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SMEs urged to focus on safety when specifying fleet vans

The warning comes from Venson Automotive Solutions as it highlights that 88% of businesses overload vans, posing a risk to drivers and other road users, according to DVSA figures for 2015.

In response, Venson says businesses need to take into consideration how their vehicles are used, including the working environment and the payload of the goods and equipment they are carrying, prior to any conversion. 

Organisations also need to make sure staff are equipped with the knowledge they need to operate the vehicle and the on-board equipment, so a thorough vehicle handover and understanding of health & safety implications related to vehicle loading, are key.

Operations director, Gil Kelly at Venson Automotive Solutions commented: “Too many businesses cut corners when it comes to equipping their vehicles, or don’t recognise the impact an inferior product could have on vehicle or driver safety. The worst offenders include overloaded vehicles, poorly secured equipment and a lack of pedestrian warning systems.”

Venson has also published its vehicle loading safety tips:

  • Know the weight and weight limits of your vehicle. Maximum permitted axle weight and Gross Vehicle Weight (GVW) can be found in your driver handbook or sometimes on a plate located by the bulk head or by the driver or passenger door.
  • Be careful not to mix up the Gross Vehicle Weight (GVW) with the Gross Train Weight (GTW). The GVW is the maximum permitted weight of the vehicle (plus any load it is carrying), while the GTW is the maximum permitted weight of the vehicle plus any trailer being towed (plus any load being carried in the vehicle and trailer)
  • Ensure the load is distributed evenly. After any drop-offs, re-check the distribution of the remaining load and that it is secured safely – heavy items on the bottom, lighter items on the top. 
  • Ensure the GVW is checked before setting out using your own weigh pads or use a public weigh-bridge. Alternatively consider having your vehicle fitted with on-board weighing systems.
  • Never automatically trust declared weights, invoices or delivery notes given to you by customers. Remember that you and your employer hold the responsibility for not overloading, not the customer.
  • Loads should be secured to make sure they do not slide around during transport. In vehicle storage solutions may help.
  • Carry out health & safety assessment for loading and unloading the vehicle, both internal items and external items such as ladders, materials etc.
  • Consider alternative storage solutions. What was once carried on the roof/side of vehicle is now not necessarily required.
  • Is everything that is being carried in the vehicle required? Consider alternative solutions such as onsite delivery from suppliers. 
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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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