DVSA updates driver daily walkaround leaflets
On Track - May 2019
The DVSA has recently updated its guidance in relation to driver daily defect checks in respect of goods vehicles/ public service vehicles. This is a helpful reminder to any company operating a fleet of HGV/LGV vehicles, but may apply equally to any business which operates lifting equipment such as fork lift trucks.
The senior management of any company that has experienced the misfortune of one of their vehicles being involved in a serious road traffic collision, or other incident giving rise to health and safety concerns, will know only too well that one of the first things that the police or HSE will ask for is evidence that defect checks had been made.
Of course, just because checks have been made does not necessarily mean that a defect may not have caused or contributed to an incident (e.g. an indicator may have failed since the morning checks were made, as happened in a case that I recently dealt with).
However, it does demonstrate that reasonably practicable steps have been taken by the company to ensure the safety of the vehicle, thereby reducing the risk of the company being found to be culpable. Often the check sheets are requested even where there is no obvious evidence that a defect was causative, for example when the police anticipate that a driver might seek to put forward a defence citing a possible defect. In those circumstances, a failure to provide evidence of daily checks by a company might lead to:
- A wider investigation of the company’s health and safety policies and implementation
- A report to the Transport Commissioner which could cause problems in respect of the operator’s license renewal, and lead to a public inquiry
- A company finding themselves on the investigatory body’s radar
There are practical steps that might be taken to ensure that drivers are making the necessary checks and defects are remedied effectively.
- Updating defect check sheets and associated paperwork in line with the new DVSA guidance
- Providing regular practical training to drivers in relation to the checks that they should be making
- Explaining to drivers why they are making the checks. It is for their benefit, and serves to protect them just as much as the company.
- Ensuring that drivers submit the check sheets on a daily or weekly basis (and are not left in the cab)
- Making sure that maintenance teams review the defect sheets - is the same defect on a certain vehicle regularly occurring? Is the quick fix not dealing with the issue? Is this indicative of a larger problem?
For more information, please contact Tom Stevenson