As a fleet owner it is important you consider the health and wellbeing of your drivers as a priority when it comes to safety at work. It is important to ensure your drivers and employees are aware of the many ways in which they can keep a check on their own health and wellbeing whilst at work.
In terms of safety on the road, it is essential drivers are completing daily walk round checks to ensure their vehicle is road safe. Making sure everything is in working order ensures their safety also.
- They should check the cab or car driving position in terms of access, seat belts and seat position, mirrors and vehicle controls.
- Wheels and tyres should be checked for damage and the wheel nuts should be secured.
- Particularly on commercial vehicles, make sure they also check visibility, load security, the fuel tank, brakes, fluids and couplings.
In 20% of all road collisions, tiredness has played a role, which is why it essential drivers get enough rest before setting off on any journey.
- Reaction times are directly affected by lack of sleep; this will impact how drivers are able to respond to potentially dangerous situations on the road.
- Drivers should be encouraged to take proper rest breaks and not to drive if they feel tired; instead they should pull over and rest.
- Ensure your LGV drivers are all aware of and adhering to the drivers’ hours rules.
Driving conditions can be made much worse by adverse weather conditions such as rain, fog, freezing temperatures, high winds and bright sunshine. These weather conditions not only impact the safety of your drivers but also other road users.
- Drivers should be encouraged to adjust their driving speed in line with weather conditions – driving at a safe speed and with caution in these conditions is the best way to stay safe and aware.
- Drivers should ensure they have everything they will need to stay safe on their journey, including winter driving kits and warm clothes.
- Whilst travelling, your drivers should be encouraged to stay up to date with weather on their journey and beforehand to plan properly.
Loading activities, including manual handling and working in loading bays, tend to be hazardous activities for drivers in general. It is important they focus on safety at all times.
- All rules and signage must be observed and drivers need to be mindful of other vehicles and people at all times.
- Drivers should inspect all equipment regularly for damage as well as general wear and tear. This includes equipment both on and off the vehicle; they should not use the equipment if they are in doubt and must report it.
- Drivers must be encouraged to check their load properly to make sure it is correctly positioned, not overweight, and secure. It must also not impair their vision.
It is essential that drivers take proper care when it comes to speeding and speed limits. Travelling too fast for the specific road conditions is a contributing factor to more than 28% of the fatal crashes in the UK, according to the police.
- Ensure drivers are entirely aware of speed limits and stopping distances; these will differ depending on road conditions and this must be considered.
- Drivers should be encouraged to adopt ‘defensive driving’ techniques, which can help reduce speed, fuel consumption and even lower stress.
Managing Distraction and Stress
According to a Brake and Direct Line survey, 71% of drivers surveyed had lost concentration on the road within the last 12 months as a result of stress or annoyance.
- Whilst some distractions are obvious, such as changing the radio, some are not, such as emotional distractions.
- Make sure drivers are aware that it is illegal to use a handheld mobile, and that they put it somewhere where it will not be a distraction.
Breakdowns and Accidents
No matter how many precautions are taken, unfortunately breakdowns and accidents may still occur. It is important in these situations that drivers remain calm and don’t put themselves in any more danger, such as to move the vehicle.
- Wherever it is possible they should utilise the hard shoulder or emergency refuge area; switching on their hazard warning lights.
- They should exit from passenger side and stay away from moving traffic. If the vehicle is blocking traffic and they cannot exit safely they should ring the police immediately.
Driver health is vital to their safety and wellbeing. They should ensure they have a balanced diet and limit fast food in order to stay healthy, as well as stay hydrated with plenty of water and keeping active where possible. Where possible they should be encouraged to get out and have a walk to get some fresh air.
In addition, they should be encouraged to get regular eye tests as road crashes with drivers who have poor eyesight are estimated to cause 2,900 casualties per year.
As drivers can often be trucking a valuable load, they tend to be at risk of theft or personal attack. It is essential therefore that they always remove the keys and lock the doors of their vehicle when leaving it.
They should also ensure they have planned their route ahead and keep documentation out of view. In addition, they should stay clear of dark or unlit places when parking; they should utilise a secure location where possible.
Professional drivers have been identified as being a high-risk group when it comes to experiencing mental health problems. It is important as an employer that mental health wellbeing is promoted in the workplace just as readily as physical health. Drivers should be encouraged to talk about their mental health and prioritise their wellbeing, especially on the road. 1 in 4 people will experience a mental health problem each year in the UK, so it is essential that this is a conversation we all have.