Don't leave things to chance
A wealth of legislation governs work-related driving & it continues to become increasingly stringent.
- Employers are bound by a legal duty of care to ensure the safety of staff whilst they work;
- Driving is one of the most hazardous working activities, every week sees 250 serious injuries & 20 deaths involving people at work on the road*
- Occupational driving is governed by at least 10 separate laws, including The Health & safety at Work Act 1974 & The Road Traffic Act 1998;
- 2009 has seen the first case of a company charged under The Corporate Manslaughter Act 2007;
- Pressure to comply has mounted in 2009 as The Health & Safety Offences Act 2009 was introduced;
- If you run a fleet, & employ 5 or more staff, you must have a documented fleet safety policy;
* Department for Transport figures
Take your responsibilities seriously.
It is more important than ever that companies are fully prepared when it comes to their health & safety obligations and to invest adequate time and effort into the tasks associated with legal compliance.
Fleet related legislation is becoming increasing stringent and every company undertaking driving as part of their business activities is at risk. The only way to mitigate the risk and achieve peace of mind is to implement – and, most importantly, to enforce a comprehensive and structured Road Safety policy. This policy should form part of your company health and safety policy, and should set out clear instructions on every aspect of vehicle operation and standards of driving. It may even be aligned with employment contracts, but vitally it must be distributed to, understood by and adhered to by every staff member who drives - even occasionally for your company.
If you have five or more full time employees you are legally required to carry out an occupational road risk assessment for any employees who use vehicles for work purposes. This applies whether or not the employee is driving a vehicle owned by the company. Employers who fail to carry out this duty of care obligation could be criminally charged under the Corporate Manslaughter Act 2008 if an employee dies in a work-related accident.
The key rules and regulations that affect occupational road risk are:
- Health & Safety at Work Act 1974 – employers must ensure as far as ‘reasonably practical‘ the H & S of all employees and others put at risk by employees’ work related driving activities.
- Management of Health & Safety at Work Regulations 1992, updated 1999 – employers must take ‘periodic assessments’ of risks and safety of employees and other people who may be affected by their work activities.
- Provision & Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 (PUWER) – all work equipment including vehicles must be suitable for intended use and safe and that employees operating such equipment are properly trained.
- Reporting of Injuries, Disease & Dangerous Occurrences (RIDDOR) – sets out how workplace injuries are reported and may include following review drivers injured in course of work.
- Working Time Regulations – governs the number of hours employees are expected to work including driving on company business.
- Road Traffic Act 1988 – an employer may be found guilty of aiding and abetting an employee who commits an offence under this Act.
- Road Death Investigation Manual – visit ACPO Police to see they types of questions that the Police will now ask – the advice to police officers Includes:
- Interview Senior Directors / Managers
- Seize Vehicles
- Seize Health & Safety Records
- Interview Staff
- HSE Guidelines – Driving at Work – Managing Work Related Road Safety - this document is the cornerstone and the content has to be applied by all companies.
- The Health Act 2006 – “An Act to make provision for the prohibition of smoking in certain premises, places and vehicles” effective 1st July 2007. The definition of a vehicle that must be smoke free is one that is used ‘primarily as a work vehicle by more than one person regardless of whether they are in the vehicle at the same time’. This applies equally to company vehicles and private vehicles used on business where the business use is greater than private. All such vehicles must display a no smoking symbol.
- Road Safety Act 2006 – Covers drink driving, speeding, penalties & enforcement driver training, driver & vehicle licensing, motor insurance, road user charges and speed camera funding.
- Health & Safety Offences Act 2008 – Introduced in January 2009, this Act brought about amendments to the sentencing provisions detailed in the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974. Aimed at punishing individuals (as opposed to companies) for health and safety breaches, the Act also significantly increased the maximum penalties that can be imposed.
- The Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act – Introducing a new offence, across the UK, for prosecuting companies and other organisations where there has been a gross failing, throughout the organisation, in the management of health and safety with fatal consequences. An employer must demonstrate ‘working’ Health and Safety procedures.
The ability to demonstrate means:
- Initial risk assessment
- Hazardous activities identified
- Management strategies to counter these
- Training planned and completed
- Continual monitoring
In the event of an accident, the police, assisted by the Health and Safety Executive, will carry out the initial investigations. If they then believe there is a case for prosecution they will hand over the evidence to the Health and Safety Executive who will then seek to have the case tried in court.
In the event that an accident involves an employee driving on company business, the police will be looking for the following evidence:
- Why was the vehicle at the scene?;
- The mechanical condition of the vehicle – regardless of ownership;
- The physical condition of the driver, including signs of fatigue;
- The legalities of both vehicle and driver – Licence, MOT, Insurance etc.
It is for these reasons that a vehicle and driver audit trail is required to show that the policy for employees driving on company business is based on Health and Safety best practice lines. There are numerous Acts of Parliament applying to road transport that set out clear requirements for both employer and employee regarding road-worthiness and safe operation of company vehicles. Legal action has already been taken against companies and their staff in a bid to reduce road accidents and improve health and safety standards in the work place.
A company needs to introduce a process and service enabling a fully auditable risk management solution, minimising the risk to your employees and other road users and to ensure that you comply with all aspects of both the current and any future legislation that applies to Occupational Road Risk.
The process includes:
- Corporate Risk Assessment;
- Preparation of comprehensive Management Report highlighting key areas of concern;
- Provide solutions, policies and legal opinion;
- Agree, create and manage and action plan designed to mitigate these areas of risk;
- Determine all employees at risk;
- Conduct individual driver risk assessment;
- Audit Trail / Performance Monitor / Record Maintenance.
Corporate Risk Assessment
The key is to be compliant with all legislation and Government Department advice in terms of car & health and safety policy ensuring that all processes and procedures are robust, followed, managed and audited.
Areas that must are comprehensively covered:
- Policy – compliant, communicated, read, understood, agreed & accepted;
- Drivers – competent, capable, trained, fit and healthy;
- Vehicles – fit for purpose, maintained correctly, active & passive safety equipment, drivers conversant with all aspects of vehicle, ergonomic consideration;
- Journeys – planned, realistic schedules, time planned, fatigue / break advice and weather considerations