• Roger Claessens
    Just read the Worksafe release about the fatality regarding a runaway trailer in Canterbury (link at end of page). What a tragic story and completely preventable. I am just looking for some context. Especially around these two paragraphs at the end of the article where the company had not done enough regarding staff not being competent to drive a vehicle safely.

    • Yes I agree that when a staff member starts employment that drivers license records and restrictions are being taken and put on file with perhaps the date of expiry for a reminder. Or when the license status changes this is to be updated.
    • Yes, I fully accept there should be procedures around hooking on a trailer and to train workers with this.
    • Yes I agree sending workers on a defensive driving course after receiving (several) calls from the public about a drivers non-existing courtesy on the road.

    But how could a business ensure drivers are competent to use a work vehicle? Do you need to take them around the block to satisfy yourself that they can operate a car? If they have a license, they should be able to operate a vehicle. I am just about to go through an annual review of our SOP and Policy for work vehicles use and am wondering if I am missing something here. Look forward to some feedback around this.

    Two paragraphs copied from article.
    WorkSafe also found staff had inadequate information, training, instruction, supervision, and experience to safely use the company vehicles and trailers.

    “It’s not enough to just have your workers sign a vehicle policy. Businesses need to ensure drivers are competent to safely use a vehicle, especially one that is being towed,” says Dr Gardner.

  • MattD2
    ....company vehicles and trailersRoger Claessens
    .....especially one that is being towedRoger Claessens
    I would guess one of the main points is that there is no assessment of competency for towing trailers or any other "work related" uses of vehicles in the NZ Driver Licence testing scheme.
    As the WorkSafe article says, the trailer's locking handle was not engaged and the safety chain was not attached - two simple safety features that many would consider just "common sense" but unless someone has been taught about these things (either from their company or their parents/family/etc.) they can be completely unknown to someone who has never hitched a trailer.

    I am just about to go through an annual review of our SOP and Policy for work vehicles use and am wondering if I am missing something here.Roger Claessens
    Regarding your review, consider what the vehicle-related tasks your employees are required to do. If it is literally just driving to/from locations then the steps you list above, ensuring they have a current licence and monitoring of poor driving (with additional training where necessary), is a likely proportional response to the risk.
    However if they are doing other vehicle-related tasks, those outside of what the standard NZ Driving Licence Test assesses competency for, then a separate method of assessing competency for these tasks would be reasonably practicable. For example if towing a trailer is required for work, assessing competency for both the hitching of the trailer and for driving a vehicle towing a trailer (e.g. knowing the speed limit is reduced to 90 km/h for light vehicles towing trailers). Having procedures for these additional vehicle-related tasks would be useful to ensure what is assessed and who is deemed competent is consistent.
  • Jo Prigmore
    We've got a formal competency assessment for connecting a light trailer (amongst other things). Its a practical assessment but we've also made a video to go with it if people need a reminder: https://fultonhoganknowhow.co.nz/connecting-a-light-trailer/#moving-plant
  • Darren Cottingham
    One of the issues with the NZ licensing system is that we don't test for towing trailers like they do in the UK. The easiest way to find out where the gaps are in your drivers' knowledge is to have them do a driving assessment. E.g. https://www.drivingtests.co.nz/course/driver-assessment/
    There are basically pillars of risk in operating a vehicle, so you should use some kind of assessment to know which ones constitute the greatest risk for you. For light vehicles, these would include:
    • Road rules
    • Fatigue
    • Low-speed manoeuvring
    • Driving in challenging weather
    • Safe speeds
    • Light vehicle loading
    • EVs
    • Defensive driving
    • Trailer coupling and towing

    An assessment would enable you to understand which drivers need to do which training.
  • Steffan St Clair-Newman
    Awesome resources you and your team have provided, I particularly liked the Flip Your Lid video
  • Jo Prigmore
    I'm glad I escaped the dinosaurs lol!
  • Steffan St Clair-Newman
    These days I feel like I am the dinosaur lol
  • Gail Swanepoel
    Amazing resource thank you for sharing.
  • Mandy Gudgeon
    Roger - driver safety for workers.

    I work in a business where we have numerous staff working in the community between 7.00am - 10.00pm. Every new staff member is provided a full orientation to our vehicles prior to being allowed to drive them.

    Last year whilst reviewing our vehicle events and inherent risks we decided to ensure every staff member was taken for a drive with an assessor - approximately 40 minutes. Although no staff are new drivers, the exercise has been very valuable for staff who realise now how lazy habits have subtly crept into their driving. Examples of "crawling stops", not observing signage, round about skills and habits, sensible choices in busy car parks etc, reversing into parks to ensure clear vision on leaving were common findings. This confidential exercise identified a couple of staff who were provided with specific issues to work on before being re-assessed.

    Since then, our fleet has been upgraded to hybrid vehicles; so once again, every staff member has been individually familiarised with the vehicle features and taken for a shorter drive.

    I believe should anything untoward occur we can demonstrate adequate information, training, instruction, supervision, and experience to safely use the company vehicles and trailers.
  • Muhammad Hafidz
    Hi there, we use Eroad to monitor speed, location, aggressive acceleration, harsh braking and carbon emission of our fleet.

    For towing safety we construct a pre tow checklist form using Site App Pro app which is made mandatory for every driver to complete before towing anything with a vehicle.

    This includes questions such as:

    1) Is the tow bar weight capacity capable of towing the load?
    2) Is the trailer rego and wof valid?
    3) Is the towing ball and pin in good working condition?
    4) Did you move the load closer to the front of the trailer bed
    5) Are electrical wires in good condition?
    6) Is the trailer brake lights working?

    and a few more.

    It has been working well so far
  • Steve Setterfield
    Long gone are the days of just handing over the keys to a company vehicle. I introduced the AA Driver assessment for all drivers of company vehicles. It is all well and good to jump to advanced driver courses which are generally a day in cost and time lost if the basics are not being considered and followed when on the road. The AA driver assessment is a one hour road test divided into drive with an assessor, discuss and review, then drive again and apply the learning. A report is then submitted to the company which covers the review items and if the driver would pass the current NZ driving test, incidentally, you can't actually "fail".
    As for towing a trailer - I spent a small fortune getting my class 1 HGV in the UK, surprisingly it's not about driving as you can already do that - it's about controlling a 44 tonne vehicle and 40' trailer safely and having the ability to reverse it. However, your average driver can hitch up his boat, car or work trailer and go on the road with no training. Wrong I think. Some instruction, not a pass or fail, but to obtain a credit about driving with a trailer and trailer control.
    Just my opinion...................
  • Kate Thompson
    There's virtually nothing about towing in anything you have to do for a car driver licence, which is surprising given how many people tow boats, caravans and the like in NZ.
    We put our drivers through DT's online driver assessment first because it covers off a lot of scenarios. The output of that gives us a plan for where the gaps are. We then use a mixture of in-vehicle assessments at TR Driver Training, some other online training with DT, and some in-house instruction/coaching. We found this is a good targeted, efficient way of ensuring we understood the risk profiles, and maximised our training budget and schedules.
    Towing is a significant risk because the issues include coupling, load security, defensive driving and low speed manoeuvring. A mixture of in-house instruction around our SOPs plus some online training covered off what we needed.
  • Jim Petersen
    Good approach Mandy. Assessment helps you and your people know where they are at. Then to build, strengthening and maintaining their skills requires ongoing training. It is a good idea to embed training in your business as usual training programme. A system such as Fleetcoach is available for staff 24/7 365 days a year to work on when works best for them - allowing them to take ownership of their learning and reflect on their approach to driving. We're not the same driver every day and we don't remember everything, or put to use everything we learned maybe a year or more ago without a little practice.
  • Julie
    Such great suggestions and resources, Fulton have done an amazing job of making tools accessable and visual, I have video envy Jo!

    For your policy review Roger, I would recommend expanding the competency to 'Trailer use' to cover relevant risk activities such as; loading, restraining loads, hitching, driving with, unloading and braking/chocking.
  • Jack Bergquist
    Hi all,

    AA Driving School has been helping clients around these topics for a number of years now. We've got a number of 121 assessment products which are available nationwide. (https://www.aa.co.nz/drivers/driver-training-for-fleets-and-businesses/)
    We are also just about to launch a new trailer safety course, this combines a detailed e learning theory summary, along with low speed training on a closed road environment and a short on road assessed drive. It's certainly not going to take someone from zero experience to a trailer pro in one half day, but will hopefully be a great resource to help sign off experienced users, provide coaching to help mid tier drivers reach a safe standard, and with the post course report, guide companies and staff who need more help on what areas they need to focus on. This is brand new so just working on the webpage etc. but feel free to reach out to if you'd like to chat about it
  • Steve H
    As the WorkSafe article says, the trailer's locking handle was not engaged and the safety chain was not attached - two simple safety features that many would consider just "common sense" but unless someone has been taught about these things (either from their company/trainer or their parents/family/etc.) they can be completely unknown to someone who has never hitched a trailer.MattD2

    This can be extended to changing a wheel Matt, if the one on one corner of a vehicle goes a bit square on it's bottom. Once upon a time, in a far and distant land, Dads were (a) around and (b) did small maintenance tasks on the family car and house. Children learned by watching, asking and assisting him (in the main). Now that basic level of do-ability can't be assumed and commonsense isn't at all common.

    Hello Muhammad, does the check list that you use draw attention to the fact that two different sizes of ball and hitch may be encountered on trailers in New Zealand?

    In a rule change a number of years back the Government introduced the 50mm towball, in line with the European regulations. About 95% of towballs now sold are 1 7/8” diameter, and the remainder are 50mm diameter. 1 7/8” is the most common towball size used on vehicles in NZ, while 50mm is standard in Europe. There is not a lot of difference between the two sizes – a whole 2.375mm, to be exact!

    This has brought about a lot of confusion as while a 1 7/8″ coupling will not fit on a 50mm towball, the 1 7/8″ towball fits into the 50mm trailer coupling easily but is a loose fit, which is very dangerous and must not be done.
  • KeithH
    I will confess I was avoiding this discussion but the temptation got too much or perhaps I now have too much time for my mind to roam and have fingers enough to tap out searches via Google.

    Anyone read this? Land Transport (Road User) Rule 2004. Part 7.18 S(5) specifically relates to this discussion while there are several other sections that apply to day to day (or in some cases night to night) when driving a motor vehicle or using roads (but then what constitutes a road could be a discussion for another time).

    My 2 cents worth
Add a Comment

Welcome to the Safeguard forum!

If you are interested in workplace health & safety in New Zealand, then this is the discussion forum for you.