Fleet Manager tips to ensure HGV Drivers Safety
Driving a heavy goods vehicle isn’t like your average office job, which is why health and safety takes on a whole new meaning for fleet managers. Papercuts and slamming your thumb in the filing cabinet pale into insignificance when you consider the possible consequences of putting a human (all be it a trained one!) at the wheel of several tonnes (up to 44 to be precise!) of machinery!
We’ve put together a list of tips to ensure your HGV drivers are as safe as possible on the road and are aware of Drivers Safety..
• Safety Is A Priority
Drivers Safety should be your number one priority. To be blunt – for your drivers it should be more important than speed or efficiency and for the company it should be more important than your profit margin. There is absolutely no point of your drivers getting to their destination with a broken vehicle, damaged goods or injuries to themselves that could mean additional down time for medical assistance. Safety is a basic – you don’t want your drivers hurt and you don’t want to loose business due to accidents. Ensure all safety procedures are adhered to and encourage feedback from your drivers, they are sure to have an insight into the day to day issues that you may not have considered.
• Vehicle Checks
Be pro-active, not re-active!!! Regular inspections and checks provide the opportunity to spot problems before they arise. Regular maintenance and inspections as well as being a legal requirement, are key to keeping your vehicles in a safe condition. Ensure that inspections are scheduled in and stuck to religiously! Allow your drivers ample time for their pre-shift checks and build this into the whole philosophy of your company. Remember that it’s best practice to spot-check them for your Drivers Safety!
• Fitness to Drive
Ensure your drivers are fit to drive… a stressed or tired driver is neither safe or fuel efficient. Fatigue is extremely dangerous and causes more fatalities than drink driving. Educate drivers on the need for safe loading and understand the impact of having lost work days due to injury. Ensure your drivers are speed aware and the consequences of their actions. Maintain your drivers health records through annual health declarations, 6 month eye checks (reading number plates at 20 metres) as well as diabetes and sleep apnea awareness.
• Alcohol And Drug Testing
Worried this might be an awkward conversation to have? Well without carrying out random testing it is difficult to establish if a problem exists until an incident happens, the police are then involved and your businesses responsibility is called into question. Aside from the very real danger to life – the drivers and the lives of other road users – your company can be affected financially, morally and in terms of reputation. Many companies have Drug & Alcohol policies in place, which are necessary and useful to communicate to drivers on a regular basis, but there are not all encompassing. Various drug and alcohol screening devices exist and it is good practice to randomly test everyone within the company so not to discriminate. Screening could also have financial benefits – you may be able to convince your insurance provider to lower your premiums because you are screening.
• Have a pre-defined Accident Procedure
Fail to plan – plan to fail!!! You can have all the procedures and policies in the world but sometimes accidents do happen. The best thing you can do as a fleet manager is be prepared for this eventuality. Create a procedure for drivers to follow in the event of an accident and ensure your drivers are fully aware of it – this may be by way of training, it could even be implemented into one of our customised Driver CPC module.
• Provide Hands Free In-Cab Communication
We all know there are occasions where the plan changes and we need to get in touch with the driver to communicate this. It is imperative that you are able to do so without the worry of what happens when the driver answers at the other end. Ensuring your drivers are properly equipped with hands free peripherals for their mobile phones will mean they can take the calls they need to without putting themselves and others at risk – whilst also avoiding a huge fine of up to £2,500 and in addition points on their license.
• Be Weather Aware!
Fleet managers have a responsibility to ensure their drivers safety (and that of others), especially in times of adverse weather conditions. British weather is at best ‘unpredictable’ and conditions can change suddenly. Keeping up to date with weather advise is a given and being aware of the heightened road risks caused by rain, hail, snow and ice, strong winds etc is of course the first step. Other strategies include planning and scheduling journeys appropriately – perhaps avoiding remote locations, high bridges where possible. Educate your drivers by way of written procedures and training. Equip your drivers with emergency kits and last but by no means least ensure the maintainence of your fleet.
• Policies and Training
Great…! You have written all the policies but how do you implement it all? The key here is training and leading by example! The items above such as vehicle inspections, alcohol/drug testing need to be enshrined in policy and these policies need to be followed and enforced across the whole of the company. For example you can’t expect drivers to follow the policies that inconvenience them if you ignore the need for a vehicle inspection because its at an inconvenient time.