The importance of management commitment to a driver safety program
For most organizations, an often overlooked loss exposure are their drivers. According to the National Safety Council, there are more vehicle crashes today than ever before and with those, jury verdicts for those found at fault are reaching amounts never before considered. To lessen these risks and exposures it’s important for organizations with drivers to have a driver safety program. One of the most important aspects of any driver safety program is support from top management. Employees appreciate knowing that management cares about their well-being while they are on the road and are more likely to operate vehicles in a safe manner if management is supportive.
Leaders sometimes fail to reinforce safe driving however because they either believe safe driving is expected, it’s not “on their radar”, or they’re simply too busy. Unknowingly, by this omission, leaders then send the message that safe driving is not important to their organization – and in doing so, expose their organization to a greater degree of driving risks.
Nearly all managers say that they support safety and safe driving and don’t want anyone involved or hurt in an accident. This message however doesn’t always make its way to those that drive as part of their job. Just telling employees to drive safely is not enough. To be most effective, managers need to identify ways to visibly demonstrate their support for safety. There are a number of ways for managers to demonstrate their support for safe driving:
- Emphasize and communicate the importance of safety and safe driving as frequently as possible; include it in employee meetings
- Develop a clearly written driver safety policy statement
- Top management signs it
- It is posted in a conspicuous place
- It is communicated and distributed to all employees
- All drivers sign a copy acknowledging they will abide by it
- Standard safe driving rules should be developed to accompany the policy statement
- Drivers should be held accountable for their driving and any accidents sustained
- Someone within the organization should be assigned to oversee driver safety
- Safety should routinely be included in driver/ employee meetings
- Deficient vehicle conditions identified should be corrected quickly
- A fire extinguisher,first aid kit and emergency kit should be included in each vehicle
Nothing management can do will pay a bigger dividend than good visible support and commitment for driver safety. It’s simply not realistic to expect employees to take safety more seriously than demonstrated by management; driver safety should be managed like it’s important. Safety should be integrated into every aspect of business so that it is a part of the work process, not apart from it and addressed separately.
Legitimate management support for safety is vital to a good safety culture. Every employee wants and deserves the support of his or her management. Managers need to discuss safety in meetings and informally with employees. Managers often underestimate how much employees appreciate it when they walk around and talk with them about their job and safety. This provides a great opportunity for managers to interact with employees, listen to their issues and show that they care about their employees and care about improving the safety culture. Effectively demonstrating management support can help an organization reduce its driving risks, achieve a high safety performance and is the right thing to do.
ANSI Z10-2012, American National Standard – Occupational Health and Safety Management Systems.
Kendrick, James and Pater, Robert. 2006. “The Future of Safety Leadership” Presented at the 2006 ASSE Professional Development Conference in Orlando, FL.
Thomen, J. R. (1991). Leadership in Safety Management. New York: Wiley.
*Markel Specialty is a business division of Markel Service, Incorporated, the underwriting manager for the Markel affiliated insurance companies.