06 Jul The grey fleet – the invisible road safety risk in your workplace
Most companies that required workers to drive as part of their job have road safety risk assessments in place, but have you considered your grey fleet?
The data is clear when it comes to the importance of ensuring compliance when it comes to workers operating vehicles and machinery.
Safe Work Australia data revealed in the Work-related Traumatic Injury Fatalities, Australia report that 31 per cent of all worker fatalities in 2018 were caused by vehicle collision, with a large gap between that and the second-placed cause of being hit by moving objects which sat at 17 per cent. Industries, where driving is a key function, dominated the 2018 fatalities as well, with the transport, postal and warehousing, agriculture, forestry and fishing and construction industries making up almost 70 per cent of all fatalities.
And it is not just worker injuries and fatalities that employers can be liable for, it is also members of the community that could be hurt or killed because of the actions of workers. And the Safe Work Australia report revealed that 77 per cent of all bystander fatalities were caused by vehicle collisions.
Most companies will have robust fleet management, compliance, risk assessment, training and safety protocols put in place for workers that will operate company vehicles as part of their duty. But what about those workers that use their own vehicles? And what about the use of hire vehicles?
That gap is called the grey fleet, where workers are using vehicles not owned by their employing company.
Grey Fleet Compliance
A company’s grey fleet is a grey area when it comes to compliance, as it is not a term included in any Australian legislation or in case law. Australia’s National Road Safety Partnership Program (NRSPP) describes our current laws as undeveloped and legal liability is dependent “on the jurisdiction, legal context and the wording of specific legislative provisions”.
Why more and more companies are moving towards a grey fleet
Because of the legal and compliance issues surrounding grey fleets, there has been a push towards moving away from them across the world. But this push is backfiring, with more and more companies actually adopting and expanding their grey fleets.
Richard Schuster is the Group Manager of Procurement, Fleet and Sustainability at Churches of Christ in Queensland and he has seen the adoption of grey fleets rise in community, volunteer and non-profit organisations. He said these organisations were moving away from owning fleets to manage costs, but alarmingly also to reduce overheads involved in training and compliance.
“There’s this move away from owned fleet to packaging and providing, novating, providing a car allowance because then you just reduce your fleet, the problem goes away,” he said.
“We don’t need to worry about it then, it’s not on our books, just give them a car allowance and we’re covered. But unfortunately, no. As we’re well aware, we can’t do that. That just shifts the responsibility. Responsibility stays there, but the fleet’s just moved.”
Community and volunteer organisations are not the only ones moving towards grey fleets. NRSPP Manager Dr Darren Wishart said many organisations and companies across a range of industries were moving away from traditional fleets and fears that could result in a spike in workplace vehicle fatalities.
“We certainly need to be careful because those statistics of fatalities in a work vehicle could potentially go up if we don’t have the same management capacity in that way.”
The issues and challenges of a grey fleet
As previously mentioned, legislation in Australia and most countries around the world has not caught up to grey fleet management and compliance. That means there is little framework for companies to operate off and little enforcement to ensure companies are ensuring their grey fleet is completely safe.
That doesn’t mean companies are not liable if a worker is injured or killed while driving as part of their job or injures/kills someone else as a result of their actions.
The Vehicles as a Workplace – Work Health and Safety Guide has been compiled by state and territory Work Safe bodies, as well as government bodies, and it warns that WHS obligations extend to grey fleets, even if legislation does not.
“While many organisations have comprehensive policies and procedures to manage the acquisition, operation and use of their own vehicles, many pay much less attention to the other vehicles that may be used, in particular, the grey fleet. WHS legislation does not distinguish between vehicles which an organisation directly owns or leases, and other vehicles,” the guide states.
Some of the issues involved with workers driving their own vehicle or hire vehicles include:
- Are companies training people the right way? On a regular basis?
- Do workers have the right skills? Are they up to date?
- Do they have a valid drivers licence?
- Are workers inspecting their vehicle every month?
- Are they keeping up to date with recalls?
- Does the vehicle have the right fittings like a cargo barrier?
- When does the work journey become a work journey?
The age of vehicles is also a factor, with many drivers operating vehicles that are much older than fleet vehicles and more prone to failure.
Conversely, while older vehicles have their own issues, newer vehicles also come packed with new features that many drivers have never been trained to operate and understand correctly. Flinders University Dean of Law Tania Leiman said that there was no legislation compelling employers to train their workers on the correct use of new vehicles and it would be unlikely individual workers would undertake the training themselves.
“We don’t think that we just assume we have a valid license, we can get into whatever vehicle we’ll buy and we’ll be able to operate it safely, but in fact, some of these new features would benefit from driver education,” she said.
How journey management experts JMS can help make your grey fleet compliant
One of the major challenges when it comes to a mobile workforce is how do you supervise and ensure compliance when the worker is by themselves and behind the wheel of their vehicle?
Journey Management System (JMS) is a safety guardian for all of your travelling workers, no matter which vehicle they are driving. Whether they are in a traditional fleet vehicle, their own car or a hire vehicle JMS ensures they reach their destinations safely and also adhere to their fatigue management breaks.
JMS is a simple to use app that can be installed on the driver’s internet-connected device. Journeys are input and locations along the way are geofenced to create digital checkpoints. If a driver does not reach these checkpoints in a designated period of time, alerts are sent to management via SMS, email and push notification.
Unlike other journey management platforms, JMS is totally hands-free and does not involve any manual checking in by the driver, which is an extremely unsafe and illegal practice. JMS also uses the GPS functionality of the device so that last known location coordinates and alerts can still be delivered to management if a driver has a vehicle failure or accident in an area with limited or no mobile reception.
Secondly, JMS provides the option to install Geotab in-vehicle monitoring systems into all grey fleet vehicles – the only journey management solution in Australia to offer this solution.
Global telematics company Geotab are leaders when it comes to IVMS solutions that provide employers with all of the data they need to monitor driver behaviour, safety and compliance when they are driving for work.
JMS – Road safety app