There has been a lot of coverage on vehicle accident health & safety prosecution s recently but a serious disconnect in Health & Safety thinking in New Zealand still remains, between a work accident in a factory or construction zone and an employee involved in a car accident in the course of their work. This is despite vehicle accident health & safety prosecutions having been imposed here, with many more examples in Australia. Crash Management sees the tragedy on a daily basis and we’ve discussed the problem many times including https://crashmanagement.nz/driver-health-safety-employer-obligations-fleet-management-solutions/ and https://crashmanagement.nz/1-4-company-vehicles-will-crash-year-nz-needs-get-fleet-fit-now/. Mainstream media have picked up the high-profile cases too including the dreadful case involving the young rubbish truck operator fatally injured in a crash last year – https://www.stuff.co.nz/business/93722634/worker-critically-injured-after-getting-caught-between-rubbish-truck-and-tree.
Unfortunately, many employers are simply not getting the message. Crash Management serves some of New Zealand’s largest commercial fleets including leasing companies. We’re pleased to see the corporates taking driver safety seriously, but there’s still a long way to go particularly in the SME sector. When talking to prospective new clients, we find most do not even acknowledge vehicle risk and simply accept that “car crashes will always happen”, as if there were no tools or strategies to address the problem. Some see no point in even having a Vehicle Use Policy because “everyone knows how to drive”, and do not see the irony in the disconnect between that thinking and their sky-high vehicle accident rates. They complain to their insurance broker about the cost of car accident claims, excesses, and their increasing premiums, but still don’t join the dots that lead back to a professional 24/7 accident management service provider.
There was another tragic vehicle accident health & safety prosecution recently in which a 21 year old driver employed by Orbit Drilling died when he lost control of the vehicle on a steep slope. The driver had been instructed to park on a drill pad, requiring him to drive over the crest of a hill, down a steep slope, before stopping and reversing back up the hill and into position. The driver was thrown out of the vehicle when it rolled, and was killed instantly. The company was fined $750,000 for the vehicle accident health & safety prosecution. There were many contributing factors to this tragic and preventable incident: the driver was not trained for the specific driving conditions, had received no training on the particular vehicle, and the vehicle was not ideal for the type of work involved. More unforgivably, the vehicle was in substandard condition due to the absence of a structured and controlled maintenance plan. https://www.amclegal.co.nz/files/Prosecutions_of_company_directors_for_workplace_accidents_in_NZ_and_Australia.pdf
There are countless thousands of vehicle accidents in New Zealand every year, fortunately a statistically small proportion result in serious injury which is estimated at 200,000 annually, in addition to around 300 fatalities on our roads last year. This is still unacceptable. Talk to Crash Management now about a simple 24/7 response service, so that at least driver risk is mitigated AFTER the event. And it IS POSSIBLE to reduce crashes in the first instance, by understanding the wide range of accident causes and designing remedial actions that target those problem areas. Incident reporting and analysis is a simple cost-effective tool all fleet operators need, anything less simply reduces car accidents to a purely disciplinary matter – a disservice to both the driver and the employer. Address driving risk, and avoid vehicle accident health & safety prosecution.