January 22, 2019
Elevate your Fleet Safety Program with Regular Vehicle Inspections
The workers’ comp industry has seen a steady rise in company vehicle accidents over the past few years, making a robust fleet safety program even more important. In fact, a study by the National Council on Compensation Insurance (NCCI) found that claims for motor vehicle collisions increased by five percent between 2011 and 2016. These types of incidents can cost 80 to 100 percent more than the average claim because they often involve serious injuries – but employee health and safety is, of course, the primary concern.
Many businesses own at least a handful of vehicles that their workers routinely use. If yours is one of them, it’s crucial to create an inspection and maintenance plan that will keep drivers secure behind the wheel. The best policies are proactive, as waiting for something to go wrong before taking action only ensures something will go wrong eventually. But what, exactly, is an effective fleet safety plan?
What Is Fleet Safety?
The central goal of every fleet safety program is to safeguard your employees while they’re on the road. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) estimates that close to 4 million American workers have jobs that require them to drive regularly, which highlights the need for reliable vehicles, well-trained drivers and clear safety guidelines. While the exact details of your safety plan will largely depend on the day-to-day activities of your drivers, every fleet management program should incorporate pre-trip inspections and comprehensive preventative maintenance.
Any vehicle issues or defects found during regular operation, inspection and/or maintenance must be thoroughly recorded and reviewed to ensure employees are not being put in harm’s way. This is one reason why working in close partnership with your drivers is essential, as they will be quite familiar with the ins-and-outs of the vehicles they operate at work.
How to Create an Effective Vehicle Inspection Checklist
The best way to keep your drivers safe and secure is for them to inspect each vehicle before, during and after every trip, no matter how brief or routine the journey might be. Drivers should be encouraged to record the results of vehicle check-ups using a standardized vehicle inspection checklist. While it may sound excessive, a proactive approach to roadway safety requires close attention to even the minor details of your fleet’s condition.
Here are a few things your fleet safety checklist should include:
- Body damage
- Tire pressure and excessive wear
- Headlights, brake lights, tail lights and hazard lights
- Windshield and windows
- Turn signals
- Fuel levels
- Seat belts
- First Aid Kit
Developing and using a standard vehicle checklist for all company vehicles and drivers is a great way to ensure the inspections are efficient and consistent. Remember, a strong fleet safety program starts with mutual understanding, so be sure to explain why these policies are important and how they benefit your employees in their day-to-day work. For more information, check out our instructional online resources.
Why Preventative Fleet Maintenance Is Crucial
Preventive maintenance plans are essential for securing the long-term safety of your employees and keeping company vehicles running at peak condition. Having your drivers routinely inspect and monitor vehicle conditions allows you to identify minor (and major) issues before they mature into dangerous problems. And a consistent maintenance schedule can give you and your employees the peace of mind needed to get the job done without unnecessary risk.
The main benefits of preventative vehicle maintenance include:
- Accident reduction: The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) ranks fleet maintenance and inspection among the most effective tools for reducing workplace vehicle accidents. Company vehicles that are well-maintained perform better in almost every situation, which is especially important when reacting to unexpected roadway hazards.
- Improved driver confidence: Vehicles in top condition are much easier to operate and control, in part because drivers trust they will perform reliably (and predictably) in difficult situations. Additionally, your employees will be more likely to drive safely and handle your fleet with care if each vehicle is routinely maintained.
- Reduced repair costs: Establishing fleet safety guidelines can help you save on overall maintenance costs, as scheduled repair work is typically three to four times more cost-effective than unplanned repairs. Vehicle repair schedules should always consider the specific mileage recommendations provided by the manufacturer and correspond to state and federal regulations.
- Increased vehicle productivity: Lengthy repairs can put vehicles out of commission for days, even weeks, which may seriously impact productivity for companies with smaller fleets. Preventative maintenance helps minimize interruptions to your workflow by reducing the frequency of breakdowns and major part replacements.
- Positive brand relations: Customers will appreciate your clean, well-maintained vehicles almost as much as your employees. By devoting time and energy to your fleet’s upkeep, you can demonstrate a commitment to professionalism and attention to detail that will reflect positively on your brand.
Developing a comprehensive fleet safety program reassures drivers of their valuable role within the company. But more importantly, it helps safeguard your employees’ well-being. The best way to communicate the value of these policies is to center your training programs on how vehicle inspection and maintenance contributes to overall road safety. Be sure to include information about defensive driving techniques and the importance of remaining focused at all times, as it will help illustrate your commitment to workplace health and safety. Companies with robust fleet safety plans can rest assured knowing their workers have access to reliable transportation and direct pathways to resolve any problems they encounter.