The government has set itself a target to reduce serious injuries at work by 25% between 2012 and 2020. I’m a bit of a fan of Big Hairy Audacious Goals but this really is a monster.

It’s been known for a while in Health and Safety circles that reported injuries and incidents must go up before they can come down. Not because you need more serious injuries before people start taking it seriously, but because, if you aren’t focused on health and safety, the chances are that your workers aren’t reporting their incidents, and if they aren’t reporting their incidents, how do you know what improvements to make in order to fix things?

So back to the government, and it turns out that Stats NZ have just worked out how to include a whole new batch of injury stats (those handled in house by “Accredited Employers”) to flesh out the material from which they can work. So no problem, it’s now a 25% reduction on a bigger number – so a whole lot more injuries need to be prevented than they thought in order to meet the target.

Home safe every day right?

Just as people cover their teeth at a party when they find the person they are talking to is a dentist, or avoid eye contact when they find they have struck up a conversation with a psychiatrist, your GPS data gives away your fleet personality. Use it to your advantage. I’ve lost count of the times that I have taken an initial GPS “Healthcheck” report back to a fleet and been able to name the problem drivers without meeting anyone except the operations manager.

Face your statistics – know who is looking after your gear and your reputation and who is just roaring around making lots of noise and costing lots of money. You don’t need any flashy government statistician to tell you that some drivers simply cost you more than others – in fuel, tyres, body kit and maintenance (new gear box? higher consumption of brake components?).

What is needed here is to speak to your drivers about their numbers. Take the emotion out of the debate and discuss fuel economy, speed events, anything that you can prove by running a report. Make an example of a few and make it the good few. Everybody loves praise, but we are all rubbish at giving it – far too easy to pick holes (perhaps even to yell or scream) when something has gone wrong. Things happen in the yards of “high risk” operators that wouldn’t be dreamt of in a best practice yard. What we want here is for drivers to aspire to be the best, most legally compliant, safest and most patient driver on the road. If the schedules are done right, the driver needs to be efficient with his loading and unloading and relaxed on the road. He doesn’t need to be panting on the bumper of the car in front and throwing his considerable loaded weight around the corners trying to save a couple of minutes from the transit time. Perhaps you could mention that to a few chosen staff?

When will you next have chance to offer a “thanks mate?” to a driver who has driven for a whole week without breaking the speed limit (it’s 90km/h) and still met his schedule? What will it take to get your whole fleet to that level of performance? I know you can do it – and the transformation within your fleet when you get there is well worth it.

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