The law obliges employers to consider the health and safety capabilities of people when they give them tasks to do, and to ensure that they are properly trained before being exposed to risks in the workplace.
It is recommended that the same or higher standards are applied to workplace drivers as are applied to those allowed to drive on public roads:
- With a few exceptions, people in the UK must be aged 17 or older, and have passed a driving test.
- Drivers of large or heavy goods vehicles must, with certain exceptions, be aged 21 or over and have passed the appropriate test.
- It is important to stress to drivers the risks of unsafe working (such as driving too fast, turning too sharply, or driving on unsuitable ground or slopes).
- Every driver, and particularly younger or less experienced drivers, should be instructed to drive and to carry out other work in a responsible and careful manner.
Drivers should be capable of operating the vehicle and related equipment safely, and should receive instruction and training as appropriate.
Drivers will need a mature and reliable attitude to be capable of performing their duties responsibly and carefully.
Employers, managers etc. should never allow anyone who is unfit through drink or drugs to drive any vehicle.
Where the workplace has contractors or visiting drivers, the site operator or principal employer should check they are competent to carry out their duties responsibly and carefully, for example by obtaining evidence of capability from the drivers or their employers.
It is essential to check what experience individuals have of the vehicles they will be using and the work they will be doing and, where appropriate, to check that the information they give is true, for example, employers will usually need to check that references to training schemes etc are supported by certificates.
It is likely that training will need to cover:
- General information about the job, for example route layouts, or how to report risks or accidents.
- Training and/or checks to ensure that people can work safely. For a driver this is likely to include:
- Making sure they know how to operate the vehicle safely
- Information about particular dangers, speed limits, parking and loading areas and procedures etc.
- It may be necessary to test trainees on site, even when they produce evidence of previous training or related work experience. Always check that trainees understand what they have been advised.
- Information about how supervision and penalties will be applied.
- An ongoing programme of training and refresher training will usually be necessary for all drivers and other employees, to ensure their continued competence in a changing workplace.
- Keep training records for each employee.
- Consider keeping a central register of whom in your workplace is competent to control which vehicle. This will make safely allocating tasks and keeping track of abilities much easier.