Graham Hurdle's blog: 27 February 2014 - Where does health and safety end?
27 February 2014
Graham Hurdle is managing director of E-Training World
Health and safety signs are everywhere and in the main people obey them.
So why do a large proportion of at-work drivers ignore H&S even if they comply in every other aspect of their job? Maybe it's because driving is not seen as a H&S issue.
If you operate machinery, you would expect to receive training before you first operate the equipment and whenever the machine is updated or replaced by a different model.
You wouldn't operate it if you were unwell or taking medication, or indeed be expected to continue operating the machine for four or five hours without a break.
Yet when it comes to driving, how many of us have driven when we were unwell? How many of us have driven for more than two hours without a break? Why do we accept the rules in the workplace but not when we are driving? Is it the attitude of drivers
or the attitude of managers?
Employees rarely break the rules in the office, factory, building sites or any other place of work because:
. they will end up in front of the boss
. they fear the Health and Safety Executive investigating following
. if they breach a H&S rule it will not only be their safety at risk but the safety of their colleagues
. it's very visible.
Drivers might ignore H&S rules because:
. if they have a crash the boss won't be annoyed because it's seen as an accident
. the HSE won't investigate, or at least that's what they think
. they won't know the victim of any crash (i.e. it won't be a work colleague)
. it's relatively 'invisible' because it's away from the workplace.
The reality is that many drivers have a poor attitude when it comes to at-work driving, and an important way of improving a company's crash statistics is to improve its drivers' attitudes.
However, the only way to improve that is for managers to improve their attitude. What would you do if an office worker ran at speed through the office and knocked over an expensive printer or photocopier, causing damage to the machine?
You'd probably take them aside to interrogate them on what on earth they were thinking and doing. So why, if they drive at speed and damage their car is it treated so lightly?
Why is it also the case that when a driver is stopped by the police for breaking the rules of the road, such as speeding, it's okay. Yet if a member of staff breaks a H&S rule it is a disciplinary offence?
The truth we have to face up to is that health and safety in the workplace is at a more advanced stage than H&S in vehicles.
It's also true in my mind that drivers will never take it as seriously as they should until their bosses do.