With more than $6 billion in global sales, Ecolab is a global leader in cleaning, sanitizing, food safety, and infection prevention products and services. The company operates a 7,500-vehicle fleet in the U.S., supporting nine business units.
In 2003, Ecolab's management decided to implement a formal and consistent driver safety program. Over the next 12 months, the company developed a uniform driver's safety program across all business units, consolidating separate sets of procedures and policies.
"It was important for us to get a consistent set of standards and practices across our entire fleet," said Ryan Rebman, director of corporate safety.
Ecolab's corporate risk management group manages the driver safety program and develops the program's safety procedures. Each business unit provides input for policies and procedures and is responsible for implementation.
Individual Profiles Created
Ecolab utilizes the CEI fleet risk management and driver safety services program, DriverCare, to help create and update individual profiles for every fleet driver hired by the company. Drivers are assigned points for certain incidents, similar to the point systems states use for a variety of violations. In addition, Ecolab set its own point standards and statistics for measuring drivers, emphasizing accident and motor vehicle violation prevention. Feedback is gathered from other motorists who call a 1-800 line to comment on Ecolab employee driving behavior.
"This helps us comprise a risk profile and assign a risk level that is then maintained over a rolling 24-month period," Rebman said.
Ecolab policies charge drivers cited for reckless driving, traveling 35 mph over the speed limit, or other similar dangerous actions with "critical events." Twice a year, the company runs MVRs on anyone who uses a fleet vehicle to ensure drivers maintain a good driving history.
A required self-reporting policy distinguishes Ecolab's driver safety policy from many others. Failure to report an accident can have serious consequences for an individual employee.
Risk Defined in Four Levels
Each Ecolab driver is defined by four risk levels. Drivers with a Risk Level 0 have incurred no citations or infractions over the previous 24 months. Risk Level 1 requires a driver to undergo online remedial training. A Risk Level 2 driver must take online training and participate in a ride-along with his or her immediate supervisor. Drivers at Risk Level 3 are assigned more specific coaching and must attend an eight-hour class that combines classroom time and behind-the-wheel training. Advanced Driver Training Services (ADTS) provides the classroom instruction, conducted by current and former law enforcement officers.
All new managers also must attend at least one ADTS class to help better enforce Ecolab's driving program, both from a driver's perspective and a management strategy.
Much of Ecolab's risk assessment is performed before a potential new employee is hired. In addition, MVRs are run on all pre-hire candidates. A pre-hire candidate at driver Risk Level 3 is not eligible for hire.
"We want to hire good drivers up-front," Rebman said. "Pre-screening job applicants has made a huge difference."
Currently, Ecolab is updating its driver's safety handbook for the fourth time in the last five years, Rebman said. The handbook now outlines a number of specific roles and responsibilities to which each driver should adhere on a daily basis.
Program Results Impressive
Ecolab's driver safety program has produced impressive results. From 2003 to 2008, total accidents per million miles dropped 13 percent and preventable accidents per million miles fell 15 percent. The declines occurred even as the number of vehicles increased 23 percent and miles driven rose 14 percent, Rebman said. Ecolab uses the National Safety Council's definition of preventable accidents as part of this metric.
Ecolab's employees have become accustomed to the company's driver safety requirements, recognizing the program and its stringent guidelines are designed to help protect and keep them safe on the road, according to Rebman.
"When we started with this program, we proactively communicated with our employees and showed them how the changes would benefit them personally," he said. "In the end, I think they understood the changes were made to further protect them, as well as reduce the overall expenses for the organization."
NETS Provides Benchmarking
Just as important, Ecolab makes sure its insurance companies and underwriters also understand and recognize the benefits of the driver safety program. To further emphasize its commitment to driver safety, Ecolab joined the Network of Employers for Traffic Safety (NETS).
An employer-led public/private partnership, the NETS mission is to improve the safety and health of employees, their families, and communities by preventing traffic crashes that occur both on and off the job.
At the annual NETS meeting and conference, members participate in a large benchmarking exercise that helps measure program results. The measurements allow companies to set fleet driving policies and best practices.
"NETS allows us to better understand how Ecolab compares to other fleet organizations," Rebman said. "The benchmarking exercise has been especially helpful in allowing us an apples-to-apples comparison of our policies against other industry leaders. What we've learned has helped guide our in-house policy changes as we try to look for more ways to increase safety for our employees."