British Gas is Britain’s favourite domestic energy supplier and part of the Centrica group. As well as providing gas and electricity, it is the largest domestic central heating and gas appliance installation company. Customers can also choose trained engineers to look after Central Heating, Plumbing and Drains (Via the Dyno Franchise), Home Electrics and Kitchen Appliances. They also install and maintain Electric Vehicle charge points and Connected Homes (HIVE).
As a responsible energy provider, British Gas are planning for the future in two ways, firstly by investing in renewable energy and secondly by focusing on improving efficiency, thus helping customers reduce their own carbon footprint.
Operating in England under the British Gas brand name and as Scottish Gas in Scotland, the employee base consists of more than 25,000 staff in the United Kingdom and over 9,000 highly trained, Gas Safe registered engineers.
British Gas has the 3rd largest fleet in the United Kingdom and it is important for employees and customers for it to demonstrate a pro-active approach in managing foreseeable risks.
Compliance with the joint Health and Safety Executive/ Department for Transport guidance on “Driving at Work – Managing work-related road safety” (HSE INDG 382 09/03) issued in September 2003 (working revision 2014), is particularly important and is the basis for the British Gas road risk policy.
With the number of vans British Gas operates, safety performance of its fleet is the number 1 priority and its impact on the wider society in which they operate; creating a culture of safe driving through promoting courteous and safe driving on the back of all British Gas Vans.
Centrica Group Health, Safety and Environment (HS&E) provide road safety statistics for discussion at all board level meetings to analyse the current status plus any current and future initiatives that will positively impact on road safety. Group HS&E and Fleet cascade any outcomes and work together to raise awareness within all areas of the business, plus implement the road safety initiatives discussed within the case study.
Driver policy and procedures
During 2019, the Centrica Group HS&E staff reviewed and comprehensively updated the arrangements and expectations for driving on company business. The new strategy is designed to deliver a leading road safety incident performance which protects people, third parties and the environment. This is to be achieved through the co-operation and engagement of employees and by applying the same standards and practices for driving within the commercial fleet to company car and grey fleet drivers.
In conjunction with the Fleet team (and in consultation with the business), Centrica has updated its Centrica Driving standards, Group standards and guidelines. These introduce a higher minimum expectation on all the group businesses globally, for example including:
- Expanded definitions of line manager and driver responsibilities.
- Mandatory risk-prioritised training for drivers.
- Preventing high risk drivers from driving on company business until their risk is adequately reduced.
- No mobile phone policy (including Bluetooth and personal phones).
- More frequent checks on licence, insurance and vehicle roadworthiness (i.e. MOT or equivalent) for grey fleet drivers.
Two factors shape British Gas guidance for drivers. These are described below:
- Electronic Licence Entitlement Checks. British Gas operates an electronic mandate on all fleet & grey fleet cars, including named drivers. They also limit named drivers from certain models of vehicle (based on insurance category rating) by age and driving experience.
- There is a full risk assessment for both car & van drivers, which has been introduced within the Global Centrica driving standards policy.
British Gas has introduced the following work-related road safety initiatives:
Driver Risk Management System (DRMS)
The DRMS is updated monthly and pulls in data from a number of sources to give an overall risk picture of a driver. Risk points are allocated against a combination of driver related events such as vehicle incidents or driving licence endorsements. The output is a system for management of risk of these drivers, with traffic lights for individual drivers who then receive specific interventions such as driver training or otherwise based on their perceived risk. Typically 3% of drivers are in red, 5% in amber and the remainder in green. For those drivers with a zero risk rating, there are incentives and rewards for being safe drivers (see SDOTY below).
The DRMS also aggregates scores across driver teams based on a defined management hierarchy structure, with access permissions linked to this, so can be used as a tool to look at comparative risks across the business. A detailed reporting section allows exception reporting and management information to be produced. The system also presents telematics data both at individual and manager level to allow visibility and comparison of this driver behaviour against other metrics. Taken altogether, the DRMS is an accomplished reporting tool to monitor driving standards, highlight exceptions and give visibility and management focus on driving incidents and driver risk.
FleetMaster conduct all driver training on behalf of British Gas and with this relationship firmly in place the business has seen;
- A total of 1,850 On-Road Driver Training courses taking place in 2019. This was a combination of
- New Starter Assessments.
- High Risk Driver Developments (From DRMS Data).
- Small to Large Van Conversion Assessments.
- This has resulted in a 33% reduction in at-fault incidents in 2019 compared to 2018.
- From the data provided by FleetMaster to the Energy Savings Trust (EST) a fuel reduction of 15% has been achieved in 2019, 2% more than 2018. This is a significant saving, as British Gas currently spend £17 million on fuel.
Since a 2006 business case, British Gas has been operating a continuous and unchanged approach towards their occupational road risk policy to cover all employees who travel in the course of their employment. The programme is holistic, innovative, data-led, proactive and a genuine attempt to contribute to the improvement of road safety in the United Kingdom. There are obviously wider benefits associated with this programme for the communities in which British Gas operates. The programme covers the following:
- Risk assessments.
- Licence checking.
- Training and development of:
- Company car drivers.
- Cash alternative drivers.
- Casual users.
- Any driver involved in two or more collisions each year.
Due to the success of this policy it has remained in place to date.
British Gas fleet has had an innovative approach towards driver behaviour and awareness. As part of which a suite of professionally created user guide videos for engineers have been produced, which supersede the original paper copies supplied with vehicles, which would frequently go missing, get damaged, as well as being out of date quickly.
British Gas ensure that engineers watch these videos with their Manager prior to taking receipt of the van.
TELLS videos use an acronym for engineers to check their vehicle daily and weekly.
- State of vehicle
Transporter TELLS – https://youtu.be/0mzxztwz2Ec
Combo TELLS https://youtu.be/BU9g7YpTUnM
The videos cover common topics beyond this, such as how to correctly fill up Adblue, what safety systems are fitted to the van, and how to set up your seat the most ergonomically. We have also produced videos which show how to set up and use the racking correctly.
Below are some of the schemes that British Gas fleet use to ensure high compliance and safety.
- Highly detailed fuel monitoring and incident analysis.
- Vehicle safety features. (Both factory fit and aftermarket)
- Electronic driver licence checks for all drivers including grey fleet.
- Pre-employment driver risk assessment.
- Permit to Drive within fleet induction driver profiling booklet.
- Continuous road safety business plan.
- New initiatives to manage Grey fleet drivers.
- Telematics & Driver behaviour.
Safe Driver of The Year (SDOTY)
The 1st August 2019 saw the inaugural Safe Driver of The Year Event where 30 of the lowest points scoring engineers through the DRMS platform competed at Silverstone, being rewarded on the day for their yearlong focus towards safe driving.
With all the finalists having started & ended the year with zero DRMS points, compared to a national average of 2.0 they had the opportunity to undertake seven skills tests (see below) in the morning, followed by an afternoon at the Porsche Centre and evening gala dinner. All the drivers were recognised for their achievements, each receiving a certificate and winners a trophy.
Best of Seven:
Test 1: Vehicle Checks
Test 2: Reversing Skills
Test 3: Serpentine Forward & Reverse
Test 4: Straight-Line Stop
Test 5: Emergency Stop
Test 6: Water Obstacle
Test 7: Truck Test
This will become an annual event to ensure our engineers remain actively engaged on their own Safety performance.
With safety the no.1 company priority, and the new Vauxhall Combo launching in 2019 with a significant number of Safety features (see below), British Gas opted to award all future Car Derived van orders to Vauxhall, replacing the trusted but ageing VW Caddy in the process. The business are confident this will further reduce incidents and in-turn prevent further unnecessary spend.
Safety pack includes:
- Automatic Emergency Braking
- Lane Assist
- Driver Drowsiness
- Traffic Sign Recognition
- Blind Spot Recognition
Parking Pack includes:
- Front & Rear sensors
- Park Assist
- Flank Guard
- Multi Media Screen including Sat Nav
- Reverse camera
Other Safety Measures:
- Revised racking to ensure lifting of parts ergonomically
- Electronic handbrake, which activates when key is removed
- Auto lights and wipers
The racking system used for the VW Caddy remained unchanged for 8 years and the move to the new Vauxhall Combo provided the perfect opportunity to re-design the racking system to better meet the demands of the British Gas fleet moving forwards.
The process for this re-design involved multiple stakeholders:
- Loughborough University Enterprises Ltd (LUEL)
- British Gas Management
- Trade Union representatives
- Engineers / 4 physically diverse drivers
- Bri-Stor Systems Ltd
The study conducted by LUEL focused on the VW Caddy with a new bulkhead and storage solution, and the driver cab area of the Vauxhall Combo. Shelves were loaded with stock items as in the field.
The data captured consisted of:
- Anthropometry (stature, shoulder height, elbow height, sitting height, bi-deltoid shoulder breadth, buttock knee length, hip breadth (sitting)
- Driver cab evaluation questionnaire
- Rapid Entire Body Assessment (REBA) posture analysis scores
- Borg muscle effort scale
- Physical force measurements
Both the Caddy & Combo were scored using the REBA metrics and it was found that whilst the new racking design performed better for both the VW Caddy & Vauxhall Combo, it was the Combo Cab testing that outperformed the VW Caddy on cab testing.
Crucially the racking layout showed a good level of risk reduction, with the design, task breakdown and storage system reducing possible loads in each action; the highest REBA score given was 2 (medium risk level) out of 15.
All British Gas vans continue to be restricted up to a maximum speed of 70 mph, displaying the maximum speed sticker on the rear doors to advise other road users. All vans are now fitted with the speed restriction and blind spot for cyclists’ signs, as standard (see P9. Combo image).
In 2015 British Gas vans started to be fitted with cross climate tyres, instead of the traditional ‘standard’ road tyres, through introducing these new tyres they have benefitted from;
- Longer lasting tyres
- Less tyres to buy
- Less down time for tyre changes
- Less tyres to make and dispose of. Better for the environment
- Year round mobility, whatever the weather
Michelin demonstrated that on a new tyre in wet conditions at 80 Km/h their tyres stopped 0.7m ahead of the nearest equivalent competitor tyre, In doing so British Gas are working to find all possible ways to prevent incidents from occurring and demonstrating Safety is paramount.
Fleet Safety Reviews
A British Gas employee who is a high risk driver may be formally invited to a Fleet Safety Review. The review takes place with the General Manager; the Regional Service Manager; the Customer Operations Manager; the Line Manager; the Health, Safety and Environment (HS&E) Adviser, the Fleet Account manager and their local Safety representative. At this meeting a number of factors are considered:
- Technical safety defects.
- Attitude to safety scores.
- Personal Accident history (last 12 months).
- Data from Driver Risk Management System (driver license plus vehicle claims).
- Assessments of tyre usage; fuel efficiency (MPG); wing mirror damage; and correct fuel card usage.
- Van checks on the day include tyre pressures; tyre condition; and outside/inside van condition.
- Driver development; driver monitoring; and any other actions.
The Fleet Safety Review board then reaches a decision on the overall risk of the driver to the business and determines an outcome that may include further training requirements for this individual. If further training is recommended, the British Gas employee is required to return to the Fleet Safety Review board after specific driver development activities have been completed to discuss their impact on the individual.
Current and Future developments
Prior to the government removing funding British Gas developed a young driver programme which took in to consideration the fact that, in the United Kingdom, although drivers under 25 years old make up only 10% of all drivers, they are involved in 25% of the road traffic fatalities. The fleet induction process was partly inspired the young driver themes from the Road Safety charity Brake.
Recognising the higher risk young drivers carry, FleetMaster new starter inductions are more advanced for younger drivers. We reflect this effort with our car drivers too, only allowing more experienced and those over 25 (with experience) to drive our higher insurance premium vehicles.
British Gas has signed up to the EV100 Group with a commitment to have all vans fully electric by 2030 (https://www.theclimategroup.org/ev100-members)
The business has placed an order for a significant number of electric vans from one manufacturer, which will see British Gas be the first to market with the largest number of these vans on the road in 2020.
The primary reason for taking this step is to reduce the C02 of the fleet, secondly with the introduction of the new Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) and Clear Air Zones (CAZ) British Gas can ensure their drivers can operate in all areas of the Country.
British Gas is committed to ensuring the number of electric vans is significantly increased, as the new Vauxhall Combos’ are being leased via their funder for 36 months, as opposed to 72 months previously. This decision will result in British Gas accelerating the EV adoption rate.
The parent company of British Gas, Centrica are a full partner of Optimise Prime, “an Ofgem funded innovation project trialling solutions that will help networks and fleet operators prepare for the transition to the use of commercial electric vehicles.” (https://www.optimise-prime.com/)
Leadership in managing work-related road risk
British Gas continues to strive to operate the safest fleet in the country and through working with suppliers & funders are creating new and innovative ways to ensure this is continued.
British Gas has received a great deal of external recognition for its road safety initiatives, which have been adopted by many other organisations. Examples include:
- Early involvement in the Road Haulage Modernisation Fund, and SAFED for trucks program.
- Regular features in the trade press.
- Speaking at key industry events in the United Kingdom and overseas.
- Pioneering involvement in the SAFED for vans program.
- Being asked to benchmark data and processes with a number of other high profile fleets.
- Volunteering to take part in industry initiatives such as the Roadsafe / Department for Transport Driving for Better Business campaign and the FedEx / Brake Road Safety Academy.
- Acknowledgement of programs by Brake, Motor Transport, Chartered Institute of Logistics & Transport and the Prince Michael International Road Safety awards.
- BRAKE Fleet Safety Award Winner 2019 – Category Company Driver Safety Large Fleet.
- Fleet News Award 2020 Winner, Fleet of the Year 1,001 – plus vehicles.