There are two key mistakes you can make when thinking about health and safety in the workplace.
Firstly, you can allow yourself to be sucked in by the pervading myths surrounding the term. These are the surprisingly widespread views that anything from conkers to custard pies, selfie sticks and paperclips are banned under the banner of health and safety. Being sucked in by such stories will cause you to become sidetracked from what is both common sense, and indeed the law, and do little to actually boost safety.
Secondly, you can get sucked into thinking health and safety in the workplace simply refers to the confines of the office. A big chunk of businesses require their employees to travel – whether that’s to attend meetings, to perform a service ‘off site’ or to deliver goods.
While the first point simply requires common sense – and a healthy dose of salt when it comes to ‘scare stories’ – the latter requires adopting a few new working practices to ensure an important part of your operation isn’t overlooked – especially given that a quarter of collisions involve a business driver.
First, it’s vital to plan your business operations properly to help boost the safety of employees while they’re ‘on the road’. Don’t leave someone with an impossibly short deadline to complete a long drive. Putting pressure on an employee while they’re behind the wheel can create a hazard. Map out where you need your drivers to go and work out an effective timetable, factoring in time for breaks and unforeseen delays.
Employees who drive large vehicles will be only too aware of the danger posed by a large blind spot. Technology allows you to eliminate this and greatly enhance the safety of drivers acting on behalf of a company. Camera systems from the likes of Brigade can provide drivers with a feed showing them any obstacles to the side or back of a long vehicle where there is clear danger of a collision.
Health and safety training shouldn’t be just about lifting boxes in the right way or highlighting trip hazards in an office. There needs to be a focus on all aspects of a businesses operation – and that includes those employees who are on the road. Whether it’s handling new vehicles, understanding new technology or simply refreshing skills, drivers should be offered and provided training wherever possible.
The safety of your business on the road relies on two aspects – the driver and the vehicle. While we’ve already stated that it’s smart to offer the driver training and arm them with technology to assist safety, it’s important to focus on the vehicle too. Organisations shouldn’t simply rely on an MOT or service – there needs to be a close eye on the quality of the fleet at all times and a commitment to fix any niggling problems before they become serious. This comes back to the planning stage too – short-term decisions on routes and timetables need to be taken alongside long-term decisions on when to invest in new, replacement company vehicles that can deliver the performance and safety levels you require.
At the heart of all the above four tips is a need for strong communication within an organisation. Drivers need to be able to get support – either for themselves or their vehicle – and those in charge need to seek and listen to the information they get from their employees.
A health and safety policy that is poorly understood and contains no mechanism to highlight and address issues will fail and leaves employees at risk while out on the road. This is even more important with workers who drive since they will probably spend less time in the office and less chance to bring a matter up.
A simple structure that allows for the swift reporting of problems – and effective communication of timetables, routes and benefits of new technology – will greatly boost safety for a business.