EXCELLENCE IN HSE COMPLIANCE
Covid-19 – Driving and Drivers
Over the last few weeks, we have all begun to live and work in a very different place.
For those of you responsible for managing company vehicles, and with people who drive for work, there are many new challenges to navigate. None of us know for sure how long the disruption due to COVID-19 is going to last or, when we start to come out of it, what the new ‘normal’ is going to look like.
We have to remain positive, deal with the challenges we face as best we can and prepare ourselves properly for a world which won’t look the same as it did before.
Many business offering essential services are now operating at, or even above, maximum capacity. While there are currently temporary relaxations of regulations in areas such as drivers’ hours, this does not reduce your duty of care responsibilities to manage work-related road risk. You need to consider the challenges around maintaining safety critical policies such as the management of driver fatigue as well as issues around driver recruitment, driver eligibility and sanitisation where multiple employees may be using the same vehicle.
While those who can are now working from home leading to a massive increase in lone working, we’ve also seen many businesses with non-essential staff, including many van drivers, furloughing staff who are now sat at home wondering what the future holds. Managing mental health will be a major issue for all employers whether their staff are working from home, furloughed or still operational.
A combination of lack of engineers due to self-isolation, and the closing of many garages means there is a serious lack of capacity to keep up with vehicle maintenance requirements. The temporary suspension of MOTs and maintenance schedules is meant to help keep vital business operational however you are still absolutely required to ensure your vehicles are roadworthy at all times – something the Traffic Commissioners and Health and Safety Executive have explicitly reinforced. You will need to consider the challenges of maintaining an operational fleet, managing mileage, and the implications of mothballing non-essential vehicles.
Fleet Admin & Housekeeping
If your fleet is classed as essential then you may be extremely stretched and feeling you aren’t able to focus everything as much as you would like but we can’t stress enough the importance of ensuring all your staff, and especially any new recruits, follow established policies – and now more than ever. This is highlighted by the recent successful prosecution of a business for a fatal accident following its failure to follow its own fatigue management policies. If you’re running a non-essential fleet, you may find this is an opportune time to start developing stronger procedures that build additional efficiency and resilience into your fleet management before we all return to work.
Back to "Normal"
Most seem to agree that ‘normal’ won’t look like it did before and elements of the fleet and transport world will have changed forever. The fast adoption of online meetings may, for instance, mean managing much lower car mileage in future. Now is the time that consideration should now be given to some of the key issues fleet and transport managers will have to address over the coming months such as the extensive checks required before reinstating mothballed vehicles, important considerations when bringing back furloughed drivers, and why the backlog in vehicle maintenance will cause significant problems for some time to come.