If your business runs a fleet of vehicles then there is likely one individual responsible for maintaining the roadworthiness of them – perhaps that individual is you.
Not only is maintaining fleet quality important for increasing the usable lifespan of key business assets, but it also supports your duty of care by ensuring that employees and anyone else who may be nearby your vehicles is kept safe.
Doing this is so important that the UK government have outlined guidance for ensuring the ongoing roadworthiness of HGVs, including trucks. This guidance is invaluable to those responsible and becomes increasingly applicable as the age of the vehicle increases.
Daily Walkaround Checks
When operating large, potentially dangers machinery like a truck, it is the driver’s responsibility to ensure a general level of awareness and assessment on a use-by-use basis. Practically, this means that any individual using a truck in your fleet should undertake a walk around check before that vehicle is used.
It is recommended that the driver undertakes this check before a vehicle is used on the road each day.
Ongoing Driver Monitoring
Of course, ensuring road safety is not as simple as once a day walk-around of the vehicle. Drivers should also remain aware of the roadworthiness of their vehicle whilst it is in use. This means being alert to any indication of an issue such as unusual noises, vibrations, warning lights and anything else that seems out of the ordinary.
If any cause for concern appears, then the driver should pull over where safe and assess their vehicle. They may also need to make other necessary arrangements for support if required.
If the driver spots an issue with their vehicle, whether before or during use, then there needs to be a clear and simple process for them to follow.
The process followed may differ depending on the structure of the business. In all cases, the defect, symptom or safety concern must be recorded and reported to a suitably qualified and authorised individual. To limit confusion and to keep potentially unsafe vehicles off the road, the defect reporting process should highlight where further action should be taken.
Regular Safety Inspections
Besides walk-around inspections and consistent awareness by the driver, regular specialist safety checks should also be undertaken.
The UK government guidelines highlight the importance of an initial ‘first use’ inspection to ensure that the vehicle is roadworthy before it is introduced to your fleet. For example, if your business invested in a new fleet of hook loaders, a specialist should undertake a detailed inspection of each vehicle before they are deemed to be roadworthy and ready for use by your drivers.
In addition to this, the responsible individual should ensure that ongoing, consistent inspections are scheduled regularly. How often these are executed depends widely on the nature of the vehicle and how it is used, but should be aligned with a mileage or time milestones (or a combination of the two).
Any suitably qualified individual who is responsible for inspecting vehicles should either report to or be personally authorised to remove a vehicle for use if there is any cause for concern.
Keeping your fleet roadworthy is beneficial both from a financial and ethical point of view. By following the guidelines outlined by the UK government on fleet maintenance, you put yourself in the best position to spot any potential issues and remedy them before they become more serious.