Reducing Occupational Road Risk

At-work road safety

What do we mean by the term ‘Occupational Road Risk’?

For the vast majority of the UK workforce, the most dangerous activity they do at work driving on public roads. Just as health and safety law applies to all work activities, it also applies to driving for work purposes. With this in mind, employers need to consider how to manage occupational road risks for their drivers as a part of their health and safety policy. This is not just ‘good practice’ but it is a legal duty.

With effective management, a reduced occupation road risk results in:

  • Fewer driver injuries and deaths
  • A reduction in the risk of occupational ill-health
  • A reduction in stress
  • An improvement in morale

How can companies reduce risks?

Organisations should ask themselves the following questions to assess where they are in terms of reducing occupational road risk:

  • Are you aware of the legal requirements for all drivers driving for work in your organisation?
  • Do you manage the organisation’s fleet risks actively?
  • Do you add any long working hours of employees to your risk assessment?
  • Do employees receive rewards for working long hours and do they then travel back home after working long hours?
  • Do the employees know how to deal with an accident or breakdown when driving for work?
  • Do the employees know how to deal with adverse weather when driving?
  • Does your organisation have appropriate policies and training with checks that help minimise risk and meet legal requirements?
  • Do the employees know the policies and know what the organisation expects of them?

Driving culture at work

In order to reduce occupational road risk and to keep drivers and vehicles safe, it is necessary to instil the right culture towards driving. There needs to be a clear policy detailing the management of occupational road safety and this should be communicated to all employees.

The occupational road risk policy should include:

  • Details regarding vehicle daily checks and maintenance
  • Details regarding safety in and around the vehicles
  • Information on driver health and fitness
  • Information regarding the risks of drugs and alcohol when driving
  • Information regarding risks from being distracted at the wheel due to mobile phone use or eating
  • Information about driver competence expectations
  • Information on planning journeys
  • Information on how to deal with adverse weather
  • Details about how driving will be monitored (behaviour and driving style)
  • How to report accidents and near-misses and the process of post-accident reviews

Risk assessments – drivers and vehicles

Your organisation’s risk assessment needs to include information as to what harm could occur when drivers use vehicles for work purposes. It should detail the precautions undertaken to manage and reduce the identified risks and should provide information regarding further measures to be undertaken.

If we look at road transport organisations, for example, they need to think about issues such as how people could be harmed:

  • At delivery locations or at the depot
  • When manoeuvring a vehicle or parking
  • When uncoupling or coupling a trailer
  • When unloading or loading a vehicle
  • If the load is not secure
  • When the vehicle is being cleaned
  • If a vehicle is being used that is unstable or high (overturning, tipping, hitting low bridges or cables)
  • When drivers are stressed or tired

In other words, organisations need to think about all of the things that might go wrong when a driver is behind the wheel and note reasons. With this list in mind, an action plan to address the risks can be drawn up and implemented.

Providing appropriate training in occupational road safety for drivers

Some of the best practices for reducing occupation road risk involve companies providing training programmes for their drivers. Such training programmes give the driver time behind the wheel with a qualified training instructor. This can play an important part in ensuring drivers aren’t complacent about their driving capabilities and it can also raise their awareness of road risks while highlighting how dangerous different driving behaviours and styles can be.

Praise and reward

For training to bring a lasting change in behaviour at the wheel, organisations should consider how to reward and praise their drivers regularly. Rewards for driving that is fuel-efficient and safe are a great incentive for drivers.

To assist with a praise and reward system, companies could use vehicle telematics that can monitor a driver’s behaviour at the wheel. The information provided could be used to form a league table allowing drivers to compare skills. It could also mean that managers can intervene when undesirable driving is identified.