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FMs warned of their ‘Duty of Care’ during the winter months

With around 200 deaths and serious injuries caused through work-related driving incidents, and one in three road crashes involves a vehicle being driven for work, facilities managers (FMs) are being warned of their Duty of Care to ensure their people, from mobile maintenance engineers to multi-site FMs, are trained to drive safely, especially during winter months.

This is the message from winter maintenance experts GRITIT, whose drivers operate in the most extreme conditions, technology firm Telogis, provider of cloud-based solutions for driver and commercial vehicle productivity and safety, and road safety charity Brake, which organises Road Safety Week beginning on 17 November.

Driving is one of the most dangerous things that most people do, and the risk is even greater during the winter months. Road Safety Week is the UK’s biggest road safety event, which gives employers an opportunity to promote road safety in the workplace and beyond.

As the days get shorter and the weather gets more adverse, Brake is asking organisations to review their business strategy and invest resource in maintaining the safety of their facilities, fleet, and staff to reduce the risk of winter weather driving incidents. To support that GRITIT has put together some top tips for FMs to help their staff drive more safely:

  • Check tyres. 3mm of tread depth is advised and check tyre pressure. Winter tyres could be a good investment.
  • Make sure vehicle fluids are topped up
  • Ensure vehicle is clean and clear of grime, snow and ice, eg. windows, lights, and number plates, before setting off
  • Equip yourself with warm clothes, blanket, torch and spare batteries, first aid kit, bottle of water, and emergency rations, ice scraper and shovel, charged mobile phone
  • Keep informed of weather forecasts before you drive. If it is poor weather, do not drive unless essential, or adjust your route, and allow plenty of time
  • Remember longer stopping distances, and regular breaks are essential.

GRITIT’s managing director, Nikki Singh-Barmi, said:

“Our operators work between the hours of six in the evening and six in the morning in the most extreme driving conditions to keep hospitals, schools, utility companies, and businesses running, and to ensure that their staff, customers and visitors are kept as safe as possible through winter. Not only do they have the best equipment and vehicles to help them do this, we have a robust driving policy, embedded in our health and safety policy, which includes driver training, and a vehicle care and breakdown programme. Not enough organisations have this.”

Singh-Barmi also highlights the facilities and property managers’ Duty of Care and legal obligation to ensure as much as possible has been done to ensure that access routes and car parks are safe from the risks of ice and snow.

Investment in technology is also key to improving fleet safety. Telogis telematics implemented across the GRITIT fleet in 2013, including GPS location and real-time monitoring, along with an annual driver training programme for all its operators, has enabled the company to reduce its vehicle/claims ratio by more than 20 per cent over five years.

Joe Burns, fundraising officer at Brake, commented:

“Facilities managers can make a real contribution towards raising employee awareness of road safety and ingraining road safety at the organisation’s top level. We can go a long way to achieving our goal of putting an end to road deaths and injuries if we all engage to promote a safe driving culture. This Road Safety Week we’re calling on all road users to ‘Look out for each other’, from facilities managers ensuring staff know the risks and are adequately prepared for winter driving to anyone who uses our roads, so it’s great to be teaming up with GRITT and Telogis to spread these messages.”

Road Safety Week gives everyone an opportunity to promote road safety in their community, school or workplace, as part of a big national event, using guidance and resources from Brake. It also provides a useful focal point for road safety professionals to boost awareness and increase engagement in their work.

About Sarah OBeirne

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    I’m sorry but I totally disagree you cannot state in such a headline manner that it is an FM’s responsibility using the the phrase they have a “duty of care” to minimize road accidents. It is the all staffs responsibility, FM’s do not train staff how to drive in varying weather conditions and likewise unless certain FM’s operate in a logistics sector and have certification such as a CPC, then whilst the FM department will support the organization to operate in failing weather conditions, it is the core business itself that has overall responsibility and “duty of care” for their respective employee’s.

    Whilst the advice given by BRAKE is very useful and good practice to be followed, GRIT IT on the other hand are not the Department of Transport and neither are they the HSE so should not be making such statement on what other organizations FMs should be doing. Further to this they should also understand the wider breadth of the varying backgrounds FMs come from as not all have responsibility for mobile maintenance operatives.

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