Duty of Care Driving at Work
Mention the term Health & Safety and the chances are eyes will roll skywards and ears will shut down. From the seat of management to the seat in the company car, van or truck, there is a collective view that H&S is a pain in the tail.
The reality unfortunately is that most licence holders here gained their licence via minimal structured tuition; with no curriculum based instruction and as many laps as possible around the prospective test circuit on the days prior to the Test. This of course would be followed with the arrogance that the Test was ‘crap’, the examiner was a sub-human species and ’sure anyone can drive!’
Our entry into Europe has garnished us with many positives, but it demands that our business structures raise their game. Health & Safety in the workplace is a common piece of criminal legislation enacted across all member states. In other member states there are programmes in place that meet the demands of this very serious piece of legislation.
Company Vehicles on Public Roads
The Safety Health & Welfare at Work Act 2005 applies to all company vehicles used on public roads. The employer must carry out a risk assessment and safety statement in respect of the vehicle (including a risk assessment for its use on public roads) as per any other place of work.
Guidance from the Health & Safety Authority
From April 6th 2007, The Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act introduced a new offence, across the UK, for prosecuting companies and other organisations where there has been a gross failing, throughout the organisation, in the management of health and safety with fatal consequences.
Here, the latest figures from the Health & Safety Authority on workplace fatalities failed to include those driving at the time, where it is estimated that 33% of all road collisions probably involve someone who is driving as part of their work.
It is a falsely held belief that provided an employer complies with certain criteria of the Road Traffic Acts, e.g. Driver licensing, Road Tax, valid NCT, that this is enough to guarantee the safety of their employees and other road users, when the company vehicle is in use on the public road.
95% of all road traffic accidents are caused by human error. Inattention, distraction, fatigue and failure to observe the requirements under the Rules of the Road and the Road Traffic Acts are the primary failures.
Employers need to carry out an assessment of the risks to the health and safety of their employees, while they are driving at work and to other people who may be affected by their work activities.
The true cost of accidents is nearly always more than just the cost of repairs and insurance claims. Those that are self employed or running small businesses are likely to suffer the consequences of an accident proportionately greater than businesses that are larger with greater resources. The benefits of implementing good wok practice can be considerable, no matter the size of the business.
Costs such as:
• Wear and tear,
• Insurance premium,
• Legal Fees,
• Claims from Employees and Third Parties,
– can all be better controlled.
The following benefits can accrue from the implementation of a sound road safety management strategy:
• Reduced risk of work related ill health
• Fewer days lost due to injury
• Less lost time due to work rescheduling
• Reduced stress and improved morale
• Fewer vehicles off the road for repair
• Less need for investigation and associated paperwork
• Fewer missed business opportunities and customer orders thereby keeping the goodwill of the customer
• Reduced running costs through better driving standards
• Key employees have less chance of collecting points on the licences or being banned
• The private driving of employees will be safety enhanced, reducing the risk of staff being injured outside work
Our rebellious nature will resist all impositions until we cannot push that damned elephant up the stairs anymore. We have quite a distance to go before we catch up on our neighbours. But, catch we must. The alternative is a visit to the Big House………and we all know who wins there.