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Why fleet safety is as important as workplace health and safety

At a glance

  • Statistics reveal that driving is probably the highest risk activity that any UK employee will undertake on behalf of their organisation
  • Employers have a formal duty of care for workers using cars on company business
  • Risk of reputational damage for a business if a member of the public or an employee is injured or killed because of a road collision on a work-related journey

Every day, there are more than 150 vehicles driven on company business that crash. And every year, there are around 10,000 serious injuries resulting from road collisions involving someone making a work-related journey, including around 1,000 road deaths.

Indeed, workers are at significantly greater risk of losing their lives in a road collision while driving for business than dying in any other workplace accident, making driving probably the highest risk activity that any employee will undertake on behalf of their organisation.

For example, someone driving 25,000 miles a year has a 1 in 8,000 chance of being killed at work every year. Someone in the construction industry – usually seen as a high-risk activity – has a 1 in 10,000 chance.

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These are among the findings produced by Driving For Better Business, the government backed campaign aimed at reducing work-related driving injuries through better employer awareness of their accountability.

Employers have a formal duty of care for workers using cars on company business under the Road Safety Act of 2006 and the Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act of 2007. Together these have formalised what constitutes employer responsibility regarding health and safety and unambiguously includes business vehicles as a place of work.

“Effective work-related road risk management will help you meet your duty of care, minimising the risk of harm to your employees and other road users, reduce your risk of prosecution in the event of a serious collision, and help you manage your carbon footprint related to your driving activities,” said Andy Price, Regional Practice Leader, Motor Fleet, at Zurich.

“And from a financial perspective it will also help you manage your total cost of ownership and total cost of risk.”

Clearly defined processes

With the legislation in place, companies need to ensure they have clearly defined and audited processes in place to manage the risk associated with work-related driving, as the frequency of collisions remains high, warns Nick Kitchen, Head of Casualty and Motor at Zurich.

“In 2012, there were more than 195,000 casualties on Britain’s roads and, of the three million company cars across the UK, roughly one in three will be involved in a collision each year,” he said.

The financial risks of failing to manage work-related road risks can also be extremely damaging to a business. The International Loss Control Institute estimates that, for every £1 recovered through insurance, there are £8-£53 in uninsured losses, depending on the severity of the incident.

“There are a range of serious hidden costs not covered by vehicle insurance,” said Nick. “An important issue here is absenteeism, due to injury, and its knock-on effects on an organisation’s bottom line in terms of lost business or sourcing temporary cover.

“There could also be reputational consequence for a business if a member of the public or an employee is injured or killed because of a road collision on a work related journey and a corporate manslaughter prosecution could follow.”

There could also be reputational consequences for a business if a member of the public or an employee is injured or killed because of a road collision on a work-related journey – particularly if corporate manslaughter is suspected

Nick Kitchen, Head of Casualty and Motor at Zurich

Duty of care

So, what should firms do to reduce their exposure to risk?

Businesses have a duty of care towards employees and are responsible for identifying and mitigating any risks they may face. With this in mind, Zurich recommends that all companies review fleet risks and exposures, and the current risk management programme in place, as well as develop a tailored risk management programme to supplement current fleet risk management initiatives that fit objectives and budget.

Use of Zurich’s innovative Fleet Intelligence (ZFI) proposition could also enable safer, more efficient and environmentally friendly fleets. Partnering with leading telematics providers, ZFI combines the strength of driver behaviour-based vehicle telematics systems with the power of reporting tools to turn data into meaningful insights. This could help to reduce the frequency and severity of vehicle crashes through driver behavioural change, reduced fleet operating costs and increased fuel economy.

Occupational road risk issues, then, should be a matter for the board agenda; identifying the need for management interventions ranging from re-organising sales territories to ensuring robust policies are in place for fatigue management.

Image © Getty

For more information, get in touch

Nick Kitchen | Head of Casualty and Speciality Lines | 0121 697 8629

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