Driver and vehicle warning for construction firms

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Businesses in the UK construction sector could risk falling foul of health and safety legislation over drivers and vehicles, it has been claimed.

A study of 50 UK construction businesses, ranging from SMEs to national and international giants, found that 28% of them don’t invest in driver training, and 17% don’t do driver risk management and risk assessments.  

Of those that do conduct driver risk assessments, 37% conduct them only once a year.  Similarly, of those that invest in driver training, 44% only do it after an incident has been reported and 28% only when they’ve had a complaint about one or more of their drivers.

However, 50% said that driver compliance was the single biggest transport safety issue they have to manage.

The study also revealed that technology is one of the main strategies for ensuring driver safety, with 83% of survey participants claiming they planned to invest in safety technology this year.  The most popular options appear to be reverse warning alarms (59% said they were looking at adopting them) and dash-cams (46%), followed by driver telematics, Bluetooth communication systems and blind spot cameras (all 39%).

More than half (53%) of the companies investing in safety technology said they were doing so mainly to reduce accidents, although 15% said it was primarily to help them win new business.

“This research suggests that while the construction sector is aware of the importance of driver safety and many are using a range of measures to promote health and safety, a number of companies could be doing more when it comes to the safety of their drivers and vehicles,” said Danny Glynn, the MD of Enterprise Flex-E-Rent, which commissioned the survey.  “On-site health and safety is always taken very seriously, but the duty of care applies equally to employees driving to and from those sites.”

The company has identified a number of areas where the construction sector could potentially do more to improve transport safety:

  • Prioritising risk assessment planning for all drivers
  • Identifying risk areas which are pertinent to the business (locations visited, times of day/year, equipment carried, etc)
  • Monitoring and recording incidents over time to identify the most common types and then targeting training or other measures to address key issues – and, sometimes, drivers
  • Ensuring any sub-contracted third parties have similar processes in place
  • Creating a process for ensuring the safety of part-time workers, especially where there are seasonal peaks and troughs in workflow

Danny Glynn added:  “Driving for business is associated with around 30% of all deaths on UK roads and may be the most dangerous activity an employer ever asks staff to undertake on its behalf.  This places a lot of responsibility onto businesses, especially as the effects of vehicle-related accidents are felt far beyond the road.”