Risk assessments are commonplace in work settings and in other places where people need to be kept safe like schools, hospitals and outdoor activity centres for example. Road risk assessments follow the same approach as standard risk assessments and details the numerous hazards that are associated with drivers using vehicles for work purposes. These hazards include the length of the journey, the time of the journey, break arrangements, posture while driving, types of routes and driving alternatives.
The RoSPA (Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents) plays a vital role in road risk assessments as it encourages employers to carry out certain steps. These steps are:
- Vehicle usage audit, accidents and the cost of accidents
The audit needs to incorporate the following:
- The number of car users (essential and casual), van users and lorry users;
- The journeys undertaken – mileage distances by each vehicle type and journey lengths;
- Data from accidents – when and where the accidents have taken place and injury severities
- Insurance costs each year, the costs of employee absence after accidents and the cost of repairs.
- Road risk assessment
When carrying out a road risk assessment, the employer needs to take into account any hazards. These are things that have the potential to cause someone harm. The risk is how likely it is that any harm will happen due to a hazard. The RoSPA suggests the use of a scoring system that highlights the issues that pose the biggest concern.
- The introduction of safety measures and control measures
The following ideas are useful for any driver, not just the ones who drive for work:
- Eliminate or reduce the number of journeys that are unnecessary.
- Consider other transports like taxis, buses and trains.
- Avoid drivers travelling in adverse weather conditions or at nighttime.
- Lower the distances driven – set maximum distances per driver (daily, weekly, monthly or yearly limits).
- Control the hours a driver is on the road by setting daily, weekly or yearly upper limits.
- Specify routes that are the safest.
- Use the safest vehicles available.
- Set standards for driver capability. For example, have a requirement that drivers have to pass an advanced driving test. This should be paid for by the driver’s employer.
- Have a requirement for regular eye tests. A driver needs to be able to read a registration plate at a distance of 20.5 metres (they can wear glasses).
- Have clear policies about alcohol and substance use.
- Be explicit about the prohibition of using mobile phones when driving, including the use of hands-free calling.
How are Road Risk Assessments written?
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) sets out 5 steps for risk assessments (PDF file) to follow. These are:
- Identify any significant hazards associated with the road. To find these, employers should have an open dialogue with their driver employees who have first-hand experience of risks on the road. Employers should also check records of accidents and ill-health including any near misses that have been recorded.
- Name those that could be harmed. Is the hazard referring to employees or the general public, for example? The risk assessment should also include how the people mentioned could be harmed.
- Each hazard should come with an evaluation of the risk. This helps employers identify whether existing precautions meet the requirements or if there is a need to introduce further precautions. Control measures should be used to help prevent hazards.
- Anything significant should be recorded if there are more than 5 employees (if a company has 4 employees or fewer, there is no duty to record as much information but it still remains good practice to record anything related to the risk assessment).
- Risk assessments need to be reviewed periodically and especially when a significant change arises or if there is reason to believe that the assessment is not valid anymore.
Who should carry out the road risk assessment?
This should be done by a relevant and competent person in a management position. Sometimes companies hire consultants to carry out the risk assessments but it is the company’s responsibility to ensure that the consultant is fully competent to carry out the required risk assessment. While it is useful to have qualifications on paper, experience in the field is much more relevant.
Road risk assessments are necessary for all companies who employ people that are required to drive as a part of the job. Examples of companies include (but are not limited to) delivery companies, logistics, community care, school transport and taxi firms.
It is the employer’s responsibility to ensure that all potential hazards are identified and are associated with a level of risk. The risk assessment must also mention control measures and safety measures that help to mitigate that risk.