Key messages

Employers must ensure that drivers and operators they recruit permanently:

  • are physically and mentally fit to drive or operate machinery;
  • are competent to do the work;
  • understand that they have a legal duty to be fit to drive.

Assessing fitness

You may want to ask an occupational health practitioner for help in assessing an applicant's physical and mental fitness to drive.

At A Glance, published by the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency, gives more detailed guidance on assessing medical fitness to drive.

Assessing competence: questions to ask

A competent worker is one who has the skills and knowledge to do their job safely. When you are recruiting new drivers and operators, ask yourself:

  • What skills and knowledge does the person need?
  • How will we assess their competence before they start work?
  • What certificates and qualifications do they need for the vehicle they are operating?
  • How will we check that these are valid and up-to-date?
  • Will the person need additional training?
  • What safety signs and signals do they need to know?
  • Can they understand and follow instructions for safe working?

Think how you will assess and check these criteria, and do not take shortcuts. In a study of deaths and injuries involving site dumpers [PDF 1.99MB] , fewer than half of the employers had bothered to check the drivers' competence. Never take for granted a person's ability to do a task safely.

Qualifications and standards

We recommend the same (or higher) standards that people need to drive on public roads should apply when you employ people to drive in the workplace:

  • With a few exceptions, people in the UK must be aged 17 or over 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.

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Updated 2021-11-17