Education is the key to curbing driver health and safety issues

Food firm Cadbury Schweppes believes that by educating drivers in health and safety matters can be a win-win situation for both staff and the organisation

At a time when grey fleet, where drivers use their own cars for work, and environmental issues are at the forefront of every fleet manager’s agenda, can employers maintain an attractive offering with flexibility and choice over vehicle selection without compromising their ever increasing health and safety and duty of care requirements?It’s certainly not an easy balance to achieve, but I believe that by educating drivers to allow them to make informed choices and engaging them in the importance of health and safety it can be a win-win situation for employees and the company.

At Cadbury Schweppes we have decided to tighten up and amend some of our processes around these issues but we are by no means perfect. There is still some work to be done but we are heading in the right direction.

In October this year we introduced a new system for checking driving licences for all employees who are eligible for a company car through a third party specialist data manager, Intelligent Data Systems (UK), directly with the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA). This process has also encompassed a number of individuals who are not eligible for a company car but who from time to time use our site pool cars. This was also the perfect opportunity to capture vehicle data, copies of business insurance and valid MOT certificates, if applicable, for those employees who opt-out of our car scheme but who still drive on business – an area that has been more lightly regulated in the past.

We let our high business mileage drivers opt-out of the car scheme because we believe that offering flexibility of choice is very important. But we do require them to take a personal car purchase (PCP) plan including a service and maintenance package through one of three preferred providers, thus ensuring the vehicle is serviced and maintained to the same degree as a company car, and allowing us a certain amount of peace of mind, knowing that the driver is in a ‘fit’ car.

The vehicle choice is also signed off by the line manager to further ensure that it is fit for purpose. The cash allowance that the individual receives is structured in order to cover the cost of this additional requirement. We also put a strong emphasis on educating all our drivers in their health and safety responsibilities. This is a way of ensuring that where you can give choice over vehicle selection, health and safety requirements are maintained.

I firmly believe that while the company has the responsibility for ensuring the safety of the driver there is a part to be played by the driver as well, and their cooperation and compliance with any new processes and regulations can make the difference between having that flexibility of choice and this being taken away.

Any individuals who opt out of our company car scheme and take the cash alternative are driver licence checked, receive the same newsletters as our company car drivers and are informed about any changes to policy as and when required. In my view they should be regulated by the same conditions as our company car drivers, it’s just the mechanism for monitoring them is slightly different and more challenging. It should be possible to adapt your current car policies to extend to this population.

With the Corporate Manslaughter Act coming into effect in April, the developments that will no doubt result from that and government’s focus on work related driver road safety, it is likely that we will have to review our car policy in more detail but for the time being our focus will be on tightening up on the current processes to ensure that the company, the driver and other road users are not at risk.

Suzanne Laverick is UK employee benefits manager at Cadbury Schweppes†


Best practice tips

  • Have clear guidelines and stick to them.

  • Don’t take your eye off the ball and don’t assume that everyone is following procedure just because you’ve written to them.

  • Communicate simply, clearly and on a regular basis. Hammer home the message and be creative.

  • Involve and engage your HR, health & safety and insurance colleagues.

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