Driving for Work and Improving Safety Culture

Safety is paramount to everyday business and fleet-based companies must ensure the entire organisation is committed to ensuring that vehicles are operated in a safe and efficient manner. Minimising the number the incidents helps maintain public trust, reduce the financial burden of crashes and assist companies in achieving its legal obligations. The way in which a company manages safety can be assessed in its policies and practices but more importantly, how it communicates the message that safety is a priority.

Safety culture is the way in which safety is guided and managed in the workplace constructed with reference to the attitudes, behaviour, perceptions, and values, that employers and employees share in relation to safety (having technical, safe systems, human error and organizational policies/procedural aspects). Organizations with a positive safety culture are characterized by commitment to safety, shared care and concern for hazards and their impacts on people, realistic and flexible norms and rules about hazards, and reflection upon practice, highlighted by personal commitment, responsibility and mutual communication and trust (Guldenmund, 2000; Hudson, 2007).

Recently, research at Cranfield University has found that safety culture is linked to crashes when driving for work (Dorn, in press). Driver behaviour at work is affected by the company’s policies and practices and unwritten procedures which may be perceived as the manager’s general lack of understanding, or appreciation of driving situations including schedules, shift patterns, routes, traffic and increasing time pressure. A negative safety culture may be responsible for a stressful and unsafe work environment. Drivers’ are often driving tired, with sometimes difficult work relationships, with lack of assistance, driving under strict and unfeasible timelines, within urban or motorway traffic.

Organizations are required to do all that is reasonably practicable to reduce the risk of incidents and to assist you, we have provided a checklist of some of the main ways in which you can improve your safety culture and reduce your crash risk.

There are several ways in which your company can improve its safety culture over time. Here, we outline some of the basic policies, procedures and practices top be implemented as a priority.

Your obligations are to:

  • Ensure that all people who drive a company vehicle are legally entitled to drive with a current valid licence and as far as practicable that anyone driving a company vehicle drives in a safe manner.
  • Ensure so far as is practicable that all drivers are fit to drive.
  • Assess and monitor driving standards and safety performance and strive for continual improvement.
  • Ensure company vehicles are mechanically safe and any vehicle defects reported are rectified promptly.

Monitoring and Key Performance Indicators

Directors and managers are required to implement activities within their businesses that will reduce the number of traffic incidents. Evidence should be available to demonstrate your business is meeting its legal requirements and this can be achieved by monitoring road safety performance. Key performance indicators will allow good practice to be identified and assist in the introduction of improvements. There are many different ways of assessing KPIs and each business needs to determine which KPIs are most important. Common KPIs include number of at fault and part fault incidents, number of driving standards complaints, percentage of incidents investigated, percentage of alcohol/drug screening, and the percentage of high risk drivers in the business and how many are trained each year.

Driver Training

All businesses must drivers ensure their drivers are risk assessed. The Driver Risk Index™ provides an appropriate learning needs assessment to identify any specific learning needs that a driver might have. Each driver should receive an individual learning/coaching plan to work towards based on the DRI output. A programme of refresher coaching must be in place, and this should be compulsory for drivers who have had an at-fault incident, near miss or have had dangerous faults identified. Employees that have received complaints about their driving standard should also receive refresher training. Training and briefings must be recorded for auditing purposes.

Health

A number of latent health conditions may affect the ability of an employee to drive safely. In order to prevent problems and provide appropriate support to employees, it is recommended that medical screening arrangements are in place if management suspect that a health issue might affect safety. Drivers should also be required to inform their manager if they subsequently develop a health problem. A range of conditions can affect driving performance:

  • Sensory and mobility problems: Eyesight, hearing, balance or other loss of mobility.
  • Other conditions such as epileptic seizures, diabetes, fainting, heart conditions or sleep disorders.

Safety promotion and awareness

Companies should actively promote safety on the roads and the importance of high standards of driving. Promotion of good driving standards may take many forms:

Passive messages to drivers include:-

  • Use of notice-boards.
  • Use of TV screens linked to a PC
  • Poster campaigns.
  • Newsletters.
  • Road safety campaigns.
  • Overall safety performance being publicised by celebrating success

Additionally campaigns about general driver responsibilities and seasonal campaigns based around the weather or road conditions may serve to increase awareness and reduce incident rates.

An active approach by supervisors and managers takes the form of courteous communication to drivers about the importance of driving safely.