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Safe and healthy return: Fatigue and driving

   Safe and healthy return: Fatigue and driving

Since lockdown there has been a significant reduction in traffic on our roads, with the emphasis on essential journeys meaning those remaining road users have been those there to support us during the pandemic, our out for exercise.

NHS staff, care workers and emergency services, but also the vehicle fleets moving supplies around the country, the postal service and couriers bringing what we need to our doorsteps and local shops.

In the first week of lockdown I had to order a new washing machine, which was delivered to my door by a team of two drivers. One in the lorry cab and the second in a car following on, they could explain their hygiene and social distancing policy, used effective handling techniques, and we also had a word about managing workload during COVID-19.

Then last week I read about two men setting out to travel 133 miles, a journey time of two hours 20 minutes in a company van, after a full night shift…they were just over 90 miles into this journey when they crashed into a parked articulated lorry.

Both men were killed and the company, Renown Consultants Limited, was found guilty, fined £450,000 and ordered to pay £300,000 in costs for failing to ensure the men were “sufficiently rested to work and travel safely”.

The case was brought by the Office of the Rail Regulator in relation to failures in fatigue management, a first of its kind. Ian Prosser, HM chief inspector of railways, said: “We hope this has acted as a reminder to companies that safety comes first and fatigue policies should be enforced to ensure their workforce is not too tired to work.”

As more of us return to driving for work perhaps it’s time to pause and think of Zac Payne and Michael Morris, the two men who died, and reflect on how organisations should account for managing fatigue, particularly in relation to safety critical tasks, which includes driving:

Prioritize your people
Assess the risk of fatigue, but don’t forget the other risks associated with the work you do
Update your risk management plan
Support people and give them the opportunity to speak up
Evaluate the impact of managing fatigue. Are the changes you have made being implemented?

RoSPA have a range of resources to help you manage you fleet and driving risks. Check out

Karen McDonnell, occupational safety and health policy adviser
Image by Jeff Chabot from Pixabay
Posted: 5/29/2020 3:05:17 PM 0 comments


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