How training, EWDs and efficient job scheduling can keep your drivers safe
When you think about the deadliest workplaces in Australia, the cabin of a truck probably isn’t the first thing that springs to mind. But a recent study from Macquarie University shows that driving a truck is one of the most dangerous occupations in the country, with one out of every three workplace deaths last year involving a transport worker.
While the industry has long been aware of the need to reduce collisions and unsafe behaviours like speeding, this new research suggests the hazards facing truck drivers aren’t just on the road. About 80 workers are killed each year while working in or around a truck, and 34 per cent of injuries occur when lifting and handling objects.
One of the biggest issues is fatigue, with truck drivers facing significant pressure to work long hours that aren’t always recorded accurately in their logbooks. More than 10 per cent of drivers work in excess of 80 hours a week, and one in eight says they feel unable to refuse an unsafe schedule. This is a serious concern for the transport industry. Fatigue is the second biggest cause of collisions and contributes to a vast range of other health issues, from obesity and diabetes to sleep disorders, depression and anxiety.
With transport workers facing such serious health risks, how can you make sure your drivers enjoy a safe working environment? Here are three steps to take today:
Providing Driver Training
Education is key to keeping drivers safe on the road. Both drivers and transport operators need to be trained on the importance of complying with fatigue management rules, as well as the dangers of driving while exhausted. But most importantly, they need practical tips to manage fatigue when faced with the reality of long trips or late night driving. When should they be taking breaks? What are the warning signs of fatigue? What types of food and drink will exacerbate fatigue? How should they be sitting in the truck to avoid health risks? Armed with this information, your drivers will be better prepared to make safe decisions on the road.
Electronic Work Diaries
The Macquarie University study found that the accuracy of paper logbooks is questionable, with one respondent claiming “most long-distance truck drivers are running up and down the highway doing excessive hours that are not recorded in the log book”. On top of this, many drivers see completing their logbook as a complicated and tedious task, which contributes to inaccurate entries. Implementing Electronic Work Diaries (EWDs) will make life easier for everyone, from drivers to your back-office staff. Using real-time data from your vehicles, an EWD will record the time your drivers spend on the road, calculating rest breaks against fatigue rules to ensure your business is compliant and your drivers are safe. When the research shows there’s a significant correlation between hours-of-service compliance and drivers having fewer collisions, it’s no surprise that EWDs are the number one technology likely to be implemented across road freight fleets this year.
Efficient Job Scheduling
Drivers are more likely to place themselves at risk when they’re expected to juggle time pressures, unreasonable schedules and their own fatigue management. Providing support in the form of more effective job scheduling will not only ensure drivers have the time they need to take sufficient rest breaks, but also help you to allocate resources more effectively to hit your deadlines. With real-time data on your fleet you can monitor factors outside of driver control, like changing traffic conditions or unexpected delays, so you can adjust schedules accordingly and identify the best route for each driver to get to their destination on time.
Ultimately, greater visibility into the hours your drivers are really working is key. Rather than relying on inaccurate paper logbooks which can also take a long time to make their way back to a depot, generating real-time data from your vehicles will help you protect drivers from becoming a statistic and build a safer fleet.