A van is not only an essential business tool. For some employees, it’s their place of work: where they spend more of their working hours than anywhere else. This means that employers owe a Duty of Care to these employees driving their vans, both for driver safety and the safety of other road users.

Your responsibilities and how to meet them

Nearly 60 employees in haulage and distribution have been killed on company business, and 5,000 suffered a serious personal injury, over the past five years. That’s why it’s essential as an employer that you know:

  • Your van driver Duty of Care responsibilities
  • Where to find the information you need to meet them
  • What to look out for to reduce safety risks and increase safety

Below is an outline of the issues to consider around vehicle drivers Duty of Care, and how to find out more. For the complete picture of fleet manager Duty of Care you should also refer to the:

The vehicle
Having the right vehicle for the job is essential to keeping your drivers safe. The HSE provides guidance on vehicle selection based on safety and suitability. Once the vehicle is part of your fleet, you are legally obliged to keep it in good working order. This means regular inspection, risk assessments, and maintenance if and when required. Preventive maintenance can help to maintain optimum efficiency and reduce possible downtime. Providing your drivers with a list of daily vehicle checks to carry out and sign off, means they can help you stay on top of the task.
The driver
Keeping your drivers safe means choosing them carefully and training them properly. You must by law consider their health and safety capabilities when you give them tasks to do, and must ensure they’re capable and properly trained for the job. The HSE provides more information on training and driver competence. You look after your vans, but your drivers need taking care of too. Fleet News has highlighted the importance of drivers' mental health and how to maintain it.
The van at work
Road safety is only one aspect of van use. It’s also important to consider what happens before the van gets on the road: like getting into and out of the vehicle, and loading and unloading. This is not a comprehensive list, but drivers should always:
  • Climb into the cab using any steps or handholds provided
  • Step out rather than jumping down – checking first for uneven surfaces
  • Keep the load area tidy and free from slippery spills, loose ropes, packaging etc.
  • Be trained in and follow the company’s safe ways of working if using equipment such as tail-lifts
  • Follow safe practices for loading and unloading
If your drivers travel abroad in their vehicles, there will be implications for drivers’ hours and British and other national rules which must be followed.
On the road

Pressure to get as much done as possible in as little time as possible may lead to unrealistic demands being placed on drivers. Unrealistic schedules may lead to speeding or dangerous driving. Better to plan a time- and fuel-efficient route in advance to achieve the optimum amount of deliveries/collections in safety and a high standard of care for your drivers.

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