DVSA updates driver daily walkaround leaflets
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 link to the guidance can be found here:
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 the defect checks had been made. Of course the fact of the checks being 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, and thereby reduce 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. An example would be when the Police anticipate that a driver might seek to put forward a defence citing a possible defect. A failure to provide evidence of daily checks by a company, in those circumstances, might lead to:
- A wider investigation of the company’s health and safety policies and implementation;
- At the very least could put them on the investigatory body’s radar; and
- A report to the Transport Commissioner which could cause problems in respect of the operator’s license renewal, and lead to a public inquiry; and
- A company finding themselves on the investigatory body’s radar.
Practical steps that might be taken to ensure that drivers are making the necessary checks and defects are remedied effectively include:
- Update defect check sheets and associated paperwork in line with the new DVSA guidance.
- Provide regular practical training to drivers in relation to the checks that they should be making.
- Explain to drivers why they are making the checks. It is for their benefit, and serves to protect them just as much as the company.
- Ensure that drivers submit the check sheets on a daily or weekly basis (and are not left in the cab).
- Ensure 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?
If you wish to discuss any of the issues referred to please contact Tom Stevenson on 0203 436 2364 or firstname.lastname@example.org.