Which Metrics to Monitor for Improved Fleet-Wide Safety
Key Safety Concerns
The construction industry has been making strides in improving workplace safety. For years now, both fatal and non-fatal injuries in construction have been on the decline, yet even in 2020, construction fatalities still made up 21% of all occupational fatalities for that year, and approximately 174,000 non-fatal occupational injuries were reported. While the numbers are trending in the right direction, construction companies still need to remain proactive in setting, implementing and enforcing safety policies.
When creating a new safety policy or updating a current one, it needs to be accessible and clearly communicated to the team. “I think a lot of the times when you get into corporate safety mandates, they [...] want to incorporate [the latest and greatest]. But you have to understand who your target audience is,” says Brent Godwin an equipment manager at Bighorn Construction and Reclamation (BCR). “Your target audience [is] usually not [as knowledgeable in safety mandates] as the guy creating the policy, but they know a lot more [regarding daily operations] than the guy creating the policy. The guy creating the policy thinks it’s great, but doesn’t understand that it’s really just a bunch of words on paper. There’s no substance behind it. You have to put it in layman's terms. You make it scalable [...] make it easy.”
Even the greatest safety policy can be difficult to enforce without the proper management system in place. Implementing a fleet safety program begins with setting standards and expectations for drivers, operators and assets. After that, it’s all about monitoring key metrics related to training, asset maintenance and recurring issues, PPE storage and maintenance and employee feedback.
“The way you create safety is: you have your meetings with the [team], you get their input [...] and then you act upon it,” Godwin says. “You can’t just have them speak and then not do anything about it, because [...] that’s when you get guys tuning out. You don’t get compliance. There’s no buy-in to [the safety policy].”
Safety Metrics to Watch
Technology has made it easier than ever to monitor asset health, analyze driver behavior and streamline collaboration with the whole team to promote and monitor safety. Integrated solutions, like fleet management software (FMS), allow construction fleets to increase the effectiveness of safety programs by maximizing visibility into drivers/operators and both on- and off-road assets. Integrated management software consolidates operational data so managers and stakeholders can get a snap-shot look at compliance and issues in real time and quickly surface safety metrics, including:
- Inspections: Having employees conduct routine vehicle and equipment inspections allows fleets to closely monitor asset health. Digital asset inspections are a great way for drivers and operators to identify potential safety issues and report them in real time, allowing for quick maintenance scheduling before issues compound. Digital inspections in FMS immediately notify managers and/or account admins of issues, helping bridge the gap between field and office. Many construction jobs require specialized assets, which digital inspection forms can be tailored to, offering fleets the ability to create as many inspection forms as needed to ensure employees are using safe, well-maintained assets.
- Preventive Maintenance (PM) Compliance Rates: PM compliance isn’t just good to have for fleet audits and to improve uptime, it’s imperative in ensuring operators are running safe equipment, vehicles and even small tools and PPE. Fleet managers and account admins can use fleet software to create, customize and set automated reminders for PM schedules based on service histories, OEM recommendations, asset type, usage and more. PM compliance is automatically calculated and assets late for service are flagged so service can be prioritized for improved safety.
- Service Histories: Historical service data can give fleets a good idea of the biggest issues with any given asset or group of assets. Many job-related accidents are the result of assets being in poor mechanical condition. The longer an asset goes without service—whether preventive or corrective—the more likely it is for breakdowns, accidents and catastrophic failure to occur.
- Driver/Operator Behavior: Having a solution that allows managers to remotely monitor real-time driver behavior is a great way to ensure drivers and operators are upholding safety standards. Fleet technologies, including telematics, FMS and onboard camera systems provide insights into driver behavior and compile actionable data to help fleets enforce safe driving and equipment operation habits. Pairing telematics with FMS provides real-time asset data, including diagnostic trouble code (DTC) faults, to help managers track asset conditions in real time.
Clear Communication and Data Consolidation Improve Safety
Tracking and monitoring safety policy adherence can be tedious when done manually, but automated data collection, consolidation and transparency really streamline the process and allow managers and stakeholders to maintain a clear view of the fleet’s safety by ensuring failed inspection items are immediately resolved, PM schedules are followed and safety recalls are addressed.
Integrating different fleet solutions, like telematics, with FMS consolidates disparate data and allows stakeholders to access real-time data inputs regarding vehicle status, location and insight into driver behavior. Account admins can set up alerts for unsafe behaviors like speeding and harsh braking, acceleration and cornering to surface unsafe behavior in real time. This level of visibility helps encourage safe driving and safety policy adherence.
Creating a culture of safety begins with clear communication. The more open communication there is about the importance of following safety protocols, the more likely those protocols will be followed. Ask workers what they see in terms of how safety can be improved without sacrificing productivity and vice versa.
“The biggest thing is to listen to your audience who [the safety policy is] going out to. Run it by a few people to see what they say,” Godwin says. “You need to have people; you need to have safety managers on hand, operators on hand, drivers on hand to get their input on things. In a management role, you know what’s expected of you, what’s expected of the safety side, so you can kind of tweak your policy to make sure it’s scalable. You don’t want to make it cumbersome, difficult to do or time consuming.” Regular safety training sessions help drive the point home, but to avoid team members zoning out during training, get them involved and engaged.