Driving on the job, an important occupational hazard to prevent

Although Spain is one of the European countries that in recent years has reduced its road accident figures the most, driving a vehicle at work is still a dangerous activity. This is indicated in this triptych from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.

In 2010, the workplace accident statistics registered 264 deaths in work-related traffic accidents, of which 165 were when going to or coming from work and 99 driving during the work day, which together represents 35% of fatal work accidents.

This percentage is similar to that of other European countries, in which, thanks to the decrease in mortality from other types of work accidents (falls, crushing, burial, etc.), occupational traffic accidents have become the main risk of occupational mortality.

At work, it’s not just drivers who drive. Many people drive a vehicle as an essential means of transport to carry out their work: doctors who attend at home, commercial agents, repairers of various devices, managers …

In all these cases, the Occupational Risk Prevention Law is fully applicable, so the employer has the obligation to adopt the appropriate preventive measures to minimize the risk of accidents.

Driving at work: 5 things to consider

Is displacement necessary?

The first preventive principle is to eliminate risk, if possible.

In the case of driving, eliminating risk consists of eliminating travel and, therefore, it is necessary to start by asking if travel is essential: can you use the telephone, email or videoconference to do the job?

Is it possible to use a public means of transport?

In many cases it is possible to travel – at least in part – in a public means of transport, which is much safer than driving, or to supplement said means with a rental car to carry out the last part of the journey.

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This option should be considered, above all, for long trips. This is often not only a safer solution, but also a cheaper one.

Is the vehicle in good condition?

The company must ensure that its vehicles, especially with regard to safety, are always in perfect working order and up-to-date condition. This requires, among other things, to encourage vehicle users to notify any anomaly through a written procedure, and to have a protocol for handling such communications.

Since one of the principles established by the Prevention Law (article 15) is “Take into account the evolution of technique”, vehicles should have the usual safety elements at all times (currently, for example, ABS).

Are the trips well planned?

Travel should not be planned on the fly . The person who drives should leave the company having a perfectly planned route, the time to be used at each stop, the rest periods, etc.

Regarding the routes to be used, preference should be given to highways and motorways, which are much safer than roads, whenever possible.

How do I use my mobile phone when I have to drive at work?

It is true that the Highway Code does not prohibit the use of mobile phones with “hands-free” devices when driving. However, it has been shown that the distractions that occur when driving while talking on the mobile phone are due more to the loss of concentration caused by talking on the phone, than to the fact of holding the mobile phone with the hand.

For this reason, it is advisable to establish an absolute prohibition in the company to speak on the mobile while driving. When it is necessary to speak on the mobile, it must be done with the vehicle completely stopped.

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