Written by Simon Turner, Campaign Manager, Driving for Better Business (www.drivingforbetterbusiness.com)
A REOPENED SECTOR WITH RENEWED HEALTH AND SAFETY CHALLENGES
For businesses across the UK,April and May have been months focused on reopening venues safely, returning staff safely and getting back to business safely.
When it comes to health and safety, the main concerns for hospitality companies often surround on-premise risks. From sanitised work tops to social distancing, the hospitality indus- try is leading the way in creating a safe on-premise working environment for customers and employees.The challenge for many businesses in the sector, however, is supporting those employees who drive for work.
From catering companies to food and drink suppliers in the hotel supply chain, the hospitality sector has seen staff furloughed and commercial vehicles out of action for months.
Driving for work therefore provides a different, and equally important, set of health and safety risks that businesses may have overlooked when reopening post lockdown.
ENSURING DRIVERS AND VEHICLES ARE READY FOR THE ROAD
In order to provide a safe working environment for commercial drivers in the hospitality sector, businesses can focus on two key areas:The drivers and their vehicles. It may seem simple, but ensuring that drivers and vehicles are ready for the road before work begins is an all-important step towards safety.
Drivers should check their vehicles every day before setting off, and make sure they are prepared and ready for work. Of course, many will have continued to drive during lockdown, but driving for work requires different levels of concentration, awareness and care. It naturally takes time to readjust, and employers should therefore allow drivers time to prepare before business reopens.
Secondly, vehicle maintenance and roadworthiness is crucial. Indeed, the last thing your business needs, as it returns to normal, is to be disrupted again due to vehicles breaking down.This can be avoided by making sure vehicles are checked thoroughly, including tyres, brakes, battery and fluid levels.Tyres in particular may have lost significant amounts of pressure over the course of lockdown, with possible sidewall damage if they’ve been stood in the same place for a while.
CHAMPIONING DRIVER WELLBEING THROUGH A STRONG COMPANY CULTURE
Finally, those who drive for work are typically lone workers, and may spend long hours working alone. Sustained periods of isolation, increased time pressures and road congestion are known to have detrimental effects on anxiety and fatigue.That’s why at Driving for Better Business, we work with CALM to support the mental health and wellbeing of commercial drivers across all industries.As part of the CALM Driver campaign, we’ve distributed over 22,000 support packs to help drivers feel supported as they take to the roads as lone workers.
Driver wellbeing is therefore something the hospitality industry needs to be aware of as it gets back into gear. For businesses who employ drivers, ensuring employees are fit to drive is a business priority that some companies in the hospitality sector may overlook when reopening. Employers would be well advised to remind employees of the driving for work part of their health and safety policies to ensure they focus on driver safety and vehicle roadworthiness.
Alongside work related road risk, championing a strong company culture will help businesses support drivers. As business reopens, many employees will naturally want to maximise their workload. However, the hospitality companies that adopt a strong culture and demonstrate leadership in employee wellbeing will be the businesses that ensure their workforce, including drivers, are fully supported as lockdown is lifted. Once this is achieved, they will also start to see the business benefits of managing work related road risk effectively, enhancing performance across business operations.