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Staying Safe on Work-related Journeys

By: Kevin Watson MSc - Updated: 29 Sep 2012 | comments*Discuss
 
Staying Safe On Work-related Journeys

An employer has a responsibility to keep staff as safe as possible when they are on a work-related journey. But staff should also take measures to ensure their own welfare, especially when driving.

Plan

To begin with, it’s wise to plan ahead. Even if a driver has done a particular work-related journey many times before, there are issues to consider:

1. Is the traffic likely to be heavy at this time of day?
2. Is bad weather going to make the journey longer?

It’s always better to travel on the roads at quieter times. The demands of work may restrict a driver’s options, but if it’s possible to leave a trip until a less busy time of day why not do so? In heavy traffic, there’s a greater risk of delays and accidents.

Bad weather is, of course, outside anyone’s control. But a driver should look at whether it’s feasible to postpone a trip until reasonable weather returns.

Winter

Driving on work-related journeys in the winter is often unavoidable. In the event of snow and ice, listen to traffic reports. If the advice is not to drive, take this seriously. And if a trip is absolutely necessary, make sure the vehicle is in a safe condition. Check the condition of the tyres, make sure there’s enough fuel, and take a mobile phone.

Vehicle Maintenance

The issue of vehicle condition is important at any time of the year. Don’t assume that a company vehicle is always fit to drive simply because it has a regular service.

Give a company car or lorry a visual check. And don’t neglect to report any faults, no matter how minor they may seem.

Tiredness

A health check also applies to drivers. No matter how much pressure there is to do a particular work-related journey, don’t let tiredness and stress create risks. It’s not easy for a driver to say that he or she is too tired to get behind the wheel. A manager or supervisor may not always be sympathetic. But to drive when tired is to increase the chances of having an accident.

Posture

Tiredness, though, doesn’t always appear until part-way through a journey. This is why drivers shouldn’t hesitate to pull over and have a break, no matter how tight their schedules.

A driver’s posture at the wheel may also exacerbate tiredness. Before setting off, adjust the vehicle’s driving seat for comfort and position. Similarly, adjust the rear-view mirror and wing mirrors to suit.

Feedback

A good employer will ask company drivers about issues such as tiredness, comfort and schedules. Take such opportunities to give feedback. This feedback can be positive as well as negative – an employer should take note of both.

Also, study any occupational road safety policy and procedures that an employer may issue. And if a company doesn’t have such a policy, ask why. Similarly, if an organisation doesn’t have a work-related driving risk assessment, query this with a manager.

Such enquiries are reasonable and legitimate. They are requests for an employer to follow the law and good practice.

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