When did you last review and revise your company’s driver/vehicle safety policy? What is it’s “expiration date”?
Creating an effective, enforceable safety policy to govern how drivers drive, how vehicles get maintained, what to do in the case of a crash and so on is vitally important for a host of reasons:
1. Education: you need to communicate your expectations as a management team so that the drivers know what to do and how to do it.
2. Compliance: your standard provides a benchmark for enforcement of minimum acceptable performance.
3. Anticipates contingencies: well-crafted and communicated policies enable managers to deal with the vast majority of situations that may arise during a day, week or month without having to seek guidance from above while providing an escalation path for true exceptions.
One thing that the best policy can’t become is “timeless” — the world changes around us continually and as new technologies are introduced and case law is established our policies need to be reviewed to determine whether these changes warrant a revision to the policy.
Setting an artificial “expiration date” on driver/fleet safety policies would be one way to assure that the review is scheduled, budgeted and completed on a periodic basis. Assuming that policies will be reviewed and revised “on the fly” as changes occur may be fruitless as the demands of the moment may rob even the most dedicated manager of the time needed to complete the review/revisions in a timely fashion. By scheduling the review in advance, the manager can take a deliberate approach to the review.
Self-Audit Against an Industry Standard
One way to assure that any policy review is comprehensive would be to conduct a self-audit of the existing policy against a published industry standard or benchmark. The ANSI Z15.1 “sets forth practices for the safe operation of motor vehicles owned or operated by organizations” and was most recently revised in 2012. The standard covers seven key areas including “Definitions, Management, Leadership and administration, Operational environment, Driver considerations, Vehicle considerations, Incident reporting and analysis.“
While the standard may not cover all details of a specialty operation with unique exposures to loss, it does provide a baseline for comparison. For the vast majority of fleets, it will cover those critical areas that are found in most driver/fleet safety policies.
Fleets who discover gaps in their current policy can document why the gap exists and whether the gap should be filled or ignored (i.e. the fleet doesn’t engage in that type of operation or the scenario will not present itself in the context of the fleet’s current or anticipated operations, etc.)