Loss Control Insights
4 Critical Questions Answered About Fleet Safety Programs
Doing everything possible to keep company drivers and your vehicles safe is a no-brainer, according to David Whisman, EMC Risk Improvement Manager. “In 2018, about 4.57 million people were injured seriously enough to require medical attention in motor vehicle collisions, and an estimated 40,000 people were killed,” he says. “According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), auto crashes are the leading cause of deaths on the job, so it’s critical for employers to do whatever is necessary to keep workers safe behind the wheel.”
There are other reasons to strive for safety. Crashes can affect future contracts, as you may have vehicles sidelined and unavailable for work, and your collision record may cause potential clients to reconsider hiring you for a job. Your insurance rates may rise. And if an employee involved in a crash is unable to return to work, you may have to hire temporary or permanent replacement workers and shoulder the burden of training costs.
The bottom line: A strong fleet safety program will help you maintain a positive business reputation and protect your employees and vehicles.
What is a fleet safety program?
A fleet safety program helps companies reduce motor vehicle accidents and injuries related to those accidents. A strong safety program will assist you in thinking through-and planning for-all components of fleet hiring, training, maintenance, procedures, policies, reporting elements and requirements to meet certifications, DOT regulations and requirements from other regulatory bodies.
This program provides written guidelines for all the procedures and policies your company and employees are required to follow. These guidelines are shared with all company employees, and everyone is aware of their role in the program. You will develop checklists to guide actions, job descriptions to let employees know which components they are responsible for, training so supervisors know to stress the relevance and importance of the essential tasks, testing to ensure that employees are following procedures and disciplinary actions that will be enforced if procedures aren’t followed.
Why is a fleet safety program required?
EMC encourages policyholders create a formalized fleet safety program if they have a fleet of five or more vehicles.
The reasons are straightforward: operating motor vehicles exposes a company to the risk of loss through injury to employees or the general public, damage to property and to a company’s overall reputation. Even one severe crash can be devastating to a company’s employees, image and bottom line.
David says, “We live in a litigious society and companies must be ready to show they’ve exercised and met a ‘reasonable and prudent person standard of care.’ In the event of a wreck that’s followed by a lawsuit, having a solid fleet safety program allows management to show their proactive approach to managing the potential for harm to both employees and the general public.”
What are the elements of a fleet safety program?
According to Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), any type of safety program will help prevent workplace injuries and illnesses; improve compliance with laws and regulations; reduce costs, including workers’ compensation premiums; engage workers; enhance social responsibility goals; and increase productivity and enhance business operations.
These are lofty goals, but with an effective fleet safety program you can protect your employees, others on the road, your company’s reputation and future, and save money. An effective fleet safety program includes the following:
- Total management buy-in and a demonstrated commitment to the safety program.
- Thorough hiring processes so the employees you hire are medically qualified and have a good motor vehicle record, along with the skills you require for the job.
- A comprehensive driver training program-from orientation to making sure all employees are periodically reminded of company safety rules.
- Continual monitoring of drivers to be sure there are no traffic, licensing or drug/alcohol problems while also keeping track of driver records to ensure they remain qualified to drive.
- Vehicle maintenance and inspection requirements. Keeping documentation current will help prove the vehicle is safe. And setting up a vehicle replacement schedule and requiring safety features on new vehicles is another way to keep vehicles safer.
- A plan for accident reporting and investigation that includes reporting near-misses. Keeping accurate records of all incidents and having a method for retraining and evaluating employees who have been involved in a wreck are also important elements of the plan.
- Management actions such as records retention, annual program content reviews and annual reviews of records.
Where can I get help creating a fleet safety program?
Your EMC agent or an EMC loss control expert can answer any questions and assist you in reviewing or creating your program. OSHA is also a good resource. Find OSHA tips in this Motor Vehicle Guide and this OSHAcademy guide.