Truckers' Toilets Newsletter January 2016
TRUCKERS TOILETS UK
Campaign to improve the health & well-being of lorry drivers
JANUARY 2016 NEWSLETTER 3-7
HAPPY NEW YEAR to all our TTUK supporters! Thanks for your opinions on the various issues. These are really helpful and add weight to our TTUK Campaign. Do keep them coming. We welcome comments from a variety of perspectives.
Winter tranquility? We thought that December / January would be quiet months but to date that has definitely not been the case! Our TTUK campaign is gathering momentum and we are now on the radar with a wide range of organisations and local radio [see below].
Aim for 2016: TTUK is keen to work with these organisations to find ways to improve access to toilet and hand-washing facilities. However each organisation has its own agenda and cross communication does not appear to be easy. This is why it is taking so long to get things going. It is frustrating, undignified and unhealthy for our lorry drivers to continue to carry out their duties without proper toilet access. It is certainly worrying that the serious health effects resulting from the lack of facilities are not being urgently addressed. That said we re moving in the right direction, so do keep up to date via our Facebook page
and Twitter in between the monthly newsletters.
Health document: TTUK has just produced Lorry Drivers, Loos & Health, a paper highlighting the damage to health that can arise from being unable to access toilet and hand-washing facilities. It would seem that this is the first document which focuses exclusively on the health problems of lorry drivers in relation to toilet access. The contents are also relevant to other mobile workers such as taxi drivers who also experience problems due to public toilet closures. It s available free from Gill on request
Toilet refusals: Unfortunately these continue [Truck & Driver December 2015]. A driver describes how, after asking to use the loos at a Retail Distribution Centre [RDC], he was told it was not our policy to let drivers use toilets but to use toilets on services . Later the same driver had to explain why he d taken a longer than expected tacho break. He said he d used the toilet and was told You shouldn t use the toilets, it s not company policy to allow drivers to go into services to use toilets . For this driver it would have meant no toilet for up to 15 hours and the only way, he said, to deal with that was don t drink fluids a highly dangerous decision.
HSE: What is so frustrating about the current situation relating to toilet refusal is that the recommendations are now clearly stated by the Health & Safety Executive; they are just not being followed and no-one is checking. The new document Lorry Drivers, Loos & Health includes the relevant paragraphs so there is no excuse for drivers to be refused access to a loo at the companies they visit. For those companies who are concerned about misuse possible solutions are discussed in Laybys, Loos & Lorry Drivers or Publicly Available Toilets: Problem Reduction Guide [both available free from TTUK].
Toilets en route: The overall difficulty of finding toilet facilities on our roads compounds the problem and needs to be addressed. It is surprising that it is only now with concerns over driver shortages, that access to toilets as part of improvements to working conditions is being addressed. It seems there is a problem about taking active responsibility which is dealt with by passing the buck. TTUK was near to despair when told by an organisation that in order to get information read by the public authorities only single colour font was appropriate and headings should be justified to the left. Apparently this really matters! TTUK is pleased to be working with a small group of transport experts including a truck-stop specialist who feel it matters to actually bring about the implementation of more facilities!
Department of Health: On a Three Counties Radio programme Shrinkwrapped Gill challenged Conservative Health Minister Alastair Burt MP on the attitude of the Department of Health towards lorry drivers. She asked why the lack of toilet and
handwashing facilities for lorry drivers is not a concern for the Department of Health? Initially Mr Burt replied that though the DoH was concerned but it isn t their direct responsibility! However after an exchange of views and examples provided of various health issues that can arise including the effects on concentration Mr Burt agreed to contact Jane Ellison MP who has responsibility for Public Health. Could this be the breakthrough we need? Watch this space!
Breakfast news: Truckers Toilets UK is certainly hitting the headlines on local radio! This time Gill was interviewed by Justin Dealey on the Three Counties Radio breakfast programme to talk about access to toilets for lorry drivers. The fact that no one is taking responsibility, the problem of closures, few facilities available on major routes, fines for peeing on the roadside if
caught and health concerns were all mentioned. Hopefully it s made listeners think about the actual person delivering goods. Postmen too got a well deserved mention. Justin certainly gave us several enthusiastic plugs not just on the programme but also during the day!
Lack of loos bolsters funds! or so it would seem. Whilst discussions continue drivers still need to find somewhere to go . However woe betide if they find a quiet spot which they consider a suitable place to relieve an uncomfortable bowel or bladder because BINGO! out may pop a police officer and slap a fine on the unfortunate miscreant even though there are no toilets available. Apparently there has been a spate of incidents in Kent where fines have been issued for illegal parking such as on a hard shoulder. Not a good parking place we agree but what happens if the driver is desperate for the loo? TTUK was informed that the police in the county take a zero tolerance approach and the officer would be failing in his duty where there is an identified threat to public safety .other than in an emergency [TTUK s italics]. No-one is disagreeing about the dangers of parking on the hard shoulder but what constitutes an emergency? It would appear that needing a pee is not an emergency in spite of research demonstrating that holding on can damage the bladder and also affect concentration. Isn t this a health & safety issue too?
HGV parking: An article Service stations should provide HGV parking [Truck & Driver October 2015] produced some excellent comments and suggestions on our TTUK Facebook page. Craig Tracey MP from Warwickshire is asking for a debate on the inadequacy of parking space for lorries. Chris Grayling, the House of Commons leader, responded by saying that drivers should expect local communities and trading estates to provide HGV parking . He would like service station providers to cater more for this need ..It should not be imposed on local communities and estates . Chrys Rampley Manager, Infrastructure, Security & Business Affairs at the RHA says that the input of local communities is needed. Most service stations are private and don t come under the DfT s responsibility!!!! It seems that even the HSE is not included in the scope and the Department for Communities and Local Government might need to be contacted as well. So the situation appears to be that Services Stations are operating off their own bat, the DfT and HSE seem to have little authority on the matter, the DCLG needs to be involved as do the local communities who are faced with the effects of the lack of lorry parking and the unpleasant result is no toilets for the drivers!!! Hopefully our transport forum at which Chrys represents the RHA will bring these groups together in some shape or form. It is a very frustrating situation for the drivers BUT there is a positive amidst the frustration: the subject is coming out into the open!
Transport Focus: Very relevant to the previous paragraph is the new report from Transport Focus: Road users priorities for improvement: heavy goods vehicle drivers [December 2015]. Around 250 HGV drivers were asked what they would like to see improved on the Strategic Road Network [SRN]. More provision of roadside services areas / laybys came 9th out of 17 and better facilities at roadside services / laybys followed at 10th. Improved signage came in at 13th. As the introduction to the report states: Most SRN journeys are short: for HGV drivers, around half are 20 miles . This makes the positioning of the comments
somewhat unrealistic as far as the overall picture is concerned but the provision of services was nonetheless considered important.
On Twitter this month: FTA is campaigning for better facilities for truckers and encouraging people to offer use of their WCs to delivery drivers
Next issue of the Truckers Toilets UK newsletter will be February 2016
- ^ https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/106393 (petition.parliament.uk)
- ^ TTUK Campaign (www.facebook.com)