Monitoring working conditions in road transport

Inspections of working conditions in the road transport sector by the Slovak labour inspectorate and the police in 2010 showed increased compliance with the law compared with previous years. However, violations included drivers exceeding set daily working times, failing to take daily breaks and driving too long between breaks. Employers had failed to make drivers aware of the legal requirements and to provide adequate training in the operation of in-vehicle recording equipment.

Introduction

In 2010, labour inspectors and the police in the Slovak Republic cooperated on carrying out a series of inspections regarding the compliance of road transport companies and their employees with the regulations governing the working conditions of drivers. Working conditions in the road transport sector (passengers and goods) are provided for under Act No. 462/2007 Coll. which:

  • states the minimum requirements for the organisation of working time in transport;
  • authorises inspectors to carry out checks on the roads and at employers’ premises;
  • defines those aspects of the organisation of working time in transport that should be monitored by the authorities.

The need for inspection was supported by fatal accident statistics, with 56% of deaths in the road transport industry due to traffic accidents.

The inspections focus on compliance with:

  • maximum length of working time;
  • maximum driving time;
  • minimum number of breaks during a period of work;
  • minimum length of rest periods.

The inspectors also assessed:

  • whether vehicle equipment meets the required technical and safety standards;
  • the handling of the recording equipment in vehicles;
  • employers’ approach to compliance with legislation on working conditions in road transport.

The National Labour Inspectorate (NIP) provides information from its inspections to EU bodies and to other Member States.

Key findings

Inspections on the road in 2010 involved 6,200 drivers (530 transporting passengers and 5,670 transporting goods) and about 110,000 working days. Inspections at employers’ premises involved 3,600 drivers (180 transporting passengers and 3,420 transporting goods). The inspections fulfilled the legal requirement to inspect a minimum number of driver working days (3%).

The following shortcomings were identified:

  • drivers exceeded the set daily driving times;
  • drivers failed to take daily breaks (a minimum of 45 minutes);
  • drivers exceeded the driving time of 4.5 hours between breaks;
  • recording sheets were improperly used in recording equipment;
  • recording equipment had been manipulated for the purpose of reporting false data on driving times and rest periods;
  • employers failed to provide sufficient information to employees (drivers) on the requirements of transport legislation.

A serious and recurring problem was the ability of the drivers to operate the recording equipment in their vehicles. A significant proportion stated they were unable to operate it correctly as employers had not provided sufficient training. Most of the infringements related to drivers and trucks involved in the national transport of goods. Almost no violations of the Slovak regulations were discovered among drivers of international truck transport when their activities were assessed outside the Slovak Republic, where the sanctions for infringements of the law are substantially higher and include higher fines, driving licence suspension or putting a vehicle out of operation.

Fines amounting in total to around €290,000 were imposed in 2010 for shortcomings identified during the inspections.

Commentary

When comparing the extent and nature of the shortcomings identified in 2010 with the previous period, there is an improvement in compliance with the law by both drivers of vehicles registered in the Slovak Republic and drivers of vehicles registered in other countries.

Hatina Teodor, Institute for Labour and Family Research

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