The Big Picture
Importance of a Fleet Safety Program
Motor vehicle crashes are a leading cause of death and injury for all ages. Crashes on and off the job have far-reaching financial and psychological effects on employees, their coworkers and families, and their employers.
You need a Fleet Safety Program:
- To save lives and to reduce the risk of life-altering injuries within your workforce.
- To protect your organization's human and financial resources.
- To guard against potential company and personal liabilities associated with crashes involving employees driving on company business.
Every Accident Hurts Employees and the Company
Accidents are more expensive than most people realize because of the hidden costs. The more accidents that occur in a workplace, the higher the costs — both in direct costs paid by insurance premiums
and greater uninsurable indirect costs.
Typically, companies will suffer from the more numerous indirect costs that are not usually covered by any insurance. In fact, studies show that the ratio of indirect costs to direct costs varies widely,
but may be as high as 20:1. The magnitude of indirect costs is inversely related to the seriousness of the injury. The less serious the injury the higher the ratio of indirect costs to direct costs.
Below are examples of direct and indirect costs of accidents in the workplace:
Direct costs (insurable)
- workers compensation costs
- legal insurance costs
- vehicle insurance costs
Indirect costs (uninsurable)
- any wages paid to injured workers for absences not covered by workers' compensation
- the wage costs related to time lost through work stoppage associated with the worker injury
- the overtime costs necessitated by the injury
- administrative time spent by supervisors, safety personnel, and clerical workers after an injury
- training costs for a replacement worker
- lost productivity related to work rescheduling, new employee learning curves, and accommodation of injured employees
- clean-up, repair, and replacement costs of damaged material, machinery, and property
- the costs of OSHA fines and any associated legal action
- third-party liability and legal costs
- worker pain and suffering
- loss of good will from bad publicity that may result in loss of business
As you can see, there are many possible indirect costs associated with each accident. Every accident prevented represents potentially huge savings to the company.
Vehicle damage, an indirect cost of an accident, is covered by insurance.
Cost of Vehicle Accident
The following worksheet, developed by OSHA, NETS and NHTSA, will help employers understand the impact of motor vehicle crashes. Accident costs are classified as direct and indirect:
- Direct costs are usually covered by insurance.
- Indirect costs costs are uninsured.
You can use the worksheet to illustrate the cost of one crash, or you can apply it to all crashes experienced in a chosen time frame within the organization. Just click on the link below.
Costs of Motor Vehicle Accidents to Employer
Mission and Elements of the Fleet Safety Program
Mission: Your program should work to keep the driver and those with whom he/she shares the road safe. And, if necessary, the program must work to change driver attitudes, improve behavior, and increase skills to build a "be safe" culture. To do that, it's important to educate the driver to improve attitudes. Improved attitudes will influence decision-making, behaviors, and ultimately driver performance.
Elements: By instructing your employees in basic safe driving practices and then rewarding safety-conscious behavior, you can help your employees and their families avoid tragedy.
Your Fleet Safety Program should at least include the following elements:
- Written policy
- Program administration (roles and responsibilities)
- Driver selection, authorization, and review
- Driver training
- Driver incentives and recognition
- Driver discipline
- Drug and alcohol testing
- Emergency equipment
- Vehicle inspection and maintenance
- Accident reporting and investigation
Ten Action Steps to a World-Class Fleet Safety
The following 10 Action Steps, originally developed by the Network of Employers for Traffic Safety (NETS), will help you, as the employer, improve your fleet safety performance and minimize the risk of fleet motor vehicle crashes. Following these steps helps to ensure that you hire capable drivers, only allow eligible drivers to drive on company business, train them, supervise them, and maintain company vehicles properly.
Although the term "steps" implies that the employer climbs one step at a time, we recommend working on each of these steps in parallel.
Think about developing a team to work on these steps:
- Develop ways senior management can demonstrate commitment & employees can get involved.
- Develop written fleet safety management policies and procedures.
- Develop and insist on the use of driver agreements.
- Complete Motor Vehicle Record (MVR) checks.
- Report crashes and make sure they are effectively investigated.
- Make sure vehicles are properly selected for the job, that preventive/corrective maintenance is performed, and that inspections are regularly conducted.
- Institute a fair and objective disciplinary action system.
- Recognize and reward professional performance, and offer incentives for sustained professionalism.
- Conduct effective safety meetings, driver training, and communications systems.
- Work with regulatory agencies to ensure the regulatory compliance is achieved.
What Employers Can Do
Unlike other workplaces, the roadway is not a closed environment. Preventing work-related roadway crashes requires strategies that combine traffic safety principles and sound safety management practices. Although you cannot control roadway conditions, you can promote safe driving behavior by providing safety information to workers and by setting and enforcing driver safety policies. Crashes are not an unavoidable part of doing business. You can take the following actions to protect employees and the company.
- Assign a key member of the management team responsibility and authority to set and enforce a comprehensive driver safety policy.
- Enforce mandatory seat belt use.
- Do not require workers to drive irregular hours or far beyond their normal working hours.
- Do not require workers to conduct business on a cell phone while driving.
- Develop work schedules that allow employees to obey speed limits and to follow applicable hours-of-service regulations.
- Adopt a structured vehicle maintenance program.
- Provide company vehicles that offer the highest possible levels of occupant protection.
- Teach workers strategies for recognizing and managing driver fatigue and in-vehicle distractions.
- Provide training to workers operating specialized motor vehicles or equipment.
- Emphasize to workers the need to follow safe driving practices on and off the job.
- Ensure that workers assigned to drive on the job have a valid driver's license and one that is appropriate for the type of vehicle to be driven.
- Check driving records of prospective employees, and perform periodic rechecks after hiring.
- Maintain complete and accurate records of workers' driving performance.
Source: NIOSH 2004-136:Work-related Roadway Crashes Prevention Strategies for Employers
We will be covering all of these topics in the upcoming modules of the course.