SUMMER SAFETY REGULATIONS
As a fleet manager, you’re bound to uphold the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974. This means you’re legally required to minimise the risks associated with driving in hot weather. How well equipped are you to comply with safety regulations in the summer?
According to the Department for Transport, more than 25% of all road traffic incidents (RTIs) involve people who are on the road for work purposes. A 2015 report released by the Department for Transport also notes that ‘periods of unusually good weather almost always have an effect of increasing casualties’ on the roads. Combine these two pieces of information, and it’s easy to see that the summer months have the potential to increase risk to your employees and the general public, as a result of your fleet operations.
The roads are busier during good weather, as more people use the roads for pleasure trips. Summer holiday traffic, as well as causing delays to your drivers, elevates the danger of RTIs significantly. And the better the weather, the more motorcyclists and cyclists appear on the roads (motorcyclists and cyclists are the two most vulnerable types of road user).
The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 requires you to ‘ensure, so far as reasonably practicable, the health and safety of all employees while at work’. It’s also your responsibility to ensure that no risk is posed to others by your work-related driving.
In practice, this means carrying out maintenance on your vehicles at regular intervals, training your drivers in good and safe driving techniques, educating them on the specific dangers of seasonal driving, and putting measures in place to monitor and control the behaviour of your drivers and vehicles on the road.
You do not have to take action in instances where the cost of doing so would disproportionately outweigh the risk you are trying to combat. However, you must (in compliance with the Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999) carry out regular risk assessments to determine what risk control actions you should reasonably be taking.
Plan, Do, Check, Act
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) recommends a ‘Plan, Do, Check, Act’ approach to road safety risk assessment. This means first creating a plan for managing health and safety with respect to road use, then carrying it out and checking that it has proved fit for purpose (the checking stage). If, in checking your health and safety at work procedures, you discover that they are not having the desired impact, you move to the ‘Act’ stage, updating your health and safety policy and fine-tuning your company regulations accordingly.
Summer risk assessment
The HSE recommends that a competent and skilled person undertakes your driving risk assessment. As a fleet manager with experience of driving and overall fleet operation, that’s you. Your job is to identify the hazards associated with summer driving, pinpointing who could be harmed and how they could be harmed.
Once you’ve isolated the risks, you need to evaluate them. How likely is it that each possible event will occur? Think about vehicle condition and driver behaviour. Think about the person, the machine, and the journey itself.
Your final task is to design and put in place measures that will minimise the risks, in order of likelihood, that you have identified. These measures will include mechanical and personal measures—for example, creating a summer maintenance schedule, designing routes that avoid heavy traffic times and accident blackspots, and creating a driver education programme keyed to summer risks.