With driver rights hitting the headlines in recent months, Acorn’s Driving Compliance Manager Phil Jennings takes a look at how employers can stay compliant and protect the rights of their drivers.
The backbone of the UK economy; in 2016 the UK road transport industry moved more freight than since records began, lifting 1.89 billion tonnes of freight – a 15% increase year-on-year. Approximately three-quarters of all goods in the UK are moved by our invaluable road haulage systems.
Whilst the nation’s economy continues to evolve, with various methods of operating becoming obsolete as new and innovative technologies change every aspect of our lives, one constant still remains – people and businesses demand an ever-diversifying array of goods in order to operate and the road remains the best way in which to transport them.
Lorries, vans and their drivers remain intrinsic to the operating success of vast swathes of the nation’s businesses – both big and small – yet many remain in the dark as to the rights that drivers hold. Legislation has come a long way in ensuring that drivers are safeguarded, but life on the road can still be a dangerous occupation with multiple risks.
An issue that has grown in prominence in recent years is the importance of allowing professional drivers sufficient access to toilet amenities – with a significant body of evidence highlighting examples of drivers being denied facility use when arriving at a place of business.
Though a seemingly innocuous aspect of driver life that may not cross the minds of many, failing to afford access can lead to drivers being forced to pursue hazardous measures to relieve themselves – such as going to the toilet by the side of busy roads.
There is also a myriad of health repercussions from not allowing workers access to toilet facilities, including distraction whilst driving as a result of stomach pains and cramps, infections and even kidney stones – something that can endanger not only the lives of drivers but the public as well.
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) stipulates in The Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992 that:
“People in control of non-domestic premises also have a duty under section 4 of the Act towards people who are not their employees but use their premises… They are intended to protect the health and safety of everyone in the workplace, and to ensure that adequate welfare facilities are provided for people at work.”
Therefore, it is a requirement that you must, rather than ‘should’, provide access to facilities for visiting drivers. Issues such as toilets being out of use is not an adequate excuse - it is a requirement to ensure that they are fit for purpose.
Failure to allow the use of amenities could lead to penalisation from the HSE and it is within the legal rights of a driver to make a formal complaint to the body should you fail to do so. The HSE advises that it is best practice for employers to ensure that visiting and agency drivers are both physically and mentally fit to drive and to make them aware of the locations of provisions such as the toilet, the office or the canteen.
Understanding the importance of this legislation is critical to complying with employment law and can ensure a relationship that both facilitates optimal driver productivity and properly protects their health and wellbeing.