Driving is a very common work task that a wide range of employees undertakes each day. Driving doesn’t just mean being on public roads moving between locations for things like delivery and collection or visiting another office, it also includes the use of vehicles on a worksite itself to move materials or people.
According to statistics, driving is actually the most dangerous occupational activity that the majority of employed people will undertake. In fact, the ETSC (the European Transport Safety Council) estimates that people driving for business account for 40 per cent of all road deaths in Europe. If we compare this to other work-related activities, driving contributes to many more work-related serious injuries and deaths than other activities carried out in the workplace.
As well as needing to comply with road traffic legislation, employers have more responsibilities when it comes to managing the risks to their employees who drive for work requirements.
As per the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, employers must make appropriate arrangements to ensure the safety and health of their employees are taken into account at all times. This duty of care also extends to other people that might be affected by their employees’ work activities. This includes riding and driving at work either in the employee’s personal vehicle, a company vehicle or a hired vehicle.
Whenever someone is driving, there will always be associated risks and these cannot be controlled completed. That said, employers have a responsibility to take reasonable steps to manage risks and do all that is reasonably practicable in order to protect their employees and others from harm, just like they would do in the workplace itself.
Considerations in Practice
Here are a few considerations that employers need to be mindful of:
- All employed drivers must be capable and competent to carry out their work in a way that is safe for others and themselves
- Drivers should be trained properly
- They should be healthy and fit to drive safely so that they do not put anyone at risk, including themselves
- Drivers need to be given information to help them reduce risks. For example, they should be told details like the recommended pressure of the vehicle’s tyres
- Employers should also inform drivers of correct driving posture
Employers need to make sure that any vehicle being used for their company or organisation is fit for purpose and maintained well.
- Plan appropriate routes for journeys
- Make sure work schedules are realistic
- Not put their drivers at risk of fatigue
- Bear in mind the weather conditions
- Seek their employees’ views as they will be the ones who have the first-hand experience of driving for the company
It’s important to recognise that employers won’t have the means to exercise the same level of control over hazards to their employees when they are driving for work as they would in a workplace building. There are, however, practical steps that help employers to reduce the risks of driving for work.
Employers are only able to effectively control occupational road safety if they integrate it into the arrangements of managing other health and safety aspects at work. For example, employers need to take into account the number of hours an employee works in total and not just the amount of time they have spent driving when they plan a driving schedule.
Practical advice can be found on the Health and Safety Executive website’s risk section. It details how to do a risk assessment and provides links to useful free publications.
Managing occupational road safety well has many benefits for businesses, no matter their size. Well-managed work-related road safety can mean:
- Fewer days lost at work due to injuries
- Fewer cars/vehicles in for repair
- Fewer orders missed
- Less need for follow up investigations
Work-Related Road Safety Responsibility
If a person is killed when they are driving for work and there is sufficient evidence that the employer has breached their duty of care then the employer, business or organisation might be prosecuted.
Each organisation needs to commit to managing occupational road safety and employers should:
- Control and prioritise risks
- Consult with employees and give them relevant information
- Ensure key departments cooperate with one another with regards to occupational road safety
- Ensure vehicles are serviced on schedule
- Ensure vehicles are inspected before each use
- Ensure any health and safety issues are discussed with employees
- Give their employees adequate training
- Monitor the health and safety policies and their performance
- Encourage all of their employees to report any occupational road incidents
- Regularly review their health and safety policies
- Make changes based on informed decisions when necessary
Stay safe out there.