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How to keep employees safe at work: 4 steps fleets need to take

by Eleonora Malacarne on Feb 9, 2017 9:00:00 AM

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Even with only one employee on the road, if your business is dependent on vehicles and driving you need to make sure that employees work in a safe place: you have a precise duty of care as well as legal obligations; it makes no difference whether your company owns vehicles or if you employ the services of a grey fleet.

But what are some of the steps to be taken if you want to guarantee a safe place to work for your team? Let’s have a look at four actions you need to consider in order to meet safety standards at work for your employees.

 

1. Check the driving licences of your drivers on a regular basis.

The abolition of the paper counterpart has made it more difficult for companies to check the penalty points on the certifications of drivers. If you have an internal process for this, coupled with some documents to be filled out, you will not lose track of your drivers’ legal status and can even insert this particular procedure into your recruiting process or as part of your annual feedback.

 

2. Make sure everything you need is safely recorded.

Driving licence data, vehicle checks data and everything you need for compliance and safety purposes has to be securely recorded. This means if you are still using manual methods or spreadsheets, maybe it is the time to look into a new solution that is able to record material more securely; leaving your staff available for higher value tasks.

 

3. Keep checks and assessments frequent.

Conducting checks without a precise schedule, i.e. only when you remember to do them, or even according to a very infrequent schedule, renders them useless. Make sure you operate to a precise calendar schedule regarding checks and that they are frequent enough to guarantee safety and compliance as well as innovation and issue detection.

 

4. Make sure you have a fleet policy.

Make sure the processes you have are well documented and drafted into a document like a fleet policy, which establishes duties and rights of employees and employers; this helps to clarify specific points and increases the communication and dialogue between both parties.

 

 

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Topics: Safety, employees, safety at work, fleet policy

How to do a van conversion: 4 tips to get started

by Eleonora Malacarne on Feb 7, 2017 9:00:00 AM

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Fleets are increasingly exploring the possibility of van conversions as the number of vans on Irish and UK roads continues to increase. New commercial vehicle registrations totalled around 1.48 million in the UK, while in Ireland 18.3% more LCVs have been registered in 2016 compared with the previous year.


With the number of vans become increasingly higher on our roads, the demand for van conversions has also grown. Van conversions requested by businesses that would like to customise vehicles according to the specific needs of their companies are on the rise. This is something that could help in the job being carried out more safely and quickly, as the material workers need to transport on the van can be accessed more easily and are less mobile in transit. On the other hand, though, it is absolutely necessary to carefully check the finished customisation, the new weight and any other thing that could not only impact driving, but also safety, vehicle class and tax—if the conversion is quite dramatic, there might also be additional charges for you.

So, what is best to keep in mind if you have vans and want them to go through a conversion?


1. Safety and compliance always come first

Fleets have specific scopes and might need special racking according to what they do, but perhaps it isn't possible to have the van customised exactly as you want due to compliance needs or for safety reasons. It is fundamental to always keep this in mind.


2. Do not do it yourself

Some fleets are probably looking into using some of their workforce to do the van conversion. If you do not have a highly specialised workforce at your disposal, this can be quite risky as your team might not be aware of the specifics needed to meet safety and compliance standards, as well as absorbing a lot of their time which could otherwise be employed in more productive tasks.


3. Choose a specialist

Real specialists are experienced with van conversions; it is a great idea to go through your objectives with them. Ideally such specialists would listen to the needs of your fleet and business and explain the possible options available that don’t sacrifice safety and compliance.


4. Van certifications a plus

If you need to choose a van conversion specialist, make sure they have professional memberships: the Van Excellence FTA scheme for the UK or the Van Safe Program for Ireland would offer an extra guarantee that your van conversion specialist is equipped for the task.


Have you ever experienced a van conversion? How did you decide to go through with the process? What kind of issues did you experience and would you offer any advice? Let us know in the comment fields below!

 

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Topics: van, Safety, fleet

Health and safety of drivers at work: 3 recent offences for firms and staff

by Eleonora Malacarne on Jan 19, 2017 9:00:00 AM

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Three recent cases of legal offences in the UK involving the health and safety of drivers at work tragically highlighted the severe risk not only to staff but to other road users as well. Over recent weeks, in December and in January, these cases showed just how much more work is needed to properly sensitise operators to the importance of safety and legal compliance.

The first case of negligence was made public in December: the director of a haulage firm, with operations in Shrewsbury and Coalville, was disqualified from the industry for two years after a regulator found that he encouraged drivers to commit offences. The company owner of Steve’s Transport Ltd was personally involved in the breaches committed by his drivers by directly encouraging them to break the rules; he even removed a tachograph card in order to complete a delivery on time. The company’s drivers revealed their manager forced them to work when they should have been taking rest breaks or to continue driving without making a legal record of their work.

In the same month of December, another company manager and mechanic were found guilty of corporate manslaughter after a truck crash in which four people were killed. The case dates back to February 2015, when the 32 tonne tipper truck went out of control due to faulty brakes. After investigations were carried out, it was disclosed that the company had flouted regulations which are in place to ensure the safety of the public. Vehicles were signed off as being roadworthy, even though there were longstanding faults. The condition of the brakes on the lorry at the time of the crash was totally inadequate, with an overall efficiency of 28%. The company had completely disregarded safety and maintenance with the most recent checks on the vehicle being carried out more than one month before.

At the beginning of January, news was made public that a driver had been given a prison sentence and two more have been fined for falsifying driver hours records and in some occurrences failing to keep a proper record of them at a Tuffnells parcel depot in Devon.

These three recent cases of a breach in health and safety for drivers at work unfortunately send out the message that rules related to driver hours, recordkeeping and maintenance and vehicle check performance still need to be stressed within companies. It is a matter of urgency to create a company culture that promotes safety for the staff and the public on the roads as well as the best practices to reach compliance, in order not only to avoid incidents and decrease risks, but also for the good execution of work and tasks, which has an impact on safety, costs, insurance and on the operativity of a fleet.

Corporate manslaughter is a serious offence in the UK and it is likely to be treated similarly in Ireland with the 2016 introduction of the corporate manslaughter bill. Concepts such as duty of care and corporate social responsibility must be at the core of a fleet and part of its policies and culture.

 

 

 

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Topics: Safety, fleet safety, Fleet Management

Lower fuel prices cause fatalities to increase by 7% in the US

by Eleonora Malacarne on Sep 22, 2016 9:00:00 AM

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We are constantly trying to sensitize people to important issues, provide insights on fleet safety and demonstrate how to achieve lower fuel costs without necessarily relying on lower fuel prices; we advise companies to adopt sound long-term strategies and educate drivers toward more ecological and safer driving styles.

One of the stranger stories in the news lately concerns the lower fuel cost prices that the US have been experiencing of late; a fact which encourages Americans to drive more frequently which in turn, unfortunately, has led to a 7% increase in road fatalities.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), which issued a communication on Aug 29th, 2015: “The nation lost 35,092 people in traffic crashes in 2015, ending a 5-decade trend of declining fatalities with a 7.2% increase in deaths from 2014. The final data released  by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration showed traffic deaths rising across nearly every segment of the population. The last single-year increase of this magnitude was in 1966, when fatalities rose 8.1% from the previous year.”

When fuel is cheaper, Americans tend to drive more. An improving economy also naturally leads to more work-related driving, according to NHTSA. Other factors that contribute to the likelihood of a fatal traffic accident include drunk or distracted driving. Economists generally agree that low gas prices help stimulate the economy, though the modest economic growth of the last two years has led them to debate the extent of that effect. Still, an increase in traffic deaths is just one of several negative side effects. More driving also means an increase in the greenhouse gas emissions that cause climate change; and automobile pollution continues to be responsible for disease and death in America’s urban centres.

NHTSA and other government agencies are working on a number of programs aimed at stemming the rise in traffic deaths, such as

  • releasing an open data set that contains detailed, anonymized information about each of these tragic incidents;
  • using the studies of attitudes toward speeding, distracted driving, and seat belt use to better target marketing and behavioural change campaigns;
  • monitoring public health indicators and behaviour risk indicators to target communities that might have a high prevalence of behaviours linked with fatal crashes (drinking, drug use/addiction, etc.).

According to many transportation experts, in the long-term self-driving cars may be the solution that can erase traffic fatalities completely.

 

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Topics: Fuel, Safety

Health and Safety management: road fatalities increase in the UK

by Eleonora Malacarne on Sep 1, 2016 9:00:00 AM

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The management of Health and Safety is surely now a number one priority after the UK government recently came under criticism for the 2% increase in road fatalities and injuries on British roads.

According to figures from the Department for Transport (DFT), for the year up to March 2016, 1780 people were killed on the road and 22830 injured. The total number of casualties for the previous year was 22404. Analysis suggests one out of every three road casualties appears to be work-related, or, to put it more starkly, approximately 11 people are killed at work every week.

Until 2011 the figures published by the DFT were showing a gradual decrease, but in the past 5 years in the UK the trend has reversed, and since 2013 there has even been a 6% increase in fatalities. This reversing trend has resulted in criticism towards the Government, which has committed to reducing the number of road users killed or injured.

According to some experts, more action is needed especially towards drink driving (counting for around 13% of the deaths) and roads with higher speed limits (apparently 56% of fatalities occurred on such roads and the number of crashes increased on roads with these speed limits, while the rate is demonstrably reduced on roads with a lower speed limit).

Recently published data from a new research conducted by Aviva, shows 83% of drivers do not concentrate during car journeys, with 38% of them experiencing a near-miss and 16% being involved in a collision after not fully focusing behind the wheel.

According to the study by Aviva, drivers tend to be more complacent on familiar routes: when they plan new routes and drive on unfamiliar roads they tend to focus more.

If you deal with Health and Safety management within your fleet, we strongly recommend you pay some attention to these statistics in order to raise awareness on the issue of distracted driving, speeding and near-misses for the benefit of driver safety and that of other road users.

 

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Topics: Safety

Why a vehicle video system perfectly complements your telematics solution

by Eleonora Malacarne on Aug 23, 2016 9:00:00 AM

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Fleet telematics solutions have been helping big and small fleets to cut their global costs while increasing safety and security for some time now. Today, vehicle video systems and dashboard cameras offer an additional way to improve global fleet safety and increase employee welfare through increased security.

But in what ways are dashboard cameras the perfect addition to vehicle tracking or fleet management technology?

 

1. Dashboard cameras offer an extra way of monitoring driver behaviour

Fleet management systems help identify dangerous driving, but dashboard cameras provide extra context to the speeding, harsh braking, cornering or rapid acceleration events your overall system is capable of detecting. From the camera footage you will be able to see events in full and the routes taken by your drivers; noticing areas of difficulty as they arise and where drivers might need more training.

 

2. In-vehicle cameras increase driver security

With some features of fleet management systems or by following an unusual driving pattern you can of course assess whether your drivers could be in danger. Thanks to GPS technology you may well be able to spot if vehicles have been stolen if they are not in their usual site. Once again, dash cams provide that extra context—you can quickly ascertain whether your drivers need help or if your vehicles have been taken by unauthorised people.

 

3. Dash cams systems make insurance costs decrease

Insurance costs are sometimes a variable you can control if you have adequate proof of just what happened in the event of an accident. With both telematics and video recording technology you will be able to detect what actually happened in the case of an incident, protecting your company from false claims or scams and helping to quickly reconstruct the incident accurately.

 

4. Video cameras in fleet vehicles help reduce collisions and incidents

Monitoring driver behaviour and having footage in case of incidents or near-misses can be cross-checked with fleet metrics. The analytics obtained can be used for training drivers on safe driving styles and best practices as well as offering useful pointers that help to modify your fleet management strategy.

 

Photo Credit: By Fernost - Own work, Public Domain,
https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=29835936

 

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Topics: Fleet Management, Safety

Use of handheld mobile phone while driving: 1 in 6 drivers admits to it

by Eleonora Malacarne on Feb 24, 2016 9:00:00 AM

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Here we go again—despite all the media and safety officers’ attention on distracted driving, reinforced with police action, the use of a mobile phone behind the wheel is still an issue.

According to a recent poll commissioned in the UK by a legal firm, Simpson Millar LLP—the results of which were published 16th February in Fleet News—89% of GB adults recognise that there is some sort of penalty for using a mobile phone at the wheel, but just under half (47%) know the current penalty. 18% of motorists who have used social media at the wheel agree that they can check or update social media and drive safely at the same time. 46% of them believe that accessing social media does not cause a problem if they are stationary in traffic. 8% of all GB adults actually admit to using social media behind the wheel and 26% of those admit that the desire to keep in touch with people is one of the main reasons they have flouted the law.

Distracted driving, mainly caused by the use of a mobile phone or even a tablet behind the wheel, is one of the riskiest behaviours behind the wheel, leading to 10-30% of road accidents in the EU. It is, indeed, cause for concern that people seem to value social connectivity over and above their own and other's safety. Education, enforcement and sensitization, therefore, are much needed. Instead of connectivity, the focus should be on the social unacceptability of distracting oneself behind the wheel.

The RSA has released a campaign called “The anatomy of a split second” on the dangers of using a handeheld mobile phone while driving or updating social media behind the wheel—emphasising the point that even a second’s distraction can be lethal:

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Think! is responsible for the UK government’s road safety campaigns. In order to sensitize people to the problem of driver distraction, they set up an interactive test you can take online at http://think.direct.gov.uk/drivingchallenge/. The results can be very surprising!

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Brake is a road safety charity we support, active in a number of campaigns. The one concentrating on the misuse of phones is called “Drive smart”. Here is one of the disturbing images from of an older campaign, "Don't text and drive". You may notice the age of the campaign by the text images used, but the general point is still valid.

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We remind every driver to avoid the use of mobile phones behind the wheel.

 

 

 

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Topics: Safety

Commercial vehicle roadworthiness: is your fleet legally compliant?

by Eleonora Malacarne on Feb 17, 2016 9:00:00 AM

 

control-571145_1280.pngFor every fleet, the work never seems to stop. Vehicles and drivers travel every day in order to perform tasks and fulfil the terms of sales, whether it be delivering goods, transporting material or traveling from one place to another to provide a service or expand the business. But driving and travelling is just the tip of the iceberg for those companies that depend on driving.

Driving could well be your most important business activity but when we talk of driving, what does it actually consist of? Drivers, who are prepared for the job; vehicles that are well maintained, safe and functioning according to their requirements; preparation of schedules, journeys etc.  What needs to be done in order to run such a business seems never ending, and then there are the pressing questions you always have to be ready to answer:


Is your fleet legally compliant?

Do you regularly carry out your daily and weekly walk-around checks?

Do you train your drivers with a view to performing every task of their job safely?

Do you have a system in place for establishing these checks,
reporting defects and recording it all?

 

If you answered “yes” to the first question but are not sure about the subsequent ones, then your fleet is probably not 100% compliant and your initial “yes” should very well be a “no”.

Under UK, Ireland and EU legislation, owners are required and obliged to ensure vehicles are in a roadworthy condition, regular vehicle checks are completed and any defects rectified. In order to do so, a system comprising of risk assessments, training, checks and logging of all activity is necessary to legally guarantee vehicle roadworthiness.

European directive 2014/45/EU establishes precise obligations for frequent roadworthiness tests, 2014/46/EU on registration documents for vehicles and 2014/47/EU addresses roadside inspection of commercial vehicles as well as training. Companies are not only required to have a system in place for recording and reporting vehicle checks, but also to train drivers and staff to perform tasks safely and to guarantee safety in the place of work (and vehicles are a place of work).

Also according to the Road Safety Authority (Commercial Vehicle Roadworthiness) Act 2012, companies which rely on driving have to:


“(i) carry out planned routine maintenance,

“(ii) carry out routine vehicle safety checks (including daily and weekly walk-around checks on vehicles), or

“(iii) put in place systems for recording and reporting maintenance activity, rectification of vehicle defects and training of staff.”

 

Technology, of course, can provide a great help in scheduling and recording maintenance and safety checks, as well as offering a convenient system able to record and report maintenance.

SynX Perform is able to help you achieve this goal today more than ever, with a new option in its Driver App and in the software interface for carrying out and recording walk-around checks. But it is not the only aspect of your fleet we can help with: if you want to reduce fuel consumption, make your fleet safer by monitoring driver behaviour and your journeys more efficient, schedule a demo with us.

 

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Topics: Safety, fleet compliance

Work related accidents: 55 people killed in 2015 in Ireland

by Eleonora Malacarne on Jan 22, 2016 9:00:00 AM

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The Health and Safety Authority of Ireland (HSA) has released some worrying figures on work related accidents early this January.

According to the HSA reports, the total number of fatalities reached 55 in 2015, exactly the same number of fatalities that occurred during 2014. The agricultural sector registered a decrease in the total number of accidents (18 against 30), while the construction industry saw an increase (from 8 to 11).

The main cause of fatal incidents in 2015 were vehicle related.

These figures mark the importance of introducing risk assessment, of emphasizing health and safety at work as well as training employees on best work practices.

The Assistant Chief Executive of the HSA, Brian Higgisson, stated that there need to be further improvements in 2016: “There are high levels of safety and health awareness in Irish workplaces and we must ensure that this translates to changes in behaviour and fewer accidents in all the sectors this year.”

If your company relies on the use of vehicles and on driving in order to operate, you really should ensure safety is very much a priority again in 2016. This does not only involve actual driving activity but also coupling, uncoupling or any loading and unloading task your staff might have to undertake. You can refer to the HSA website at any point or to some of our former blog posts which specifically focus on safety tips.

 

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Topics: Safety

Sleep apnoea and driving: how can this be dealt with?

by Eleonora Malacarne on Dec 16, 2015 9:00:00 AM

Sleep apnoea and driving: how can this be dealt with?

Driver fatigue is one of the biggest contributory factors leading to road collisions. Such collisions are usually severe and are unfortunately often fatal, simply because sleepy drivers cannot take action or react evasively in the immediate moments preceding the accident: the impact usually occurs at high speed, often resulting in serious injuries or death.

Driver fatigue can originate from different causes: it can be anything from simple sleeping problems due to lack of quality recovery time and rest periods at home or during work breaks (which must be properly observed), to the use of prescription drugs which cause drowsiness, or even the presence of daytime sleepiness and diseases such as sleep apnoea.

Obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA) is in fact among the most prevalent conditions leading to excessive daytime sleepiness, in addition to impaired cognitive function, both of which are likely to impair driving ability.  An increased risk of traffic accidents has been demonstrated repeatedly, in association with OSA, as well its normalisation with effective treatment.

It is therefore very important that OSA is diagnosed and treated properly. Some of the symptoms that might indicate you suffer from OSA include:

• choking episodes during sleep;
• morning headaches;
• depression;
• waking feeling unrefreshed;
• difficulty concentrating;
• irritability.


If in doubt, and especially if you drive for a living, consult your GP and specify your line of work.

There is also an additional reason for doing this: according to the EU Directive - 2014/85/EU of 1 July 2014 amending Directive 2006/126/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council on driving licences, there are new and far reaching changes to driving licensing for ordinary drivers, but especially for all types of professional drivers. Such regulations especially affect those who have sleep apnoea and daytime sleepiness and all countries in the EU must adopt these new regulations by December 2015 at the latest.

This is what some of the key points within the directive actually state:

 

11.3.

Applicants or drivers in whom a moderate or severe obstructive sleep apnoea syndrome is suspected shall be referred for further authorised medical advice before a driving licence is issued or renewed. They may be advised not to drive until confirmation of the diagnosis.

11.4

Driving licences may be issued to applicants or drivers with moderate or severe obstructive sleep apnoea syndrome who show adequate control of their condition and compliance with appropriate treatment and improvement of sleepiness, if any, confirmed by authorised medical opinion.

11.5.

Applicants or drivers with moderate or severe obstructive sleep apnoea syndrome under treatment shall be subject to a periodic medical review, at intervals not exceeding three years for drivers of group 1 and one year for drivers of group 2, with a view to establish the level of compliance with the treatment, the need for continuing the treatment and continued good vigilance.

 

So, sleep apnoea and driving, how can this be dealt with? How should a company that employs drivers deal with the problem of OSA?

Companies with staff who drive for work should train drivers and their managers to look out for common symptoms—suspected sufferers should be taken off driving duty immediately and referred for medical assessment.

Annual health checks can also help identify potential OSA sufferers. Research has indicated that medical examinations for drivers that look for common health issues among sedentary workers, such as obesity, hypertension and diabetes, can help identify OSA in drivers who may not have noticed the symptoms themselves.

Road Safety organisations advise employers to be sympathetic to drivers who may have OSA. Drivers often won’t want to admit there is a problem because they will be scared they will lose their job. Employers can help with this by educating line managers about the condition, particularly the crucial fact that it is treatable.

OSA is treatable, so anyone who thinks they may be suffering should seek medical advice as soon as possible so they can start getting uninterrupted sleep again.

 

 

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Topics: Road Safety, fleet risk management, Safety, risk assessment

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