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Tackling a Universal Risk

Diana Stegall, CSP, CFPS, ARM, SMS, CPCU, 2019-20 ASSP President
Apr 01, 2020

Our experiences growing up inform our beliefs, as do our experiences “growing up” in our careers. I “grew up” in safety working for a multiline insurance company. Those experiences helped me see the connection between worker safety and health and business outcomes. They also cemented my understanding of the need to identify hazards and address those that present the highest risk.

If your organization is not yet discussing risk, conducting risk assessments and implementing corrective actions as a result, take the lead and introduce these concepts and educate your teams, leaders and employees. When performed well, risk assessments bring value to your organization and help you set priorities for improvement. They are also a great opportunity to engage employees and promote cross-functional interaction while helping everyone better understand how to identify and control risks that could diminish organizational performance.

If you do not know where to start, visit the Risk Assessment Committee web page. Also, consider adding the ISO 31000 standards to your toolbox. These standards can help you establish a common language for risk management within your organization.

By focusing on risk, your organization can look beyond compliance. This mindset is particularly helpful when assessing a universal risk such as fleet exposure. It is easy to think that fleet risks are only a concern for organizations that operate a commercial fleet and employ professional drivers. But even organizations without commercial fleets face fleet risks.

Ask these three questions:

    1) Does one of our employees drop off mail at the post office or deliver deposits to the bank?
    2) Do our employees drive their own vehicles for company business?
    3) Do our employees rent vehicles during business travel?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, your organization has fleet exposure.

In 2018, Bureau of Labor Statistics reported 5,250 workplace fatalities in the U.S. More than 24% (1,276) of these deaths involved a roadway incident. Roadway collisions have been a leading cause of occupational fatalities in the U.S. for the past 10 years. They also cause more than 40,000 nonfatal injuries each year. This problem is not unique to the U.S. Our global members indicate that roadway safety is as a major concern in their countries as well.

As you assess potential sources of worker injuries and fatalities in your workplace, be sure motor vehicle operations are on the list. Many companies without commercial fleets have limited or no programs and policies that address driving for company business, whether in a company-owned vehicle or a personal car. If your organization asks someone to drive as part of their job and you have no programs and policies in place, you are exposing that worker and your organization to risk.

In assessing this risk, here are a few factors to consider:

  • Do you have a provision to periodically check the motor vehicle records of employees most likely to drive for company business so you can determine whether you want them to do so?
  • Even if employees are driving their own vehicles for work, do you have an audit procedure in place to check the basic safety features on those vehicles?
  • Have you set expectations on driving defensively, obeying traffic regulations (including seat belt usage) and not driving when fatigued or distracted, which includes texting and other distractions?
  • The ANSI/ASSP Z15.1 consensus standard specifies safe practices for motor vehicle operations. It also contains a template that any employer can adapt to assess its fleet-related risks and implement needed policies and procedures. You can also access a wealth of industry insight and practical guidance by connecting with members of our Risk Management and Transportation practice specialties.

    If we can prevent even 10% of roadway incidents, we will have an impact on workplace fatalities and take another step toward creating a safer, stronger future for workers everywhere.


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