Evaluating the Risks

Evaluating the Risks

Working through this section will help you evaluate whether you are managing work-related road safety effectively. These considerations are not exhaustive and you may be able to think of others.

The driver

Competency

Are you satisfied that your drivers are competent and capable of doing their work in a way that is safe for them and other people?

■ Does the employee have relevant previous experience?

■ Does the job require anything more than a current driving licence, valid for the type of vehicle to be driven?

■ Do your recruitment procedures include appropriate pre-appointment checks, eg do you always take up references?

■ Do you check the validity of the driving licence on recruitment and periodically thereafter?

■ Are your at-work drivers aware of company policy on work-related road safety, and do they understand what is expected of them?

■ Should your policy document be supplemented with written instructions and guidance and/or training sessions or group meetings?

■ Have you specified what standards of skill and expertise are required for the circumstances of the particular job?

■ How do you ensure that these standards are met?

Example: A firm with 17 drivers produced a handbook on road safety topics including maintenance and driver tiredness, which was introduced at a training session.

Training

Are you satisfied that your drivers are properly trained?

 ■ Do you evaluate whether those that drive at work require additional training to carry out their duties safely?

■ Do you provide induction training for drivers?

■ Do you arrange for drivers to be trained giving priority to those at highest risk, eg those with high annual mileage, poor accident records, or young drivers?

■ Do drivers need to know how to carry out routine safety checks such as those on lights, tyres and wheel fixings?

■ Do drivers know how to correctly adjust safety equipment, eg seat belts and head restraints?

■ Do drivers know how to use anti-lock brakes (ABS) properly?

■ Do drivers know how to check washer fluid levels before starting a journey?

■ Do drivers know how to ensure safe load distribution, eg when undertaking multi-drop operations?

■ Do drivers know what actions to take to ensure their own safety following the breakdown of their vehicle?

■ Do you need to provide a handbook for drivers giving advice and information on road safety?

■ Are drivers aware of the dangers of fatigue?

■ Do they know what they should do if they start to feel sleepy?

■ Has money been budgeted for training? To be effective training needs should be periodically assessed, including the requirement for refresher training.

Example: A high tech company with a large fleet of company cars trained all drivers who exceeded 2000 miles per year. Training requirements were determined by an attitudinal questionnaire and on the road assessment. 13

Fitness and health

Are you satisfied that your drivers are sufficiently fit and healthy to drive safely and not put themselves or others at risk?

■ Do drivers of heavy lorries, for which there are legal requirements for medical examination, have the appropriate medical certificate?

■ Although there is no legal requirement, should those at-work drivers who are most at risk, also undergo regular medicals?

■ Should staff that drive at work be reminded that they must be able satisfy the eyesight requirements set out in the Highway Code1?

■ Have you told staff that they should not drive, or undertake other duties, while taking a course of medicine that might impair their judgement? In cases of doubt they should seek the view of their GP.

The vehicle

Suitability

Are you satisfied that vehicles are fit for the purpose for which they are used?

■ Do you investigate which vehicles are best for driving and public health and safety when purchasing new or replacement vehicles?

■ Is your fleet suitable for the job in hand? Have you thought about supplementing or replacing it, with leased or hire vehicles?

■ Do you ensure that privately owned vehicles are not used for work purposes unless they are insured for business use and, where the vehicle is over three years old, they have a valid MOT certificate?

Condition

Are you satisfied that vehicles are maintained in a safe and fit condition?

■ Do you have adequate maintenance arrangements in place?

■ How do you ensure maintenance and repairs are carried out to an acceptable standard?

■ Is planned/preventative maintenance carried out in accordance with manufacturers’ recommendations? Remember an MOT certificate only checks for basic defects and does not guarantee the safety of a vehicle.

■ Do your drivers know how to carry out basic safety checks?

■ How do you ensure that vehicles do not exceed maximum load weight?

■ Can goods and equipment which are to be carried in a vehicle be properly secured, eg loose tools and sample products can distract the driver’s attention if allowed to move around freely?

■ Are windscreen wipers inspected regularly and replaced as necessary?

DRIVING AT WORK MANAGING WORK-RELATED ROAD SAFETY

Example: A utility company required staff to carry out pre-use checks (tyres, windows, lights) and further periodic checks (bulbs, wiper blades, water jets).

Safety equipment

Are you satisfied that safety equipment is properly fitted and maintained?

■ Is safety equipment appropriate and in good working order?

■ Are seatbelts and head restraints fitted correctly and do they function properly?

Safety critical information

Are you satisfied that drivers have access to information that will help them reduce risks?

■ Have you thought of ways that information can be made readily available to drivers? Eg: -recommended tyre pressures; -how to adjust headlamp beam to compensate for load weight; -how to adjust head restraints to compensate for the effects of whiplash

-the action drivers should take where they consider their vehicle is unsafe and who they should contact.

Ergonomic considerations

Are you satisfied that drivers’ health, and possibly safety, is not being put at risk, eg from inappropriate seating position or driving posture?6

■ Do you take account of ergonomic considerations before purchasing or leasing new vehicles?

■ Do you provide drivers with guidance on good posture and, where appropriate, on how to set their seat correctly?

The journey

Routes

Do you plan routes thoroughly?

■ Could you use safer routes which are more appropriate for the type of vehicle undertaking the journey? Motorways are the safest roads and although minor roads may be fine for cars, they are less safe and could present difficulties for larger vehicles.

■ Does your route planning take sufficient account of overhead restrictions eg bridges and tunnels and other hazards, such as level crossings, which may present dangers for long vehicles?

Scheduling

Are work schedules realistic?

■ Do you take sufficient account of periods when drivers are most likely to feel sleepy when planning work schedules? Sleep-related accidents are most likely to occur between 2 am and 6 am and between 2 pm and 4 pm.

■ Have you taken steps to stop employees from driving if they feel sleepy even if this might upset delivery schedules?

■ Do you try to avoid periods of peak traffic flow?

■ Do you make sufficient allowances for new trainee drivers?

Time

Are you satisfied that sufficient time is allowed to complete journeys safely?

■ Are your schedules realistic? Do journey times take account of road types and condition, and allow for rest breaks? Would you expect a non-vocational driver to drive and work for longer than a professional driver? The Highway Code1 recommends that drivers should take a 15 minute break every two hours. Professional drivers must of course comply with drivers’ hours rules.

■ Does company policy put drivers under pressure and encourage them to take unnecessary risks, eg to exceed safe speeds because of agreed arrival times?

■ Can drivers make an overnight stay, rather than having to complete a long road journey at the end of the working day?

■ Have you considered advising staff that work irregular hours of the dangers of driving home from work when they are excessively tired? In such circumstances they may wish to consider an alternative, such as a taxi?

 Example: A telecommunications firm put a duty on line managers to examine employee work schedules and journey patterns following police prosecution of one of their drivers for speeding.

Distance

Are you satisfied that drivers will not be put at risk from fatigue caused by driving excessive distances without appropriate breaks?

■ Can you eliminate long road journeys or reduce them by combining with other methods of transport? For example, it may be possible to move goods in bulk by train and then arrange for local distribution by van or lorry.

■ Do you plan journeys so that they are not so long as to contribute to fatigue?

 ■ What criteria do you use to ensure that employees are not being asked to work an exceptionally long day? Remember that sometimes people will be starting a journey from home.

Example: A sales company placed an upper limit on daily mileage for car drivers but encouraged alternative means of travel.