Work-related vehicle accidents in the UK still seem to be a rather big cause for concern: according to the HSE, every year there are over 5000 incidents which involve transport in the workplace with about 50 of those resulting in people being killed.
As stated by their report, up to one-third of all road traffic accidents that occur involve someone who is at work at the time. It has been estimated that this may account for over 20 fatalities and 250 injuries weekly.
Research has shown that the behaviour of individual drivers is a huge contributor to work-related road traffic incidents. The following high-risk behaviours have been indicated as the most important focus points for road-safety programmes:
- Driver fatigue: Exhaustion due to long working hours, insufficient amount of sleep and inability to take a break significantly increases the risk of an accident occurring
- Speeding: Driving over the speed limit is among the main contributing factors for work-related car crashes, showing a positive relationship between high speed and injury severity and increasing the possibility for a fatal outcome
- Time pressure: A combination of circumstances such as personal motivations and management influence can cause the driver to feel pressured for time and thus increase the chance of a crash occurring
- Distractions: Whether inside the vehicle or outside of it, there is a wide range of distractions that may increase the risk of an accident taking place, including internal distractions like thinking about work or personal issues while on the road
- Mobile devices: Using any kind of mobile device while driving majorly increases the chances of a collision with another vehicle
Occupational vehicles should be suitable for the purpose they are supposed to serve, taking working conditions into consideration. According to the HSE, some red flags that might signal an unsafe vehicle include:
- Lack of all-round visibility
- Insufficient/inappropriate warning systems (like horns and lights)
- Unsafe/uncomfortable seat belts
- Lack of appropriate safeguards to prevent workers from coming into contact with dangerous parts of the vehicle
- No easily accessible safe exit from the vehicle
- Poor protection from bad weather, extreme temperatures, fumes, dirt, and dust
- Inability to prevent injury in case the vehicle overturns
- No safe way to prevent the vehicle from moving
- Vehicle is not bright enough to be seen
- Vehicle lights that are not bright enough for the driver to work safely
Assessing the risks is not only important when it comes to the drivers and the vehicles they are provided with, but it is also an essential part of planning the journeys. Some of the possible risks that can make a journey hazardous may include unsuitable road types (potholed, slippery or uneven), distances which are too large, journey timeframes that put too much pressure on the driver or require driving during high-risk hours, and unfavourable weather conditions.
According to the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, all employers are expected to make appropriate arrangements in order to ensure the wellbeing of their employees is being protected at all times.
Even though hazard control is not as easy when an employee is driving as compared to when they are working within an office building, all practical steps must be taken in order to reduce the risks involved in driving for work. These include:
- Ensuring drivers are capable and competent enough to perform their duties
- Providing drivers with necessary training
- Confirming that the vehicles which are being used are well maintained and are suitable for their purpose
- Planning adequate routes
- Taking weather conditions into consideration
- Actively communicating with employees regarding their experience of driving for the company and making necessary adjustments
Providing drivers with regular medical assessment is also an essential part of road safety management and is required by the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999.
Benefits of Well-Managed Occupational Road Safety
A successful health and safety management plan consists of three stages: identifying hazards, assessing the risks, and controlling said risks. When performed correctly, such a plan can greatly benefit any business regardless of its size, providing:
- Fewer injury-related days off work
- Reduced need for follow-up investigations
- Less need for vehicle repair
- Reduced costs of productivity loss and injury compensation
Are you an employer currently looking for a simple and effective way to integrate occupational road safety management into the health and safety practices at your business? Healthscreen can help with that! We provide UK-wide on-site driver medical tests designed to test your employees’ fitness to perform their driving responsibilities by assessing their vision, hearing, strength, and coordination. We also screen for ‘hidden’ conditions such as high blood pressure and diabetes which can also affect driving.
Click here to enquire for a free, no-obligation quote today!