Planning for safe work-related driving

Information for employers on how to plan for the health and safety of employees who perform work-related driving.


Consult on work-related driving

In many workplaces, work-related driving is considered secondary to the 'real' work that the employee does. A culture of safety recognises that the driving task is often a much higher risk that needs to be managed closely.

Under the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004, an employer must, so far as reasonably practicable, consult with Health and Safety Representatives (if any) and employees who may be affected by an employer planning for work-related driving.

Things that an employer should consult on in relation to work-related driving include:

  • ANCAP star rating
  • anti-lock and automated braking (AEBS) systems
  • daytime running lights
  • excessive speed alert systems / speed sign recognition
  • front, side and curtain airbags
  • safety of modifications needed to fit out the vehicle (including weight restrictions)
  • electronic stability control
  • rear collision warning system
  • speed assist / adaptive cruise control
  • automatic Headlights
  • rain sensing wipers
  • lane departure warning/assist
  • vehicle colour
  • AWD / 4WD for adverse conditions or unsealed roads
  • first aid kits / EPIRB (Emergency Position Indication Radion Beacon) for remote areas
  • cargo barriers

Under the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004, an employer must, so far as reasonably practicable, consult with employees who are likely to be or directed affected by an employer selecting a vehicle for work related driving.

Maintain a safe vehicle

Selection of the safest possible vehicle needs to be backed up by a preventative maintenance program to ensure that the safety of the vehicle is maximised.

A maintenance system ensures that the manufacturer's service recommendations are met and that the vehicle complies with roadworthiness requirements.

Procedures need to be prepared to outline the frequency of vehicle checks to enable reporting of problems and to keep records of maintenance documents.

Employers should nominate a person to ensure that all vehicles used by the employees are suitably maintained and records are kept of the maintenance.

Ensure drivers are competent and fit to drive

Where driving is involved in an employee's work, the employer should determine the competency of the employee to drive safely. The earliest this can occur is in the recruitment and selection process.

An employer should asses the ability of employees to drive safely. This could be achieved through referee checks, making formal licencing a requirement in job positions, conducting medical examinations and licence specific requirements.

Inform and supervise drivers

Employers, as part of the normal induction training for any new employee doing work-related driving, should cover the organisations driver and vehicle safety policies and procedures.

A driver induction should include:

  • legal requirements, such as road rules
  • company requirements such as pre-start checklists and incident reports
  • policies to be applied where drivers breach safety rules
  • understanding the causes and effects of fatigue
  • understanding road conditions and driving precautions
  • what to do in the case of a crash of emergency
  • record keeping

This sort of training should also be used as a 'refresher' to all employees who undertake work related driving.

Employers should also consider more specialised training for some employees depending on the type of work and the amount of driving involved. This could include driving in rough terrain or driving in adverse conditions.

Plan trips to minimise risk

For regular driving journeys and out of the ordinary driving planning should be done to minimise risk.

Employers and employees should:

  • allocate sufficient time to account for common delays, such as traffic and weather conditions, and road rules. Where a safer route is available, employees should be expected to use it
  • consider using other methods of transport, such as public transport
  • select appropriate vehicles for the journey
  • consider safe handling and storage of luggage and equipment
  • consider emergency response aspects

Develop work-related driving safety policies

Employers should have an occupational health and safety policy that covers work-related driving and driving safely where employees undertake driving for work. Developed in consultation with employees, the policy should:

  • cover senior managements responsibility for safety
  • define responsibilities for everyone in the fleet management process
  • demonstrate a commitment to safety when selecting vehicles
  • include incident reporting
  • keep employees trained and informed

The policy should be communicated to all employees and others impacted by the policy. Many organisations have both a safe vehicle selection policy and a safe driving policy to highlight both sides of the work-related driving issue.

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