Employee safety is a high priority for construction businesses. According to the United States Department of Labor’s Occupation Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the fatal injury rate for the construction industry is higher than the national average in this category for all industries. Due to the obvious importance, a lot of time is spent formulating safety guidelines and protocols for potential hazards such as falls, trenches collapsing, electric shock and the use of personal protective gear.
Another important aspect of safety is how employees get to and from jobsites. As a mobile workforce, it’s crucial to have safety guidelines in place for employees who commute in company vehicles. One of the ways construction companies are positioning driver safety as a core company value is with fleet management applications such as telematics. This type of software helps ensure workers are operating their vehicles in accordance with driver policies, monitors driver behavior and coaches workers safer driving habits.
Write Driver Policies Around Safety
Written safety policies are the foundation of a safety program. After all, how will drivers know what’s expected if it’s never presented to them? There are best practices to writing policies, as they are most effective when they clearly lay out rules and the consequences for violating them.
Following are three best practices to follow when putting safety in ink.
- Clearly present the use of telematics data to measure performance and monitor compliance. When the time comes to hold employees accountable, there could be backlash about tracking their vehicles without their knowledge.
- The specific consequences for violating regulations should be very transparent. Penalties might range from coaching to loss of driving privileges to termination. Whatever they may be, drivers should be made aware before ever operating a company vehicle.
- Drive home the message that safety is a core company value—and that its importance is embraced at every level of the organization, from executives, managers and supervisors to every driver in the company. Creating a culture of safety is key to the broader acceptance of the policy.
Stop Unsafe Driving in Its Tracks
Once safety protocols are presented to drivers and their contents are embraced fleet-wide, using telematics software will help keep safety checks and balances in order.
It’s crucial that employees follow traffic laws for their own well-being when operating company vehicles. It becomes even more important for their and the public’s safety when transporting heavy loads such as construction equipment. Construction businesses use telematics software to notify management when hazardous driving occurs in real-time to prevent accidents, injuries and fatalities. Telematics offers a wide range of alerts to ensure drivers are operating vehicles safely at all times. It can be used to monitor speeding, rapid acceleration, quick and hard stops and many other behaviors that could be considered dangerous depending on geographic location or weather conditions.
To correct unsafe driver behavior, it’s recommended that fleet managers provide ongoing performance feedback with the data gathered from telematics.
The Cost of Unsafe Driving
There is a clear correlation between unsafe driving and accidents, so it’s no wonder that many construction businesses are focusing on driver safety as a key ﬂeet initiative. The relationship is obvious, but how much do accidents really cost employers? According to the Cost of Motor Vehicles Crashes to Employers 2015 Report the total of on-the-job and off-the-job crashes is greater than $47 billion across fleets in the United States.
Those costs fall into two categories:
- Health fringe beneﬁt costs, which are beneﬁts paid because of illness and injury of employees and their dependents; and
- Non-fringe costs, which are motor vehicle property damage and liability insurance, crash-related legal expenses and the costs of non-reimbursed vehicle damage and replacement.
When looking at what each crash costs an employer, it breaks down to approximately $24,000 per on-the-job highway crash, $45,000 per million vehicle miles of travel and $68,000 per injury. Assessing just how much dangerous driving impacts the bottom line provides a strong incentive to have this technology in place.
By using telematics as a safety technology, construction businesses can correct unsafe driving in real time and receive tools to coach and provide performance feedback to employees. The investment in the technology becomes incredibly worthwhile when considering the cost of telematics versus the cost per accident, as it’s only a fraction of the expense accidents will incur for a business. By making driver safety a fleetwide initiative, construction businesses are improving employee safety before they even arrive at the jobsite.