Too many fleets keep ‘an old van in the yard’ that represents a massive Health and Safety risk, it has been claimed.
Fleet software provider, FleetCheck, says it regularly encounters businesses – especially larger SMEs – that have a dilapidated vehicle they use as a back-up to their main fleet.
“We see vehicles like this often enough that we even have a company shorthand for them – OVYs – old vans in the yard,” Peter Golding, the MD of FleetCheck, said. “When you talk to companies about them, they’ll tell you that they are ‘just running them into the ground’ and that they are not part of the main fleet. But, of course, legally they are every bit as much a part of your fleet as the new van you had delivered last week.
“It’s a real blind spot. Even companies that are pretty hot on risk management fairly often operate a vehicle that they use on a very occasional basis and to which their normal health and safety rules, such as inspections and servicing, aren’t applied.”
He said he once visited a fleet that operated a mildew-covered panel van that was at least 15 years old and was referred to by the operator as ‘the skip’. “This is the most dangerous OVY we have yet seen at FleetCheck,” he said. “It was literally used as an alternative to a skip, being filled with rubbish and driven only to the council tip.
“It was never serviced and never inspected. It was the single highest risk vehicle I have ever seen on a fleet – but the rest of the company vans were well looked after.”
Peter Golding added that fleets operating OVYs needed to either bring them under the umbrella of main fleet operations, or get rid of them: “There is no such thing in law as an occasionally used old van that is exempt from Health and Safety regulations and, if you are operating a vehicle on this basis, you need to recognise the degree of risk you are taking.”
“There are other ways of meeting the requirement for an occasional use van, with short term rental being the most obvious. You may see this as an expensive solution but it is much better than taking a risk with OVY that could lead to the kind of accident in which the HSE might take an interest.”