MyMobileWorkers | Vehicle inspections seen as most important accident prevention measure for highways sector
Carrying out a pre-journey vehicle check is an important safety measure for any business which manages mobile workers.
The recent Driving Change study found that 77% of UK highway managers believe that vehicle checks are the most important factor in accident prevention.
But managing these checks is tough.
Over time, inspections often become box-ticking exercises with vehicles given little more than a cursory glance before heading out onto the roads.
It’s a basic safety failing that increases the risks of a whole host of safety and operational problems.
Here’s a look at the issue and how technology provides some valuable tools for improving the standard of vehicle checks.
Why are vehicle checks important?
Pre-journey checks fall under the general ‘duty of care’ responsibility of an employer. For heavy goods vehicle, there’s a specific statutory requirement to carry out a walk-around check before a journey.
The checks are used to ensure that a vehicle is safe, legal and roadworthy before it starts being used.
A typical check will involve checking lights, tyres, oil and identifying any dashboard warning lights. It will also include making sure seats and mirrors are readjusted for the driver.
You can find guidance from the DVSA (Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency) on commercial vehicle checks here
These checks play an important preventative safety role with any potential issues being flagged early. It could be a faulty headlight or an empty windscreen wash reservoir.
It’s when these kinds of issues are not picked up that it creates a range of unnecessary and avoidable safety risks.
Why are vehicle checks difficult to manage?
There are several factors which make it difficult to maintain effective pre-journey checks. These include:
When workers are under pressure to meet tight deadlines, a vehicle check is often viewed as a hindrance rather than a help. Unrealistic scheduling and not factoring in time for vehicle checks adds to this problem.
Lack of ‘buy-in’
Mobile workers often view vehicle checks as being the employer’s responsibility and ‘not their job’. As the vehicle is not their own, they are less invested in its maintenance.
Other than ticking boxes on a paper checklist, managers have had no easy way to ensure that effective vehicle checks are being carried out.
A common problem is that vehicle check forms will often be completed retrospectively with the paperwork being tackled at the end of the working day.
How can the management of vehicle checks be improved?
There are no quick fixes but technology is changing the way that these kinds of checks can be monitored and enforced.
The use of a smartphone app allows the traditional paper checklist to be replaced with a more effective real-time process.
Carrying out an inspection is integrated into a workflow with a vehicle check needing to be completed before the employee can move on to the next tasks.
It helps to ensure that checks are properly done before a vehicle is used and prevents the problem with paperwork being completed retrospectively.
As well as online checklists, employees can be required to provide digital images that show the exterior state of a vehicle and interior dashboard before use.
These vehicle checks are automatically tracked and stored, creating a digital audit trail to help demonstrate that a company is taking appropriate measures to meet ‘duty of care’ responsibilities.
Improved scheduling and training
Along with better tools, managers need to make sure that schedules provide workers with the time required to check over a vehicle. When no time is scheduled, it’s not surprising that employees tend to regard it as a box-ticking exercise.
The other important area to get right is training. Mobile workers need to understand the importance of effective inspections and to be given instruction on what’s required. With a digital management system, the quality of inspections can be rated, allowing performance to be monitored over time.
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