According to a recent report by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, roadway incidents accounted for 1264 work-related fatalities in 2015. That is about one out of every four fatal work injuries in the United States, which easily makes it the top cause of work-related fatalities followed by falls (800), contact with objects and equipment (722) and violence and other injuries by persons or animals (703).
Public entities have a unique exposure to fleet-related claims as drivers can range from employees who occasionally run errands to emergency personnel patrolling the streets 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Many entities (public and private) think of fleet safety as the prevention of physical damage to automobiles. However, fleet-related claims can have a devastating impact on so much more. A lack of fleet safety can also result in property damage, employee and civilian injury/death, public relations nightmares, etc.
Some key elements of an effective fleet program:
Management buy-in plays a major role in the success or failure of any program. If employees feel that the safety program is just another “thing”, they will treat it as such. Managers and supervisors must understand the need for good controls, how fleet safety affects their operations and the importance of promoting/enforcing the program.
Strong Hiring Practices
There are many things that can be done to ensure that a qualified individual is hired. Running a pre-hire motor vehicle record (MVR) for all employees operating a company automobile provides a snapshot into their driving record.
Regular Driver Checks
The implementation of the program isn’t finished once the initial check is completed. Things can change over the course of a year. Employees’ motor vehicle records should be checked regularly to confirm they have not incurred additional violations. Significant or repeated infractions may indicate lack of sufficient training and/or a poor attitude toward driving.
Written Criteria for Drivers
It is not enough just to check the MVRs. It is essential to have criteria in place that approves or rejects drivers according to their MVR results. This should be in writing and communicated to the employees. When employees understand they can lose their driving privileges and/or job because of certain driving violations, they will be more apt to drive responsibly during both work and personal time.
Formal Written Programs
If it is not in writing, it does not exist. Employers should make sure there is a formal written program that spells out conditions such as driver selection, responsibilities, policies, procedures and maintenance. This program should be tied into the safety program and communicated to the employees.
Driving is similar to other hazards in the workplace (falls, back injuries, lockout/tagout, etc). Entities usually have training procedures established for those issues. Driver safety training should be included as well.
There are plenty of options when it comes to driver safety. Start by assessing your current program and have an idea as to what your ultimate goal will be. Your current insurance carrier can be a great resource to assist you with any of your safety and health efforts.