Case Study - City of York Council

Profile

Company Name: City of York Council
Business Sector: Local Government
Postal Address: City of York Council, The Guildhall, York
Postcode: YO1 9QN
Fleet Size Overall: 315
LCV (vans/pickups up to 3.5ton): 141
In addition, 31 minibuses/welfare buses and 14 ride on mowers are part of the City of York Council’s fleet.
LGV: 65
Company Cars: 64
Private vehicles used for business purposes: - 1,064 staff claimed business mileage in 2008/09 (driving over 1.2m miles)
- 71 staff drove over 3,000 miles

Company Overview

City of York Council (CYC) is the largest employer in York, with over 7,500 staff serving a population of 192,000 residents.

As a responsible employer, CYC considers that the health, safety and welfare of all its employees (and of any others who may be affected by its work) is of equal importance to all of its other commitments. CYC’s strategy and vision towards health and safety performance is outlined as follows:

  • CYC’s ultimate goal is to achieve a level of health & safety performance that is consistent with the best local authorities.
  • CYC will work in joint partnership between managers and the Trades Unions to seek to continually improve health & safety performance.
  • CYC recognises the value of ensuring that all our employees are suitably trained and informed in order to assist them in properly understanding their responsibilities for carrying out their work in a safe manner.
  • CYC will also work in partnership with contractor, agency, and partnership employees/volunteers to ensure that they are fully aware of their obligations for contributing to a safe workplace.
  • CYC acknowledges the importance of communicating performance both internally and to key external stakeholders and will openly report performance to stakeholders.
  • CYC will consult with all relevant external bodies (other local authorities, public bodies, local employers and the regulators) to ensure that they can learn from best practice wherever this may be found.
  • CYC will ensure that a culture of ‘learning from our own experience’ is embedded within all employees. The aim is to learn from experiences and ensure that learning opportunities are shared wherever appropriate.

NATURE OF OPERATION AND DRIVING ACTIVITIES

The Council’s six Directorates, listed below, deliver a wide range of quality services:

  • Chief Executive’s
  • City Strategy
  • Housing & Adult Social Services
  • Learning, Culture & Children’s Services
  • Neighbourhood Services
  • Resources

The business activities carried out by City of York Council are wide-ranging and include:

Refuse collection; network management; town planning;
Sustainability; libraries; parks & open spaces; environmental health;
Highways maintenance; education; residential care homes;
Housing; leisure centres; and some other specialist activities.

The vehicles used to deliver these services include:

Gritters; refuse & recycling vehicles; mobile libraries;
Maintenance vans; pool/private cycles; private cars used for work purposes;
Minibuses; trailers; ride-on mowers and fleet; pool cars.

As the result of its widespread activities, CYC manages complex workplace transport arrangements.  Its health and safety management system affects CYC employees; contractors employed by CYC; customers; and visitors within CYC sites.  CYC focuses on managing the risks associated with workplace transport.  

Management.  Management is responsible for ensuring that risk assessments are made for all aspects of workplace transport across CYC.  Control measures have been introduced to reduce these risks.  The key elements of this management process are:

  • Making all employees aware of their responsibilities for ensuring their own and other people’s safety.  This includes their duty to inform their managers of anything which might affect their ability or eligibility to drive. 
  • Carrying out risk assessments for each site and dealing with the findings of this process.
  • Ensuring that drivers are competent to carry out the tasks allocated to them.  This process involves:
    • Checking drivers’ licences.
    • Assessing and training drivers for the tasks they are to carry out.  This is a formal process which is recorded and which initiates re-assessments if required.  Line Managers are responsible for authorising driver competence.
  • Ensuring that all vehicles are used and maintained in line with manufacturers’ and industry guidelines.  This process involves:
    • Pre-use checks being carried out and recorded.
    • Installing appropriate safety equipment in line with manufacturer and industry guidelines.
  • Ensuring that all incidents and near misses are reported using the CYC Incident Report Form.

ORGANISATIONAL STRUCTURE

The City of York Council Joint Health & Safety Committee (JHSC) involves Health and Safety Champions from each of CYC’s Directorates at Assistant Director level as well as representatives for the Trades Union.  JHSC is chaired on a rotating basis by a Director, who acts as the City of York Council’s Health and Safety Champion, or a representative from the Trades Union. 

Information and advisory actions feed up or down from the JHSC to the Health and Safety Panels in each Directorate.  In addition, local Health and Safety groups also operate under these Panels.

The City of York Council Chief Executive personally signs the Council’s Health and Safety Policy Statement as well as a Statement of Commitment, which lays down the CYC priorities.  The Directors of all the City of York Council’s Departments also sign up to the latter.  The Statement of Commitment is displayed in all CYC premises.  A new CYC Safety Management System (CYC SMS) was introduced in 2009.  This system consists of policy documents and 33 compliance notes.  Each compliance note clarifies its own arrangements; forms; and checklists to support their implementation.

CYC makes clear to its employees that on-the-road work activities are managed within its Health and Safety management system.  This system is described briefly below:

WORK-RELATED ROAD SAFETY POLICY & PROCEDURES

CYC policy is based on addressing each key element of work-related road safety:

  • The driver.
  • The vehicle.
  • The journey.
  • The site.

In addition, its policy covers the correct use of minibuses and addresses how reversing, the most common cause of accidents, should be handled

CYC policy identifies the main risks associated with workplace transport as including:

  • Being struck or run over by a moving vehicle.
  • Overturning a vehicle.
  • Falling from a vehicle.
  • Being struck by materials falling from a vehicle.
  • Collision of a vehicle.
  • Fire or explosion while refuelling.

CYC manages the risks associated with workplace transport by assessing them and by putting in place control measures to reduce the risk to the lowest practicable level.  These control measures are clearly documented and communicated to all workers (including contractors and temporary employees).  They also cover the action required in the event of an emergency.

WORK-RELATED ROAD SAFETY GUIDANCE FOR DRIVERS

The Driver element of CYC work-related road safety policy deals with competency; training and instruction; and fitness and health.

Competency.  CYC is clear that its managers must ensure that the driver is competent – that he has the relevant skills, knowledge and experience for the vehicle and associated tasks.  Managers must also check the licences of their drivers before they drive at work.  These checks must take place at least annually and a record of this check is placed on the driver’s local personal file and the departmental Road Safety Management Register.  Pre-recruitment checks for CYC drivers must also cover the above two points.

However, there are clear duties placed on CYC drivers.  Drivers must inform their line manager if they:

  • Lose their licence following a court appearance.
  • Are summonsed to court for any traffic-related offence.
  • Are involved in any road traffic accident however minor, whilst driving at work.  CYC Insurance Department must also be informed via a claim form, especially where a third party is involved.
  • Suffering from any ill-health that may effect their driving including any prescription medicines they are taking.

In the event of this taking place, CYC managers must then review the driver’s competency, and consider the need for further training, assessment, supervision, or restriction on driving activities. 

CYC is clear that the driver’s failure to disclose this information in a timely manner may result in disciplinary action. 

Drivers must not drive or operate any vehicle or associated equipment whilst under the influence of non-prescription drugs or alcohol.

Training and Instruction.  Training and instruction needs must be assessed and actioned by the driver’s manager before driving duties commence.  These needs take into account the driver, the tasks and vehicles involved as well as the level of associated risk.  For instance, drivers of refuse vehicles would all be assessed before driving duties commence.

Drivers who are exposed to the highest risk are prioritised for training.  These include those who have poor accident records, high annual mileage, young or inexperienced drivers.

All employees who are driving at work must receive the following instruction:

  • Routine safety checks for lights, tyres, fluid levels of vehicles and associated equipment such as trailers and, mower blades.
  • Safe loading and unloading.
  • Action to take in case of breakdown.
  • Awareness of dangers of fatigue.
  • Height and width of vehicles to ensure safe passage under bridges, through entrances and gates.
  • Contents of First Aid kit.
  • Correct use and adjustment of safety equipment such as head restraints, seatbelts, child restraints): www.dft.gov.uk/think_media/241045/241136/251 and www.rospa.com/roadsafety/advice/motorvehicles/adjust_head_restraint.htm
  • Correct use and adjustment of seat to ensure a comfortable position.
  • Adherence to speed limits and the Highway Code at www.direct.gov.uk/en/TravelAndTransport/Highwaycode/DG_070202
  • Safe refuelling.

CYC ensures that refresher training is provided at appropriate intervals.  It directs its managers to the RoSPA website for further details on training: www.rospa.com/roadsafety/info/drivertraining.pdf

Fitness and Health.  Where legal requirements are in place (eg driving heavy lorries) managers must ensure that medical certificates are current and valid, and a record is kept of this on the driver’s personal file.

  • Drivers must ensure that they meet the DVLA’s medical (including eyesight) requirements – further details: www.dvla.gov.uk/medical.aspx.
  • Drivers must check that any medication they are taking does not affect their ability to drive safely.
  • For more details on driver fitness: www.rospa.com/RoadSafety/info/workfitness.pdf
  • Drivers returning to work following ill-health or injury that may effect their driving must be referred by their manager to Occupational Health, who will assess them before recommencing their duties.
  • Drivers must report to their manager if they feel unfit to drive.

SPECIFIC EXAMPLES OF PROCEDURES

Managers must ensure that the vehicle is appropriate for the task and that health and safety issues are considered when purchasing new or replacement vehicles.

Where appropriate, vehicles must have protection for drivers in case they are hit by falling objects, flying objects from the hold space, for instance in a van, or overturn.  Roll protection, restraints and overhead caging is necessary.

Where appropriate drivers must refer to their user handbook and manufacturer’s instructions for further guidance.

Condition.  CYC lays down clear guidelines for CYC vehicles.  These cover:

  • Adequate maintenance regimes (follow manufacturers’ guidance on preventative maintenance for vehicles as MOT certificates only check for basic defects) based on time or mileage intervals must be in place, that are fully documented
  • Managers must ensure that drivers are instructed in how to carry out and record basic pre-use safety checks, including:
    • Fuel and oil levels.
    • Water level.
    • Windscreen - ensure it is clear of moisture, snow, ice; and wiper blades are effective.
    • Tyres - pressure, tread and condition
    • Lights - including headlights, indicators, flashing beacons and any other warning devices.
    • Horn.
    • Mirrors - rear and side.
    • Bodywork: check for damage.
    • Brakes.
    • Access steps to vehicle (where appropriate).
    • Forks (where appropriate).
    • Safe refuelling.
    • Hydraulics (where appropriate).
  • These pre-use checks must also be carried out for equipment attached to vehicles where appropriate, and include:
    • Tyre pressure, tread and condition
    • Controls eg emergency stops
    • Guards are in place
    • Blades/cutters secured
    • Fixing to vehicle
    • Rear view cameras
    • Ramps
    • Lifting equipment (eg wheelchair tail lift)
  • All defects must be recorded, reported and rectified before use.  If vehicles are advised as being “Non-roadworthy” or “Not fit for use” then they must not be used under any circumstances until rectified.
  • Instruction must be given to ensure the seating is comfortable for the driver, and any ergonomic issues are addressed.

Private vehicles.  Drivers who use their own vehicles at work will ensure that they:

  • Have a valid driving licence
  • Are insured for business use (including the amount and type of business mileage they undertake).
  • Have a roadworthy vehicle with a valid MOT (where the vehicle is over three years old).
  • Have a valid road tax disc.
  • Undertake regular safety checks of their vehicle (as highlighted above).
  • Inform their manager of any changes to their vehicle (eg modifications that may effect the vehicle’s suitability for use).

The driver’s manager must:

  • Check and approve the insurance and MOT documents annually, along with their licence.  A record of this check must be held on the driver’s personal file and Departmental Road Safety Management Register.
  • Ensure that drivers understand their responsibility to ensure their vehicles are legal, safe and well maintained.

For more details on drivers using their own vehicle for driving at work:
www.rospa.com/roadsafety/info/ownvehicle.pdf

Load.  The driver is responsible for ensuring the vehicle, and any trailer etc, is properly loaded and secured.  This responsibility covers:

  • Overhanging loads – loads which overhang a vehicle body should have suitable side and/or end markers (eg red cloth or red/white chevron plates) to warn other road users.
  • The overhang must not be over two metres in daylight hours, or one metre at night (when a red light must be attached).
  • Overloading – loads should not exceed that permissible for the vehicle, and should be distributed so that one particular axle is not overloaded.
  • Securing loads – loads that may move must be securely fastened to prevent movement.  Appropriately rated ropes, straps or chains should be used. These items must be checked for defects. Drivers must also know what action to take if a load appears to shift in transit.
  • Drivers must ensure they follow safe manual handling techniques when (un)loading vehicles, safely using lifting and moving aids where necessary (see Manual Handling Compliance Note CYC/HS/CN05)
  • Where appropriate, drivers must ensure they wear the correct Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) (eg gloves, boots, high-visibility clothing) when using and (un)loading vehicles (see PPE Compliance Note CYC/HS/CN18)
  • For further information on preventing falls from vehicles: www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/indg413.pdf.

Safe Journey.  CYC lays down guidance as follows:

  • Routes.  Ensure route planning takes into consideration the type of vehicle and the hazards that may be encountered eg bridges, tunnels
  • Scheduling.  Sleep-related accidents are most likely to occur between 2am and 6am, and 2pm and 4pm – can work patterns be adjusted to take this into consideration?
    • Can periods of peak traffic flow be avoided?
    • Are new or trainee drivers given sufficient allowances to complete their journey?
  • Time.  Ensure that schedules are realistic – taking road types and adequate rest breaks (eg 15 minute break for every two hours of continuous driving) into account.
    • For crews of Large Goods Vehicles (LGVs) and Public Service Vehicle (PSVs), statutory minimum breaks / rest periods must be taken – break of 45 minutes after 4½ hours cumulative or consecutive driving (or two or three breaks of 15 minutes during or immediately after the driving period).
    • Drivers must not be put under pressure to take risks when driving to meet arrival times that may be unrealistic.
    • Drivers must report unreasonable scheduling issues to their manager as soon as they arise.
  • Distance.  Plan overnight stays where necessary, to ensure longer road journeys are not undertaken at the end of a long day.
  • Weather.  Where adverse weather conditions are expected, can journey times and routes be rescheduled?
    • Ensure that drivers know the limitations of their vehicles in adverse weather eg highsided vehicles in wind.
    •  Drivers must take appropriate care when driving in snow/ice, and wet conditions.

Safe Site.  Every workplace must be safe for the vehicles and people using it (including contractors and members of the public). To ensure a safe site:

  • Traffic routes must be able to accommodate vehicles of varying height and width.
  • Visibility must be adequate, especially around junctions and corners; consider using additional lighting and stop signs where appropriate.
  • Sharp bends and slopes should be avoided
  • Hazard signs must be clearly visible and understandable
  • Speed must be controlled on site by signage, training and supervision (especially for visiting drivers and contractors)
  • Speed-calming measures (eg humps) must be clearly visible, and must not create an additional risk (eg overturning).

Workplace traffic routes must be organised so that pedestrians and vehicles can be segregated adequately and circulate safely, and also be suitable for the people and vehicles using them, with particular attention being paid to avoiding reversing (eg use of a one-way system):

  • Where vehicles and pedestrians share a traffic route, they must be separated.
  • Clearly signed walkways, and barriers or guard rails may be used to ensure pedestrian safety on site, especially around entrances, exits and crossing points.
  • Buildings and sites should have separate entrances for vehicles and pedestrians.
  • Overall lighting must be sufficient (the Lux level must meet the recommended guidance levels – for further details please contact the H&S Team), especially in areas where vehicles and pedestrians are close together. Lighting must not create an additional hazards eg dazzling drivers

Further details on a workplace transport checklist: www.hse.gov.uk/forms/transport/wtchk1.pdf

Where CYC staff are located in areas under the control of another employer or partner (eg leased site, or a site shared with other organisations), then a shared approach to the safe management of the site must be followed, with all parties liaising and cooperating to clearly identify who is responsible for the assessment and management of any associated risks.

Mobile Phones.

  • Drivers must not use mobile phones whilst driving at work (even if hands-free equipment is in place in the vehicle).
  • CYC mobile phones must not be used whilst driving (even if hands-free equipment is in place in the vehicle).
  • Mobile phones must only be used by the driver once the vehicle is safely parked, and the engine is switched off; drivers can plan regular stops en route to access voicemail.
  • A substantial body of research shows that using a hand-held or hands-free mobile phone while driving is a significant distraction, and substantially increases the risk of the driver crashing – they are four times more likely to crash, injuring or killing themselves and/or other people.
  • Using a hands-free phone while driving does not significantly reduce the risks because the problems are caused mainly by the mental distraction and divided attention of taking part in a phone conversation at the same time as driving.
  • It is illegal for drivers to use a hand-held mobile phone whilst driving (this includes making/receiving calls, texting, or accessing internet services).
  • Drivers have been prosecuted for using a hands-free mobile phone if they were not in proper control of the vehicle when using the device.
  • The Road Safety Act (from August 2008) can penalise drivers who cause death by careless driving whilst carrying out an avoidable activity (such as calling/texting on a mobile phone, drinking or eating, applying make up, shaving etc) with up to five years in prison, as well as a fine of up to £5,000.
  • It is also an offence to “cause or permit” a driver to use a hand-held mobile phone while driving. Therefore employers can be held liable as well as the individual driver if they require employees to use a hand-held phone while driving.
  • Following any criminal action, the subsequent fine is the responsibility of the employee.
  • The use of a mobile phone whilst driving at work may result in disciplinary action.
  • For further guidance on mobile phones: www.rospa.com/RoadSafety/info/workmobiles.pdf

Smoking.  Vehicles used for driving at work are classed as a workplace.

  • All CYC vehicles must be smoke free at all times and will display no-smoking signs – it is illegal to smoke in them at any time.
  • Privately owned vehicles do not have to be smoke free unless the business use exceeds private mileage and/or the driver sometimes carry passengers on work-related journeys.
  • Refer to CYC Smoking at Work Policy.
  • For more details on smoking: www.smokefreeengland.co.uk/

AUDITING AND REVIEW

Active monitoring by the CYC Health and Safety Team takes place of all workplace transport issues.  The City of York Council Safety Management System (CYC SMS) lays down a set of key performance indicators against which CYC output is measured.  Local managers are delegated initiative for Health and Safety and are also expected to monitor the impact instructions affecting the workplace.  They are required to feed their observations and results up through the Directorate structure.  The main KPIs used are as follows:

  • Document reviews (such as licence; insurance; and MOT checks).
  • Vehicle safety checks carried out as part of random inspections.
  • Checks of the controls arising from the workplace transport risk assessments

PERFORMANCE MEASURES

The key performance measures identified by CYC are:

  • The number of employees attending driver training.  This measure is targeted specifically at fleet drivers and all drivers covering more than 3,000 miles per year.  But it is assessed in relation to the number of drivers eligible for training.
  • Total number of accidents per year.
  • Total cost of accident claims per year.
  • Average cost of accident claims per year.
  • The number of IRFs versus the number of related insurance claims
  • Insurance premium costs.

ACCIDENT REDUCTION

Current CYC policy is focussed on ensuring that all accidents and near misses are reported locally on the CYC IRF and that an appropriate level of investigation is undertaken to identify root causes of these incidents.  CYC believes that once these causes are identified, processes to reduce the number of future accidents can be introduced.

As part of the process of improving management awareness of issues associated with driving, the Workplace Transport compliance note introduced in April 2009 laid down a clear procedure which allows management to monitor the number of accidents arising as well as identify the effects of claims and costs on an ongoing basis.

Over the last 12 years, the overall trend indicates a rise in the number of motor insurance claims and the total costs for claims. Recent data (for the last three years) as follows:

Year Number of claims Total cost of claims Average cost of claim
2006/07 81 £67,201 £830
2007/08 94 £156,676 £1,667
2008/09 82 £56,522 £689
2009/10 (to date) 8 ? ?

FINANCIAL AND OTHER BENEFITS

As the result of the introduction of its new policy, CYC expects to see the following trends develop:

  • A reduction in annual insurance premiums.
  • A reduction in the number of days lost.
  • A reduction in the number, and value, of motor insurance claims paid out.

LESSONS LEARNED

City of York Council learnt the importance of managing workplace transport, through a tragic accident that resulted in a fatality of one of its employees who was using a ride-on mower.  CYC learnt that the duty and requirement to assess and manage the risks associated with workplace transport to ensure the safety of CYC employees as well as those affected by CYC work activities, was paramount.  CYC is now pursuing an active policy to engage all areas of workforce in order to embed and foster a higher level of safety culture in every single City of York Council employee.

CURRENT AND FUTURE DEVELOPMENTS

CYC is currently undertaking a Cross-Directorate project to assess its current performance and status against its own targets and once this work is completed, it will make further improvements where necessary.  Other ongoing projects are:

  • Assessing & managing the CYC “grey” fleet.
  • Raising the awareness of occupational road risk as the result of a co-ordinated programme of activity by the CYC Health and Safety Team; the CYC Road Safety Team and CYC Fleet Managers.
  • Launching a seat belt campaign for Neighbourhood Services drivers.
  • Reviewing the potential for trialling telemetry devices in some areas of the fleet.
  • Reviewing the efficiency of drivers both economically and environmentally
  • Raising the profile of Cycling.  CYC has very innovative policies for the use of bicycles within the City.  Key elements of this policy are summarised below:

City of York Council Policy for the Use of Bicycles:

All cycle users on council business (including both pool and private cycles) must:

  • Wear a suitable safety helmet.
  • Wear a high visibility garment.
  • Abide by the Highway Code.

Before setting off, all cycle users must check that their cycle is safe to use, eg:

  • Tyres are fully inflated.
  • Brakes work (ensure they fully engage with the wheel, and there are no fraying cables).
  • Lights (where appropriate) are working.

Cycle training is available from a Cycle Training Officer upon request.

Pool Cycles

  • Pool cycles are only for use on council business.
  • Pool cycles are issued with front and rear lights with batteries, lock and key, cycle route map and slap straps.
  • Pool cycle users will be issued with a high visibility garment to wear on council business.
  • Pool cycle users must use their own safety helmet.
  • Directorates have a Pool Cycle Champion, who will oversee the use of pool cycles in their area and act as a local point of contact. Their role ensures that:
    • A documented booking system is in place for all employees using pool
      cycles in their area of responsibility.
    • Any reported faults are notified to the Cycle Training Team at the earliest opportunity (and the cycle taken out of use until repaired).  Pool cycles are to be made available for regular maintenance checks by the Cycle Training Team.
    • Pool cycles are securely locked and stored when not in use.
    • Cycle pumps are available to inflate tyres.
  • Pool Cycle Champions will also ensure that pool cycles users are given appropriate safety advice, to include:
    • Checking the cycle before setting off – making sure the brakes and gears are working and the tyres are pumped up.
    • Users must wear safety helmets and high visibility clothing.
    • Don’t go through red lights.
    • Don’t cycle on the pavements.
    • Be predictable and confident. Give everyone else a chance to anticipate what they are intending to do on the cycle.
    • Be visible to other road users. Cycle at about a metre from the pavement and try not to weave in and out of parked cars.
    • Use lights and reflectives when it is dark.
    • Make eye contact with drivers at junctions – that way you can be sure they’ve seen you.
    • Cycle at a steady and reasonable pace, so you can anticipate and respond to events on the road.
    • Remember cycling is silent, so unless drivers and pedestrians can see you they won’t know that you are approaching. Use a bell in a friendly way.
    • Users are competent to use pool cycles.
  • Any faults with pool cycles must be reported by the user to the Pool Cycle Champion immediately, and under no circumstances must a pool bike be used with the knowledge of a fault being present.
  • The Cycle Training Team will ensure that all pool bikes are checked for faults and maintained on a monthly basis. If faults are found, then they must be repaired, and the pool cycle will not be used until it is roadworthy – this process must be fully documented.
  • Users must ensure that pool cycles are locked securely to an immovable object when on council business. Theft or damage to a pool cycle must be reported to the Insurance Department immediately.
  • See here for more information on cycles:

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