‘Driving at work is the most significant hazard for most employees. How can we reduce risk’?
Posted by Tracy Seward
Driving at work is common practice for many organisations and for some, it is at the heart of all that they do. It has been estimated that up to a third of all road traffic accidents involve somebody who is at work at the time. This may account for over 20 fatalities and 250 serious injuries every week!
Most employers try to ensure that they comply with road traffic law and their legal obligations by having relevant vehicle details and ensure that drivers hold a valid license, however, is this really enough to ensure the safety of both the driver and other people on the road?
There will always be risks associated with driving and although these cannot be completely controlled, an employer still has a responsibility to assess and manage the risks as a basic requirement set out by the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations. The responsibilities of ‘Senior Management’ in the Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act 2007 should also be considered.
So how can the level of risk be reduced? Well as always it starts from the top. The key is to set out the organisations policy and organisational arrangements for managing work-related road safety which caters for both vehicle fleet drivers and those who use their own vehicle often referred to as the ‘grey fleet’. In this way, the organisation can set out its approach to managing issues and performance standards such as the use of alternative safer means of transport, use of technology rather than travel, duration of driving, the use of mobile devices and line management responsibilities.
Following the establishment of the organisation’s policy, a risk assessment approach helps employers and managers manage occupational road risk better. The management of occupational road risk involves forward planning and a common-sense approach and is often set out as the responsibility of management and employees. When evaluating the risk the main items you may want to consider are driver, vehicle and journey:
Driver – Are you satisfied that your drivers are competent and capable of carrying out their work in a way that is safe for them and other people? Are they suitably trained and capable to drive safely? Do they understand their responsibilities while driving at work and the organisation’s policy?
A handbook giving advice and information on road safety is often used and should include the organisation’s policy and their personal responsibilities. Also implementing an induction process for drivers so that new recruits are assessed to ensure they are properly qualified and capable to drive. There is a need to keep checks up to date as drivers circumstances can change and the employer should be able to act accordingly in the case of a change in health or disqualification.
Vehicle – Are you satisfied that the vehicles that are authorised to be used for work are fit for purpose and maintained in a safe condition? Is safety equipment properly fitted and maintained? Are you satisfied that drivers are not being put at risk from articles being transported in the vehicle cabin or by inappropriate seating positions and driving posture?
When choosing a vehicle, ensure it is suitable and that importance is placed on safety features such as NCAP ratings. Vehicles should be maintained in good condition and repairs to be carried out to the correct standard. Employees must be encouraged to carry out pre-use and basic safety checks.
Journey – Are journeys planned and work schedules realistic? Are you satisfied that sufficient consideration is given to avoiding the need to travel, the use of technology and use of the most appropriate means of transport such a rail over the road? Do employees consider weather conditions?
Ultimately employers are responsible for the management of road risk and setting out their policy for employees to operate safely within. The challenge is of course that drivers often fail to consider that they are at work while driving for their employer and believe they can act as they please. So some education may be required to change those views and behaviours.
Follow this link to read the HSE Driving at Work leaflet in full
To discuss this or anything else Health and Safety related contact us on 0870 4464201 or email email@example.com Driver Awareness training is included in the Praxis42 Health and Safety Induction eLearning course. For a demo or to discuss this contact us here.