A new ruling from the European Court of Justice (ECJ) has laid out that journeys made by mobile workers must count as time spent working, rather than commuting time. That means that for those who drive a lot as part of their job – whether they are a delivery driver, travelling engineer or long haul lorry driver – the journeys at the beginning and end of their days still count as working time.
The ECJ stated that without taking these journeys into consideration as part of a working day, companies were putting the health and safety of their mobile workers at risk. But when you are behind the wheel, what are the other ways to keep healthy and safe on the road?
- Set a regular schedule and keep to it. Have regular meals and breaks planned and do your best to stick to them. Making a plan to eat and rest at the right times means that you always have something to aim for, even if sometimes you end up missing those breaks. However, if you’re feeling tired when driving, don’t force yourself to wait for your next scheduled break – make sure to stop for a rest, walk, or even a coffee. Even just a short break can help keep you far more alert at the wheel.
- Drink lots of water. Water helps to flush toxins out of the body and can also keep you alert. If you’re concerned that drinking lots of water will mean you’ll have to stop more often, try fitting most of your water consumption into the hour before your next stop. If you’ve set a regular schedule, this should be easy to keep to!
- Think about your seating position in your vehicle. Sitting still for long periods of time can be harmful for your back and neck. Check your vehicle’s manufacturer guide to see whether your headrest and seat are set up properly so as to avoid any musculoskeletal issues – and you can always ask your employer if you’re unsure.
- Reduce your risk of deep vein thrombosis (DVT). DVT is when a blood clot forms in a vein in the body, and travels through your bloodstream, with potentially fatal consequences – and it’s caused by sitting still for too long. Luckily, there are lots of ways for mobile workers to reduce their risk. This video on preventing leg pain for drivers gives some guidance on the kind of exercises drivers can do to keep their blood flowing properly.
It is important for employers to ensure the safety of employees who drive as part of their job. Additional support for work-related issues can be found on the Fit for Work advice hub, where employers can also find out more about referring employees for free occupational health assessments.