Your employees are a vital asset. Fatigue puts them – and all road users -- at risk when they drive since it’s a contributing factor in many crashes. You’re legally responsible for the safety of your employees’ safety when they drive for work. Small and large businesses can help prevent fatigue-related crashes by taking some basic safety steps.
Employer Legal Obligations
As the employer, you have legal responsibilities to ensure your workers’ safety when they drive for work. It doesn’t matter how much time they spend driving for work or whether they’re using company-owned vehicles or their own.
Commuting between home and a primary work location is typically not considered to be driving for work.
Remember that employees have the right to refuse unsafe work. This could include driving for work if they are mentally or physically impaired due to fatigue.
Steps to Reduce Fatigue Risks
Managing the risk requires a 3-step approach:
Step 1. Identify the hazardous driving activities that could be made riskier by driver fatigue
Educate drivers on the risk of fatigue and involve them in the risk assessment process. Have them help identify fatigue triggers and when and where the fatigue risks occur for them.
Step 2. Assess the level of risk (high, medium, low)
Use our Hazard Identification and Risk Assessment Tool Kit to help evaluate the risk level.
Rate the risks as high, medium, or low. This helps you decide which risks are most serious and should be dealt with first.
Step 3. Control the risks by taking action to eliminate or reduce them
The most effective control is to address the task of driving by using journey management. Start by asking whether the trip has to be done.
If driving is essential, consider redesigning it through scheduling. For example, drivers might work at their desk in the morning and head out on the road right after lunch. If they are more fatigued after eating, it would be better to drive in the morning and shift desk work to the afternoon.
If that’s not possible, build in a break, nap, coffee, or other rest before they get behind the wheel. Keep in mind that drivers need breaks at least every 2 hours to get fresh air, stretch their limbs, and re-hydrate.
Once you have reviewed journey management and scheduling, look to improve the driving environment. Instruct drivers to adjust their vehicle for the best visibility and to help them stay alert. Educate and train them to understand how driving ergonomics and optimizing their driving workspace can reduce fatigue risk.
Ask drivers for their input in the risk control process. And ask for feedback on the measures you’ve taken to see if they are working.
Some other ways to reduce driving fatigue risks include:
Talk with Employees
Open communication with employees who drive shows you value them and encourages them to share their concerns and ideas. Talk frequently with them to get a sense of their fatigue level and whether it impairs their ability to safely drive.
Make sure drivers know their work-related driving responsibilities. Review the impacts, causes, and warning signs of fatigue with them.
Support Employee Health and WellnessA healthy work-life balance makes drivers much less susceptible to fatigue. Host “lunch and learns” that provide tools, guides, and ideas that will help staff make healthy lifestyle choices such as exercise and diet. Encourage drivers to regularly visit their doctor for medical check-ups and screening for health, fitness, and sleep disorders. Proactive organizations that invest in employee wellness have reported returns on investment of more than 2:1.