New Work Health and Safety Bill – How does it affect you?
With the new Work Health and Safety Bill, due for release on January 1, 2012, Australian businesses need to review their workplace safety, as the bill further extends the scope of business liability for employee welfare.
Of particular interest to fleet managers is that vehicles are defined as a ‘workplace’ and a duty of care is imposed on employers to ensure the health and safety of their mobile employees within this workplace.
Fines up to $600,000 or imprisonment
Business managers are nervous about the impact of the new legislation since failure to comply carries possible fines of up to $600,000 or a term of up to five years imprisonment. Obviously the Australian government is sending a strong message to all businesses about the need to review and strengthen their workplace safety. for failure to uphold this duty, businesses need to put in place solid practices around fleet safety to limit their liability.
A recent blog post discussed how Australian businesses need to rethink how they manage the safety of their mobile workers. The new bill puts pressure on management to take even more responsibility for the safety of their workers, wherever they are, and for some firms with staff who work in distant, remote locations or travel thousands of miles, that creates a significant challenge.
So what can managers do to make sure they’re doing everything reasonable possible to keep their mobile workers and company drivers safe whenever they’re on the job?
Technology creating safer mobile work environments
Many firms with mobile workers are taking the prudent step of implementing safety measures now, rather than waiting for an accident or legislation to force their hand. And intelligent, location-based applications are helping managers create safer working environments and helping them sleep easier at night.
Smart telematics systems, such as Telogis Fleet, are revolutionizing the way mobile resources are managed, from workers, to vehicles, and high-value assets. The system focuses on prevention by monitoring factors that are often common causes of workplace accidents, such as dangerous driving, tiredness, poor scheduling, and missed maintenance.
- Unsafe driving – Monitor and manage incidents of dangerous driving such as speeding, swerving, hard braking or acceleration.
- Driver fatigue – Drivers, particularly for long haul routes, can often work long hours in remote areas. This increases the temptation to work longer than they should, breaking hours of service requirements and running the risk of driver fatigue, significantly increasing the chance of having an accident. GPS tracking can automate tracking of hours driven and assist workers to comply with a safe driving environment.
- Unauthorized use – Use real-time alerts to make sure assets (vehicles, construction equipment etc.) are not being used without authorization (outside of work hours or permitted areas).
- Accurate maintenance scheduling – GPS tracking ensures vehicles are maintained when needed (based on automated tracking of mileage, engine hours or other vehicle diagnostics) rather than at arbitrary intervals that sometimes get overlooked or ignored.
Legal compliance is a good reason to use technology to create a safe working environment, but the good news is that businesses that take action now stand to enjoy a range of other benefits.
Staying on top of safety has other benefits
Aside from the legal benefits of providing a safe work environment for mobile workers, there are several other benefits for firms that take steps to effectively manage fleet safety.
- Reduced insurance premiums – A record of safe driving combined with GPS tracking often leads to insurance companies offering reduced premiums. GPS tracking is an effective anti-theft device and leads to faster asset recovery, while driver monitoring reduces incidents of dangerous driving and vehicle accidents. Contact your insurance company and enquire about savings you can make on vehicle and accident insurance levies.
- Improved worker morale – When workers see changes being made to improve their safety they feel more appreciated and valued. Taking positive action backs up company claims of a safe working environment.
- Less downtime and accident costs – Safety often seems like an unnecessary expense until an accident occurs. Then businesses realize the true cost of an unsafe working environment. Smart businesses know that efforts made now to create a safer working environment are actually a good investment in the future profitability of the firm.
So if you’re concerned about keeping your mobile workers safe, learn more about the advantages of equipping your fleet with Telogis Fleet, and enjoy greater peace of mind and a safe working environment before you run into trouble with the new Work Health and Safety Bill 2011.