There were some interesting challenges this year for the world of health and safety with many practices having to be moved online as people started working from home. Whilst this trend is set to continue in 2021 the increase in professional drivers in the workforce means that driver safety is becoming more important to the wider health and safety function.
In today’s article, we get the thoughts from industry experts at eDrivingSM and offer three reasons why you need to consider driver safety in your wider safety culture development.
‘Lifestyle couriers’ are rising in numbers
2020 saw a big shift in workers moving to the gig economy, and this is notoriously difficult to track. A recent driver safety report from University College London (2020) covered the changes to the economy in 2020 and what it might mean for the safety of fleets going forward.
Typically, new drivers within the gig economy use their own cars and vehicles for work but are not part of the official “grey fleet” as they are not employees. (Link to eDriving Ebook)
With a rise in privately-owned vehicles as part of work fleets, there is a danger that older vehicles, with potentially poor MOT (Ministry of Transport test) pass rates, may be used more for work purposes (DVSA, 2020).
This grey area in employment has the potential to reduce driver safety without much visibility and is an example of why good driver risk management needs to cover all areas.
Driver safety impacts the safety of the wider public
When thinking about a health and safety culture it is easy for organisations to view it as an entity that encompasses just the direct stakeholders of a company. Whilst this may be understandable on the factory floor, driver safety cannot be viewed in isolation.
According to data from the STATS19 database, 974 pedestrians were killed by working drivers over an 8-year period from 2011-2018 (UCL, 2020, p 4). This illustrates the need for driver safety and a safety culture that considers all stakeholders, whether they be employees, customers, or members of the public.
There is a lack of leadership on driver safety
One of the key findings in the driver safety report from University College London (2020) showed that there was a lack of significant leadership on driver safety shown by a variety of different shareholders. With a lack of proper safety leadership, it can be very difficult to enact change at the cultural level.
The action proposed in the report was a joint effort between the Department of Transport and the HSE Executive involving businesses, police, and other stakeholders in driver safety. Whilst this top-line leadership is crucial, businesses should also take steps to incorporate driver safety into their leadership and culture through proper education in the area.
Workplace-related injuries have risen in the US
The situation in the UK is crucial, and keeping drivers safe is a vital part of keeping the whole workforce safe. Recent research from the US suggests that the United States has experienced the highest number of workplace fatalities since 2007. This worrisome increase reinforces the need for health and safety professionals to not take their foot off the gas when it comes to improving safety practices.
Thoughts from the industry
The HSE Network team is passionate about driver safety and the benefits that managing it can bring to the wider safety culture. This week we sat down with eDriving to discuss how driver safety fits into culture holistically. Here’s what eDriving’s CEO Ed Dubens had to say:
“2020 has been a year of change, but one thing that has remained crucial is driver risk management. An estimated 1 in 3 fatal crashes and 1 in 4 serious injury crashes in Britain involve someone driving for work (Department of Transport, 2020). This shows the importance of driver safety, and if we can incorporate that importance into organisations’ wider safety culture it will help reduce the number of lives lost.
The report from UCL (2020) further demonstrates the need for employers to take driver safety seriously, with a focus on how reducing driver risk will help them reduce costs and keep their business competitive.
Our eBook on creating a crash-free culture shows that training in itself is not a complete strategy, and it needs to be part of a wider movement to enact behavioural change, not just a health and safety ‘box-ticking exercise’.”
Driver safety on HSE Network in 2021
Driver safety and the proper management of it can have a big impact on safety culture, which in turn impacts the safety of all those in an organisation. In 2021, HSE Network will be showing you how to improve driver safety and the steps you can take to keep your employees safe on the roads.
If you have any particular areas you want to see covered and have any stories to share, please do get in touch with a member of our team.
- University College London (2020) Driving for work A strategic review of risks associated with cars and light vans and implications for policy and practice, Available at: https://www.ucl.ac.uk/civil-environmental-geomatic-engineering/sites/civil-environmental-geomatic-engineering/files/final_report_ward_christie_walton_dec_2020.pdf
- Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (2020) MOT test results by class of vehicle Available at: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/855781/dvsa-mot-01-mot-test-results-by-class-of-vehicle_.csv/preview
- Department for Transport (2019) Reported road casualties in Great Britain: 2019 annual report, Available at: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/922717/reported-road-casualties-annual-report-2019.pdf