The benefits of risk assessments

By managing road safety, for example, not only can better employee health be achieved but by identifying unnecessary costs, savings can be made. Training can also bulk up the bottom line, says Nicola Smith

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The Health and Safety Executive’s (HSE) Driving at work:managing work-related road safety document states: "The true cost of accidents to organisations is nearly always higher than just the cost of repairs and insurance claims." But while the benefits of managing work-related safety on the roads are numerous, they are not necessarily obvious.

Aside from ensuring that an organisation is legally compliant, and taking its corporate social responsibility seriously, there are a number of business benefits that can arise from carrying out a risk assessment. In terms of employees’ health, happiness and therefore productivity, managing work-related road safety can result in a reduced risk of work-related ill health, reduced stress and improved morale. For example, if an assessment identifies that staff are being required to cover long distances in unreasonable time frames, or are driving cars that are not ergonomically sound, changes can be made that will improve working conditions as well as reducing risk.

The detailed information that results from a risk assessment can also be leveraged in other ways. Data that relates to the purpose of each journey and who is undertaking it, for example, can prove invaluable in identifying unnecessary trips or costs. Roger Bibbings, occupational safety adviser at the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents, says: "By identifying where problems cluster, organisations can identify what action can be taken. It might be that more meetings could be carried out without moving [by using video-conferencing for example], or that travelling by different routes or at different times of day might be more appropriate." More detailed data relating to the wear and tear of vehicles, fuel consumption and insurance premiums can also allow organisations to exercise better control over costs, and enable them to make informed decisions about matters such as vehicle purchase and driver training.

And driver training can reap cost benefits of its own. Jim Kirkwood, managing director of driver training company Drivetech, explains: "An average incident costs £650 for the repair of the car alone. Based on a fleet of 100 vehicles, you’ll find that in a 12 month period about half of those vehicles will be involved in some sort of incident. So you’re looking at an average cost of £32k in a year." And that’s without taking into account incremental costs such as absenteeism and hiring cars. Drivetech claims that through driver training alone it can take about £26k off bottom line costs in the first year by reducing the number of incidents.

And this is not the only saving risk assessments can create for employers. "You’ll have fewer people off the road because they [will not have been] involved in incidents so, for example, sales people will be more productive, the residuals of your vehicles will start to go up because the condition of your vehicles will be better, and you can negotiate better insurance terms," says Kirkwood ‘

The benefits of measuring risk

Increase in employee productivity due to improved morale and reduced stress.

Ability to identify where cost and time savings can be made.

Ability to determine where vehicle-related costs can be reduced (for example, fuel economy and insurance premiums).

Driver training can target specific employee problems.