Expert guide on boosting employee health and safety when their ‘workplace’ is the road
The boom in ridesharing, food delivery and parcel delivery services has seen more cars on the road for work purposes. In 2020, online retail sales were up 63 per cent, and food delivery services rose 12 per cent. Combined with the 12 per cent increase in work-vehicle-related fatalities from 2018 to 2020, there has never been a more important time for organisations to reduce risks among their driver employees, contractors and franchisees when the road is their workplace. Now, a safety leader from a national parcel delivery service offers a timely guide to ensure businesses maximise the health, safety and wellbeing of their drivers when on the road.
Phil Reid is COO and head of the driver safety program at leading parcel delivery service CouriersPlease (CP), which manages a fleet of up to 1200 franchisee and delivery partner vehicles. He says: “To handle the 80 per cent increase in parcel deliveries at CP, we expanded our driver network by 55 per cent and hired hundreds of extra drivers to expedite parcels to consumers. The increasing demand for deliveries puts drivers at risk of fatigue, burnout and, ultimately, accidents. Organisations and business leaders have the crucial responsibility to provide driver safety education and refresher training to their employees who are on the road – even for the most experienced drivers. Ultimately, good safety is not just about rules – it is about our people arriving home safely. The health and safety of employees, contractors and franchisees requires a top-down approach within the company.”
CP has designed a new ‘Get Home Safe’ driver safety program for its network of 1200 drivers. It shares its tips and insights below to help organisations keep their drivers safe on the road when working.
Phil offers a guide to driver health and safety when the road is their workplace:
1. Ensure drivers can recognise signs of fatigue and are well rested. Educate drivers on common warning signs of fatigue, which include feeling less alert, impaired judgement, and slower reaction times. Staying hydrated, getting fresh air, and going on walks to realign their spine are simple solutions drivers can incorporate into their daily routine to combat fatigue. Drivers should aim to get at least six consecutive hours of sleep before a shift, as over-exhaustion can lead to burnout. Phil says rostering managers should also be aware of their drivers’ shift patterns, particularly during busy work periods, while sole trade drivers have their own responsibility to keep tabs on this. Drivers should not work shifts longer than 12 hours or if they have been awake for more than 14 hours.
2. Have drivers remove distractions and avoid multitasking. With nearly one in five major accidents caused by distracted driving, it is a good idea for businesses to educate drivers on putting away anything that might take focus away from the road. Phil says, “If your driver workforce uses navigation and music, ask them to set this up before driving, and have them keep mobile phones and scanner devices in a cradle. It is also a good idea for drivers to set up Bluetooth for calls, and to only answer their phone when safe.”
3. Create procedures around COVID-safe practices and good general hygiene. Daily hygiene is crucial to prevent the spread of common germs and COVID-19, particularly if drivers share vehicles or use it to carry passengers. Organisations could formalise driver hygiene processes and procedures of their vehicle, and have a focus on high-touch surfaces such as the steering wheel, seatbelt, gear stick and indicators. If drivers carry passengers, it’s a good idea for them to disinfect seatbelts, door handles and wipe down seats before and after every journey, and provide alcohol-based hand sanitiser for passengers.
4. Educate drivers on adjusting their driving to different conditions. In busy and built-up conditions, drivers should aim to keep a one-car gap when waiting at the lights or stopped in traffic. In rural areas, they should be alert for wildlife, debris from other cars on the road and potholes. It would be wise for organisations to educate drivers to be more cautious when working at dawn, dusk and night. During heavy rain or in the case of hail, drivers should consider pulling over into a safe shoulder or rest stop.
5. Encourage drivers to take care of their body by stretching, having breaks, and adjusting seats. When your driver workforce looks after themselves, it is good for their own health as well as a business’ bottom line. Drivers can improve their overall wellbeing and performance by scheduling in regular five-to-10-minute breaks and micro-stretch sessions every two to three hours in their shift. Consider also adjusting seats correctly to reduce body aches and pains.
6. Ensure drivers are aware of risks when parking and stopping in unfamiliar locations. When picking up and dropping off passengers or deliveries, ensure drivers follow parking and loading zone rules. In these areas, Phil advises drivers to look out for unsteady ground, unexpected parking barriers, pedestrians, and tight parking spaces. They shouldn’t rely on reverse cameras and, if unsure when reversing, always follow the GOAL rule – Get Out And Look.
7. Consider reminding drivers to upkeep vehicles regularly. Regular vehicle maintenance is essential to ensure the safety of drivers, passengers, and the public. Organisations could consider sending drivers regular reminders on oil and filter changes to ensure a vehicle’s engine continues to run smoothly and regularly check tyre pressure to ensure good handling, steering, and safety. If your workforce consists of rideshare driver, encourage them to get a full service on their vehicle every 10,000 km. If using a company vehicle, drivers need to be aware of any strange sounds and inspect the vehicle before departing on delivery runs.