Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Road Haulage and Freight Groups Aren’t the Only Ones with a Duty of Care to Drivers

Anyone Who Puts an Employee Behind the Wheel of a Vehicle Needs to Ensure They are Properly Trained
Shipping News Feature

UK – All employers have a Duty of Care to their employees but one aspect of this which often escapes attention is to those who take to the road in the course of their work. It has long been the case, even within well-established road haulage companies, for drivers to be employed purely on the basis that they have a clean licence for the class of vehicle employed and a good claims history. Much has changed with regard to the heavier classes of truck with the imminent inception of mandatory driver CPC training but it will still be possible for a new employee to jump straight in a sizeable van and head right on out delivering freight, despite lacking any real experience.

Now the Energy Saving Trust has developed a variation of its popular Smarter Driving training that includes a demonstration of both daily and weekly vehicle checks to help enhance driver safety. The new vehicle check training, which highlights the importance of daily and weekly vehicle checks, helps fleet managers and directors meet their Duty of Care obligations to employees, and has the potential to reduce running and maintenance costs.

The new Smarter Driving & Vehicle Check training includes clear and pragmatic advice to drivers helping them to take responsibility for highlighting vehicle issues and understanding the potential risks of not carrying out daily and weekly vehicle checks. Daily vehicle checks include a visual tyre inspection, a check of lights and wipers, and a static brake test, while weekly checks include tyre pressures, fluid levels and a full visual inspection for damage. Recent research by AXA Business Insurance revealed many employers failed to effect regular vehicle checks, with as many as 17% initiating tyre pressure checks only once a year, or less.

Smarter Driving & Vehicle Check training is subsidised by the Department for Transport (DfT) and costs as little as £20+VAT per driver, a pittance when one considers both the legal implications and the fact that the new training programme also includes the Energy Saving Trust’s award winning Smarter Driving training, which has already helped more than 35,000 fleet drivers reduce their fuel consumption and carbon emissions by more than 14%. Bob Saynor, Smarter Driving Programme Manager, commented:

“Many drivers fail to realise that they as individuals are responsible for undertaking these basic inspections, even in vehicles owned by the company, while some fleet managers and employers overlook that they too could be found partially liable if they have not taken steps to educate their drivers in this field.

“For some drivers this will serve as refresher training, but for others it will be the first time they’ve learned the specifics of what vehicle checks should entail. Our training is realistic and pragmatic, covering the key material while ensuring that we’re not making unrealistic demands on busy drivers.

“Energy Saving Trust checks all driving licences and maintains full records of all drivers trained. Should it be required in the event of an accident or legal action, we would be able to confirm details of a driver’s vehicle check training and when his licence was last checked.”

For more information or to book training email smarterdriving@est.org.uk or visit the website. Readers in Scotland the web address is HERE.

Photo: White van man - from an original piece by Felix Dennis