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Asset protection: Ensuring van driver wellbeing

Many companies claim that their greatest asset is the staff that work for them. Ensuring van driver health and wellbeing is therefore an essential part of fleet management, says Dan Gilkes.

Combine tight deadlines with long isolating hours spent on your own in a cab every day and you have a recipe for stress, tension and more

The FTA’s Van Excellence programme will run three Operational Briefings this spring, tackling the physical, mental and safety challenges facing van drivers. Speakers will include representatives of the British Dietetic Association, the Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM), the Transport Research Laboratory (TRL) and the police.

The briefings will be on 26 March in Edinburgh, on 28 March in Derby and on 2 April near Heathrow, London. You can find out more at www.fta.co.uk/van-excellence-operational-briefings-2019.

Fleet managers need not wait until then to make improvements however, as Mark Cartwright, the FTA’s head of vans and LCV, recently outlined just some of the areas that fleets and their drivers should be focusing on to promote a healthy work environment.

Remember daily pre-use checks 

While daily pre-use van checks are not required by law, this is no reason to believe they are not an essential activity. The safety of the driver and other road users is reliant upon all of us operating a vehicle that’s roadworthy and fit to drive. Tyres, lights, steering, brakes and mirrors – among many other features – should be checked before departure. The FTA’s Van Excellence scheme has developed a pre-use defect check app to help drivers. For more information, including how to download the app, please visit fta.co.uk/van

Seek help if you are struggling  

Combine tight deadlines with long isolating hours spent on your own in a cab every day, and you have a recipe for stress, tension and more. But van drivers should not suffer in silence – poor mental health is a very common illness and resources are available to help. Van Excellence is working with the charity CALM (Campaign Against Living Miserably) to help tackle the stigma around mental health and raise awareness of the support available.

 Understand the importance of hydration

A recent survey by Mercedes-Benz Vans found that 20% of van drivers avoid drinking fluids during the day, so they do not have to stop for a relief break. While the pressures of the job often ean relief breaks are not always possible, proper hydration plays a crucial role in maintaining good health and staying safe. Motorists who are dehydrated make twice as many mistakes, according to research by Loughborough University. Dehydration can have a significant effect on the way we work, in fact a 1% dehydration level causes a 10% drop in performance,  something we should all bear in mind when operating on Britain’s busy roads.

Strive for higher standards of safety and compliance

All van drivers and operators should try to achieve the highest standards of compliance and safety at all times. While this is easier said than done, Van Excellence is here to help. Whether it’s by inspiring to achieve the Van Excellence Code, attending briefings, or taking part in a training course, there are plenty of resources available to ensure that your van fleet is operated to the highest possible standards.

Find out more about the Van Excellence code by visiting www.vanexcellence.co.uk

For more of the latest industry news, click here.

Written by Dan Gilkes

Dan has been a commercial vehicle and construction equipment journalist for almost 30 years. An automotive engineer and former fleet manager, he has driven almost every van, pickup and truck that has been launched in Europe over that time. As editor of VFW, his aim is to keep readers up to date with the latest developments in the light commercial world.

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