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Van vernacular – compliance and safety

Does your business have its own van? You may not consider yourself a van operator but if you use a van in your daily work and to get you to or from your place of work, this is actually what you are, says the Freight Transport Association (FTA). 

With 4m vans on Britain’s roads and the number increasing every year, the importance of operating them in a safe, efficient and compliant manner should be of paramount importance, whether you have a single vehicle or a fleet with dedicated drivers.

Mark Cartwright, head of vans at the FTA, says: “Driving is the most dangerous activity that most people do at work, yet many businesses assume that, regardless of the number of vans they use, their duty to provide a safe workplace and protect the safety of others does not extend to their vehicles. Nothing could be further from the truth.”

More than 100 people are killed and seriously injured every week in crashes involving someone who is driving, riding or otherwise using the road for work, says road safety charity RoSPA. 

“That means that employers must ensure that they and their staff are working in the best possible conditions, both mentally and physically, to make sure they can keep trading without incident,” says Cartwright.

All van operations are different in size, set-up and along their journey to improve standards. However, each one can benefit from taking a series of steps which Cartwright says ensures that they are operating to the highest professional standards.

He says issues to consider when operating a van include:

  • Is your van properly maintained, does it have an MOT, if appropriate, and do you ensure it is not overloaded?
  • Are the tyres roadworthy? 
  • Is the windscreen clear from coffee cups, maps and other  clutter that could obscure your view and become hazardous?
  • Ensure your vans are loaded correctly, with loose items secured, and that all safety steps within the vehicle are adhered to
  • Have you checked drivers’  licences, fitness to work and driving skills?  
  • Are drivers liable to get into altercations with other road users, or take risks to get the job done? 
  • Have drivers undertaken the correct training for their role? 
  • Does your business have a vehicle maintenance year planner, freely available for all to view?  It’s important to ensure that all your necessary checks are done in plenty of time, and certifications achieved, so that there are no nasty surprises when it comes to MOT time.

The FTA, the UK’s largest membership association in the logistics sector, recommends that those using vans in their daily work consider joining the Van Excellence scheme, which helps operators improve standards within their operations and become recognised for those high standards.

Andrew Don

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