'RiskMaster' Puts Companies On The Road To Safer Driving

Road-risk management programme to help company managers avoid pitfalls of new legislation that’s set to make companies more vulnerable to prosecution in the event of a road traffic accident.

With corporate manslaughter legislation expected to come into force later this year and closer scrutiny by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and police, a new road-risk management programme - called ‘RiskMaster’ - has been created to promote a safe driving culture and protect companies from prosecution.

Currently up to 20 people die and 250 are seriously injured every week as a result of road traffic accidents involving work-related activity*. Fleet Support Group (FSG) - the largest independent fleet management company in the UK - has teamed up with the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) to improve road safety, reduce employee liability costs and in some cases save up to 25% on insurance premiums.

Tailor made to suit needs, ‘RiskMaster’ helps companies set clear objectives and asks fleet managers to apply for an on-line ‘permit to drive’ for all drivers - including those employees driving non-company vehicles. Drivers are then asked a series of questions to establish ‘fitness to drive’; this helps identify those who might need further training, which is provided by RoSPA.

Acting as a robust management tool, ‘RiskMaster’ utilises bespoke software to measure driving performance on an ongoing basis - ensuring safe driving and roadworthy vehicles.

*[RoSPA, 2005]

Urging companies to act now before legislation becomes mandatory, FSG chairman, Geoffrey Bray says, "Under the new bill, companies will be held to account if it can be shown that a work-related death has been caused by management failure. The object of ‘RiskMaster’ is to change attitudes towards managing work-related road safety, and to promote a ‘safe driving culture’, while at the same time reducing vehicle and associated costs.

"By acting on information pin-pointed by ‘RiskMaster’, a company can demonstrate both corporate and social responsibility and protect its biggest asset - its people. Because ‘RiskMaster’ software is built on the basis of absolute compliance - both legal and operational - in the event of any major incident where a company is subject to investigation, its robust nature will satisfy the most stringent audit."

Launched by FSG following a three-year development programme with RoSPA, ‘RiskMaster’ can take on the management of all maintenance and accident-related activity. This includes real-time video inspections of vehicles anywhere in the UK, annual vehicle health checks and fitting of electronic monitoring systems.

Comments Charles Davis, Head of RoSPA Driver & Fleet Solutions, "Work-related road accidents are often viewed by employers as something they can do nothing about. Guidance from the Health and Safety Executive makes it clear that employers can no longer abdicate their responsibilities for managing work-related road safety. The HSE have clearly stated that work-related road safety is to be treated as part of mainstream health and safety management. If called to account, companies implementing ‘RiskMaster’ can demonstrate efficient management of occupational road risk and boost employee morale by showing companies take their social and moral responsibilities seriously."

‘RiskMaster’ was developed in consultation with Goughs Solicitors. Adds Kevin Basnett, the firm’s Employment Law Specialist, "Some employers may think offering cash as an alternative to a company car is a way to avoid prosecution. This is not the case. It is now accepted that reducing management control of fleet vehicles increases the likelihood of vehicles becoming less roadworthy and drivers less responsible - such a course increases the risk of prosecution."

Out to create a safe working environment for all employees driving on company business or driving company-owned vehicles, a ‘RiskMaster’ trial was carried out by one of FSG’s clients, Barnes Group UK Limited - operating a fleet of 60 light commercial vehicles and 50 company-provided cars. With a risk assessment policy signed off at board level and managed by FSG, results showed incident rates down by 20%; maintenance costs down by 15% and insurance premiums reduced by 25% in the first year alone. The second year of the trial saw a further reduction of 15% in insurance premiums.

Comments Jeremy Jarvis, Finance Director, Barnes Group UK Limited, "The introduction of the programme has had a dramatic effect. Staff have recognised the all-round value. The company is seen to be doing something positive. It’s a win-win situation."

FSG offers ‘RiskMaster’ either on the basis of the client company managing the process internally or where FSG manages the entire process based on the provision of maintenance and accident management services.

9 August 2005 Staff

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