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Occupational road risk

What do you need to know?

Companies can no longer take the risk of ignoring their responsibilities with   regard to managing the risks associated with 'driving at work' Employers incorrectly   assume that provided they comply with road traffic law requirements, for example   company vehicles have a valid MOT and fleet drivers hold a valid driving licence,   this is enough to ensure the safety of their employees, and others, when they   are on the road.

What is the current Legislation?

The Health and Safety at Work Act of 1974 requires you to ensure, as far as   is reasonably practicable, the health and safety of employees while at work.

Under the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1992, amended   in 1999, employers have a responsibility to manage health and safety effectively.   You need to carry out an assessment of the risks to the health and safety of   your employees while they are at work, and to other people who may be affected   by their work activities. This includes work-related driving activities.

Employees driving on company business are considered to be undertaking a work   activity and the vehicle they are driving, regardless of ownership, is regarded   as a place of work.

The Health and Safety Commission recently issued a series of guidelines covering   the employer's responsibility towards the employee. This included the recommendation   that every company appointed a director to look after health and safety - including   driving at work.
  Health and Safety law does not apply to commuting, unless the employee is travelling   from their home to a location for business purposes, which is not their usual   place of work.

Why is there a spotlight on this issue?

The Government has clearly indicated that it intends to pursue a policy of   reducing road traffic accidents and has set tough targets. Research has confirmed   that individuals driving on company business are more likely than other road   users to be involved in an accident resulting in death or serious injury. Therefore   there is an increasing focus by the authorities on work related driving. Existing   Health and Safety legislation is now more likely to be used in a bid to reduce   the accident toll. Companies are now more likely to be investigated by the police   and HSE in the wake of a serious road traffic accident.

What do you need to do?

In simple terms you should have a safety management system for driving at work   just as you would for any other work related activity. This should include:

  • Comprehensive road safety policies supported by top management.
  • Road safety management procedures, including risk assessments for both drivers     and specific driving tasks.
  • Maintain and review accident statistics. Look for common trends and risks.  
  • Implement safe practices that eradicate or minimise identified driving risks.  
  • Ensure managers understand their role and responsibilities for managing     road risk and are able to apply company policy.
  • Ensure drivers are given relevant information, training and supervision     to be safe on the road.
  • Regularly audit the safety of journeys and amend policies and procedures     accordingly if new risks are identified.

Does this include the use of private vehicles?

Ownership of the vehicle is irrelevant. Companies have the same liability for   individuals who drive their own vehicles on company business as those who drive   company owned fleet vehicles.   Don't be fooled into thinking that by abandoning the traditional company car   in favour of cash for car alternatives you can get rid of your duty of care   - you can't.

In some respects the risks associated with the use of privately owned vehicles   are greater. This is because you have less control over things like maintenance,   tyres and suitability of the vehicle for the task.

About the Author: MD one of the U.K.s leading vehicle funding specialists, authorised and regulated by the Financial services Authority, members of the British Vehicle Rental and Leasing Association (Mike is a member of the Introducer committee) 22 years industry experience

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