There are two types of organisations with regards to the safety, the one that is looking for the silver bullet – the easy fix. The other is the organisation that looks long term and takes a systems-based approach. The latter recognising there is no silver bullet but rather many elements all working together striving to improve safety which in turn will drive efficiency and incredibly increases productivity.

The systems-based approach is hard work, its continuous. At the heart is building a safety culture and one which is practically based where workers buy-in at the coal face but also management and leadership listen and support their workers often through a Just Culture approach.

An example of a common silver bullet approach is the grasping of telematics to address speeding issues and just getting them into the vehicle. Job done, I now know where my vehicle is, speed, harsh braking, over acceleration, etc. The vehicle as a workplace risk is now ticked off what is next on the list. If only it was so simple.

Interestingly, you do not need telematics to tell you that you have a speeding issue. Infringements and driver history will tell you that story – if they are monitored. Another can be the sort of vehicles and how their driven by leadership, big car, fast pace… And when you introduce telematics into these sorts of organisations, you will get more data simply confirming the problem you knew you had. The challenge and another component of a systems approach is dealing with the unsafe and often illegal evidence though management frameworks, risk management approaches and organisational performance management.

However, the all too often approach is being overwhelmed by all of this data, no effective mechanism to deal with breaches in a timely manner, suddenly the telematics install becomes a growing problem. The silver-bullet becomes a panacea and is an expensive new tool, so the easy out ignore the data, change thresholds allowing greater tolerances because it is all to hard.

Whereas, a systems-based approach uses many different tools and telematics may just be one of many. The entire approach is different, the telematics provider is a partner in assisting and guiding focused on ensuring the tool is helping address an identified problem. As such before any investment occurs the technology should be trialled to ensure it is the right solution, workers should be actively involved and engaged to help ensure the organisational culture is ready.

Remember the technology is just a small part, its inclusion is a huge step change but getting the best outcome is not about just introducing it.

The NRSPP Discussion Paper: In-Vehicle Monitoring Systems (IVMS): Safety through good practice telematics identified the following Five key considerations For the Successful Implementation of telematics into an organisation:

  1. Clearly defined goals
  2. Selecting technologies for now and future use,
  3. Building employee acceptance,
  4. Real-time monitoring and feedback
  5. Management of feedback

The guide is based on numerous interviews and case studies. The NRSPP Hornby Transport Case Study created such a strong safety culture that competitive safety shifted to a teams approach.

August’s case study and webinar is an example of Southern Cross Protection How telematics can improve driver behaviour and safety culture which has gone through many of the steps outlined in the discussion paper. Humans love constructive feedback, even better is rewards and friendly competition. Harvard Business Review identified that the ideal praise-to-criticism ratio for high performing teams is nearly six positive comments to one negative.

Organisation’s do not need to go down the competitions path to improve its safety culture. Using telematics constructively, being responsive when an event occurs and use it to form a conversation and be armed with evidence as to why safe driving matters is pertinent.

If you want more information on building a constructive safety culture with incentives I recommend The Power of Incentives in Improving Workplace Road Safety. This approach illustrates an engaged organisation centred around safety.

  • Be clear and consistent in implementing a safe driving program
  • Good participation from the workforce
  • Get management buy-in
  • Be proactive in addressing issues
  • Get the culture right within the organisation
  • Use near-miss reporting to manage risks
  • Act on employee feedback and address concerns (where possible)
  • Make safety front of mind, guard against complacency

The silver bullet approach will often come from the top and often is not just applicable to safety but in many other areas of the organisation. Other features will include poor communications, grasping at big wins, poor leadership accountability, weak career paths, high staff turnover and the list goes on. The other is safety is viewed as a cost, not an investment because when treated as such it will generate returns.

How do other organisations treat telematics and incentives? Is there a silver-bullet that we are not aware of?

  1. Paul Hillier says:

    Need to be careful with the term ‘silver bullet’ and being a ‘quick fix’…..the term is still used in RS parlance and particularly (and in my opinion legitimately) in rapidly mechanising countries to mean capturing some ‘low hanging fruit’ in RS….this has proven to be essential, getting some runs on the board so to speak, to then consolidate and go forwards. It does not imply that they are measures for the sake of a fix, these are tools and techniques that have proven highly effective in developed countries, e.g. seat belt usage and breathalysers etc., which were a battle to embed…the lessons learnt allow developing countries to fast track and then have a base to go forwards, and waste time and resources going down previous trodden blind alleys….a subtle difference, but important nonetheless…..but totally agree there is no value in doing something for the sake of doing something or being seen to act if it is not supported and followed up

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