Driving for work: Inductions and training

Thursday March 10, 2022

The new Formula One season is just weeks away and Lewis Hamilton will be hoping to secure his eighth world title. While the rest of us can only dream of competing at this level, driving is part of daily life for hundreds of thousands of workers.  

In 2019, there were 304,000 heavy goods drivers in the UK, along with 284,000 van drivers and 227,000 taxi drivers. Driving also remains the most popular method of commuting, although the total number of commuters has fallen since the pandemic.  

With driving playing such a large role in our working lives, it’s unsurprising that it is also a major cause of workplace injury. A recent study by University College London (UCL) found that one in three deaths and one in five serious injuries on UK roads involve a working driver. The risk to pedestrians is especially high. Between 2011 and 2018, 39% of all pedestrian fatalities were caused by somebody driving for work.  

If you employ drivers as part of your business, it is your duty to ensure that they don’t pose a threat to themselves or others. In this blog we’ll take a look at your induction and training responsibilities, and provide a few simple tips for keeping everyone safe.  

Introducing new employees to driving responsibilities 

One of the key times to instil driver health and safety practices in your workforce is when employees are first given driving responsibilities. To highlight best practice, the HSE provides a checklist of basic standards when recruiting new drivers: 

  • Ensure that all new recruits are physically and mentally fit to drive. If necessary, consult an occupational health practitioner as part of this process. 
  • Make sure that new recruits understand that they have a legal obligation to be fit to drive. 
  • Ensure new employees have the necessary qualifications to drive their vehicle, and that these are up to date. 

Once a driver has been hired, there are several additional measures you should take during the induction process:  

  • Make sure that the employee understands the layout of the routes they will be driving. 
  • Explain to them the process for reporting faults, hazards, accidents and near misses. 
  • Put in place a schedule for regular inspections of their vehicle. 
  • Provide any necessary safety equipment and make sure they know how to use it. 
  • Make it clear that operating a vehicle under the influence of drugs or alcohol is never acceptable, and spell out the penalties for failure to comply. Take advice on including these in the worker’s contract, along with provision for drug testing if necessary.  
  • Ensure there are no barriers to good communication if English is not their first language. 

What driver training should I offer? 

The HSE recommends that you provide both initial and refresher training for drivers. Indeed, by law employers must give enough training to ensure health and safety in any context, including driving, when someone first starts work or is exposed to new risk. 

Consider tailoring the driver training if possible, which you can do by asking yourself questions like: “What experience does the employee have?”. “What are you asking them to do?”, and “Are there any relevant recognised standards or qualifications?”. 

A culture of refresher training is important so that skills can be updated as technology, law or processes develop, and because simply people forget things or pick up bad habits. 

Another time to provide additional training is if a driver’s working conditions change. Examples include: 

  • Switching to a new vehicle 
  • Moving to a new site 
  • Performing new tasks 
  • Becoming disabled 

Keep a record of every employee’s training history. This should include details of the training they have had, their planned training for the future and the vehicles they are qualified to operate.  

If you would like help reviewing or designing driving training and policies, please get in touch. 

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