risk
With this information to hand – and anything else that is appropriate to your fleet – you can make the right choices about your company’s health and safety policy, inform and update your risk assessment, and convince others within your organisation.
It’s important to note that fleet risk management requirements aren’t just for big corporations with big compliance teams; the law doesn’t distinguish between big or small business. If anything, smaller companies could be more vulnerable to fines, penalties and reputational damage from any incidents.
Fleet risk management can save companies both time and money, helping to reduce:
• Direct costs – not only does a fleet strategy help protect you against fines and penalties, it also keeps your vehicles in good condition, thereby reducing fuel bills and maintenance costs
• Hidden costs – some costs aren’t as obvious as others. If a vehicle is damaged, what’s the cost of downtime, reduced productivity, replacement vehicles, or even reputational damage?
Fleet risk management is about more than the bottom line – it’s about the wellbeing of your workforce, along with everyone else who uses the UK’s roads. With Department for Transport figures suggesting that around a quarter of all road casualty incidents involve someone who was driving as part of their work, we can all help get that number down.
If you would like to find out more about LeasePlan’s approach to Fleet Risk Management please take a look at our latest Fleet Risk Whitepaper here. Alternatively, please speak to your LeasePlan Account Manager or contact a member of our friendly team – we’re always happy to hear from you.