Training of your drivers is a fundemental ingredient for ensuring that the requirements placed upon your company with regard to Road Safety go some way to being met. It is all very well that your drivers should understand the legislation that governs their working lives, but it is the responsibility of every employer to ensure that its driver workforce is continually kept abreast of any changes that take effect during their employment with you. This means an ongoing, systematic regime of training covering all aspects of the drivers daily duties.
The Company/Management responsibility here is to ensure that any risk to their employees or the general public through the actions of their employees is minimised as far as is humanly possible. Risk will never totally be erradicated from anyones daily activities. However, it is the duty of all employers to assess the risks associated with its employees daily actions and through effective training/education, direct its employees to act safely and responsibly.
- Induction Training
- What else can I do?
- External Training Providors
- External Driver Training Issues
- Further Reading
The Health and Safety at Work Act of 1974 requires you to ensure - as far as is reasonably practicable - the health and safety of employees whilst at work. Employers have a responsibility to manage health and safety effectively. You need to carry out an assessment of the risks to the health and safety of your employees while they are at work, and to other people who may be affected by their work activities, which also includes work-related driving activities.
The old adage of 'Start as you mean to go on' is particularly poignant here, as the finest opportunity you will have to setting correct standards is from the start date of every one of your employees - their induction training.
Induction training is not merely a walk round of the home base, it should also include every aspect of their working role including:
- key personnel
- all procedures
- H&S training
- safe loading
- daily walk round checks
- Working Time Directive
- drivers hours rules
Whereas some of the above points should already be known by your new employee (especially drivers), this isn't always the case. A new driver may hold the relevant licence, but in many cases they have little idea of the basic practices that go with their role.
Training of any description can be viewed as an expensive commodity. Not only is there a cost born out of the training itself, but equally so there is a cost element from the loss of use of the staff member(s) in question. However, in our view this is a cost well spent, as well trained staff are an assett and should not be under-valued. Benefits from having well trained drivers can include:
- improved fuel consumption
- reduced risk of accidents
- less vehicle damage
- lower insurance premiums
- greatly reduced risk to your Operators License
- enhanced company image
- invariably drivers stay with a company that looks after and respects them
Thorough induction training at the outset of your employees relationship with you and your company may take several days, but you'll reap the benefit from having done so many times over in the years ahead.
What else can I do?
There is a spotlight on the issue of thorough driver training because of many factors. More so than ever, with the introduction of the Road Safety Act (2006) and the Corporate Manslaughter and Homicide Act (2007), it is imperative that as an employer you expedite your responsibilities in a professional manner. The Government has clearly indicated that it intends to pursue a policy of reducing road traffic accidents through the introduction of recent legislation and its enforcement body - VOSA.
There is no mystery here, individuals driving on company business are more likely than other road users to be involved in an accident resulting in death or serious injury. Therefore there is an increasing focus by the authorities on work related driving, and through the legislative Acts mentioned above, companies are now more likely to be investigated by the police and HSE in the wake of a serious road traffic accident.
So what can you do as an employer to improve the standards of your driver workforce and subsequently endorse your companies position as being one that takes its responsibilities seriously? Well in simple terms, you should have a safety management system for your driver workforce in all their activities at work just as you would for any other work related activity. Any system you put in place needn't be complicated, but should include:
- comprehensive road safety policies supported by top management
- road safety management procedures, including risk assessments for drivers and specific driving tasks
- maintain and review accident statistics - look for common trends and risks
- implement safe practices that eradicate or minimise identified driving risks
- ensure managers understand their role and responsibilities for managing road risk and are able to apply company policy
- ensure drivers are given relevant information, training and supervision to be safe on the road
- regularly audit the safety of journeys and amend policies and procedures accordingly if new risks are identified
- carry out repeat training at scheduled times in the year - you may be aware of changes to the law, but are your drivers?
Other things that should be considered here also are:
- always leave your door open to your staff, being approachable to discuss things that they may not understand is a plus for your staff, and certainly won't hurt you either
- don't be afraid to use VOSA's offer of training - the benefits here are obvious
External Training Providors
There are many training organisations that will train your drivers. However, if you're going to spend a substantial amount of money having your drivers trained, we recommend that you shop around and find the best possible providor.
'There's no such thing as a free lunch', or is there. Whatever training you're looking for, all of it will come at a price,
whether it's 'in-house' or external. However, there is an organisation within the UK that offers a training service that
is virtually free with all tuition given by experienced people.
The Professional Drivers Association - PDA was founded in March 2002. It is a non-profit making Association whose members care about this industry and who are equally concerned about its future and the future of those drivers who will follow in their footsteps. They are equally concerned about Road Safety and driver compliance.
We have been associated with the PDA since its inception, as we firmly believe in what they do and the benefits they contribute to our industry. It is our firm belief that well trained drivers have an asset value to all companies that employ them, and to that end we believe the PDA should be supported by the industry it gives so much to.
Two vitally important contributions given to the driver workforce within Road Transport in the UK by the PDA include their unique 'Buddy Scheme' and training days.
The PDA buddy scheme is a support structure for all new drivers. A new driver will be given an experienced driver (his/her buddy) to help and support them through the early days of their careers, offering assistance/guidance on loading/unloading, tachograph use, drivers hours, WTD as well as assistance at RDC's, routes etc. For any new driver to have that support, there is real peace of mind and the knowledge that he/she is carrying out their role for their employer in the correct and proper manner.
The PDA (in conjunction with the support of some employers) run open training days across the UK. Here you will learn how to load correctly, secure your load, be able to have one to one tuition on drivers hours, WTD and even receive instruction in the art of 'Rope and Sheet' and how to tie a 'Dolly'. For those drivers looking to upgrade from a class 2 to class 1 licence, there's also tuition on coupling/uncoupling trailers, reversing, chaining and securing and also instruction on container work. Whatever a driver wishes to ask questions about or receive training on, the PDA team are on hand to offer professional help and guidance.
The PDA have an easy to use and comprehensive website and a series of online forums where drivers can talk to each other and discuss any recent legislation and seek advice and support on all matters transport. Membership of the PDA is £15 a year and in our view, money well spent. For more information, visit their website:
External Driver Training Issues
The biggest gripes from an operators perspective concerns 3 issues that usually arise after a driver has returned from external driver training and upgraded their license, having moved up from an ordinary car license to a category C1 or from C1 to C. Although these issues are not universal among driver training companies, they are not uncommon. Equally so, they are annoying, unecessary and where apparent require the employer to have to re-train the driver(s) in question, which consumes unecessary time and money. The issues in question are:
- in the case of car license to C1, the trained driver having had little or no tuition on tachographs
- the vehicle used for the training is invariably old, bearing no resemblance to those used within the company fleet
- the driver is taught to drive on his brakes
Regarding point 3, we are fully aware that there is a tendency to train in this manner, but when a TM is suddenly faced with a 7.5 tonne
truck having braking components replaced long before they're due and the driver explaining that he was taught that way because if he
used the gears to slow down he'd break the gearbox defys all logic. A driver using only the brakes to slow a fully loaded 7.5 tonne
truck (or any other LGV) is nothing more than a recipe for disaster.
In our view, the driver training of a commercial vehicle should include:
- daily walk round check (first use inspection)
- defect reporting and systems
- tachograph use
- drivers hours rules refresher
- highway code refresher
- defensive driving and use of the gearbox
- safe loading
In view of the fact that any driver has control of a deadly weapon, it makes a great deal of sense to train on all aspects of the vehicle type that he/she is going to be using.
For further information on training courses and training days, please visit the websites below.