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Driving at Work

By: Ross Wigham - Updated: 14 Jun 2018 | comments*Discuss
 
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Many people need to drive a vehicle as part of their job and despite the increasing focus on safety it's still one of the most dangerous things you can do at work.

The Heath and Safety Executive (HSE) estimates that a third of all traffic accidents in the UK involve someone who was working at the time. It is believed that working drivers may also account for as many as 20 fatalities and 250 serious injuries every week.

Health and Safety Law applies even when you are driving on the road, while you also have some serious responsibilities to your employer, other road users and the general public.

Excessive driving at work can also have a negative impact on your own health, so you must be sure that you are comfortable with the working practices at your own company.

Safety at Work

Safety should be the foremost consideration for any type or driving whether it's for a Heavy Goods Vehicle (HGV) or for the occasional use of a company pool car.

All types of workers from sales staff to delivery workers can be called on to drive at some time, but regardless of how often you may drive at work the focus should always be on safety.

If your company employs more than five people there should be a published driving policy and risk assessment for staff. This should cover all the hazards faced by company drivers, the level of risk and details of the procedures for minimizing the chances of accidents happening.

The overall health and safety policy should also contain some instructions for drivers on how to stay safe and minimise the risks you may face. There may even be training or specific guidance for regular drivers.

Drivers of goods vehicles are often required to take medical tests before staring the job, while most lorry drivers are restricted by law on the number of hours they can work and the breaks they must take.

You should also make sure that your employer:

  • Conducts risk assessments.
  • Maintains and inspects the vehicle.
  • Provides a realistic schedule of journey times.
  • Consults with you about health and safety.

Other safety issues will be left up to you and it is taken for granted that you will obey all the usual traffic rules and the Highway Code. You should also be aware of the dimensions and controls of the vehicle you will use for work - this can often be very different from your own car.

Fitness and Health

This is another key area for company drivers and you must think carefully about your own fitness to drive a vehicle and how you can protect yourself from any potential health risks.

Your employer should provide some advice about posture, seating and headrest positions as well as details on general driving comfort. Long periods of driving can cause Back Pain so you should always take regular breaks.

Fatigue and tiredness can be extremely dangerous and you should never continue driving if you feel drowsy.

You should also have regular eye tests to make sure your vision is good enough to drive on the roads. If you are taking any form of medication, make sure that it will not impair your driving or cause drowsiness.

You could face losing your licence or even imprisonment if you choose to drive under the influence of alcohol. The police have the right to test you, even if you are not involved in an accident and it can take as long as 12 hours after consuming alcohol to be fit to drive.

Accidents

If you are unfortunate enough to be involved in an accident you should always follow the correct rules for reporting it.

As well as the usual formalities your company may require you to follow a certain procedure.

Mobile Phones

It is now illegal to use a hand held mobile phone while driving, and your employer can also be found liable if you are caught during working hours.

You are allowed to make calls using a hands-free kit, although some research suggests this can still be distracting for drivers.

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[Add a Comment]
Birdy - Your Question:
I drive a 44 tonne lorry and the other night I was being sick at work with food poisioning and felt in no fit health to drive the vehicle back as I was in a really bad way but after a phone call to the night surperviser he said I had to drive back no matter what surely I had the right to refuse without getting in trouble? Then they still rushed me back into work 24 hours later and tbh im quite furious about all this

Our Response:
Are you in a union? Talk to your rep first of all. If not, ACAS can also advise.If you feel your employer is asking you to do something dangerous or that you consider is breaking the law you can of course report this and in theory you won't be dismissed as it's "whistle blowing". The problem is the law isn't very specific and only demands that appropriate risk assessments have taken place etc.
SafeWorkers - 15-Jun-18 @ 10:38 AM
I drive a 44 tonne lorry and the other night i was being sick at work with food poisioning and felt in no fit health to drive the vehicle back as i was in a really bad way but after a phone call to the night surperviser he said i had to drive back no matter what surely i had the right to refuse without getting in trouble? Then they still rushed me back into work 24 hours later and tbh im quite furious about all this
Birdy - 14-Jun-18 @ 7:06 AM
If a lorry driver states there're to tired to drive, can their employee over ride this & make them work the rest of their shift?
Zoe - 5-Jun-18 @ 3:48 PM
I work as a hgv driver with a drivers mate . Fully employed. My drivers mate has phoned in sick so I’ve been told that I have to go unpaid home or use a holiday ? They say that’s the only option but I’ve already turned up for work and have traveled to work etc What’s the best advice as I don’t have spare holidays and can’t afford to go home unpaid
None - 1-Jun-18 @ 8:22 AM
Is it legal to allow a bus driver to work in over 30 degrees of heat without air con?
Moomoo - 7-May-18 @ 4:55 PM
Hi, I've just started a driving job at regatta Garden furniture I've been here for three weeks, the Luton van they have me driving is I think unroadworthy, the box wobbles and was in an accident a few years ago apparently,the other drivers there all moan but say nothing and drive it anyway, I think this is because they are scared to say. I'm not but I feel having only just started, if I say they could just sack me. Any advice would be greatly appreciated, I'm also training to be a driving instructor and don't want jeopardise my future. Thank you.
Amma - 28-Mar-18 @ 7:49 PM
I work contracted 52 hours per week which is 10 hours per day my employee says fit extra calls in I have to do more daily hours which I do not want to do as I do enough hour's tI've worked her for nearly 1 year he says he will replace me what rights do I have and what to say to.them thanks
Van - 22-Jan-18 @ 11:07 AM
Theangrybeard - Your Question:
I am being sent for an 8 hour training day with colleague to a venue which requires an overnight stay. We'll need to be up at 7 to leave hotel to Arrive at 8 to start. The training day will be physically and mentally exhausting and then I have been told we have to make the at least 5 hour return journey in the dark in rush hour traffic to return home. I have raised concerns but have been told it's achievable in a 12 hour day. What legislation can I use to challenge This?

Our Response:
There is no specific legislation thatwould cover this really. Is this regular occurrence or a one off? Are you able to share the driving?
SafeWorkers - 13-Dec-17 @ 3:37 PM
I am being sent for an 8 hour training day with colleague to a venue which requires an overnight stay. We'll need to be up at 7 to leave hotel to Arrive at 8 to start. The training day will be physically and mentally exhausting and then I have been told we have to make the at least 5 hour return journey in the dark in rush hour traffic to return home. I have raised concerns but have been told it's achievable in a 12 hour day... What legislation can I use to challenge This?
Theangrybeard - 13-Dec-17 @ 10:54 AM
Hendy - Your Question:
I drive a 44 ton lorry a lot of my time is loading and unload I work 39 hours a week plus 9 hours overtime is that all the overtime iam allowed to work in a week

Our Response:
This depends on your contract and how much of your time is spent driving. Here are the EU rules on driver's hours
SafeWorkers - 28-Nov-17 @ 2:48 PM
I drive a 44 ton lorry a lot of my time is loading and unload I work 39 hours a week plus 9 hours overtime is that all the overtime iam allowed to work in a week
Hendy - 27-Nov-17 @ 3:18 PM
Kaz - Your Question:
My husband is a sign fitter traveling to jobs all over the uk.He is employed question is after traveling 2 hours to a job then working ten hours on site he booked digs as was to tired to drive home his employer is refusing to pay for the overnight stay.They are saying that he could have made the 2 hour journey home this would have made it a 14 hour working day.is this legal

Our Response:
We don't know how many days he works and what kind of breaks there are between shifts so it's very difficult to comment on this.There is no maximum working day - the broad guide is that you cannot work more than 48 hours a weekbut this can be the average over a 17 week period.
SafeWorkers - 10-Oct-17 @ 2:19 PM
My husband is a sign fitter traveling to jobs all over the uk. He is employed question is after traveling 2 hours to a job then working ten hours on site he booked digs as was to tired to drive home his employer is refusing to pay for the overnight stay. They are saying that he could have made the 2 hour journey home this would have made it a 14 hour working day .is this legal
Kaz - 9-Oct-17 @ 12:01 PM
Is it illegal for employer to ask you to drive a lorry without a headrest for driver and/or passenger?
Sam - 24-Aug-17 @ 8:23 PM
Hi I just want to know my emplyer doesn't give me my contracted hrs each week i am a class 2 driver i start at 5am till 130pm some weeks i get 5 days and some 4 days what can i do
Loz - 26-Jul-17 @ 8:42 PM
hi safety workscan you email me any documents about having 4 people in hgv , so can shoe my boss many thanks tommy...
tommy - 5-Jul-17 @ 8:37 PM
tommy - Your Question:
Can any1 shed some light my transport manager want me to carry 4 pepole in my hgv it only 2 seats as its a sleepers can. should I refusse to carry the exsrta 2 pepol.

Our Response:
If the vehicle is not fitted with four seats you cannot safely transport 4 people. Negotiate with your employer, rather than flatly refusing though.
SafeWorkers - 5-Jul-17 @ 12:02 PM
can any1 shed some light my transport manager want me to carry 4 pepole in my hgv it only 2 seats as its a sleepers can.. should i refusse to carry the exsrta 2 pepol....
tommy - 4-Jul-17 @ 5:44 PM
I work on a dustcart and the temperature in my cab registered 54 c today as the air conditioning is not working it made me feel very drowsy..is this illegal?Can I refuse to drive the vehicle?How does health and safety regs comply with this? Many thanks Ray.
Rayza - 19-Jun-17 @ 10:50 PM
Cal - Your Question:
Just been dismissed on serious misconduct following a disciplinary meeting, for a break line coming off and going over the 15 hour work limit. Does this sound reasonable, no warning, no nothing,

Our Response:
It sounds as though your employer followed the correct procedure.You can be dismissed without a formal warning if you have committed a gross misconduct.
SafeWorkers - 27-Feb-17 @ 11:20 AM
Just been dismissed on serious misconductfollowing a disciplinary meeting, for a break line coming off and going over the 15 hour work limit. Does this sound reasonable, no warning, no nothing,
Cal - 24-Feb-17 @ 4:51 PM
I have a partner that works for a company delivering or escorting vehicles all over the country, his hours seem to get crazier by the day. This week has seen him up at 3/4am in the mornings, and a finish/home time from anything to 6/7pm.However yesterday saw his start at 7am, and at 12.49 he had only just left his work place to go which is a four hour drive. He will be passenger part way there and back (Drivers mate) they will take it in turns. His estimated return home time is something like 11-12pm, so a 16/17 hour working day?? Is this legal?Really frustrating that A. for one he is never home and B. When he is he is always tired.The day before this he started at 7am and got home at 8.30pm
ABC - 24-Feb-17 @ 1:44 PM
Hi I work for a large supermarket driving hgv1 we work 40 hours a week with the chance of overtime but the management have been trying to cut overtime so instead of giving us an answer on a Friday they put us down astbc then phone us at home for overtime I work nights so they are interrupting my daily or weekly rest we have argued about this being illegal but they insist that it is not could you answer this question please.
Snowy - 14-Jan-17 @ 1:21 PM
I work for a large contracting company we are required to drivea company van all over the country for early morning starts we receive a small mileage allowance witch is as crow flies and is taxed we are out of house 13 hrs paid 8hrs pick up other employees go to yard and most times pick up a trailer with machinery or goods to take to site do a full shift return to yard drop trailer drop other employees off then go home.when should I be getting paid my hourly rate?
The only driver - 1-Nov-16 @ 7:22 PM
I drive for an independent company and I drive up to 14 to 17 hours a day I want to know who I can call because surely this is illegal we do this without a break we do this without a set break I mean and they do they don't care if we eat or go to the bathroom some of us have back pain bulging discs in our backs and yet we drive all those hours a day without a break who can I call in is this legal
K - 31-Aug-16 @ 7:01 PM
Jazz69 - Your Question:
I drive for a large retail supermarket which includes driving lgv vehicles from 16Tonne to 44tonne I feel I am being bullied by mangers and office staff as I am being given multi drop work in London every day I feel stressed driving in London nearly every week I have for other driving work in other areas but have been told that I should just get on with the work I am given and stop complaining. We have about 200+ drivers at our depot and know many that do not do London and wouldn't do London and seem to get away with it I have spoken to my rep but they say there's nothing they can do about it and that the driver's not doing London have special arrangements with the company this treatment I am receiving at this company is driving me crazy and making me feel ill is their any help I can get from outside of the company because I don't know which way I can turn next

Our Response:
There isn't much you can do about this except to raise a formal grievance/complaint if you are feeling discriminated against.
SafeWorkers - 28-Jun-16 @ 11:33 AM
J p - Your Question:
I carry hazardous goods in a van for a living all over the UK last year we got given the option to do a Scotland run with overnight stay,I said no as we do enough hours as it is,we have now been told we have to do the run there's no option failure to comply will result in disaplinary. Can they do this as it's not in my contract I've not signed anything saying I will do Scotland thanks

Our Response:
Does your contract state the number of hours and days you work? If your employer is trying to make you work extra hours, they are in breach of contract. See our article on change of employment hours here.
SafeWorkers - 27-Jun-16 @ 10:22 AM
I drive for a large retail supermarket which includes driving lgv vehicles from 16Tonne to 44tonne I feel I am being bullied by mangers and office staff as I am being given multi drop work in London every day I feel stressed driving in London nearly everyweek I have for other driving work in other areas but have been told that I should just get on with the work I am given and stop complaining. We have about 200+ drivers at our depot and know many that do not do London and wouldn't do London and seem to get away with it I have spoken to my rep but they say there's nothing they can do about it and that the driver's not doing London have special arrangements with the company this treatment I am receiving at this company is driving me crazy and making me feel ill is their any help i can get from outside of the company because I don't know which way I can turn next
Jazz69 - 26-Jun-16 @ 2:48 PM
I carry hazardous goods in a van for a living all over the UK last year we got given the option to do a Scotland run with overnight stay,I said no as we do enough hours as it is,we have now been told we have to do the run there's no option failure to comply will result in disaplinary. Can they do this as it's not in my contract I've not signed anything saying I will do Scotland thanks
J p - 24-Jun-16 @ 6:32 AM
shaddy - Your Question:
I drive a 26T lorry without any aircon in the summer heat the cab becomes stifling hotwhich tends to make me feel very drowsy. Are there any laws that cover excessive heat in these conditions ?

Our Response:
Not really, although employers do have a responsibility to provide reasonable working conditions for their employees. Have you asked about air conditioning or other measures to help with the heat? Drowsiness is especially dangerous for drivers, so your employer should be willing to listen and act on your request.
SafeWorkers - 10-Jun-16 @ 10:47 AM
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