Obviously, for any fleet, the safety of their truck drivers and the general public are always of top priority, and there’s good reason for this. When a fleet vehicle gets into an accident, it is costly for several reasons. Not only could a heavy-duty commercial vehicle accident result in costly vehicle repairs and loss of productivity, but it could also end up in injury or even death.
This is why it is so important to have a comprehensive fleet safety program in place. Fleets who aren’t putting enough emphasis on safety may find their drivers CSA scores fall right alongside a non-existent safety program.
There are to primary contributors to vehicle accidents: truck driver behaviors and maintenance problems. When an accident results from either of these two factors, one must consider that it likely could have been prevented. This is what makes them especially problematic. So what can a safety-minded fleet manager do?
Start with Culture
Ensuring a fleet operates with safety in mind starts at the cultural level. If there aren’t a series of shared beliefs, practices and attitudes driving the people within the organization, buy-in won’t get very far.
Creating a strong safety culture isn’t something that happens overnight. It takes time. It also takes buy-in, not only from the front-line truck drivers, but from everyone from the executive office to the back office to the shop.
All levels of the organization need to come together and share in the responsibility of running a safe fleet operation. Focusing on safety must become integral to the job function – to everyone’s job function.
The fact is, companies with a solid, mature safety culture can reach zero injury rates. That’s right, it’s not impossible. And when they do, they find that it’s a lot easier for their managers and employees to give safety the deference it is due.
While culture is endemic, risk is something that can be actively managed. To get started, one first must do a risk assessment. This process involves discovering hazards and analyzing the risks associated with the operation.
The goal of a risk assessment should always be to isolate or remove a potential hazard and categorically reduce the risk associated with said hazard. To do so, one must add control measures or precautions into the system.
The best way to proceed through assessing a risk management program is to ask questions.
- How does the organization as a whole behave where safety is concerned?
- Are we quantifying and analyzing our safety behavior?
- If not, how can we quantify our safety behavior?
- Are we in full regulatory compliance?
- Is our CSA profile at or above those of our direct competitors?
Once these questions are answered, you have to evaluate where it is you want to end up and what you want the end goals to be. You can either commit to this undertaking yourself or hire an independent company to do it for you.
No matter what you decide, here are the different risk assessment categories that one needs to be looking out for:
- Three-year loss/run analysis
- Loss prevention
- Incident investigation
- Claims management
- Emergency procedures
- Onboarding and training
Once you have properly laid out and evaluated your level of risk, you will need to create a baseline number for your organizational safety behaviors. It will be important to be able to quantify exactly what the information means.
With this step completed, you will be ready to start putting pen to paper in an effort to create a truly comprehensive safety management program. Just remember to always ensure your goals are realistic and your data is actionable. After all, the last thing you want is to have gone through all that only to have your safety program fall flat.