Recently in our company we had a couple of incidents we classified as “high potential incidents” – all vehicle related. Our personnel drive a lot, sometimes across borders and regular long distances (mostly with hired and project vehicles). Some of the incidents were close calls and some we were very lucky, but basically all of them could have resulted in very serious injuries and even fatalities. It’s not that we don’t have strict rules and guidelines regarding vehicles or driving – we do. With a closer look we had to admit that our company procedures were not always followed in these cases. And we also had to ask ourselves are they good enough?
Encourage safe driving
Here’s what we have – compare it with what you have in your company and decide for yourself.
Before the Easter and December holidays we tend to encourage people to sign a safe driving pledge. The pledge is voluntary, and it looks something like this:
" I always comply with local and company driving rules,
including wearing a seatbelt while driving, checking
to conditions on the road, and planning my travel "
Procedural rules and protocols
The procedural rules and protocols we apply are:
- Always obey local traffic laws, site rules and comply with the company’s driving policy.
- Have a current and valid driving license.
- Always obey local traffic laws, site rules and comply with the company’s driving policy
- Have a current and valid driving license
- Inspect the vehicle and ensure it is suitable for use (this applies to your own and hired vehicles) – don’t miss the spare tyre.
- Always wear your seatbelt
- Never exceed the speed limit
- Drive according to the conditions on the road
- Never use a mobile phone while driving
- Consider fatigue management when driving long distances (>2 hours)
- Never drive in the dark unless you are on a highway (but limit this to one hour max) – by the time you exit the highway and drive secondary roads it must be light.
- Secure items being transported to prevent injury
- Complete a journey management plan for any new trip / unknown route (cover alternative routes and detours as well) – we have a short journey management plan template for this.
- Consider whether you will have cell phone reception where you are going – what is your alternative especially if you are going to be a while in the “no reception” area
- Know how to change a tyre
- Do a risk assessment so that you know what your conduct should be in situations that you have never been in (e.g. adverse weather conditions, following distances on gravel roads, community unrests, a vehicle break down, heavy mist etc.) – it’s surprising how little common sense we sometimes have or do we not recognise the risk?
- We have tracking systems in all our company / project vehicles and hired vehicles
- On specific projects we require advanced / off-road driver training
- On some projects personnel are wearing personal tracking devices and/or cell phone aps with a “find me” / emergency button facility.
- When we pick up a hired vehicle for a trip you might find a drive safe message card in the vehicle:
• Have you inspected this vehicle? or
• Do you have a “colleague buddy” to inform you have arrived safely? or
• Arrive alive - because people depend on you.
- When driving internationally:
• Consider the need for a pre-travel medical and vaccinations,
• Registration with International SOS
• Consideration of local security issues via local contacts, government travel websites and International SOS
• Know the local rules of the road – in some African countries the local police or metro police might require you to assist with transporting injured people to hospital!
Do the right thing
Good enough you think? It’s all good and well to have these rules and reminders and support for our employees, but unfortunately it still comes down to the behaviour of the individual on the day – so do the right thing and apply the common sense.
Arrive alive - because people depend on you.
About the Author
Elsabé Steyn, has more than 28 years' experience in the field of occupational health and safety. Her expertise includes the design, implementation and monitoring, on various levels, of OHS management systems. Elsabe is currently working at a large engineering consultancy as H&S Manager for their major and capital projects. Her experience has been obtained mainly in the construction, mining, heavy, food, manufacturing, transportation and civil infrastructure industries.