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Health and Safety Guides » Health and Safety Guide for Delivery Drivers

Delivery drivers are also known as multi-drop drivers or couriers. They can work for a variety of businesses such as supermarkets, store warehouses, building suppliers, furniture retailers, electrical goods retailers, restaurants / fast food retailers, to name but a few. Many delivery drivers are employed, whilst others are self-employed using their own vehicles. Delivery drivers will be required to work mainly outside on the road, in various environments and in changing weather conditions. As there are countless safety hazards that need to be overcome on a daily basis, delivery drivers will need to maintain their own safety, as well as the safety of the area and the people around them.

What is the role of a delivery driver?

A delivery driver is a person that delivers a wide range of items and goods. Their main duties include collecting items and goods from a shop, warehouse or collection point, packing these into the delivery vehicle and then safely delivering the items or goods to customers along designated routes. These customers may be members of the public or commercial customers.

Depending on where they work and the type of items or goods that they are delivering, the role may involve:

  • Driving safely and in accordance with road and traffic laws and regulations.
  • Driving in all weather conditions including inclement weather such as snow, ice and rain.
  • Collecting items or goods from a store, warehouse or collection point and ensuring that all customer orders are complete.
  • Loading and packing the items or goods safely in the delivery vehicle in an organised manner that matches the order in which the deliveries will be made.
  • Planning the shortest and best routes to customers by taking factors such as roadworks and traffic levels into consideration.
  • Using GPS navigation apps and knowledge of the area to deliver items or goods to customers on time.
  • Loading and unloading items from the vehicles.
  • Lifting and manual handling items and goods.
  • Interacting with customers.
  • Verifying delivery of items with customers.
  • Updating route, mileage and delivery logs.
  • Liaising with base.
  • Performing vehicle inspections before and after each delivery route.

 

The above list is not exhaustive. Whatever the environment they work in, a delivery driver will be responsible for ensuring the safety of their work, vehicle and any equipment to protect the safety of themselves and other people.

Health and Safety for Delivery Drivers

What are the main health and safety risks delivery drivers can encounter?

Delivery drivers are often lone workers. Lone working involves any work carried out by an individual who is by themselves and not under direct supervision. They perform their work in isolation without any face-to-face contact with other employees, and may only occasionally spend time at an organisation’s workplace. Lone workers have been classified as potentially at risk by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) because they work independently and therefore do not have the security of being surrounded by others who can protect them or give them help when needed.

One of the biggest associated hazards of lone working is if an accident takes place. This is a hazard that is present no matter where a lone worker is or whatever the job they are doing. When a person is working with others, an accident can be quickly responded to and the lasting damage minimised, whereas when someone is working on their own and are unable to get help, they may have to wait a long time until help arrives. The workplace location or environment often poses a risk to the individual working there. The safety of the environment may also need to be considered when lone working is carried out in different locations such as in the role of delivery drivers, as some areas may be considered more dangerous than others and require support or preparation before a visit.

At the very least, all delivery drivers should have a clear channel of communication such as a mobile phone that they can use to get in touch with either a manager, a supervisor or a fellow employee if they need help or advice.

Recently the demand for delivery drivers’ services has increased significantly and there are currently over 1.5 million company vans on UK roads.

The sedentary lifestyle of delivery drivers puts them at increased risk of medical conditions such as:

  • Heart conditions
  • Diabetes
  • Cancer
  • Obesity

 

Delivery drivers should try to manage a healthy diet. This means eating foods that will improve overall health and will not promote sluggishness.

A few optional top tips for maintaining energy whilst driving include:

  • Eat a healthy breakfast, such as porridge with fruit, that gives a great start to the day and keeps up energy levels until lunchtime.
  • A high energy snack such as a banana or cereal bar could be a quick fix for when energy levels dip during the day.
  • Drink plenty of water throughout the day and try to opt for water instead of caffeinated or sugary drinks, as it will keep you hydrated throughout the day and has no calories or sugar.

 

Time pressures and lack of toilet facilities also mean that delivery drivers might often not hydrate sufficiently, and this too can lead to further health problems. Difficulties in taking regular exercise breaks throughout the day, especially during long journeys between each delivery impact on health, wellbeing and safety too.

Stress must be properly managed to maintain good mental and physical health. Stressors such as traffic hold-ups, time constraints and awkward customers can all have an impact. It has been estimated that up to a third of all road traffic accidents involve somebody who is at work at the time. Occupations that involve driving for a living will always pose some sort of risk because spending more time on the road makes them statistically more likely to be involved in a crash.

Long hours and the pressure of making deliveries on time can lead to tiredness. The likelihood of accidents goes up when drivers are tired. Fatigue can be a difficult risk to overcome, so it is important that delivery drivers take regular breaks. Health and safety laws apply the same to on-the-road work activities as to all work activities, and the risks should be effectively managed within a health and safety management system. Risk assessments for any work-related driving activity should follow the same principles as risk assessments for any other work activity.

Many delivery drivers are responsible for loading their vehicles. Loads should be spread as evenly as possible, during both loading and unloading. Uneven loads can make the vehicle unstable. Loads should be secured, or arranged so that they do not slide around. Racking may help stability. The Road Traffic Act 1991 introduced provisions into the Road Traffic Act 1988, making new offences applicable to the state of loads on vehicles. These provisions reflect the seriousness with which the safety of loads on vehicles is now viewed. Irrespective of vehicle type, once on the road it is the delivery driver’s responsibility to ensure that the load remains secure. Delivery drivers should also remember that the size, type and weight of the load will affect the handling of the vehicle.

Handling goods and delivering them correctly is a major part of any delivery driver’s job. There are many ways that a delivery driver can potentially injure themselves if they are not correctly following manual handling techniques. Manual handling injuries have a major impact on all workplaces and sectors, costing the economy hundreds of millions every year. Manual handling encompasses a wide range of actions including lifting, lowering, pulling, pushing, and carrying awkward and heavy objects; the risks are endless for delivery drivers, who may experience manual handling injuries, such as:

  • Back injuries
  • Hernias
  • Musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) such as shoulder strain
  • Repetitive strain injury (RSI) such as wrist strain
  • Soft-tissue injuries to the wrists, arms, shoulders, legs or neck
  • Long-term pain in the arms, legs or joints

 

When lifting items try to keep them close to the waist with the heaviest side towards the body. Keep a sturdy posture with feet apart to keep balance. If it is a long route from the vehicle to the customer, take a time-out halfway and try changing grip for maximum comfort.

Also, consider using manual handling aids that can improve safety such as a:

  • Delivery dolly
  • Pump truck
  • Power stacker

 

Slips, trips and falls are one of the top three causes of non-fatal work injuries involving days away from work. Each year they cause thousands of preventable injuries. They can cause various injuries such as bruises, sprains, scrapes, broken bones and head traumas. Around 1,000 of these injuries involve someone fracturing bones or dislocating joints.

Key aspects of slips and trips include:

  • Uneven surfaces
  • Obstacles
  • Trailing cables
  • Wet or slippery surfaces
  • Changes in level

 

Try to identify the route and remove any obstacles between the vehicle and the customer; this includes litter and other debris that could be a potential hazard.

Delivery drivers should be trained in how to keep themselves and the goods that they are delivering safe while on the road as there may be a risk of hijack, or vehicle or load theft. Drive with the doors locked in order to deter thieves who may try to enter the vehicle when it is stationary. If anti-theft systems are fitted, make sure they are working and use them, and always remove keys and lock vehicle doors whenever the vehicle is left unattended.

Delivery drivers should be trained in how to keep themselves and the goods that they are delivering safe while on the road as there may be a risk of hijack, or vehicle or load theft. Drive with the doors locked in order to deter thieves who may try to enter the vehicle when it is stationary. If anti-theft systems are fitted, make sure they are working and use them, and always remove keys and lock vehicle doors whenever the vehicle is left unattended.

A significant source of danger for delivery drivers can be poorly restrained pets at a residence. Often, delivery drivers are laden with heavy or bulky packages that can make it harder for them to get away from the snapping jaws of an aggressive animal; however, barking dogs are not always aggressive. Be cautious before opening any gate or door at a property where a dog could be kept. A delivery driver should never approach a loose dog whatsoever; calmly walk away backwards, facing the dog with no eye contact, do not run and do not shout. Keep facing the dog until you can get inside your vehicle or to another safe place, such as the other side of the street.

Being a delivery driver means workers will have multiple interactions with other drivers, pedestrians and customers throughout the day. Delivery drivers should be alert for motorcycles overtaking their vehicle and be aware of pedestrians and cyclists around them. Whilst most of these encounters will likely be fleeting, delays and minor inconveniences can result in people treating delivery drivers negatively. An attack could be verbal or physical. With delivery drivers often operating in unfamiliar and sometimes isolated areas, the risk of attack poses potentially serious consequences. Therefore, a lone delivery driver should be equipped to call for help regardless of their location.

Vehicle fire is always a risk for delivery drivers and vehicle fires can be deadly. Although some vehicle fires are caused due to collisions, many fires are caused due to faulty or inadequate electrical wiring, and unfortunately a percentage of the time due to criminal activity and vandalism. If an emergency should happen and you notice smoke and flames or smell a fire whilst in the vehicle, knowing what to do next can save lives. Pull over immediately to the nearest place possible at the side of a road and turn off the engine. Evacuate everyone from the vehicle and release the bonnet but do not open it. Call the emergency services on 999 and warn oncoming traffic, if safe to do so, with hazards and an emergency cone or warning triangle. It is important to remember to never use water on an engine fire if trying to put flames out, always use a dry powder extinguisher.

Risk assessments

Maintaining a safe work environment is important, particularly in the high-risk work environment faced by delivery drivers. It is important that every hazard is met with elimination or, at the minimum, a control measure to mitigate any potential risk.

Under the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations (1999), the minimum a business must do is:

  • Identify what could cause injury or illness in your business (hazards)
  • Decide how likely it is that someone could be harmed and how seriously (the risk)
  • Take action to eliminate the hazard or, if this isn’t possible, control the risk

 

Risk assessment requires making a judgement on Risk Severity. Risk Severity = probability of risk materialising x impact of risk on, for example, a person or people, a business, a property etc.

Probability may be understood as:

  • Low (Level 1) – a reasonably informed person would think it very unlikely this risk would materialise in the foreseeable future.
  • Medium (Level 2) – a reasonably informed person would think there is a significant possibility this risk would materialise in the foreseeable future.
  • High (Level 3) – a reasonably informed person would think there is a very significant or even likely possibility the risk would materialise in the foreseeable future.

 

Impact may be understood as:

  • Low (Level 1) – any impact that is minimal, having regard to the importance of interests affected, impairment of function and duration. Typically, the impact is isolated and short-lived.
  • Medium (Level 2) – any impact that is significant, having regard to the importance of interests affected, impairment of function and duration. Typically, the impact is limited to one function or group, but there is a material operational impact and the effects may continue.
  • High (Level 3) – any impact that is severe, having regard to the importance of interests affected, impairment of function and duration. Typically, the impact impairs a critical function and/or has a systemic impact and the effects may be long-lasting or permanent.

 

Delivery drivers must ensure an assessment has been made of any hazards, which covers:

  • What the potential hazard is – the risk assessment should take into consideration the type of electrical equipment used, the way in which it is used and the environment it is used in
  • Who or what could be harmed by the hazard
  • How the level of risk has been established
  • The precautions taken to eliminate or control that risk

 

Managing risk is an ongoing process that is triggered when changes affect a delivery driver’s work activities; changes such as, but not limited to:

  • Changing work practices, procedures or the work environment
  • Purchasing new or used equipment or using new substances
  • Workforce changes
  • Planning to improve efficiency or reduce costs
  • New information about the workplace risks becomes available

 

Risk assessments should be recorded and records regularly reviewed and updated whenever necessary. Should an accident occur, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) will request copies of the risk assessments.

There are a number of laws and regulations that apply to the management of health and safety risks to delivery drivers.

These include, but are not limited to:

Under the Manual Handling Operations Regulations 1992 (MHOR), manual handling which might cause injury is prohibited unless an assessment has been made, and if the operation cannot be avoided, suitable control measures should be in place. In all cases, reasonable alternatives to manual handling should be employed.

The Great Britain (GB) domestic drivers’ hours rules affect most drivers of commercial vehicles that are not within the scope of the EU rules.

Why is PPE important

The Personal Protective Equipment Regulations 2002 place a statutory duty on employers concerning the provision and use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) at work. Personal protective equipment (PPE) protects workers from hazards such as trips, burns, electrocution and falls. While there is some PPE that is universal to many trades, delivery drivers have certain PPE which is specific to their job.

This includes:

  • High-visibility clothing – this is essential for drivers working in areas with high volumes of traffic. Remaining visible in rest stops and warehouse yards helps to prevent accidents, especially in situations with low lighting and/or low visibility.
  • Safety footwear and protective gloves – these should be worn when delivery drivers are loading and unloading vehicles to protect hands and feet from rough surfaces and falling objects.
  • Mobile phone – lone working delivery drivers require a method to maintain contact when working whilst on the road and at destinations such as other people’s homes.
  • Personal alarms – for example, keyring safety alarms. These feature a press button marked SOS and let off a loud, high-pitched noise and emit a bright flashing light when activated.
  • Fire extinguishers – ABC dry powder extinguishers are recommended as the best fire extinguishers for vans and other small commercial vehicles. A 2kg extinguisher of this type stored securely in the cab is sufficient for most commercial vehicles that are not carrying dangerous goods. Always use a transport bracket to fix the extinguisher securely.

A full risk assessment must be undertaken before it is decided which PPE should be worn by the delivery driver.

What training should delivery drivers take?

All delivery drivers will need to hold a full UK or EU driving licence and may benefit from additional driving courses such as an advanced driver’s course and a defensive driving course. Delivery drivers will also benefit from training that highlights security risks.

When delivery drivers are trained to work safely, they should be able to anticipate and avoid injury from job-related hazards. Safety training is essential for all delivery drivers appropriate to their role, and training should be directly applicable to the responsibilities and daily practices of the person being trained.

Training Courses

This training for delivery drivers might include, but is not limited to:

  • Health and Safety for Employees
  • Health and Safety for Managers
  • Manual Handling
  • Workplace First Aid
  • Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
  • Assessing Risk
  • Lone Working
  • Fire Safety Awareness
  • Workplace Stress Awareness
  • Violence at Work

 

Delivery drivers should at a minimum refresh their safety training at least every 2 years and participate in continuing professional development (CPD).

Get started on a course suitable for delivery drivers

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  • Fire Safety Awareness Units SlideFire safety course

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  • Violence at work units slideViolence at Work

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  • PPE Units SlidePPE course

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  • Workplace Stress OverviewWorkplace Stress

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  • Assessing Risk Course OverviewAssessing Risk (Risk Assessment Course)

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