Addressing the human factor post accident
Story from Fleetworld
Duty of Care regulations recognise that company cars, or private cars used for business, are an extension of the workplace and subject to the same rules safeguarding the welfare of staff. However, cars can rapidly become a hostile environment when something goes wrong, which is why employers need to have accident management programmes in place that do not just address the needs of repairing or replacing broken metal.
For every employee-related road traffic accident there is a human issue to address. Has the member of staff received sufficient post-accident care, does their workload need to be reassessed, is there a requirement for driver training? This human element can often be lost in processes geared towards the vehicle, which is why it is important for employers to regularly review the way accidents are managed from a staff perspective.
The Institute of Car Fleet Management (ICFM) has long advocated the need for employers to have processes in place to address the effect of accidents on members of staff and the need for fleet managers to work closely with those responsible for health and safety compliance within their company.
“Only focusing on the business risk is no longer an acceptable stance. Fleet operational responsibility has naturally evolved and now requires expert support from a broader range of fleet responsible stakeholders, which includes a company’s health and safety manager,” says ICFM director, Peter Eldridge.
The ICFM believes it is important to adopt a process that identifies risk, assesses its possible impact and enables decisions to be made. “Risks must be identified before they can be measured and only after their impact has been assessed can decisions be made that will fully support duty of care. This is a good place to start when considering the wellbeing of any fleet driver who has unfortunately been involved in a road traffic accident,” Eldridge adds.
“This should also be extended to address the clear distinction between incidents that involve a driver, or passenger, injury and those which result only in vehicle damage. In the case of the former, it is good policy to have separate and distinct First Notification of Loss (FNOL) procedures in place which direct injury-related claims straight to the health and safety department.”
Arval, Driving for Better Business champion and one of the UK’s biggest suppliers of company cars, recently identified a need to better recognise the human element in its fleet management services.
“Last year, we completely overhauled our accident management product and one of the main factors in doing this was a recognition that, too often, the human element in fleet accidents is not given the attention that it deserves or requires,” says Ian Pearson, Arval’s head of insurance.
“Traditionally, this is a process-driven type of product that is all about recovering the damaged vehicle, arranging hire cars, processing the repair, and so on. These are clearly essential but do not take account of the fact that the driver has been through an experience that they may have found very traumatic, even if the accident was only a minor one.”
Its new process includes what it terms a personal “comfort call” to the driver within hours of the accident. “We check that they are okay and explain the steps that we are going to take them through over the following hours, days and weeks to get them back on the road. At the same time we can arrange alternative transport, and repair and return their vehicle.
“The staff we use are not in any sense therapists or counsellors, but they do play an important role in offering a sympathetic and sensible ear to the driver. Sometimes, the person is upset or hurt, and we will offer them advice on how to get help; sometimes they are angry and we will listen to their concerns and help to show them how our service will help resolve their problems.”
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