Britain’s truck and van drivers already have any number of problems to deal with in their working lives. Now, it appears that another headache is rapidly raising its head. Panel members at a recent event organised by SureCam and PeopleSafe to discuss driver safeguarding and lone worker protection heard that there had been a steep rise in incidents of aggression and harassment towards drivers from thieves and members of the public in the past year.
Lee Jackson, group head of plant and transport at Marston Holdings and board director at trade body the Association of Fleet Professionals (AFP), said:
We are seeing significantly more risk associated with working alone and in isolated areas, with London a particular hotspot for our drivers. Incidents are occurring on a frequent basis, especially during the darker months, as opportunist thieves target vehicles and advanced equipment used by our mobile team.
Mark Ryder, chief commercial officer of Peoplesafe, said:
We are experiencing a greater volume of raised alerts to our alarm receiving centre. Post pandemic, we have seen a real change in people’s tolerance to other road users, which has resulted in a major increase in road rage. This lack of patience and understanding can lead to verbal and physical harassment for perceived disruption where vehicles are making a delivery or simply manoeuvring.
Philip Read, head of safety, health, risk and resilience at G4S, added: “While serious incidents within our health and patient transport services, as well as elsewhere in the business, are often sporadic, they are on the rise and can represent a significant threat to our drivers and passengers.
The safety of our staff and patients is paramount and with many of our drivers single-crewed and working autonomously, so our challenge is how we address this issue and provide the level of lone worker protection needed.
The panel considered what cultural and organisational shifts were occurring within the fleet sector to foster a safer work environment for lone workers.
Measuring risk to identify areas of weakness and the threats that exist was pinpointed as critical when creating an effective mitigation plan. It was clear from the discussions that communication and engagement was a key part of this process to share information and experiences, with back to the floor and ride along sessions, hazard reporting, safety tours and training all mentioned as effective tools.
Commercial fleets are also looking at how technology can help safeguard drivers that are working alone, out of hours and in remote locations, said Sam Footer, director of partnerships at SureCam.