Driving is the single most dangerous activity employers ask employees to do
The recent fatal accident inquiry into the Glasgow refuse truck crash which killed six people heard that the driver was unconscious when his lorry veered out of control. The driver’s health was central to the inquiry and the incident raises important issues for businesses employing drivers. According to the Occupational Road Safety Alliance (ORSA), 25-33% of all road traffic accidents involve employees working at the time.
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) published a ‘Driving at Work’ guideline which clearly states the health and safety law which apply to on-the-road work activities, as to all work activities. Therefore employers need to effectively manage the risks to the health and safety of employees affected by the work activities within a health and safety system.
The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) published an article which explores what employers can do to minimise the risks to drivers; and these measures are expanded on in a recent RoSPA publication. This publication encourages employers to look at the impact employee illnesses may have on driving safety (either long-term or temporary illness) as well as addressing issues such as eyesight, pregnancy, stress, and the impact they may have.
Occupational Health (OH) Professionals are well placed to work with employers to help them manage the risks to drivers as part of their health and safety arrangements. In particular, OH can assist with medical checks at the recruitment stage and conduct regular health assessments/health surveillance. Another way is for OH to assess a person’s fitness following illness or injury to advise on their capacity to drive safely during their rehabilitation back into work following their absence. For instance, changes to their work pattern or restrictions may need to be considered. Drivers with disabilities or who become pregnant will need special consideration during the risk assessment process. This OH assistance will give companies greater control and certainty that employees are fit to drive.
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