Safety for Workers in the Fleet and Transport Industry

parked hgv

Workers in the transportation industry can often be overlooked as lone workers.

According to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) a lone worker is someone that works by themselves without close or direct supervision. Fleet and HGV (heavy goods vehicles) drivers consistently work without other people around them until they reach their destination. Additionally, according to members of the British Security Industry Association (BSIA), lone workers facing the highest levels of risk are drivers, including HGV road haulage and LGV or local delivery drivers.

Similarly, despite working alongside passengers on a bus, train or tram as a driver or guard, many of the people employed on public transport can be classed as lone workers. In addition, those working as platform guards or station attendants may be out of earshot of other members of staff, leaving them vulnerable in emergency situations. According to the latest RMT Union survey, 72% of frontline transport workers have experienced workplace violence in the last year alone. Of those, nearly 90% had been subjected to violence on multiple occasions.

Below are some examples of the dangers that may be faced by employees working within the fleet and transportation industry:

  1. Road Accidents – the law of averages simply dictates that the more time you spend on the road, the more likely you are to be involved in an accident. National statistics back this up and show that in 2018, there were 16,815 road accidents involving vans and HGVs in the UK, making up 7.4% of all reported road accidents.
  2. Theft – the British Standards Institution reported that in Q2 of 2018, companies lost £14 million due to cargo theft. HGVs are often targeted for their larger loads and easier access points.
  3. Tiredness – often those working in the fleet and transport industry spend many hours driving. Even with designated rest break times, tiredness can still be an issue, especially when drivers feel the need to make up lost time. It has been reported that tiredness may contribute to as many as 20% of all road accidents.
  4. Remote Areas – stopping or breaking down in a remote area can put a worker in a vulnerable position. Remote areas often lack mobile network coverage, which can make calling for help extremely difficult. Stopping in a remote area also makes you an easier target for cargo thieves
  5. Aggressive Customers – operating public transport can mean facing angry customers. The most common form of attack towards transport workers is verbal abuse. Staff have also described being spat at, sexually assaulted, racially abused and threatened with violence or physical assault.

Safety Tips:

  1. Ensure your vehicle is fit for purpose – any vehicle being driven for work should be in good working condition. Inspecting a vehicle regularly can mean spotting a problem which, if left untreated, could result in a break down or an accident.
  2. Make your vehicle hard to steal from – cargo theft is a big problem in the UK with soft-sided lorries being targeted the most. Equip your vehicle with cameras and slash-resistant tarps to deter any potential thieves.
  3. Take breaks – to combat fatigue, it is important to rest regularly. In most cases, drivers of commercial vehicles need to adhere to European Union driver regulation hours. These regulations stipulate that a driver should not be allowed to drive more than 9 hours a day or 56 hours a week. They must also have a minimum 45-minute break after 4.5 hours of driving.
  4. Report abuse – reporting any abuse received at work can help to put in place measures to prevent it from happening again. If all abuse incidents are reported, certain patterns might start to emerge that will make it easier to manage.
  5. Carry a personal safety device – carrying a personal safety device ensures that lone workers have a way of calling for assistance, at the push of a button, when they need it most.

Case Study

One of the risks when working alone comes from dealing with the general public, especially in roles where workers may have to enforce rules.

In 2019, an incident occurred where a night bus driver was assaulted while working on the N9 bus route near Aldwych in London. The driver stated that he was attacked “after going to wake a sleeping passenger”. Once the passenger was awake, they turned violent and attacked the driver with a hammer. The photos from this event show the protective perspex screen surrounding the driver’s seat had been smashed. The London Ambulance Service were called to the scene and the driver was later taken to hospital where his injuries were confirmed to be non-life-threatening.

Unfortunately, incidents like this are not a one-off. Figures by the British Transport Police (BTP) have shown that violent crime on the London Underground has risen by more than 43% in the past three years.

Although increasing staff numbers may seem the obvious solution to safeguard lone workers, this would be costly and may mean that there are not enough tasks to keep employees busy. As an alternative, there are a number of convenient and discreet technologies on the market today that will effectively monitor the safety of employees for a smaller price.

How Can Peoplesafe Help?

As a BS 8484:2016 accredited organisation, we have Unique Reference Numbers (URNs) for all UK police forces, enabling us to bypass the 999 system and get your employees the response that they need, in the fastest way possible. Our core devices use the latest GPS and GPRS technologies, allowing the controllers within our Alarm Receiving Centre (ARC) to accurately pinpoint the user’s location in the event of an emergency.

All of our personal safety devices are portable and designed to be discreet. We offer a number of accessories such as lanyards, clips and ID holders to transform them into wearable technology. This means that you can raise an alarm from wherever you are, without alerting a potential aggressor. Alternatively, workers could use our mobile application solution, rather than carrying an additional device.

When an alarm is raised, we have a team of dedicated Controllers who will stay on the line until the alert has been resolved. All our core devices have two-way audio, so if it’s safe to do so, the Controller will speak to the user and work with them to continually assess the situation. They will follow the pre-existing escalation procedure and where necessary, contact the relevant emergency services.

An additional feature of our MicroguardMicroSOS and smartphone app is fall detection (also referred to as man down). It is able to sense when the device has changed orientation, as it would when someone falls down. If this is followed by a period of non-movement, an alarm will automatically be raised in our Alarm Receiving Centre (ARC).

For more information on any of our devices, or how Peoplesafe can help to protect your transport industry workers, call our team on 0800 990 3563 or complete the form here