Zurich drives road safety
Zurich Australia’s first customer forum on road safety

17
Nov
2014
As the go-to insurer for the transportation and logistics industry, Zurich has an acute understanding of road safety.

Zurich shared its expert knowledge and research about road safety with corporate customers at the first forum of its kind to be held in Australia.  The Road Safety workshop was held in Melbourne on Wednesday 12 November in conjunction with the Australasian Road Safety, Policing and Education Conference.

‘Because of our unique risk engineering expertise and the fact that we are Australia’s largest motor insurer, the conference organisers approached us to be involved with their event,’ said Mervyn Rea, National Customer Relationship Manager for Zurich risk engineering.

‘The workshop was opened by Zurich’s Global Chief Risk Engineering Officer, Robert Gremli, and we invited a number of our collaborators to speak, including Dr Adam Fletcher of Integrated Safety Support,’ said Rea.

Dr Fletcher focussed on human-related risks in road safety, looking particularly at sleep, fatigue and distraction.  ‘Fatigue can build up more quickly in monotonous jobs, but it is also an issue if you have a job that is consistently demanding,’ said Dr Fletcher.

‘If you have too little complexity and engagement, you can get bored and fall asleep.  Too much workload and you easily become overwhelmed and make more errors.  So there is this real sweet spot in the middle where you are well-rested, well-trained, experienced and you are getting enough engagement to keep alert but not overloaded.’

Dr Fletcher has worked with transport companies, changing schedules and shift lengths to simultaneously enhance safety and performance.

‘Possibly one of the biggest results achieved was with a road transport company we worked with over a 12 months period.  We were able to improve their driver retention by 250%.  That was huge, saving the company money on recruitment, induction and training, while also being a clear positive indicator of workforce satisfaction.  It was obvious to them that they were getting something right,’ said Dr Fletcher. 

However, when it comes to long distance road transport, there are fewer variables to manipulate to optimise work patterns.

‘You’ve got a monotonous task by nature, and you’ve got an individual, not a number of team members that can share the load. You can’t manipulate those realities but there are still ways to optimise safety and performance.  A lot of it comes down to building contingencies into the work schedule, so that drivers can be empowered to use a flexible approach to the management of their rest breaks. It is safer and ultimately more productive to build in around 20% of the schedule as discretionary time for drivers. That allows them to only work when they feel safe while also giving them the ability to work efficiently and productively for the business.

‘When professional drivers can manage their own time, they will do what they need to do to be safe.  And they will be productive, they will have good run times because they don’t want to waste resources.’

Dr Fletcher believes that advances in technology offer good prospects for improved road safety.   ‘We’ve seen quantum leaps in individual monitoring with a number of reliable systems that can be used in road transport cabs to monitor drivers and tell them things they are often not fully conscious of, about the state of their own alertness or the risk of them having a micro sleep.

‘But while there have been huge jumps in the technology, there hasn’t been much successful progress with many companies’ ability to get long-term benefit.  Real benefits will only build when there is a clear focus on simultaneously creating value for individual drivers, the operations, and the company itself.  If the drivers aren’t feeling the benefit, it’s not surprising that they find ways to subvert the data stream, sometimes by losing, breaking or forgetting to turn on the technology.’

Dr Fletcher has had a relationship with Zurich for over 15 years.  ‘I was keen to be involved in this workshop because it is a natural extension of the work I have done with Zurich on human-related risks and how they can be managed in complex corporate systems.  We are both aiming to keep people safe and productive,’ he said.

The workshop will be run again in Sydney on 27 November.

ENDS

For further information contact:

Helen Black
Head of Marketing, Communications & Customer
Zurich Financial Services Australia
Business ph: +61 (02) 9995 1368

Zurich Insurance Group (Zurich) is a leading multi-line insurer that serves its customers in global and local markets. With about 55,000 employees, it provides a wide range of general insurance and life insurance products and services. Zurich’s customers include individuals, small businesses, and mid-sized and large companies, including multinational corporations, in more than 170 countries. The Group is headquartered in Zurich, Switzerland, where it was founded in 1872. The holding company, Zurich Insurance Group Ltd (ZURN), is listed on the SIX Swiss Exchange and has a level I American Depositary Receipt (ZURVY) program, which is traded over-the-counter on OTCQX. Further information about Zurich is available at www.zurich.com.