Health and Safety Considerations When Operating Commercial Vehicles

Being in charge of a vehicle, while enjoyable, is also an action that involves many duties. After all, the driver is responsible for their cargo, their own life, the passengers, and the lives of other drivers on the road.

This responsibility becomes even more pressing when the vehicle is used for commercial purposes. In this case, the grid of accountabilities increases, as contracting companies can also be liable for accidents involving drivers and pedestrians.

Another aspect to consider is economics. The transportation of goods is an essential activity that can involve items of great value. The movement of products also affects how customers perceive the quality of service. With so much at stake, companies and drivers must work harmoniously to face the challenges of transporting goods and people.

One of these challenges – and certainly the most important- is ensuring the activity is carried out safely. But what can be done to increase everyone’s safety on the roads and in the loading and unloading of goods?

In this article, P. Airey Tail Lifts, a tail lift specialist offering services like repairs, breakdown recovery and LOLER inspections, discusses the factors its team considers before undertaking any work. But first, let’s understand what commercial vehicles are.

What Are the Types of Commercial Vehicles?

The logistics sector faces a series of challenges daily. Therefore, it’s unsurprising that the variety of commercial vehicles available on the market is as wide as the activities they need to cater to. Here’s an overview of the main types of commercial vehicles.

  1. Light Commercial Vehicles (LCVs): Smaller vehicles like vans, minivans, and pickup lorries employed for light deliveries and services.
  2. Heavy Goods Vehicles (HGVs): Larger lorries for transporting heavy and bulky goods. They include rigid trucks, articulated lorries, and tanker trucks.
  3. Semi-Trucks (Articulated Lorries): Commonly used for long-distance hauling, these consist of a tractor unit and one or more semi-trailers to carry freight.
  4. Flatbed Lorries: Designed with a flat, open bed at the rear, these lorries transport heavy, oversized loads or machinery that cannot be easily accommodated in enclosed spaces.
  5. Box Lorries: These have an enclosed cuboid-shaped cargo area and are commonly applied for transporting furniture, appliances, and packaged items.
  6. Refrigerated Lorries: Equipped with refrigeration systems, these vehicles move perishable goods like food and pharmaceutical products.
  7. Dump Lorries: Designed for transporting materials like sand, gravel, or demolition waste, they have an open-box bed that can be lifted to deposit the load.
  8. Tanker Lorries: Used for transporting liquids or gases, these vehicles have large tank bodies.
  9. Tow Lorries: Meant for vehicles that cannot move on their own, either due to breakdowns, accidents, or for legal reasons.
  10. Utility Lorries: A variety of vehicles equipped for specific functions, such as electrical work, plumbing, or cable services. They often have storage for tools and equipment.
  11. Buses and Coaches: Used for passenger transport, these range from smaller minibuses to larger, long-distance coaches.
  12. Specialised Vehicles: This category includes vehicles modified for specific purposes, such as mobile cranes, fire engines, ambulances, and street sweepers.

It’s important to remember that each type of commercial vehicle is subject to different regulations and requirements, especially concerning safety, operation, and maintenance.

Safeguarding Health and Compliance

Some precautions must be taken to ensure the well-being and health of drivers, passengers, and other users of the country’s streets and roads.

The number one priority is, of course, to ensure that motorists have the necessary licenses to operate the type of vehicle they are being entrusted with. This is a legal requirement that, as absurd as it may seem, is not always complied with. In the United Kingdom, drivers must have a category C or C1 license for lorries, and a D or D1 for buses.

Adhering to working hours and rest breaks regulations is critical in preventing driver fatigue. Moreover, strict policies against the use of alcohol and drugs must be enforced, often coupled with regular testing. Regular health assessments for drivers should also be implemented, as they help to identify and manage vision problems or chronic illnesses.

Driving vehicles can be stressful, and some specialists even believe bus drivers have some of the highest stress levels of any profession. Providing support and resources to manage mental health helps to create a safer work environment.

Integrating Technology and Safety Equipment in Vehicle Operations

There is also the matter of vehicle maintenance. Companies and drivers need to carry out periodic checks of the main engine components, as well as conduct a visual inspection of lights and tyres. Failing in this aspect can lead to various problems, ranging from increased emissions that can affect the health of drivers and passengers to involvement in accidents that may include other vehicles and pedestrians.

Respecting the load limits of cars, lorries, and buses is also essential. Additionally, ensure that the weight is well distributed and that the load is securely fastened to prevent objects from falling onto the road, other vehicles, or even people. This care should be taken not just on the road but also during loading and unloading.

Consider using technology for vehicle monitoring, such as GPS, performance and speed management tools, and cameras that provide real-time images of the driver’s blind spots, like the sides of the vehicles or what is happening at the back. Do not forget to equip cars, buses and lorries with safety equipment like fire extinguishers, first aid kits, and high-visibility clothing.

The commitment of companies and drivers to these practices should be seen as much more than just respect for legislation. It demonstrates an appreciation for the dignity of everyone working in the logistics industry. By taking into account all aspects of health and safety involved in transporting goods and people, companies demonstrate their dedication to working towards a world that is both less dangerous and more efficient.

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