Safety has always been a top priority and concern of the transport industry. It is in everyone’s best interest to keep our roads safe for drivers delivering much-needed goods. Fleet owners are well aware that accidents, regardless of their cause, cost money, which can either devastate a small business or have at least a painful impact on a large one. Today, there are a number of measures that can be taken to minimise risks of the trade, as well as head off unforeseen ones.
Prior to establishing a risk management protocol, it is wise to run a risk assessment on all sections of your business. Areas of particular interest should include:
Fleet Maintenance: Are your vehicles in top condition? Regular maintenance is an obvious part of the job, but its importance should not be underestimated.
Modern Technology: Is your fleet equipped with high-quality vehicle cameras in both the front and the rear? In the case of an accident, camera footage is imperative, as people’s memories often fail them under pressure.
Employees: Are they well-trained, well-rested and well-compensated to encourage a vested interest in their work and company?
Obviously, there may be other holes within a company that need to be plugged to stave off risks, such as the loss of goods, profit and safety. However, the key areas mentioned above are crucial in maintaining a company’s reputation, as well as the public’s safety.
One of the most proactive areas that the transport industry has embraced is driver training. Employers have quickly found that the right skill level and attitude is a must for a careful and trustworthy driver. Many companies now institute the following measures to ensure they hire only the best.
Thorough Background Checks: Include a criminal and motor vehicle review, and increase the geographical range for your inquiry. Require mandatory drug testing prior to hire, and maintain an ‘at will’ policy regarding future testing.
Comprehensive New Driver Training: Initial training and regular testing of skills is paramount in a job that requires constant concentration and accuracy. Periodic driving skills reviews and continued training opportunities will keep your employees skills sharp, helping you eliminate those who are at risk of a ‘burn-out’.
Offer ‘Zero Incidents’ Incentives: Encourage your fleet drivers to go the extra mile to ensure their own safety, as well as that of their vehicle, load and the public. Quarterly monetary incentives will help encourage employees to see the company’s safety as a personal responsibility with personal rewards.
The shipping, logistics and transport industry cannot fight all of these risks alone. Be sure to lean on the technology industry for the latest and most accurate Nav systems to plot the most appropriate routes. Utilise high-resolution cameras to record accidents and to protect your fleet against theft and damage. However, due to our society’s volatility, it is also important to partner with police at all levels. As more comprehensive safety regulations are placed on the transport industry as a whole, it is best to participate in it rather than begrudge it. We all play a role in protecting ourselves and our community.
Sadly, relying on the common sense of others is never a recommended safety measure. Taking more than just the necessary precautions may seem paranoid, but to an insurance company, government regulators and risk managers, it will show your company’s commitment to protecting your interests as well as others. Many insurance companies offer financial incentives to businesses in the transport industry that choose to go that extra mile. So, assume ‘it’ will happen and prepare for ‘it’ to happen. Put all possible measures into place to prevent ‘it’ from happening, and you and your bottom line will be able to rest easy.
Norman Dulwich is a Correspondent for Haulage Exchange, the leading online trade network for the road transport industry. Haulage Exchange provides services for matching transport industry professionals with available drivers or haulage work. Over 4,500 transport exchange businesses are networked together through their website, trading jobs and capacity in a safe 'wholesale' environment.