Vehicles don’t crash, people do – Driving change in work-related …
At Safety & Health Expo 2023, Simon Turner, Campaign Manager Driving for Better Business gave the audience a – very safe – spin around the block of Occupational Road Risk.
Simon is Chair of the Trustees at the Association for Road Risk Management and a regular contributor to SHP. You can find more of his recent driver safety articles here.
Over 20 million vehicles are used for work in the UK, including company cars, company vans, trucks and HGVs and grey fleet vehicles (owned and driven by employees for business purposes.
The importance of driver safety is borne out by the contrast between worker fatality rates (123 last year) and fatalities involving someone driving as part of work (528 in 2019). There are 40,000 collisions causing injury every year as a result from driving to work, with the majority of these injuries caused to vulnerable road users. Turner compared the odds of winning the lottery, 1 in 45 million, where we all think it can be us to the 1 in 500 likelihood of being involved in one these collisions, incidents we never think we would be involved in.
Employers have a legal obligation to manage road risk, as set out in the Health and Safety at Work Act, sections 2, 3, 7, and 37 and the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations. While the Safety Manager is the person that an investigating authority will come to in the event of an accident, avoiding Occupational Road Risk is a shared responsibility and one that, Turner illustrates, involves a thorough checklist of measures, most of which are relevant before the journey even starts.
The risk areas – and matters arising from them – indicated by Tuner were:
Your drivers; licence checks, penalty points, vehicle entitlement, vision, medical conditions, collision history, training records
Fitness to drive; The importance of checking medical conditions was highlighted by the Glasgow bin lorry crash in 2014. In this case the driver had failed to disclose his heart condition to the council. The council were exonerated because they proved they had taken reasonable steps to check this – but they could well have been culpable otherwise.
On alcohol and drug awareness, Turner warned that drug use was increasing among commercial drivers and raised questions about the impact on driver concentration of stress and a poor mental health environment at work.
Vehicle roadworthiness; the importance of proper procedures, training, monitoring checks and rectifying defects.
Arriving for work; Something to note is that low speed maneuvering is one of the leading causes of vehicular accidents at work.
Loading the vehicle; Are employees aware of the loading weight limits? They can’t just fill available space – have they been trained on safe loading?
Work instructions; Planning the journey – is the schedule realistic? Employees should not be speeding between drops/meetings to unrealistic workloads or achieve financial incentives.
On the journey; Highway code awareness, including speed limits for vans. Are employees aware that hands-free mobile use is as dangerous as hand-held? The issue is the cognitive distraction. Managers should lead by example. Rest breaks must be built in to avoid dehydration/concentration problems.
At the customer; Awareness of depot workers, pedestrians, other road users.
In an emergency; Are procedures in place for breakdown, collisions, damage and theft? These procedures are for ensuring your drivers aren’t put at further risk as well as accurate reporting.
Resources for further help
Turner explained that Driving for Better Business was about sharing good practice with free-to-access resources, such as toolkits on specific areas of concern such as winter driving, fatigue, speed limits, safe towing and vehicle roadworthiness among others.
The business benefits, as well as reducing vehicle collisions and speeding incidents, include reducing third-party claims, reducing insurance premiums, reducing maintenance costs, reducing fuel use and reducing off-road time and unnecessary idling.
There’s also a free online course in collaboration with FleetCheck available here.
And don’t forget the White Paper written with SHP, Good Practice in Driver Safety Management available here.
With employees who drive for business more likely to be killed at work than deep sea divers or coal miners, driver safety is a vital business consideration.
Download this eBook from Driving for Better Business and SHP to cover:
- The danger of the roads;
- Comparing road safety in the UK to the rest of Europe;
- Decreasing risk: Avoiding accidents;
- Road safety best practice;
- What is fleet risk?
- Managing work-related road safety.
- ^ Driving for Better Business (www.drivingforbetterbusiness.com)
- ^ his recent driver safety articles here (www.shponline.co.uk)
- ^ FleetCheck available here (www.fleetconfidence.co.uk)
- ^ Good Practice in Driver Safety Management available here. (www.shponline.co.uk)