How to manage journey risks at work
Our two posts on Duty of Care have so far covered the vehicle and the driver. Here, we are going to look at the third and final factor you need to consider – the journey.
The underlying principle here is that risk needs to be managed surrounding the demands being placed on the driver on the road. These can be divided into three key areas.
This will depend very much on the type of fleet that you operate. If you have a number of vans that make a series of calls across the day, then you need to ensure that the schedule that is provided for them is viable in terms of the time needed and road conditions encountered. Alternatively, if a driver of a company car plans their own journeys, you should give guidance to ensure that the same thinking applies. At no point should any driver feel that the journeys that they are making for work force them into driving too quickly or otherwise recklessly to make up time.
Managing driver fatigue
For larger commercial vehicle fleets, this area is closely controlled through tachograph use and similar thinking around fatigue is needed for vans and cars. Drivers should be instructed to take regular rests. The Highway Code recommends taking a 15-minute break every two hours. You may also want to try to place drivers in less stressful situations that minimise fatigue, such as encouraging them to undertake journeys outside peak traffic times.
Poor weather conditions
Clearly defined guidelines should be issued around whether to undertake journeys in poor weather. Driving in snow and heavy rain increases risks dramatically, for example, and it may be prudent to tell employees not to head out in these conditions. Factors that may need to be considered here include whether vehicles are fitted with winter tyres, if they have genuine 4×4 capabilities and, in the case of high sided vehicles, what to do in high winds.
As mentioned in our previous posts, it’s critical to underline that we only have the space to cover duty of care in the broadest terms. Employers should certainly seek out expert advice when it comes to making their own arrangements. A good starting place is the Health and Safety Executive’s Driving at Work guidance, available at www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/indg382.pdf.