While some companies have had no interruption in service, others have been in complete lockdown over recent weeks. Now, as the world moves towards a new normal, what additional precautions do businesses need to take to protect those driving for work?
For some industries, there has been no reduction in the number of people driving for work during the coronavirus pandemic; for others, employees have been entirely “off the road”. Now, for many of those industries that have been in lockdown, plans are starting to take place for a phased return to the workplace.
While specific advice exists for some industries (for example there is official guidance for people who work in a vehicle, such as couriers), for others, there is likely to be confusion about exactly what steps they need to take to keep employees safe who need to drive for work at this time.
With the UK Government’s recommendation to avoid public transport and concerns about employees sharing vehicles, you might witness an increase in the number of employees using their own vehicles (the “grey fleet”) when they return to work. And, as an employer, you have the same legal obligations and duty of care to staff who drive their own vehicles for work as you do to employees who drive company-owned, leased or hired vehicles.
Typically, your duty of care includes ensuring:
- The vehicle meets company requirements in terms of age/ condition/ safety ratings
- The driver is adequately qualified/ licensed/ insured/ trained/ fit to drive
- You have the necessary policies/ procedures in place
- Driver risk is assessed and managed
Traditionally, assessing and managing driver risk involves taking into account factors such as driving history, licence endorsements, defensive driving knowledge, attitudes and behaviours; and using tools to mitigate, measure and reduce these risks. Now, it also requires the assessment of COVID-19-related risks, including hygiene measures, vehicle disinfection and social distancing; and methods of managing these risks.
On top of this, there are lots of other “post-lockdown” issues to consider. For example, are vehicles well-maintained after a period of little or no use? Are employees’ driving skills likely to be “rusty” after being off the road for so long? And are people more likely to be tempted to drive distracted, after spending so much time relying on technology as their main form of communication?
Key factors to consider to help keep employees safe while driving for work purposes
- Are they fit and well, and ready to return?
- Do they need any PPE equipment?
- Do they know how to clean/ disinfect their vehicle?
- Do they know how to wash hands correctly?
- Have they carried out vehicle checks?
- Do they need to brush up their driving skills?
- Have they become more reliant on technology during lockdown, and are they more likely to drive distracted because of this?
- Can they travel safely if they are required to travel with colleagues/ passengers?
- Do they know what safety steps to take when they return home?
- Are they getting enough sleep and looking after themselves physically and mentally?
For most companies, the return of employees to work following the COVID-19 pandemic will require the adaption of existing driver safety policies to incorporate factors such as hygiene/ vehicle disinfection/ social distancing/. It is important to ensure that updated policies are re-issued, and that knowledge of the policies is assessed.
Visit eDriving’s COVID-19 Resource Centre for advice on protecting the safety of drivers during the COVID-19 pandemic, and as they return to work.
eDriving is the driver risk management partner of choice for many of the world’s largest organisations, supporting over 1,000,000 drivers in 96 countries. Over the past 24 years, eDriving’s research-validated programmes have been recognised with over 90 awards around the world.
For more information on eDriving and how you can protect the safety of drivers as they return to work, head to their website by clicking here.
About the Author
Ed Dubens, CEO/ Founder of eDriving
Ed’s passion is helping companies proactively manage driver risk and prioritize the safety of their employees who drive for work purposes. The ultimate goal of eDriving’s programmes is to help drivers return home safely to their loved ones and communities at the end of each day. Ed has been fortunate enough to be living out his passion for over 20 years, impacting lives and helping transform the field of driver risk management along the way.