Driving at Work

What are my obligations regarding employees who drive at work and how should I manage this area of safety?

Research provides an estimate that up to one third of road traffic accidents involve a person who is at work at the time the accident occurs.

Under the Health and Safety at Work Act employers have a duty of care for the safety of your employees – even if workers are freelance, or own their own vehicles. The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations requires a risk assessment to be undertaken of all work activities – driving is no exception.

You therefore have a clear responsibility for implementing effective management procedures to ensure vehicles are used appropriately, driven safely and are mechanically fit for purpose. This is called managing your ‘occupational road risk’. You must also consult with employees. Failure to comply may result in hefty penalties including imprisonment.

Therefore you should:

  • Have a written road safety policy, supported by senior management.
  • Have road safety management procedures in place.
  • Ensure that staff are given relevant information, instruction and training.
  • Regularly audit the safety of journeys and vehicle maintenance procedures.

If a vehicle driven on your business is involved in a serious accident, there will be an investigation involving the police and possibly the Health and Safety Executive. If it is found that the company’s action contributed to the root cause of the accident this may result in a prosecution.

When compiling your policy and assessing risk, you should, for example, consider:

The Journey:

  • Is it necessary, or is there an alternative?
  • Is it better to use alternatives (train or flight) for longer trips?
  • Does it allow time to avoid fatigue, giving plenty of time for breaks?

The Driver:

  • Are driving licences checked? Is (s)he qualified to drive?
  • Do drivers have regular eye-sight tests?
  • Do you examine driving records, including accidents and prosecutions?
  • Do you assess and monitor driving skills and performance?
  • Is use of mobile phones included in your policy?
  • Do you have a drug and alcohol policy?
  • Does the training programme include drug and alcohol abuse?
  • Do you run initiatives such as good driving award schemes?
  • Do you specifically check the validity of LGV/PSV driving entitlements as part of your recruitment procedures and periodically thereafter?

Although not mandatory, are higher risk drivers subject to regular medicals?

The Vehicle:

  • Do you specify safety features for new vehicles, e.g. high level brake lights?
  • Do you check / ensure vehicle maintenance is carried out to a high standard?
  • Do you check / ensure that defects are reported promptly and accurately?
  • Do drivers carry out regular safety checks e.g. tyres and lights?
  • Do you check / ensure that employees’ own vehicles that are driven on company business, are roadworthy and carry a current MOT certificate?
  • Are all vehicles insured for use on company business?

Benefits of effectively managing ‘road risk’:

  • Reduced stress and improved staff morale.
  • Lower vehicle costs, insurance premiums, etc.
  • Improved public image and customer goodwill.
  • Protection from prosecution.
  • Peace of mind!

The management of occupational road risk potentially may cover a fleet of heavy goods vehicles, a fleet of company owned cars, or may simply be limited to ensuring the safe use of employees’ owned cars when used on company business. Whatever the risks and organisation-specific circumstances may be, ensuring the safety of driving at work is as much an employer’s responsibility as any other aspect of health and safety in the workplace.

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posted on July 14, 2010
in Safety Topics
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