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.
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.
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.
Last Updated on 25 May 2021