If your employees ever drive on company business, you should be aware that you, the employer, are responsible for ensuring that all possible measures have been taken to reduce risk of injury to the driver and any third party. This is the case whoever the vehicle belongs to, or even if it’s a hired vehicle.
Since April 2008, following the revision of the Corporate Manslaughter Act, a vehicle being driven in the course of work is treated like any other piece of workplace machinery. Under the revision, additional powers have been given to Police, Health and Safety commissioners and the Vehicle and Operator Services Agency (VOSA) to carry out random checks of vehicles and drivers.
In the event of a fatal accident, there will be a thorough investigation of an employer’s work-related road safety (WRRS) policy. This will involve a visit to the workplace and in-depth scrutiny of policies and procedures. Senior managers will be held accountable if these are found to be inadequate.
A company’s WRRS policy should show a defined procedure that will minimise risk and should comprise:
- regular driving licence checks
- regular vehicle checks
- routine maintenance
- interim maintenance and follow-up of advisory notices
- driver accident logging and post accident interviewing
- driver time logging
- driver health checks
All this may seem like just another bureaucratic headache for small companies who have little or no excess manpower to manage such a task, but the men in black are serious about reducing the UK road accident rate and are concentrating on vehicles used in the course of work, because these represent the largest percentage of accident cases.
Road collisions at work account for 30% of road accidents in the UK – nearly 1,000 fatalities and 8,500 serious injuries per annum. In simple terms, at least one third of people who drive in the UK on business each year are involved in a collision.
Formulating, implementing and maintaining a WRRS policy may seem a daunting task, but it needn’t be. Combined with a comprehensive but simple fleet management system, it can have huge underlying advantages, saving on manpower, fuel, maintenance, accident costs and insurance premiums.