Regardless of the job you do, you will always be faced with risks. There is no such thing as a risk-free environment, after all, as even the smallest thing can become a hazard. However, there are certain jobs where specific risks are more likely. This is especially true for employees working in lone worker sectors. One example of a role that faces specific risks is delivery drivers.
Risks of Being a Delivery Driver
The delivery and courier sector has grown over the past few years. This was partly due to the Covid-19 pandemic, with many workers leaving old jobs to meet the growing demand imposed by increased online shopping. However, being a delivery driver comes with its share of hazards. Most drivers work alone, often for long hours and in unfamiliar places. Here are some of the most common risks faced by delivery drivers.
Poor Driving Conditions
Working as a delivery driver, as the name implies, involves a lot of driving. Whilst drivers may find themselves operating on familiar roads, they can also end up delivering in unfamiliar areas. Even a road a driver knows well, however, could pose risks to their wellbeing.
Poor conditions that pose risks to delivery drivers include wet roads, ice, fallen branches or trees, and blind spots. Workers should make sure to adjust their driving habits to suit the weather and the road itself.
Among the most significant risks for delivery drivers are other road users. It doesn’t matter how confident a driver is, mistakes can still happen. Risks increase on busier roads, or those with higher speed limits. Even quiet country lanes can become dangerous if someone is coming round a corner too fast.
A UK report from June 2021 recorded 1,390 road deaths in one year. That’s almost four deaths a day. Numbers increase to 119,850 when considering all road casualties. This highlights the importance of safe driving and being mindful of other road users.
Aggressive Customers and Pedestrians
Being a delivery driver means workers will have multiple interactions with pedestrians and customers throughout the day. Whilst most of these encounters will likely be fleeting things, delays and minor inconveniences can result in people treating delivery drivers negatively.
In 2018, 150 lone workers were attacked every day. An attack could be verbal or physical. With delivery drivers often operating in unfamiliar and sometimes isolated areas, the risk of attack poses potentially serious consequences. Therefore, a lone delivery driver should be equipped to call for help regardless of their location.
Another potential risk facing delivery drivers is loose pets or other animals. It is not often a delivery driver will encounter an aggressive animal, but that is not to say that it does not happen. The animal could be in someone’s garden. Alternatively, it may escape when the door is opened.
According to the Royal Mail, their staff faced 32 dog attacks a week last year. It stands to reason that other delivery drivers have been victims too. Be cautious when approaching a property and check whether there are any warning signs or whether you have been asked to leave a package in a specific place.
The transportation of goods introduces specific risks to delivery drivers. One of these is moving the products themselves. Whenever a package has to be placed in or removed from a vehicle, lone workers are engaging in manual handling. Whilst most deliveries are likely to be light, the repeated movements involved in making multiple deliveries can result in health problems.
It is larger items, however, that are most likely to result in manual handling injuries. Because delivery drivers generally work alone, moving a larger box can pose a challenge. It is often not possible to ask the customer to help. Therefore, lone delivery drivers should take extra care when moving heavier packages.
Slips, trips, and falls can impact anyone. However, for drivers who are trying to stay on schedule, this risk increases. A fall could happen anywhere; something as simple as stumbling on a stone-strewn driveway could result in serious injury.
For delivery drivers in larger vehicles, there is also a risk of falling from the vehicle itself. Mopeds and bikes, too, can pose falling risks to delivery drivers. They should always remain mindful of their surroundings to ensure they have assessed the risks associated with falls.
Long hours and the pressure of making deliveries on time can lead to tiredness. The likelihood of accidents goes up when drivers are tired. In our driver safety guide, we highlighted the importance of drivers taking regular breaks. However, fatigue can be a difficult risk to overcome.
This is a risk that is most likely to impact delivery drivers who start work early or are making deliveries late in the day. It can impact any driver at any time, though. Fatigue slows reaction times, causes headaches, and could result in drivers falling asleep at the wheel. These could all contribute to accidents whilst driving.
How to Protect Delivery Drivers
Employers and employees alike have a responsibility to mitigate these risks to delivery drivers. Steps that can be taken include enforcing break times and providing training for dealing with aggression at work. The employer should also consider implementing a lone working policy to protect their lone workers.
Amongst the most effective means of protecting delivery drivers is to provide them with lone alarms. A lone alarm is a discreet, lightweight device that allows a lone worker to call for help whenever it is needed. They simply press the button and are connected to our 24/7 Monitoring Centre.
Using the built-in loudspeaker, our team assess the situation. GPS technology allows us to pinpoint the worker’s location. We then inform designated emergency contacts that support is required. In appropriate circumstances, we also alert the emergency services.
Editor’s Note: This article was updated on 3rd January 2024 to reflect current information.