About work-related road safety
Anyone who uses public roads has to comply with legislation. This is managed by the DfT (the Department for Transport). This legislation covers things such as work-related road safety requirements, the regular examination of vehicles and speed limit application. The legislation is enforced by the Police as well as VOSA (the Vehicle and Operator Services Agency). These agencies maintain a presence on the roadside to enable to legislation to be enforced. The DfT is supported by the HSE (the Health and Safety Executive) as well as other industry and government stakeholders whose responsibility it is to improve road standards.
Health and safety law
Both self-employed people and employers are required by law to make sure that the welfare, health and safety of their employees is ensured as far as possible when they are working. Employers also have a duty to other people that may come into contact with their employees, ensuring that they are not put at any risk by the work undertaken by the employees.
The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999
Under the law, employers are required to carry out risk assessments with regards to the health and safety of themselves, their employees and other people who may be affected by their work. This assessment must also include driving activities. The employer has a duty to review their risk assessments regularly to ensure they remain valid and appropriate. The risks to employees when driving should be given just as much consideration as the risks to everyone in the workplace.
When work-related road safety is effectively managed, it will reduce risks and could result in fewer driver injuries, reduced work-related ill-health absences, improved morale and reduced stress, for example.
‘So far as reasonably practicable’
The levels of risk and the control measures need to be balanced reasonably in terms of time, money and trouble. Action does not need to be taken if this would be massively disproportionate to the risk level. Employees must be consulted alongside health and safety representatives (when applicable) on issues including:
- Any risks that arise from the work they are carrying out
- How the risks will be managed and controlled
- The best ways to give information and train employees
Employers also have other duties through road traffic laws including the Road Vehicles (Construction and Use) Regulations and the Road Traffic Act. These are administered by police alongside other agencies like the DVSA (the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency).
Most often it is the police that take the lead on investigations in road traffic incidents that occur on public highways. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) only gets involved in the matter if the police say there have been serious failures in management that have contributed significantly to the incident.
If, for example, an employee is killed while driving a vehicle for work purposes and evidence suggests there were serious failures by management this could mean that there has been a ‘gross breach of a relevant duty of care’ and the organisation or company could be prosecuted against the Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act 2007.
An accident that occurs while someone is driving for work might be RIDDOR reportable. RIDDOR stands for the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences. These have to be reported to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and can also lead to the injured party claiming for personal injury.
RIDDOR means that self-employed people, employers and those who are in control of work premises have a duty to report accidents of a serious nature that occur in the workplace as well as ‘near misses’ (specified dangerous occurrences) and occupational diseases.
In terms of accidents that have to be reported, these include:
- A death – this can be to a worker or otherwise (apart from suicides). Deaths have to be reported if they happened because of an accident that was work-related. This includes physical violence at work.
- Specific injuries – listed as ‘specified injuries’ that are reportable include fractures (apart from fractures to fingers, toes and thumbs), amputations, injuries that cause reduction or loss of sight, crush injuries to the torso or head that cause brain damage or damage to internal organs), serious scalds and burns that cover more than 10 per cent of the body or cause significant harm to eyes, vital organs or the respiratory system, scalping (if it requires hospital treatment), asphyxia or loss of consciousness following a head injury, injuries in enclosed spaces like hypothermia or a heat-induced illness, or an incident that requires admittance to hospital for over 24h or one that requires resuscitation.
The law requires employers and the self-employed to follow certain procedures with regards to risk assessments and the reporting of incidents. This includes incidents that occur on the road both to employees and non-workers.