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Safety checks still vital for back-up vans, warns FleetCheck

Businesses running back-up vans to their main fleet without applying normal health and safety rules are being warned of the dangers.

It can be all too easy for maintenance checks on occasional or back-up vehicles to be missed.

Fleet software specialist FleetCheck says it regularly encounters businesses – especially larger SMEs – that have a dilapidated vehicle deployed for occasional use and representing a significant health and safety risk.

Peter Golding, managing director at FleetCheck, explained: “We see vehicles like this often enough that we even have a company shorthand for them – OVYs – old vans in the yard.

“When you talk to companies about them, they’ll tell you that they are ‘just running them into the ground’ and that they are not part of the main fleet. But, of course, legally they are every bit as much a part of your fleet as the new Transit you had delivered last week.

“It’s a real blind spot. Even companies that are pretty hot on risk management fairly often operate a vehicle that they use on a very occasional basis and to which their normal health and safety rules, such as inspections and servicing, aren’t applied.”

As an example, FleetCheck once visited a fleet that operated a mildew-covered panel van that was at least 15 years old and was literally used as an alternative to a skip, being filled with rubbish and driven only to the council tip.

Golding said: “It was never serviced and never inspected. It was the single highest risk vehicle I have ever seen on a fleet – but the rest of the company vans were well looked after.”

He added that fleets operating OVYs needed to either bring them under the umbrella of main fleet operations or get rid of them.

“There is no such thing in law as an occasionally used old van that is exempt from Health and Safety regulations and, if you are operating a vehicle on this basis, you need to recognise the degree of risk that you are taking.

“There are other ways of meeting the requirement for an occasional use van, with short-term rental being the most obvious. You may see this as an expensive solution but it is much better than taking a risk with OVY that could lead to the kind of accident in which the HSE might take an interest.”

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Written by Natalie Middleton

Natalie has worked as a fleet journalist for 16 years, previously as assistant editor on the former Company Car magazine before joining Fleet World in 2006. Prior to this, she worked on a range of B2B titles, including Insurance Age and Insurance Day. As Business Editor, Natalie ensures the group websites and newsletters are updated with the latest news.

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