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Venson offers safety advice to SMEs operating vans

Venson offers safety advice to SMEs operating vans

Venson Automotive Solutions has highlighted the importance for SMEs to focus on the safety of their vehicles and has compiled a checklist to help ensure the vehicles they operate are fit-for-purpose.  

The advice has been issued in the light of data from the Department for Transport which shows that 541 people were killed in collisions involving a work-related driving collision in 2016. In addition, 4,822 were seriously injured and more than 40,000 were slightly injured.  

Vans, according to Venson, are particularly easy to overload and the penalties are severe if caught. Drivers and their employers can be fined up to £5,000 per offence and prosecution would adversely affect an organisation’s Operator Licence if trucks were also operated. 

Spotting an overloaded van isn’t difficult and the enforcement agencies were increasingly wise to such activity, according to Venson. Therefore, the organisation said, it was vital to know the maximum a van could weigh overall and the maximum weight allowed per axle.   

“The Department for Transport figures demonstrate the importance for companies to check the safety of any vehicle used for business,” said Gil Kelly at Venson Automotive Solutions.  

“Too many businesses cut corners when it comes to equipping their vehicles, or don’t recognise the impact an inferior product could have on vehicle or driver safety. The worst offenders include overloaded vehicles, poorly secured equipment and a lack of pedestrian warning systems.”  

Venson said that checking the weight of a van should be an essential part of standard checks, so it was vital that drivers knew the maximum their van could weigh overall and understood the importance of distributing weight correctly in their vehicle.  

Drivers, said Mr Kelly, should also be encouraged to walk-around the vehicle to check it’s roadworthy before starting a day’s work. Lights, tyres, bodywork, windscreen, mirrors, trailers and the load should all be checked and any defects reported to the appropriate person in their organisation.  

He said: “It only takes a few minutes, but could reduce the risk of an accident and adverse publicity for the business.  

“Getting the vehicle load correct at the outset can save businesses time and money but more importantly improve staff safety. It also means organisations know their vehicles are safe and legally road compliant, and are meeting health and safety regulations.”  

Safety tips from Venson and the Freight Transport Association
Don’t overload a van - it’s easy for enforcement agencies to spot and penalties are severe if caught.          
Make sure a load is secure - an unsecure load is dangerous with the potential to damage a van and its contents, as well as cause accidents.
Know a van’s maximum weight. Use a weighbridge and remember ignorance is no defence in law.
A van’s maximum weight includes passengers and fuel. Getting it wrong could see a firm fined up to £5,000 and jeopardise its Operator Licence.
Carry out health and safety assessment for loading and unloading the vehicle, both internal items and external items such as ladders, materials etc.
Consider alternative storage solutions. What was once carried on the roof/side of vehicle may not necessarily now be required.
Is everything that is being carried in the vehicle required? Consider alternative solutions such as onsite delivery from suppliers.
Make sure drivers conduct a walk-around check before setting off and report defects to the correct person.
Carry out regular safety inspections and have a system to ensure that non-roadworthy vehicles are taken out of service.         
Give drivers clear written instructions of their responsibilities.
Give drivers clear written instructions of their responsibilities.