At the recent Highways England Supply Chain Masterclass, Chief Executive Jim O’Sullivan outlined his expectations of their supply chain with regards to how they managed their work-related road risk and, importantly, his expectations that all of Highways England’s Tier 1 suppliers would work towards becoming Driving for Better Business Champions.

As part of that Masterclass, James Haluch, the Managing Director of Amey Highways, which has already attained Champion status, described the journey he and his company had been on to raise standards in this vital area of workplace health and safety. Mr Haluch told the delegates that the ‘fundamental reason’ for going on the Driving for Better Business journey was to ensure that ‘people get home safe and well – every day, every week’. “That is absolutely the heart of it”.

According to Mr Haluch, it was important to see Driving for Better Business as a framework for self-assessment which was – far from being a highly bureaucratic procedure – a process of gap analysis. “It is looking at where your strengths are; are the rules correctly in place? Where are the areas for improvement?”

Mr Haluch said that at Amey – which was ‘proud to have champion status’ – the Driving for Better Business analysis confirmed that the firm was strong on process. But it exposed a weakness; insufficient continuous improvement.

“There’s a tendency, and I certainly think I had that in earlier parts of my career – I looked at operator licence requirements and once I was satisfied we had all the right ratios of transport managers per region, it was ‘tick’. Being honest with ourselves, we said that’s not really good enough. How are we going to cut own-damage accidents and RTCs?

“Where Amey had to do a bit more work was around its continuous improvement and especially learning from best practice from other operators. We had a tendency to be quite siloed in our approach.

“We are not talking about any significant investment. We created a number of fleet conferences which we have running throughout the business. Attending those conferences will bring in – and this is critical – contract managers, the leaders of your business. It is not just your transport managers – the leadership has to come from the top. We had speakers from the Freight Transport Association and large operators. Sainsbury’s did one of them, also the traffic commissioners. We are working closely with them to demonstrate that we are going above and beyond licence requirements and clearly it’s a win win.”

Mr Haluch said Amey was still striving for improvement. In 2017 its fleet of 2,000 cars, 3,000 vans and 2,500 large vehicles was involved in 2,000 damage RTCs, 77 per cent involving driver fault. The cost to Amey’s bottom line – like most similar businesses, it self-insures – was £5 million.

However a big gain for Amey, arising from Driving for Better Business best practice, was compiling, and acting on, the masses of data gathered on its fleet, enabling it to better manage utilisation, driver behaviour, speeding and other critical factors.

“It’s brought far greater empowerment to transport managers to feel they are an integral part of this huge delivery of a contract, good delivery of service and the safety of people,” said Mr Haluch. “They are not just a person in the background.”

“It has led transport managers to look at continuous improvement which can make a difference. The data is allowing us to go down the Driving for Better Business route and identify who the good drivers are as well as the bad. We can say ‘really well done and thank you for being extremely efficient and driving well’.”

As reported on the DfBB website in Amey’s Champion Case Study, data analysis for 2017/2018 showed that Amey had improved fuel efficiency and reduced CO2 emissions; fleet utilisation had improved by 30 per cent and at-fault incidents had fallen by 38 per cent.

Concluded Mr Haluch: “We are talking dramatic improvements. To me as a leader, knowing I’ve got a huge number of vehicles going from A to B, with people inside those vehicles, it’s very important that I was able to sleep safe and well, knowing what was happening, day and night.”

Read the Amey Champion Case Study

View the Amey Driver Handbook

Watch James Haluch’s Presentation below