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Safe Driving at Work

By: Kevin Watson MSc - Updated: 26 Aug 2012 | comments*Discuss
Safe Driving Risk Assessments Work

Employers may underestimate the dangers when staff take to the road as part of their jobs. Employers may also fail to realise that health and safety law applies just as much to staff who are driving as those who work on business premises. Safe driving risk assessments for employees are therefore essential and managers must control the risks with a health and safety system.

Employers must also bear in mind that road safety risk assessments apply to anyone who uses a vehicle at work. The assessments do not only affect full-time drivers of lorries, buses and coaches. The member of staff who drives to a meeting, attends a conference or travels for sales purposes falls within an assessment’s remit.

Employers’ Responsibilities

Tiredness at the wheel of a vehicle is a major cause of fatal road accidents. The causes of tiredness vary. They include:

  • Long motorway trips
  • Driving after lunch
  • Driving in the early hours
  • Drinking alcohol and driving
  • Taking medicines and driving
  • Driving after a night shift
  • Driving after a bad night’s sleep

Employers must remind staff of these dangers. They can use training and appraisals to put the message across. This message should emphasise the risks of falling asleep while in control of a vehicle.

On the positive side, employers should ensure that staff plan safe and reasonable road journeys. Staff should not undertake a long journey after a day’s work, for instance, and should get enough sleep before they sit behind the wheel. They should also avoid long journeys at night or in the early afternoon, if possible. Above all, staff should take a break if they feel tired while driving.

Employers must make it clear that staff health comes before anything else.

Other Initiatives

Among other initiatives to encourage safe driving at work are controlling driving hours, permitting overnight stays and using alternatives to driving. Employers can establish limits to the hours staff drive without a break. Generally speaking, drivers should have a 15-minute break every two hours. Professional drivers already have a statutory limit.

Overnight stays break a journey into two parts. They can also allow staff to have a proper night’s rest either before or after the bulk of a journey. Alternatives to driving include meetings held by conference phone calls or video conferencing. These can save time and money. They also help to ensure safety.

Safe Driving Policies

In addition to risk assessments, employers should create safe driving polices within their organisations.

A safe driving policy, issued in writing to all staff, should make the following points.

  • Never make or take phone calls while driving, and never attempt to receive or send texts. Park first.
  • Don’t drink and drive.
  • Don’t drive if prescribed or over-the-counter medicines impair concentration.
  • Don’t drive when ill or if there’s a problem with eyesight.
  • Always stick to speed limits.
  • Check a vehicle over before a long journey. Such a check should include the condition of the tyres and the performance of all lights.
  • Plan journeys, and make an overnight stay where appropriate.
  • Don’t drive in poor weather conditions such as snow, ice and fog.

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