With the announcement by Boris Johnson that all lorries without sufficient safety equipment will be banned from London, the urban road safety debate has really gained momentum. The ball has landed very much in the court of HGV operators to act now or risk losing business. Jacqueline O’Donovan, managing director of O’Donovan Waste Disposal talks here about setting an example and why, as a fleet operator, road safety is as much about heart as it is mind.
Specialising in handling the capital’s construction waste and operating a fleet of 85 vehicles, O’Donovan Waste Disposal is committed to ensuring that its fleet and drivers operate as safely as possible. The company has pioneered best practice in this area, recently launching three innovative new lorry designs at Transport for London’s (TfL) Construction Logistics and Cycle Safety (CLOCS) progress event at the Excel in London. In addition to the new trucks, the company has invested in an advanced driver training scheme and spent more than £5,000 in specialist safety equipment for each of its vehicles.
“Despite only being a relatively small player, we continue to make substantial investments within our fleet to continue to raise our industry’s safety standards on London’s roads,” says Jacqueline O’Donovan.
She adds, “By working closely with the vehicle manufacturers, we have been able to determine the best-in-class for driver vision. Combined with our own significantly lower side-guards which we are trialling in association with TfL, this can only help to provide even greater protection for cyclists and pedestrians.”
The purpose of the newly designed vehicles is to maximise road safety for vulnerable road users. They have factory-fitted innovative safety features, specified by O’Donovan together with vehicle manufacturers, and deliver significantly improved driver vision and lower side guards.
The vehicles joining O’Donovan’s fleet are a Volvo FL818 skip truck and a DAF FA LF220 skip loader. The Volvo has the driving position lowered and a glazed nearside lower door while the DAF also has a lower driving position and a 10” nearside monitor projecting the view of the nearside blind spots, to increase drivers’ visibility. Also being used is the MAN TGM BB skip loader, with revised suspension to lower the cab. These new innovations will help to improve the drivers’ direct vision of other road users.
In addition to introducing the latest safety equipment to its fleet, O’Donovan holds FORS Gold standard for the third consecutive year and formed part of the working group involved in developing the CLOCS Standard for Construction Logistics.
Jacqueline says: “Working with CLOCS and helping to develop the standard has helped us ensure that we’re doing the maximum we can to improve road safety. The Standard sets clear objectives to operate logistics safely and is easy to understand and implement.
“The key benefit of adhering to the CLOCS Standard is ensuring we’re operating to best practice, demonstrating our commitment to fleet safety, as well as to the peace of mind and well-being of our drivers and other vulnerable road users. As a result, our team is more engaged and feels supported by the company through being given the utmost in skills and equipment to conduct their job safely.
The time implication of training and the impact this has on the day-to-day running of the business is a consideration. To get around this challenge, O’Donovan became a Joint Approvals Unit for Periodic Training (JAUPT) registered training centre which enables training to be delivered out of hours and on Saturdays. All of the company’s HGV drivers have achieved NVQs in HGV driving and have had SAFED training.
Furthermore, O’Donovan regularly takes part in the Exchanging Places programme run by the Metropolitan Police and TfL. The scheme enables cyclists to experience a HGV driver’s view of the road and get a better understanding of the blind spots around the vehicle. The purpose is to raise awareness of the dangers of collisions between cyclists and trucks. The company also puts all drivers through Safer Urban Driving courses, which involve a competent trainer taking drivers onto London’s streets on a bicycle to experience first-hand cycling in close proximity to moving traffic, including HGVs.
Jacqueline concludes: “Operating safely on London’s roads involves a combination of approaches, including vehicle modifications, training and an embedded culture. Ensuring that we provide our drivers with in-depth training and the most advanced safety-equipped vehicles means our drivers are more confident in dealing with the challenges of driving on ever more congested roads.”