One of the most important aspects of occupational road safety is the vehicles themselves. Given that not many businesses can operate without driving, it means that millions of vans, lorries, buses, taxis, emergency service vehicles, motorcycles, bicycles and company cars are all used for work purposes across the country. What’s more, there are many people who work on the road on foot – refuse collectors, maintenance workers, vehicle breakdown workers, postal workers, the police, etc. All of these workers are facing daily risks because of their work. They can also create their own risks for other road users.
Management of work-related road safety – vehicles
In 2002, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) published a research project entitled Management of work-related road safety. This research incorporated a telephone survey covering different organisations belonging to different sectors and of different sizes. Here are some of the findings relating to vehicles.
Using vehicles for work
Most of the organisations said that only 1 in 10 of the company’s workforce had to drive for their role and one-third of the companies said that between 10 and 50 percent of the workforce had to drive. Only 10% of the organisations surveyed said that no one had to drive in their organisation for work purposes.
Why people were using vehicles
The most typical vehicle activity was among sales staff, peripatetic staff and professionals. The next most common vehicle users were goods collection and delivery drivers.
The most common vehicles
The most common vehicle type used by organisations in the survey was the car, then light goods vehicles and large goods vehicles. Around 73% of organisations used cars for their work affairs, 55% used light goods vehicles and 25% used large goods vehicles. Large organisations were most likely to use large goods vehicles, minibuses or motor caravans. Twelve per cent of organisations used other types of vehicles and of these, 56% used forklift trucks, 21% used tractors, 15% used construction vehicles and 5% used 4-wheel drives.
Most accidents happened to delivery and collection drivers and well as peripatetic staff. Cars were the most likely to be involved in an accident then light goods vehicles.
The vehicle type that was the most likely to be in an accident was the car and more than half of all accidents involved this vehicle type.
Organisations’ procedures surrounding vehicles
Selecting the right vehicles
Organisations need to ensure they select vehicles that are fit for purpose, roadworthy and road legal. Each vehicle needs to have primary safety features like ESC (Electronic Stability Control), AEB (Autonomous Emergency Braking) and secondary features like good protection in a crash situation.
It’s important to remember that if staff can buy their own vehicle through a salary sacrifice scheme then the employer is still obliged to meet the same health and safety obligations when the purchased vehicles are used for work purposes. All vehicles that are driven for work purposes have to be suitable for the work that will be undertaken in them and must meet safety requirements.
Organisations have to make sure that all work vehicles are MOT’d and taxed appropriately. They should also make sure that servicing happens on a regular basis too and that the insurance on the vehicles is adequate.
Safety Checks on Vehicles
Companies need to make sure their drivers know the procedures of conduction vehicle safety checks and that they do this regularly. Providing a checklist will encourage drivers to do their safety checks before each drive or on a weekly basis. What’s more, this checklist can be used as a means to report defects in the vehicles.
Companies should ensure that before any employee uses a vehicle they are given a familiarisation session and appropriate training. This should include the use of equipment inside the vehicle like cruise control and satellite navigation systems.
Drivers Using Their Own Vehicles
Organisations still need to issue the same level of care to their employees that use their own vehicles for work purposes. These workers are often called ‘grey fleet’. A lot of companies have a maximum distance for staff who use their own car occasionally for work. This could be a return journey of 50 miles, for example. After this limit is reached, a company car or hire car should be used.
Seat Belt Use
It goes without saying that organisations need to ensure their drivers wear their seat belts at all times.
When transporting or collecting goods, drivers need to be aware of the correct procedures for loading and unloading the goods as well as how to store them correctly inside the vehicle.
Speed Limiters and Tachographs
Organisations need to know all of the rules regarding speed limiters and tachographs and make sure their employees use these properly.