Did you know that between a quarter and a third of all road traffic collisions involve someone driving as part of their job?
The responsibility for ensuring employees are kept safe when driving for work lies not only with the driver, but also with their employer.
So, what do employers and their staff need to know – and do – before employees get behind the wheel?
The employer’s responsibility: the law
The main areas of legislation covering employers’ responsibilities are the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974, the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999, and road traffic laws.
Together, these place a requirement on employers to ensure “so far as reasonably practicable”, the health and safety of all employees while at work – including work activities on the road. As part of this, employers must carry out an assessment of the risks to the health and safety of employees, while they are at work. The self-employed have similar responsibilities.
In the event of a road traffic accident, depending on the circumstances, the police might investigate to establish if management failures were a significant contributory factor.
Health and safety laws don’t apply to people travelling to and from their usual workplace – but they do apply if they’re driving from their home to somewhere that isn’t their usual place of work.
Best practice steps employers can take
The employer might not be in the driver’s seat, but there are some practical things they can do to reduce risks.
- Make sure vehicles are inspected and serviced to manufacturers’ recommendations
- Communicate health and safety issues to employees
- Provide adequate training & instruction to ensure competence
- Take account of all hours worked, not just those spent at the wheel when planning driving schedules
- Use the safest routes, avoid peak traffic times & have realistic schedules
- Ensure relevant departments work together on work-related road safety
- Encourage employees to report any work-related road incidents
The employee’s responsibility
Police figures show that over 500 people are killed each year, 5,000 seriously injured and 40,000 slightly injured in collisions involving drivers or riders who are driving for work. To keep themselves and others safe, people driving for work have several responsibilities.
- Having the right licences to drive the vehicle
- Checking that the vehicle is roadworthy
- Being aware of the ‘fitness to drive’ requirements under the Highway Code
- Taking account of weather conditions when planning journeys
- Keeping their mobile phone switched off
People who use their own vehicle for work
Employers have the same duty of care under health and safety laws to staff who drive their own vehicles for work – the ‘grey fleet’ – as they do to employees who drive company-owned, leased or hired vehicles.
Employers are required to ensure that vehicles used for work are safe and legal to be on the road and that drivers are properly licensed and insured. They should also ensure that employees are aware of their responsibilities (above).
Employers therefore need to be able to make necessary checks, either annually or as random spot checks. Employees must co-operate with these health and safety procedures, follow the employer’s rules and policies, and adhere to their responsibilities.
To find out more about driving related road safety click here.