Construction Vehicles: Assets Or Liabilities?

By Gary H. Gokey, CSP, ARM, Safety Management Group of Indiana | September 28, 2010

Are your company vehicles, either those that are incidental or primary to the business, costing you too much money to operate or are they actually a benefit to your overall business operations? There are two distinct groups of company vehicles: primary and incidental. The primary vehicles are those that can be used to generate income for your business by being able to establish charges for their usage, which is billed to the customer. Incidental fleets or vehicles are those units that generate no operating charges, yet are essential for company personnel to conduct business, such as those company owned vehicles that are assigned to job foremen, superintendents, project engineers, sales, maintenance staff, or material delivery personnel.

These vehicles may be costing your company more than fuel, insurance and upkeep that it takes to maintain them. Did you know that in addition to the normal expected costs, job-related vehicle accidents are the leading cause of work-related fatalities and lost-time injuries, which cost companies millions of dollars in additional expenses? As a company you may have a safety program in place with policies and procedures intended to protect your employees from workplace hazards and exposures related to the job activities associated with your operations. Does your company safety program or risk control measures address the necessary steps to afford the same level of controls and protection for the company vehicles that are provided to employees in order to carry out their day-to-day activities?

Many times the importance for safety as related to company fleets, especially the incidental type, is not considered a top priority in the company's safety program. Yet statistics relating to job-related motor vehicles crashes cost companies thousands of dollars annually, both in direct and indirect costs. The direct costs are those related to the insurance coverage, whereas the indirect costs are those that cannot be covered and/or recovered through insurance programs.

Administrative Commitment

Top management must be committed to fleet management, showing that they are genuinely concerned for the safety and well-being of all employees within the organization while generating and using company vehicles. This starts with a signed statement of policy from the company president regarding this commitment. The statement needs to convey the current ownership's desire that all company assets, including vehicles, will be in a safe operating condition and that those who operate company vehicles will be responsible in assuring they are in such condition.

The statement needs to further assure the employee that their safety and well-being while operating a company vehicle is a top priority. This could include comments regarding the company's concern when employees are not only driving for work related activities, but when driving to and from work, especially if take-home use is provided with the company vehicle. Lastly, the statement should emphasize the company's goal, which is to reduce traffic-related deaths and injuries that can occur during use and operation of company vehicles.

Senior management needs to provide leadership, establish policies and allocate resources (staff and budgeting) in order to set the tone for an effective fleet safety program. Leadership not only includes the authoritative responsibilities, but is also conveyed by example.

The next step in the process is to have written policies and procedures.

Driver Control

The company needs to establish the necessary controls to assure that they are allowing only qualified employees to operate company vehicles. Qualified means not only meeting state and federal regulations for having the proper license to drive, but they also meet other qualifying requirements established by the company.

Vehicles: Selection, Maintenance And Inspections

Company vehicles should be properly selected based on type and usage. Vehicles that carry a high rating for crash worthiness, ease of repairs and overall safety should be given top priority when purchasing vehicles for company use.

Maintenance intervals should be established and conveyed to the drivers. Tracking and follow-up with the drivers to assure that these intervals are met reinforces the company's commitment of having safe, well-kept vehicles in the hands of those operating them.

Author Information
Gary H. Gokey, CSP, ARM is a safety advisor with Safety Management Group of Indiana, Carmel, Ind. For more information, visit or call (800) 435-8850.