It’s not common knowledge that nearly one third of all workplace fatalities in New South Wales are the result of road crashes. For transport operators, ensuring the safety of a workforce can be challenging at best.
Following Australia’s first industrial manslaughter convictions last year, vehicles are now legally considered a part of the workplace. This means being proactive in mitigating risks for staff, or risk serious fines and even jail time.
Teletrac Navman’s Chief Product Officer, Andrew Rossington has some suggestions to assist decision-makers in keeping out of legal trouble while keeping the people under their care safe.
Automated vehicle maintenance according to Andrew is a must.
“Maintaining your fleet via paper pre-trip checklists and manual maintenance scheduling creates potential hazards if paperwork is misplaced,” he says. “New issues that arise may not be captured or flagged with other staff, opening yourself up for serious trouble.”
With integrated fleet management systems, drivers can electronically complete pre-start checklists and the back-office team can access up-to-date engine and vehicle maintenance data at any point in time.
That way a comprehensive history of each asset can be pieced together in addition to having a report generated on engine and driver performance, without always needing to physically be there or having to chase up previous paperwork.
“With digital pre-start checklists, drivers can notify maintenance staff of potential issues,” says Andrew. “The workshop team can order parts and schedule proactive repairs instantly, even if the driver is on the road, to be repaired upon return.”
Another key area of focus should be road safety policies. Part of keeping drivers safe while they’re out on the road is creating a road safety policy that’s regularly updated and available to everyone.
Ensuring that the technology used within the business is added into and updated constantly in the business’s policy is an important, yet often overlooked, step says Andrew.
“Physical policy documents can be easily misplaced and need to be updated manually, making it tricky for everyone across the fleet to access the required and correct paperwork,” he explains.
“Switching over to in-cabin devices means that drivers, contractors, and operators provides a simple yet powerful mechanism to view or access the road safety policy electronically and be alerted to new or changed documents in real-time.”
But policies are, as is often the case, only as good as how well they are practiced.
“Encourage your team to keep up to date, voice any confusion and seek advice,” says Andrew. “Keeping these practices in conversation ensures they are always top of mind and it also helps to mitigate risk.”
While advanced solutions greatly reduce the risk of incidents, Andrew believes the time taken to talk with each employee and understand any concerns they may have around driver safety is always beneficial.
As some drivers may be more prone to dangerous habits, a fleet-wide policy should be paired with individual reviews of driver behaviours.
By integrating telematics into the fleet, driver data can be used to create a safer workplace. Should several members have issues with safe driving practices such as speeding, custom driver training programs can be introduced that are tailored to their needs.
“AI-enabled technology is revolutionising how we view fleet management, from the back office to the truck cabin, all while elevating driver safety and boosting efficiency,” says Andrew.
“With vehicle cabins now legally considered part of the workplace, transport operators need to do everything in their power to keep staff safe, or risk serious legal consequences that now include jail time. By digitising your maintenance checklists, creating a road safety policy and using driver scorecards, you’ll be on the right path to mitigate potential risks and ensure the safety of your fleet.”