Drivers Fitness for Work
Drivers and Lift Truck Operators
Vehicles at work are a major cause of fatal and major injuries with over 5000 incidents involving transport in the workplace every year (HSE).
Employers are required to ensure that workers are capable of operating the vehicles and attachments they use at work, in all of the environments in which they are used. Part of those capability checks should include ensuring that a driver has ‘a reasonable level of both physical and mental fitness.’
A Fitness to Drive Assessment considers the individuals’ health status in relation to the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency’s (DVLA) Guidance on Medical Standards for Fitness to Drive to ensure that they are fit to operate vehicles in the workplace, as well as on the road.
This is a screening assessment and is supplementary to the LGV/HGV/PSV medical. We recommend that these are done by the individual’s GP who has access to their full medical records. This will eliminate the risk of deliberate concealment of information which may make a material difference to the issue of a group 2 license. You may wish to request a statement from the doctor completing the medical for the HGV/LGV/PSV license to confirm that they have full access to the individual’s medical records. A practice stamp will also help to confirm authenticity.
A valid driving licence indicates fitness to drive on a public highway and does not guarantee fitness to operate a fork truck. The assessment includes:
- completion of a health declaration form
- vision screening for distance, field of vision, and depth perception
- blood pressure check
- mobility assessment
- urinalysis (optional)
- drugs and alcohol test (optional).
Who Should Be Medically Assessed?
HSE guidance recommends that it is good practice for all drivers of to be screened for fitness to work.
Is It a Legal Requirement?
It is not a legal requirement to have Drivers Medicals, but it is recommended good practice and could be seen as negligence if they are not done.
What Does Medical Assessment Entail?
- A past medical history questionnaire
- Blood pressure check
- Vision screen for distance, depth perception, visual fields
- Trunk and neck mobility and general agility check
- Urinalysis where there are risk indicators of diabetes.
How Long Does It Take?
Normal screening takes 30 minutes.
Where there are communication difficulties, it may take longer.
How Often Should Surveillance Be Done?
We recommend a fitness to drive assessment be carried out every three years. This matches the requirements set by Constructing Better Health standards.
Assessment is Also Recommended:
- in all cases following an accident.
- following sickness absence of more than one month, or a shorter period if it is likely that the illness might affect the individual’s ability to operate a fork truck.
- if an employer or operator become aware of a condition that may affect an individual’s fitness to operate a fork truck.
What Happens If Abnormalities Are Detected?
Where abnormalities are detected, a risk assessment will be undertaken to determine whether:
- a temporary fitness certificate will be issued to allow the individual the opportunity to take action to manage the abnormality e.g. raised blood pressure readings may be investigated further by the GP and managed as clinically indicated.
- an ‘unfit’ certificate will be issued until evidence has been obtained that the individual has managed the abnormality e.g. vision screening identifies poor vision, which requires corrective lenses to be worn. The individual would not be fit until they have been prescribed and are wearing the corrective lenses.
Screening is repeated as recommended by the Occupational Health Adviser in light of the results of the medical.
What Medical Conditions Will Exclude Me from Operating a Vehicle?
- Mobility – operators should have full movement of the trunk, neck and limbs and possess normal agility. Adjustments for individuals with disabilities should be considered where reasonably practicable.
- Drug/alcohol dependence – an individual who is dependent on alcohol or non-prescribed drugs should NOT be employed as a driver. Where there is a history of dependence DVLA guidance applies.
- Mental health – a history of previous mental illness should not necessarily preclude selection but where there is suspicion of, or knowledge of a psychiatric disorder which may be impacting on their behaviour or judgement, an operator should be barred from vehicle operation until medical assessment has been made and fitness judged against the relevant guidelines.
- Vision – the operator should have good judgement of space and distance – generally this requires effective use of both eyes, although monocular vision will not necessarily exclude an individual as certain kinds of driving work can be performed satisfactorily.Distance vision should be the same standard for driving a car on public roads.
- Hearing – the ability to hear instructions and warning signs is important but if the individual demonstrates on risk assessment that the deafness does not constitute a hazard it should not disqualify him/her.
- Epilepsy – if an operator has epilepsy but is eligible for a driving licence under the DVLA rules, then he/she should not be disqualified.
- Diabetes mellitus – usually causes no problems if well controlled by diet or tablets.
- Neurological or Cardiac problems – detailed guidance from the DVLA is used.
- Disorders of the balance – uncontrolled vertigo and disorders of balance will bar an individual from vehicle operation.Fitness to operate fork trucks may be impaired by the effects of medication whether prescribed or purchased over the counter. Operators should seek advice from the GP or pharmacist and inform their employer about any potential effects the medication may have on their ability to operate vehicles safely.
- Equality Act – people with a disability should not be disadvantaged as many develop compensatory skills. Individual risk assessment will establish the operator’s ability to safely carry out the work and also establish what, if any, reasonable adjustments to the vehicle or job are required.
Fitness for operational duty is ultimately judged individually by risk assessment. An individual’s health status may change at any time and it must remain their responsibility to report any health concerns, whether temporary or permanent, long or short term, to their manager where their fitness to drive may be affected.
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Published date: 19th February 2018
Last revision: 16th October 2020