HR FEEDBACK: Backs on the agenda
01 April 2009
In BusinessCar's new monthly analysis of HR issues, Paul Barker focuses on some disturbing research on back pain for high-mileage drivers
Back to front
Loughborough University is conducting BUPA-funded research into business car drivers and back pain. The study, published later this year, is focussing on the link between lower back pain and absenteeism caused by using cars as mobile offices, and is particularly focussed on drivers doing more than 25,000 miles per year. Hundreds of fleet drivers have volunteered. The researchers have also set up www.drivingergonomics.com, aimed at reducing problems.
The figures previously discovered by Dr Diane Gyi, one of the people behind this project, found drivers covering more than 25,000 miles per year were six times more likely than average to be off sick with back complaints, so anything to help lower that figure should be commended. It also gives HR managers another example to help educate drivers to set their seat properly and make sure they lift things in and out of the car correctly.
With the clocks changing this Sunday, Labour MP David Kidney is leading calls for a reform of daylight saving time, which would see the clocks moved forward one hour to make best use of the sunlight in the evening. Kidney advocates the use of single/double summertime (SDST), which would put Britain in the Central European Time (CET) zone, and argues the move would save around 100 lives on our roads every year due to increased visibility later in the day.
Making the best use of the daylight is something that should be discussed with more seriousness, and it is a shame that although road safety organisation RoSPA supports the move, Kidney is a lone voice on this within Government. The increased visibility at a time of the day when drivers are tired would be of great benefit.
Retail beats fleet on CO2
Despite fleet polices pushing down emissions, retail sales recorded lower average CO2 for new car sales than business cars in 2008, turning round a long-standing trend. The difference was 157.6g/km for private against 158.4 for business, although both were down on 2007's 165.8 and 164.2g/km respectively. The SMMT said removing the 3% BIK surcharge for diesels would help to further lower emissions figures.
It's disappointing though understandable that private sales have moved ahead. In tough economic times, the ratio of smaller cars bought by private punters increases while fleets continue to need cars of a certain size for practical, duty of care and staff retention needs. But next month's capital allowance changes should have an impact on the 2009 figures, with fewer cars over 160g/km being registered to corporate buyers.
Jailed peer's safety?goal
A Labour peer, sentenced to 12 weeks in jail after investigations into a fatal accident revealed he had been sending text messages from behind the wheel, says he wants to make sure others learn from his mistake. Lord Ahmed had sent and received five texts while driving in the dark on Christmas Day 2007 just prior to a fatal accident on the M1.
We applaud Lord Ahmed's move, harsher penalties and more high-profile prosecutions of guilty drivers are what's needed, and what are likely to come, to stop people taking calls and sending texts while at the wheel.