Monitoring driver health will improve public safety in urban areas, says Backhouse

Operators must continue to monitor the health of their drivers in order to mitigate the risks of the business and improve the safety of the public.

Speaking at the Freight in the City Expo 2017 yesterday (7 November) James Backhouse, partner at Backhouse Jones Solicitors, cited the example of the Glasgow bin lorry crash which led to the deaths of six people in December 2014.

He said that the driver of the vehicle, in a previous employment, had an unconscious episode.

“He was in charge of a significant vehicle and suffered from medical issues that severely impacted the people around,” Backhouse said.

“After the Glasgow crash, there was an inquiry. It is important if you are employing drivers that you understand what the recommendations of that report were. The reality is, it is worth a read, as with the best will in the world you do not want it to be one of your drivers in one of your branded vehicles having a crash.”

Backhouse explained that middle-aged men – predominantly drivers – are not good at reporting issues to the doctors. He added that colleagues will spot patterns of behaviour, such as going to sleep regularly in the afternoon.

“It is very important to be alive to this. Look at your employment procedures for induction and HR. The reputational harm of one of these incidents is not to be taken lightly…” Backhouse warned.

He did concede that there was a possibility of discrimination, as anything to do with mental health is private and personal information. “This has to be dealt with with discretion,” he warned. “It cannot form the basis of tittle tattle. There is a real risk of prosecution for manslaughter if these issues are not addressed.”

Read the full Fatal Accident Inquiry into the Glasgow Bin Lorry crash here.