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Managing occupational road risk related to fatigue

The rail industry puts a lot of effort into managing risk on the railway. But it also has a very large presence on the road network: many railway workers use road vehicles to travel between home and work, or from job to job during their shift. How can we manage road risk?

​There were 2,524 fatigue-related road crashes in 2016, according to the latest Department for Transport figures, and 546 of these resulted in someone being killed or seriously injured. Commercial vehicle drivers, shift workers and individuals suffering from sleep disorders are key groups at an increased risk of a fatigue-related road traffic collisions. They are more likely to drive in fatiguing situations, including long journeys, under time pressure, after long working hours, at times of the day when sleepiness levels naturally peak, and following sleep loss. Individual differences, other health conditions, social and domestic circumstances and poor driver awareness of fatigue and effective countermeasures to manage the risks can also put drivers at an increased risk of sleep related road traffic incidents at work.


Although individuals share a responsibility for managing the risks, employers must take a systemic approach for fatigue to be managed effectively. Employers have a legal Duty of Care to reduce fatigue risk, which extends to all road journeys and vehicles used by employees whilst on the road for work.
Our guidance outlines the effects of fatigue on driver performance, including early warning signs of fatigue and its impact on driving performance. It provides advice to employers on measures to reduce fatigue risk associated with work-related driving. It also sets out the importance of a systematic, risk-based approach that offers potential for improved safety and greater operational flexibility, since it encourages organisations to measure fatigue risk unique to its operations and apply appropriate risk controls.
The guidance includes information on policies and procedures, roles and responsibilities, workforce consultation, risk assessments and critical success factors. Ultimately, a strong safety culture in an organisation can have a significant influence on behaviour whilst driving for work and the success of approaches to managing fatigue risk.

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