Then and Now: Promoting at-work road safety through improved fleet management
According to the International Labour Organisation (ILO) each year around two million people lose their lives through occupational accidents or diseases globally. Not only is this an unacceptable human toll but preventable work-related injuries also cost the global economy $2.8 trillion in lost working hours, medical compensation and rehabilitation. Health and safety at work is vitally important, and this includes road safety.
For many people, driving is the most dangerous thing they do while at work. With one in three road crashes involving someone driving for work, better management of occupational road risk could play a very significant role in achieving the SDG road safety targets and meeting renewed targets to cut road traffic deaths by 50 per cent by 2030. The World Health Organisation (WHO) Save LIVES road safety technical package calls for ‘leadership in fleet safety’ to both reduce road casualties and encourage more public transport use.
With the growth of online retail, occupational road risk is becoming a growing area of concern as more and more businesses deliver their products by road. Yet, as Adrian Walsh, Director of RoadSafe, highlights in in his introduction to the EASST Academy Road Safety at Work Online Course for Managers, “many business managers do not realise that the single biggest risk to their business is the people they employ who drive for work”.
The cost of a road traffic collision involving just one company vehicle can have a significant impact on a company’s profits. Commercially, in the UK, for every £1 recovered through insurance after a crash an additional £8.53 is lost in uninsured expenses. These so-called ‘hidden costs’ might include losses due to late or missed deliveries, absent staff and even brand reputational damage. Expand this on a national scale, and the cost of poor road safety management can be devastating, particularly for low and middle-income countries where vehicle fleets are often old, insurance cover is poor, and there is little in the way of driver or fleet management training.
EASST decided to address this issue in 2013 by developing a course to improve knowledge and skills in managing occupational road risk in low and middle income countries. The course was produced in partnership with Cranfield University, drawing upon the expertise of Lisa Dorn, Associate Professor of Driver Behaviour at Cranfield University, and Adrian Walsh, then Chairman of the UN Road Safety Collaboration Working Group on Occupational Road Safety (and a member of the EASST Advisory Board).
The first course took place in London with the participation of EASST partners and colleagues from Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Greece, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Montenegro, Ukraine and the UK. The course benefited from the input of road safety champions from companies involved in the ‘Driving for Better Business’ campaign including Tesco.com, Arval, Amey, Skanska, Shell and the Freight Transport Association. It gave participants insight into the importance of work-place road safety and the relatively easy steps companies, NGOs and governments can take to improve occupational road safety management.
Building on this experience, EASST wanted to develop a resource to reach out to fleet managers in its partner countries and beyond, delivering industry expertise in a way that was both accessible and affordable. In partnership with Cranfield University and the IRU Academy, the ‘Road Safety at Work: Online Course for Managers’ was launched via the EASST Academy online education platform in 2016.
Taught by leading professionals in the field, the course – which is currently available in English, Russian and Kazakh – helps managers enhance their knowledge and develop the skills needed to set up, run and monitor an effective road safety management strategy. It describes how fleet safety can help organisations cut insurance costs, reduce the damage to vehicles and goods, get better staff retention and achieve significant reductions in working time lost through road collisions. Practical examples of fleet management systems and best practice are used throughout, so that users can learn from real experiences and build achievable strategies to improve fleet safety management in their companies based on their needs and resources.
Making work-place road safety common practice
To reduce road fatalities on the scale needed to meet UN targets, occupational road safety management needs to be embedded as common practice in every work-place. To this end, in 2018, EASST and the Belarusian Auto Moto Touring Club hosted a roundtable with fleet managers, business owners, and government representatives from Minsk to highlight the importance of, and vital need for, more robust fleet safety management, not only in Belarus but also regionally.
EASST demonstrated how companies and businesses in Belarus can play their part to improve fleet safety management through better training. EASST Academy delivered a special ‘blended’ version of the Road Safety at Work: Online Course for Managers including video-lectures, as well as interactive sessions on financial management and grey fleets with course instructor Andy Price, followed by a lively discussion. The course included guidance for managers on how to make the case for fleet safety management in their companies, and how to design and implement an action plan to properly manage road risk in the workplace.
In 2019 EASST Director Emma MacLennan joined the new Standards Committee of Global Fleet Champions, a not-for-profit campaign administered by Brake, the road safety charity. The Standards Committee will work to promote good fleet practice around the globe, including in countries currently facing some of the greatest challenges. Where good fleet management is practised, it has been shown to have a strong impact on fleet safety, reducing the number and financial cost of collisions as well as the number of deaths and injuries.
To find out more about EASST Academy and our Road Safety at Work: Online Course for Managers visit www.easstacademy.org
 World Day for Health and Safety at Work, http://www.un.org/en/events/safeworkday/background.shtml