The transport and logistics industry plays a pivotal role in all of our lives and it is probably almost impossible to name a product which at some point has not spent time in the back of a HGV. As an industry, it contributes over £120billion to our economy, yet the industry is facing continuous problems of driver shortages and a lack of diversity.
There are only around 1-2% of female HGV drivers in the UK and this is not an isolated problem for our country alone, as there are similar disparities throughout the world. The historic stereotype of a HGV drivers’ workplace and ‘women driver’ jokes no doubt go some way to explaining why the industry in the past has not been able to attract women. On top of that are safety concerns, for example when parking overnight, and a lack of access to female-friendly facilities like showers and restrooms, all of which can make the industry unattractive.
Educating people both within and outside the industry may assist in easing some of those concerns, for example, when a driver makes a visiting delivery to a premises as part of their work, the premises must provide access to welfare facilities including toilets and washing facilities. This is a legal requirement and something that they must do under the Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992. If drivers are denied access to these facilities, they are able to complain to the Health and Safety Executive. Portaloos are generally not acceptable as access to running water is not available and for women, separate facilities should be provided, including the means for disposing sanitary products (see our previous article ‘Caught Short’ which discusses these requirements for more details).
Operators regularly tell us that a big concern for them is driver shortage. The Road Haulage Association (RHA) estimates that the UK haulage industry is currently facing a shortage of 45,000 to 50,000 drivers. It’s not possible to say that women could be the answer to fill that shortfall but it highlights the importance for the industry to continue striving to attract not only women, but also younger generations and minority communities, to increase diversity throughout the industry and increase the number of professional drivers.
Although (unfortunately) I will not be getting into a truck myself this week, I am proud to be joining Woodfines’ Transport team as a Solicitor supporting operators across the country in their invaluable work and playing my own small part in breaking the mould within the industry.
For further information and advice, please get in touch on 01908 202150 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org