White Van Man - the next safety target?
The last few weeks I have had to do quite a lot of driving around Europe and the UK and while I have been driving its given me the opportunity to observe how we move goods by van.
A couple of things have attracted my attention and one of them has been the number of small vans that are now being used for long distance delivery work and having spoken to the drivers its clear that they are to a large degree completely unregulated.
The conditions that these drivers have is not good, there are no limits on driving times, nothing on breaks, no sleeper cabs and not the best of pay rates as they are seen as un-skilled when compared to drivers of large commercial vehicles. While in the UK we see lots of vans from European countries I realised that I was seeing UK Vans in Holland, Germany and Austria all offering "next day delivery".
To follow up on this, my natural inquisitiveness took over and I stopped at a few UK motorway service areas this week. Drivers told me that they were also driving long distances in the UK to meet the demands of "same day" delivery services, examples included Northampton to Aberdeen (expected to return overnight to do another job the following day) and Dover to Belfast and Heathrow to Sky (having driven down from Manchester to collect the load) with all of them expected to complete the journey in the fastest possible time. I would like to say that these were isolated examples but they are not.
There has in recent years been a substantial change away from larger delivery vehicles to smaller vehicles and there has been a number of documentaries about some of the unethical practices a small number of companies have used in employing drivers. These will come under greater scrutiny as time goes on for a few reasons.
First and foremost, Road Safety interest groups have recognised that there has been a significant increase in the number of light commercial vehicles on the roads, these have been linked to congestion, increased pollution levels, higher damage levels to road surfaces and accident rates.
For regulatory bodies they are recognising that the drivers of these vehicles are largely slipping past requirements, placed on other professional drivers and as such they are a much higher at risk group - this applies to across the board from local delivery drivers to long distance drivers. It includes couriers, delivery drivers and potentially even trades people who will drive for a period of time before undertaking thier day job.
The risks for the company that allows this to happen are high. It starts with the person who allocated the job and goes all the way to the Board who all become liable for prosecution under existing Health and Safety Laws.
The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 specifically states that you must have a safe system at work in place to protect ANYONE who drives for your business.
"More than a quarter of all road traffic incidents may involve somebody who is driving as part of their work at the time (Department for Transport figures). Health and safety law applies to work activities on the road in the same way as it does to all work activities and you need to manage the risks to drivers as part of your health and safety arrangements" UK Health and Safety Executive
There are a significant number of steps that you can take in your business to reduce the risks for anyone who drives for your company, be that a sales person, trades person or delivery driver, those steps can save you money by reducing your operational expenditure and often present a near cost neutral return on investment. By adopting those measures, you can also significantly reduce your carbon emissions.
If you would like to discuss how we can help your business, then please contact anyone in the team on 0161 932 1418 or email us firstname.lastname@example.org