driver safety Australia

How effective are your driver safety policies?

If you’re still having on-road incidents, they are not effective at all! If you’re not having incidents, then you’re probably just really really lucky!

Lots of businesses say to their prospects and customers “pick me, pick me! We are the market leader. Not only do we deliver on promises and service, we are first and foremost safety focused. Here, look at our safety message on our website and proposal, and here are our safety certificates and safety policies, nothing is done unless it’s done safely!”

All of these businesses 100% believe in this safety message and a zero harm objective. The real question is – how do they monitor their adherence to these policies? 

It’s all well and good having safety policies, however, what’s the purpose of them? Of course, it’s to ensure the safety of your employees whilst they perform their duties for the business. In order to do this though, risks must be identified then action taken to mitigate against highlighted risk. Simply writing a safety policy about what to do and not to do, is useless unless you actually take action and do something to avoid incidents in the first place.


What’s in your Safety Policy?

I recently came across a hospitality service business. They don’t even consider themselves to be in the transport sector, despite having over 150 heavy vehicles. 

They, like every other business, have a policy of “no mobile phone usage whilst driving” with a severe “one strike and you’re out” disciplinary action. When asked “How do you monitor your drivers’ adherence to this policy”, they thought about it for a while and simply said, “Well we can’t”. So just how effective is that clause on your safety policy?

Then we asked, “If you could monitor mobile phone usage whilst driving and it was discovered that 40% of your drivers were using the mobile whilst driving, are you really going to sack all these drivers?” What if it was the director discovered on the phone whilst driving?

We see the same issue with a seat belt policy. How do you monitor whether your staff are in fact using a seat belt? And would you fire everyone who doesn’t?  

I came across other businesses who are even more lost on road safety. They shoot themselves in the foot with their mobile phone policy by sending the drivers jobs via text or calling them and not providing Bluetooth or cradles. These businesses and their directors are right in the firing line for a heavy-handed NHVR and police investigation. They are effectively endorsing the driver to break the law and their company policy.

Using the mobile whilst driving makes the driver 23 times more likely to have an accident. With those odds, unless behaviours change, an accident will inevitably occur. Unless you are taking proactive actions to address these risks, you are just rolling the dice everyday…


Real safety requires risk management and mitigation

The CoR requires a risk assessment methodology to ensure safety in the workplace. So, what’s the difference between safety policy and risk management? In my experience, it’s not one or the other. They feed off each other in a constant and evolving loop.

Some businesses try to use GPS tracking or dashcams as a tool to improve their road safety. You may get harsh braking or cornering reports from your GPS system, now what do you do with that data? You may even get a location of where it occurred, great! You may get some really good video of a collision event from your SD card-based dashcam – hoping that it is was powered on, not corrupted or recorded over.

Neither system measures any on-road risks before an accident and therefore cannot mitigate against a risk it cannot identify. These 2 systems are identified as “lag indicators” meaning they provide information post-event. As discussed in a previous article, real safety requires action to avoid risk before it occurs.

Amongst our customers, having a great safety record via risk management and mitigation is a very profitable and successful path. 

Increased safety outcomes mean better productivity through less equipment downtime, makes the staff feel more secure and therefore happier and productive. On top of this, there is a reduction in unplanned repairs, sick leave, worker rehabilitation, etc.

This type of “utopian” incident and risk-free environment is not impossible at all; we see it all the time. Further, it attracts talent to your organisation, allows you to retain existing talent and attracts new customers.

So, if you haven’t already done one, I challenge you to do a thorough and honest risk assessment of your on-road risks. Then contact us to help you mitigate them for improved driver safety in Australia.

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