Letter: Asleep at the wheel

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The Independent Culture
Sir: Your features on driver fatigue and drug testing in the workplace (Fast Track, Law, 19 November) expose some of the problems that many members of this union face. We have 150,000 commercial drivers and an increasing number of members (drivers and others) being drug-tested and, sometimes sacked when their blood or urine shows traces of recreational drug use .

As the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) have shown, around 1,000 of 3,500 road deaths each year involve people working. They are work-related deaths. Yet, our workplace police, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), do not support them being recorded as such and therefore investigated. Why not? Many of these deaths have been shown to be fatigue- related. Our drivers are stressed-out, work very long hours (the new Working Time Directive does not cover transport), often load and unload many times, have lousy cab conditions and are very poorly paid. No wonder some fall asleep at the wheel!

Drug testing is only valid where your activities many endanger other people's health and safety and/or your work performance is significantly impaired. If found positive you may need help; not discipline or the sack. If it is to be introduced then let the company boardrooms and House of Commons - both after lunch and the weekend - set us an example first!

A J P DALTON

Health and Safety Co-ordinator

Transport and General Workers Union

London SW1

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