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Why Drivers Need Regular Health Checks
There are many sectors and industries in the UK where an employee needs to drive as part of their work. This includes everyone from train and bus drivers to sales reps, builders and manual workers.
As much as 25% of accidents on the road are thought to involve someone who is driving as part of their work. When it comes to using a company vehicle, employers are subject to health and safety legislation as they are with any other aspect of their business. If an employee is involved in an accident and it’s proven there was a health problem that was responsible, the business owner could be subject to prosecution. This might because they ignored a problem or they didn’t have the measures in place that could reasonably have identified and dealt with the issue early enough.
There are numerous reasons why you may want to carry out health checks on drivers:
- To ensure they are physically capable of undertaking the task their work requires in the first place.
- Discovering if new employees have any medical conditions that may bar them from specific tasks.
- Monitoring potential unhealthy behaviour such as drinking or drug use.
- Providing drivers with ongoing health checks as part of employee benefits.
- Helping drivers who have suffered from medical conditions return to work.
The health requirements drivers need can vary across industries. The medical standards for sales staff who are driving to appointments may well be less strict than for staff who are transporting passengers, handling toxic material or working in dangerous environments such as construction sites.
The Benefits of Regular Health Checks
Health checks for drivers, performed at regular intervals, ensure that employees remain fit and safe for the work they need to do. It can also provide peace of mind by further delivering the support that employees need if they are identified as having a condition that prevents them from driving.
While fleet drivers generally need to comply with the law, particularly regarding speed limits, the upkeep of their vehicle and taking appropriate rest stops, businesses often rely on the honesty of employees when it comes to personal health matters. The recent case of a Glasgow bin driver who fainted at the wheel and crashed, killing six people, is a reminder of what a hidden health problem can lead to. The driver had not disclosed a history of health conditions to either his employer or the DVLA.
While it is illegal for companies to ask about any health or disability issues an interview candidate may have before they offer a job, once they have done so, it’s perfectly reasonable for there to be further checks regarding these issues and the suitability to drive. Ideally this needs to be carried out by fully qualified staff such as occupational health professionals. It helps also if the company concerned has a good occupational health policy in place.
In high-risk sectors such as construction or train and bus driving, checks are done as a matter of operational policy, including alcohol and drug testing, and employees need to sign a contract that agrees to this regular testing. In other industries, checking is far less robust and a lack of policy in this respect can have grave consequences.
Occupational health services for drivers are designed to check that staff remain fit for the task at hand. They can also ensure your business does not suffer if something does go wrong. Accidents involving employees who are driving for work can damage your company reputation, potentially lead to prosecution and cost you money in fines and compensation.
Driving is probably the single most dangerous thing that we learn to do in our lives. An occupational health service will be able to introduce a range of monitoring including:
- Completing a health questionnaire.
- Introducing blood and urine testing.
- Checking blood pressure.
- Mobility, hearing and eye assessments.
- Support and advice for employees.
Employing an occupational health team also means you get a tailored approach for your driving employees. If a problem is identified, measures can be put into place and the situation monitored, something which not only benefits the employer but also the employee, who may not even know they have a medical condition that needs to be addressed.