In the transport industry, it’s easy to assume the greatest risks come from your trucking fleet. After all, heavy vehicles accounted for 136 fatal crashes on Australian roads during 2018, resulting in 154 fatalities. But it’s not just trucks that are at risk on our roads. It could be the commuter car that your back-office administrator drives to work in.
‘Grey fleets’ are the personal cars, bikes, scooters and other vehicles that your employees use to get to and from work. In 2017, the National Road Safety Partnership Program (NRSPP) released a report that explored the legal status of grey fleets and found that current Australian legislation is confusing, and often misunderstood. Grey fleets are an essential part of business operations, and despite being frequently overlooked, require just as much attention as your transport fleet.
Understanding current legislation and how they fit in
While your grey fleet get staff to and from work safely and on time, it can often be overlooked in safety management procedures. While current transport legislation covers all aspects of your trucking fleet’s journey from job scheduling to goods delivery, the NRSPP found that inconsistent legislation across states means that grey fleet responsibility is often misunderstood by businesses.
While these vehicles are not covered under current Heavy Vehicle National Law (HVNL) or Chain of Responsibility (CoR) requirements, they are provided for under the federal Work Health and Safety Act 2011. Under this act, any vehicle used for work purposes comes under the definition of a ‘workplace,’ meaning that employers need to do everything reasonably practicable to ensure their safe operation. This includes proactively addressing safety risks as they arise.
When managing a fleet of vehicles that aren’t easily tracked, located or managed, ensuring staff safety is difficult. Applying risk management procedures and transport safety principles can protect every driver out on the road – even the ones working in your back office.
Building safer practices into existing policies
Safer workplaces are happier, healthier and more productive, so it’s important for you to manage your grey fleet with the same high standard that you apply to your trucking fleet. Training staff around pre-start checklists and maintenance scheduling for their personal vehicles reduces the risk of collisions. In addition, maintenance and scheduling software can extend to your grey vehicles.
Before setting off, ensuring the vehicle is fit for duty is just as important as it is for trucks. Checklists are one way of easily monitoring vehicle needs. In fact, making sure maintenance is scheduled and monitored frequently can help you to avoid potential incidents or vehicle failures. Putting a pre-start checklist together that suits your grey fleet needs is a great start.
These may include checking fuel and fluid levels, tyre pressure, lights and horn, checking any registration and insurance details and any other roadworthiness measures. It might add a couple of minutes onto an employee’s journey, but it could also save their life and dramatically reduce unexpected downtime.
Education is the key for your employees
Induction programs and training are the first step in introducing these processes so that safety becomes part of your business culture. Adopting a total risk management approach will also protect your business, ensuring you’re compliant with current legislation and doing everything practicable to encourage safety.
Encouraging frequent maintenance is another key step for safer grey vehicles. In a busy working day, it can be hard to find time to fix problems that seem insignificant. Screeching brakes, a cracked windscreen or strange engine noises are easily pushed to the back of your mind – but they can lead to further problems down the line. Introducing education and a flexible company policy into the workplace helps staff recognise the importance of addressing these issues as they happen.
While trucking safety might be your business’ top priority, it’s just as important for everyone in your business to get home safely at night, and come back to work the next day happy, healthy and safe.