In 2019, the Department for Transport reported that there were 362,600 licenced taxi drivers in the UK – an increase of 0.4% from 2018 – showing that taxi drivers make up a significant part of the UK economy and that the industry is continuing to grow. Within this industry, taxi drivers can be categorised by working as a part of one of two groups: public hire or private hire.
A public hire taxi is a vehicle which has been licenced as a hackney carriage (also known as a black cab) and can be hailed or pick customers up from a taxi rank, meaning they do not have to be pre-booked.
Contrastingly, a private hire vehicle (PHV) is a taxi where the customer must book in advance through a ride-hailing company, such as Uber.
Although there are differences in the ways that taxi drivers are found by passengers, they commonly face the same health and safety risks, such as; musculoskeletal disorders, theft, fatigue and lone working.
Musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) are the most common type of disorder caused by working in any industry, induced by postural strain, repetitive movements or overuse of a particular area of the body. Research conducted by the International Journal of Medical Research & Health Sciences (IJMRHS) found that drivers have the highest prevalence of MSDs in comparison with other jobs, as a result of their sedentary occupation.
It’s estimated that taxi drivers work longer than the stereotypical 9-5 day. According to the Taxi Driver Survey, the average hours worked by taxi drivers across the UK is 39-45 hours a week. Because they predominantly work in the same position all day, this increases their risk of developing a musculoskeletal disorder.
These disorders can cause symptoms such as aches, pains, fatigue and disrupted sleep, which can make them difficult to manage. In order to reduce the risk of developing a musculoskeletal disorder, taxi drivers should be educated on the risks and how they can actively prevent strain – for example, through proper stretching, regular breaks to stand up or assistive equipment e.g. a backrest.
Although private taxi drivers often receive payment through the app or company they work for, public hire taxi drivers often receive cash payments from customers. This method of payment, coupled with the fact they work alone, can make these taxi drivers an easy and attractive target for criminals. The increased risk of becoming a victim to theft is something that taxi drivers should be aware of. Taxi companies are legally required to conduct a risk assessment for their employees and should have a clearly laid out process to follow in the event of a passenger becoming violent.
To limit the risk of theft, companies should implement a safe cash handling policy which might include carrying minimal cash and, where possible, keeping cash out of sight and stored in a secure container such as a lockable box. Storing cash out of sight helps to reduce the risk of an opportunistic crime and therefore the risk of a violent situation occurring.
As taxi drivers tend to work longer hours than those in most other occupations, they can also be at an increased risk of fatigue and the dangers associated with this. When working for long periods of time, drivers can experience tiredness, making them less perceptive to potential hazards and less able to deal with them safely.
The road safety charity Brake reported that 4% of fatal crashes in Britain are caused by tiredness, with peak hours for these crashes being between the hours of 02.00-06.00 and 14.00-16.00. In order to minimise the risks posed by tiredness, it is important for taxi drivers to remember to have regular breaks, to not exceed working the recommended 48 hours a week and to stop working if they feel tired or drowsy.
Although taxi drivers may be a member of an organisation such as Uber, Bolt or Addison Lee, they almost always work alone, presenting a variety of risks and challenges. The nature of the job means that taxi drivers regularly work during off-peak hours and are likely to drive around areas they are unfamiliar with. This increases the vulnerability of the drivers as they are likely to be paying more attention to their location and so could miss the warning signs of other dangers.
Working during unsociable hours leaves taxi drivers open to more risks as there is not the same security that working in crowds through peak times of the day offers. In the event of an emergency during the day, there is likely to be other people around that are able to help manage a situation, which is unlikely to be the case during off-peak times where fewer people are out and about.
To increase the security of taxi drivers while lone working, drivers should ensure that they are well-rested and alert, comfortable with their route and should carry a personal safety device.
According to health and safety legislation, it is the employer’s duty to assess all risks to the health and safety of their employees.
Peoplesafe can help employers to fulfil their duty of care by implementing a personal safety service. We offer solutions ranging from a variety of dedicated personal safety devices to a simple addition to the employee’s mobile phone, giving you the flexibility to find a service best suited to your needs.
Additionally, all of our devices are portable and can be paired with several accessories to transform them into a piece of discrete wearable technology, such as via a belt clip or pendant holder. This allows users to carry their alarm on them at all times while working without any hassle so that it is readily available in the event of an emergency.
When an alarm is raised, an alert is sent directly to our Alarm Receiving Centre (ARC), where our expertly trained Controllers will be able to listen to the ongoing situation through the device. The Controller will listen carefully to ensure that it is safe to communicate with the user while simultaneously assessing the situation. If the Controller feels that it is safe to talk, they will establish contact with the user in order to diffuse the situation and follow the necessary procedure. If they do not receive a response from the user after attempting to communicate with them, they will follow the pre-determined escalation procedure to resolve the alarm.
Having a Peoplesafe device means that your employees can quickly and easily summon help from colleagues or the emergency services, while giving them the peace of mind that allows them to complete their job safely.
If you have any employees that you feel could benefit from our lone worker services, please contact our sales team on 0800 990 3563 or complete the contact us form here.