Heavy vehicle drivers are often exposed to serious health hazards that don't impact regular office workers. Fleet managers who are responsible for the drivers and their vehicles must also oversee employee health and safety. Here are several ideas for ensuring all HGV drivers are as safe as possible while operating their heavy vehicles.
Every driver should consider safety their priority. Safely operating their vehicle should be more important than efficiency or speed. The company should emphasise that safety comes first and is more important than the bottom line. "As the fleet manager, you want to ensure drivers are always driving safely," says a fleet management trainer at HGV Training Centre. This will minimise lost income from accidents and help keep drivers from getting injured. Talk with your drivers and encourage them to be part of the safety discussion. They may have a different perspective because of their time in the drivers' seat and could bring fresh ideas to the table for helping ensure the safety of everyone.
Every time a vehicle returns to the fleet, it should be inspected and all problems or repairs addressed. This helps ensure all vehicles are safe to operate. Requiring drivers to log their vehicle in and out will also help ensure regular maintenance is performed.
It is also important to require that all drivers perform a pre-trip inspection on their vehicle before they start their trip. This helps ensure the vehicle is in good operating order before they hit the road.
If you don't already have them, consider installing tools to automatically track how your drivers are operating their vehicles. These tools can tell you who is tailgating and who is speeding. If there is a driver consistently breaking the safety rules, meet with them and discuss their need for improvement. If they don't improve, it's probably a good idea to take them out of the vehicle.
When it comes to a driver operating a vehicle while under the influence of drugs or alcohol, there can be no exceptions. If a driver is caught coming into work and getting into a vehicle while under the influence, they could kill themselves or someone else.
To prevent this, perform regular drug and alcohol tests on your drivers. It is best if this is done on a random basis and on everyone who operates a vehicle. Don't exclude anyone and if someone fails the test, remove them from the driver roster immediately. The company can offer them help but don't let them drive until they are certified safe.
Develop and implement formal procedures for what to do in the case of an accident. No matter how great a safety programme you may have, accidents will happen. Ensure all drivers are aware of the proper procedures to follow if they are in an accident.
Today's heavy vehicle operators will almost always have a mobile phone. This may be a company issued phone to be used in case of emergency or for contacting dispatch. Installing hands-free connections help ensure the drivers are safe, even when they need to use a mobile phone on the road. They can make or receive calls and still have both hands on the wheel.
Preplanning a driver's route can save time and help ensure they arrive at their destination safely. Route planning provides the most efficient route and can help drivers avoid road construction or other hazards. It can also help estimate fuel and other operating costs.
Make an up-to-date weather status report available for all drivers. It is important that drivers are aware of any potential weather issues such as high winds or flooding.
Develop and formalise these policies and then ensure all drivers are trained. Create formal documents and procedures for things such as drug testing and pre-trip inspections. This provides the drivers clear guidance on what to do and how to do it correctly. Also, clearly outline possible repercussions for not following procedures so all drivers are aware of what happens if they don't comply.
Discuss any major changes with the drivers before implementation. This helps ensure they are aware of pending changes and allowed to voice any concerns.