Running a fleet – if not done properly – can be a legal minefield, and we can’t stress enough how vital it is that you understand what’s expected of you/your company/your drivers and that all know what to do in order to fulfil those obligations.
These days so much focus is channelled into reducing fleet costs – and quite rightly so. For most companies the fleet features in the top 3 most costly assets, so cost control is vital. However, in the absence of a robust framework of legal compliance, your money-saving efforts are worth nothing. A single incident leading to prosecution could see your hard work come tumbling down around you.
It’s all about balance. We actively encourage you to seek out cost-saving initiatives, but never at the expense of legal compliance.
The importance of compliance
It has been estimated that up to a third of all road traffic accidents involve somebody who was at work at the time. This could account for over 20 fatalities and 250 serious injuries every week.
Every one of these results in a police investigation, and ultimately the police will be looking for the root cause of the accident. In other words, in the event of one of your drivers being involved in an accident like this, the police will need to be satisfied that the driver was not at fault. Otherwise, prosecution could follow. And consider this: that prosecution may not be to the driver, it could be you.
A company running a fleet has a duty of care towards its drivers and all other road users and a legal requirement to manage any risks involved in their working activities. And if found in breach of these obligations, the company – and ultimately its directors – are at a very real risk of prosecution and, in extreme cases, imprisonment.
The elements of a compliant fleet
Becoming (and remaining) compliant when running a fleet can be broken down into four key areas: vehicle, driver, journey and management.
Every vehicle used on company business must be:
- Fit for the purpose for which is it being used
- Correctly maintained to a safe condition
- Regularly inspected for defects and damage
- Adequately equipped with properly fitted/maintained safety provisions
Staff members driving for your company (even occasionally) must be:
- Competent and capable of driving in a way that is safe for them and other people
- Hold the appropriate licence for the vehicle they drive and be properly trained
- Aware of the minimum standards of driving and vehicle use expected by the company
- Adequately fit and healthy to drive safely and not put themselves or others at risk
Journeys need structure in order to safeguard the drivers and minimise risk.
- Routes need to be planned in a way that maximises safety and helps drivers avoid hazards
- Work schedules must be realistic
- Expectations of the drivers in terms of their hours/rest breaks must be reasonable
- Consideration needs to be given in the event of adverse weather conditions
This is the crucial framework that supports the above three elements, and is divided into four areas:
- Policy: your company ‘rules and regulations’ – documented, if you employ 5 or more people
- Responsibility: understanding of who does what
- Systems: the routines, tasks and documentation processes that need to be carried out
- Monitoring: the ongoing evaluation of all the above
Assessing your risk
Risk assessments for any work-related driving activity should follow the same principles as risk assessments for any other work activity. Some would argue that driving-related risk assessments are even more essential than other workplace risk assessments, simply because of the magnitude of the risks involved on the road.
Risk assessments are a common cause of concern for many companies. Often viewed as overly complex, time-consuming and even unnecessary, they are a ‘missing link’ in many organisations. A worrying state of affairs, when you consider the sheer scale of risk associated with fleet management.
Risk assessments for fleet activity are clearly not unnecessary, but nor do they have to be overly complex or time-consuming. With the right level of understanding and a common-sense approach, they can quite easily form a straightforward and routine part of your fleet management culture. Think about it like this:
- A risk assessment could be defined as a careful look at what at-work activities can cause harm to people
- It helps you weigh up whether you have done enough (or need to do more) to prevent harm or injury
- It doesn’t have to be over-complicated or technical
- It helps you to collate your findings and make sure they’re reviewed and revised when necessary
- It should be carried out by a person who has competency and practical knowledge of the task in question
- For most smaller businesses, the hazards are easy to pinpoint
- The ultimate aim of risk assessments is to make the risk of at-work injury or fatality as low as possible
Helping companies to run fleets that are legally compliant is the mainstay of FleetCheck’s existence. We know that even in today’s culture of heightened legal awareness, most companies remain concerned to some degree about the strength of their risk management strategy. Some lack the expertise and/or understanding, others simply run out of time to create and implement effective policies, and almost all are nervous about how they would respond should the worst happen and they were faced with an investigation following a road accident.
FleetCheck dramatically reduces the scale of these concerns, by giving companies a complete framework to underpin their legal responsibilities surrounding the fleet. Clearly FleetCheck cannot remove the burden completely – each company is ultimately responsible for their compliance – but the tools, processes and guidance provided by FleetCheck ensure you have everything you need to create, implement and maintain a robust fleet risk management system.