It's no surprise that the impending Christmas period is the busiest time of the year for the delivery industry. Many haulage companies are faced with the need to employ casual drivers for eight to ten weeks to cope with the extra demand, but taking on temporary staff doesn't come without its headaches.
Compliance is King
With lots of drivers looking to earn some extra cash and fleet managers under the pump to keep operations running smoothly, it's all too easy to overlook the usual protocols when it comes to recruitment. But for those tempted to take shortcuts with driver checks and balances, the word is: don't.There are serious ramifications for haulage companies that fail on compliancy issues, but by putting a stringent checklist in place and following it to the letter,these issues can be avoided.
In an effort to ensure that all drivers are compliant, the UK Licence Bureau recently released a checklist for haulage companiesthat are taking on staff to cover the Christmas period.
Licence Check: Naturally, the first thing on the list is to ensure that the driver has the appropriate licence to operate the appropriate class HGV. This is especially important to confirm when the driver is a non-UK licence holder.
Familiarity of the Highway Code: Any drivers who are taken on by a UK companymust have knowledge of the Highway Code. It's imperative that they understand not just the practicalities of what road signs mean, but also their legal obligations in upholding the rules of the road. If it's practical, the Bureau suggests a test drive with a potential employee, which will help managers get a feel for their confidence and road knowledge.
Allowable Hours: Many haulage companiesnow have tachographs installed in their fleet vehicles to ensure that drivers do not exceed the legal number of driving hours. But for those who don't have these handy gadgets in place, it's important to inform casual workers of thelegal requirements that apply to ratios and compulsory rest breaks. As this varies depending on the vehicle, they should also be made aware of those differences.
Alcohol and Drugs: It should be a no-brainer, but the Bureau suggests being absolutely clear about the zero tolerance drugs and drinking policy from the very start of the employment process. Drivers should be left with no ambiguity that being under the influence of drugs or alcohol (even from the weekend or previous day) will not be tolerated.
Spot Checks: All casual drivers should be made aware that spot checks of vehicle compliancy are undertaken at regular intervals. (Of course, that's only effective if fleet managers follow through on the procedure.) It is the driver's responsibility to conduct daily checks of things like tyres, batteries, lights and brakes, but it is the company's responsibility to ensurethat all vehicles have a current and valid MOT.
Ensure a Compliant Christmas
Whether haulage companies take on drivers as independent contractors with their own vehicle or as casual staff in fleet vehicles, following this checklist throughout the employment process will cover all eventualities and help ensure a safe, compliant Christmas.
Norman Dulwich is a Correspondent for Haulage Exchange, the leading online trade network for the road transport industry. Connecting professionals across the UK and Europe through their website, Haulage Exchange provides services for matching haulage companies with jobs in road transport and haulage work. Over 4,500 transport exchange businesses are networked together through their website, trading jobs and capacity in a safe 'wholesale' environment.