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March 6, 2012

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Reducing driving incidents and making financial savings

The implementation of a driver risk-management system (DRMS), as part of a wider programme, has helped reduce vehicle-related incidents involving British Gas engineers by 30 per cent and helped save the company £3m, since its introduction 18 months ago.

Danny Plumb, an HSE advisor for the company, gave delegates at IOSH 2012 a tour through the system, explaining its implementation and roll-out, and how incidents are monitored and reviewed.

Describing driving at work as the number-one risk for British Gas, Plumb explained that the company has a fleet of around 10,000 vans and 2000 company cars, as well as nearly 2000 private cars that are used for company business. He also added that the company spends an estimated £6.7m each year on “bent metal”.

As well as reducing the number of driving-related incidents, the system has helped bring down the associated cost of these incidents, as well as highlight the visibility of, and focus on, lost-time incidents through more effective monitoring and reporting.

The DRMS is a risk points system for individual drivers, explained Plumb, whereby points are assigned to drivers according to the severity and frequency of incidents. Drivers who write off vehicles, for example, gain six points; and those involved in two or more vehicle collisions receive three points. Other incidents might receive two points.

These results are fed into a traffic-light system – red indicating high risk; green indicating low risk – and managers receive a monthly scorecard showing where their region and area of the business lies on this scale. They can then drill down to see which individual engineers are classed as ‘red’.

The fleet department inputs specific data relating to specific incidents, which are also investigated by the engineer’s line manager. Within two weeks of receiving the data, the engineer will be asked to attend a review meeting, which will also include the operations director, the regional manager, the operations manager, the engineer’s line manager, the HSE advisor, the fleet account manager, and a safety rep.

Plumb stressed that the meeting is not a disciplinary, but an opportunity to address driver behaviour. He added, however, that the presence of the operations director is crucial to show to the engineers how important driver risk management and safety is to the company. He also insisted that, while the financial cost of incidents may be discussed in meetings, the monetary value of an engineer’s specific vehicle incidents is not used as an extra measure of risk.

The review panel meeting, said Plumb, will consider various data supplied by the fleet department, including: assessments of tyre usage, fuel efficiency, wing-mirror damage; whether the engineer carries out van checks on a daily basis; whether the vehicle has any safety defects; the engineer’s attitude to safety; and their recent overall personal accident history.

According to Plumb, this process results in around 80 per cent of drivers taking an on-the-road specific driver assessment, where focus is given to the risk behaviours highlighted through the DRMS and the panel meeting.

Two weeks after this process, a group DRMS review session is held with around eight engineers for the opportunity to gain their feedback and share the lessons learned. Plumb said he had only received one negative response to the process, compared with 60, or 70 positive messages.

As well as the financial savings that the system has helped yield, there has been a vast improvement in driver risk behaviour, added Plumb. Taking the company’s central-heating service as an example, he highlighted that this part of the business has seen a 60-point reduction in its overall risk-points total.

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12 years ago

Savings & Safety !!