The city council has come under fire for failing to implement all driver safety measures recommended to authorities following the fatal Glasgow bin lorry crash.
In December 2014, Edinburgh woman Gillian Ewing was among six killed when Harry Clarke lost consciousness at the wheel of a truck before the crash. Jacqueline Morton, Stephanie Tait, Erin McQuade, and her grandparents Jack and Lorraine Sweeney were also killed – while 15 were injured in the Queens Street crash.
Clarke, 60, had his driving licence revoked but was caught driving nine months after the crash. Following a fatal accident inquiry, Sheriff Beckett outlined 19 recommendations for local authorities to help prevent another tragedy taking place.
An internal audit of the City of Edinburgh Council’s drivers health and safety resilience revealed flaws in the authority’s controls around driver recruitment and medical checks after longer absences.
A report to the council’s Governance, Risk and Best Value Committee said: “Review of the council’s key drivers health and safety controls identified a number of significant and systemic control weaknesses. Consequently, three high and five medium rated findings were raised. The first high rated finding reflects the need to finalise, approve and publish the current draft driving policy, ensuring that it is supported by driving procedures across service areas that are consistently designed and effectively applied.”
The council is set to put forward a new policy to tackle the failings by the end of the year.
Conservative Cllr Phil Doggart said: “Failure to implement and follow all the 19 recommendations of Sheriff Beckett’s inquiry is unacceptable for the City of Edinburgh Council. It is folly for Edinburgh to offer employment without having received references. However, it is reckless to offer employment to potential drivers without evidence that they understand driving rules and safety standards.”
He added: “Whenever drivers have been absent from work for a period of time, our auditors found that the council has failed to meet best practice by obtaining suitable evidence that drivers are fit to return to normal duties. Such a relaxed approach to important safety standards cannot continue.
“All the actions identified in the report to make good these major shortcomings must be implemented as soon as possible, preferably quicker than the time-scales identified.”
Another high rating in the audit concerned “pre-employment and in service driver legal and medical checks – especially for drivers of heavy goods vehicles”.
The report found that knowledge of driving rules and safety standards was “not consistently tested” as part of the recruitment process and some pre-recruitment checks were completed after drivers had started working.
A City of Edinburgh Council spokeswoman said: “A new drivers policy incorporating all the recommendations and agreed actions following the recent internal audit of the current drivers health policy will be brought to the December meeting of the Finance and Resources Committee.”