Companies who are running vehicles need to fully understand their situation & have policies in place. It's just as relevant whether you're in charge of five cars or 500. In fact fleet issues are often overlooked.
As a company starts out & begins to grow, it often isn't bothered about company car fleet policy because it doesn't perceive itself as a fleet operator. The task of running a fleet of vehicles can be very frustrating - especially as legislation often dictates how things should be administered.
Running a small fleet isn't a full time job, so it may be left to a staff member to juggle with their regular commitments or is split between different departments.
"Because there's not the perception that these firms are running a fleet it's rare that people will take proper responsibility for it, there's often not that realisation until a problem arises & someone has an accident. Then fleet policy happens almost by default."
It may seem unnecessary to a small company, but the policies are common sense and important. For instance take the legislation came into place to ban smoking. Do your company's vehicles constitute a place of work? Do you allow your drivers to smoke behind the wheel of their car during their spare time or at weekends? What about driving while using a mobile phone? Hands free kits may not be breaking the law, but research has shown it can be very distracting. So do you allow your drivers to take calls behind the wheel or make it a policy for them not to?
When was the last time you checked all of your employee's driving licences? I have heard or several horror stories of drivers being banned either for drink driving or speeding offences, I am aware of employer who used to check all of it's employees every 12 months, they would ask the staff to produce the licence for inspection, to their horror they found this was not adequate, a member of staff had been banned for 18 months for drink driving, their licence had been checked just 2 weeks prior to the ban. This member of staff in fear of losing their job kept this a secret until they were involved in a head-on collision some 9 months later, fortunately there were no fatalities. The vehicle was written off, the insurance was also void due to the driving ban.
Staff that have recent driving offences have also been known to tell the DVLA that they have lost their licence, a new licence is then sent through to them showing the offence, they can then produce the so called 'lost' one to show their employer which is clear of the offence. As a result, many companies now use a checking service that is connected directly with the DVLA.
The Grey Fleet
A growing problem that you may not be aware of is your 'grey fleet'. if you have drivers who use their vehicles on any form of company business, these vehicle need to be insured for use on company business & subjected to regular scheduled safety inspections........ Quite simply, they need to be treated in the same way as your company vehicles. If a fatal accident occurs involving a 'grey fleet' vehicle & the directors are proved to be at fault by not having correct procedures & policies in place, they could find themselves facing very serious legal repercussions on top of the inevitable trauma of the incident.
The police are looking at road-related deaths involving company cars far more closely than ever before, especially since the introduction of the Corporate Manslaughter Act in 2008. The implications of complacency when it comes to your fleet could be far greater than you imagine.
Fleet Audit - Health & Safety Compliance
The purpose of the questionnaire is to help us to identify areas that require attention and to offer guidance in these areas. We will advise you on the actual law, the possible consequences of ignoring the law, and the importance of introducing an internal Duty of Care policy. The Fleet Audit also raises issues about data you need to record in order to satisfy a Health & Safety audit.
Companies who regard the corporate manslaughter legislation as an issue that simply increases cost and have ignored it should seriously take another look. The financial implications of an accident can be enormous and companies should adopt a positive approach by recognising that the introduction of the necessary policies and procedures required to comply with the legislation will actually reduce costs.
Ignoring the legislation could certainly lead to an increase in costs, because in the event of an serious incident where blame can be attributed to the operating company involving one of their employees or a vehicle on company business they could face massive fines for non compliance, negligence or manslaughter charges which could result in imprisonment, especially for those involved for not putting the correct procedures in place this includes the owners and directors of a business.
You should be aware of your responsibilities as an employer.
- A vehicle is a place of work which means that Health & Safety legislation applies;
- Under the Health & Safety at Work Act, businesses have a ‘duty of care’ to ensure the safety of anyone driving on their behalf;
- An employer must have a safety policy which must be in writing if there 5 or more employees;
- If a vehicle driven by an employee kills someone, there will be an investigation. If it is found that your company’s actions contributed to the crash you, other managers and your company may be charged with manslaughter with possible penalties of life imprisonment and unlimited fines.
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