Why didn’t I know that the law requires me to manage driver risk?
Like many statutory requirements that businesses face, you very often only find out what you need after something goes wrong. That’s not ideal and can be extremely costly. That’s why I explain what should be in place for driver safety, based on ‘prevention is better than the cure’.
Who says it’s the law?
The Health & Safety Executive. They are the people who will investigate you in any health & safety incident and have the powers to prosecute. Their advice is in this document INDG382
At work doesn’t just mean being in a building or site. If you are driving for work, you are at work!
Do I have to manage driver risk even though there is only me in the business?
Yes, but it’s about taking reasonable and practical steps. A sole trader has a responsibility to go about their trade or profession in a safe manner. Once the business grows and starts to employ people, responsibilities change as risk increases. Every business is expected to consider health & safety while at work but, once you have five employees, your health & safety regime must be documented. If any of these people drive as part of their work, your duty of care extends to managing driver risk, therefore you must have a documented driver risk policy and process.
What do you mean by ‘driving for work’ purposes?
An employee’s commute to and from their normal place of work is not your responsibility but any driving they do that’s required in order to carry out their job is ‘work-related’. Therefore this is your responsibility. It includes things like going out to meet customers, attending conferences, trade shows and training events. Even asking a staff member to pop to the shops, if they drive to do this, is work-related.
What are the prosecution possibilities?
If you are found guilty of a failing in your duty of care under the Health & Safety at Work act or the Health & Safety & Work regulations, your business could be fined a percentage of its turnover. If a fatality is involved, the business owner could face corporate manslaughter charges for which there is usually a custodial sentence.
Take a look at this video which shows how things can go wrong for a business. Although it’s made by the N Ireland transport department, everything is relevant here in the UK.
My staff drive their own vehicles so I’m ok, aren’t I?
As far as the law is concerned it doesn’t matter who owns the vehicle if used for work. You’re responsible for ensuring your staff have business insurance and that the vehicle is taxed, has an MOT if required and that the vehicle is serviced in accordance with the manufacturer’s recommendations. You must be able to provide documentary evidence of all of these and ensure that nothing is out of date.
I get a copy of the driver’s licence; is that enough?
Unfortunately, no. You can’t tell from a photo-card or paper licence whether it’s genuine, valid or contains any endorsements. The only robust way is to check a licence, with the driver’s permission, through the Government’s official website or via a third-party licence checking service.
We have a driver safety handbook; is that enough?
That’s a great start but probably not. Managing driver risk, as would be expected by law, requires you to consider several things such as risk assessments, driver safety policy, licence checking, ongoing driver risk management, vehicle management, driver training, information management. You also need to have documented practices and procedures for all your driving activities in place.
I’m a charity or an educational establishment; do I have to manage driver risk?
Yes, if you have staff who drive on behalf of the organisation. The law for managing health & safety, which includes driver risk management, applies to any business. This means commercial entities, public sector bodies, educational establishments and even charities or social enterprises.
I use contractors; do I have to include them in my driver risk management?
If you use contractors on a regular basis and you want to take driver risk management seriously, then yes, you should treat them the same as your staff.
How can I manage driver risk when I can’t see what my drivers get up to?
Firstly, it’s about having the right culture in your business; one that puts people first and is based on trust. You also need a good policy that is well communicated. There are tools available to risk-profile a driver and technology that provides feedback to the driver and their manager on how their vehicle is being driven.
We already have a driver safety programme in place; can you review it for us?
I’d be delighted but I’d need a conversation with you first so that I get a picture of what’s involved. Then we can talk about timescales, outcomes and costs.
How can I manage driver risk on a day by day basis?
It’s all about having the right culture, policies, practices and management systems in place and then using technology to understand how your staff are driving, without the big brother approach. Get in touch and I’ll tell you more about this innovative option.
How secure is the data on your driver risk management system?
The system is stored on your own computer or server so the data is as safe as your own data management procedures. Adrian Hide Consultancy or Excel My Business don’t have access to your data; we just provide the platform that you download onto your computer.
You specialise in businesses that have cars, vans or minibuses; what about commercial vehicles?
The commercial vehicle industry is highly regulated and has its own specialists. I’m no expert when it comes to commercial vehicles, so I tend to stick to my area of expertise. However, I do work collaboratively with an HGV specialist who can help with compliance and driver CPC. I’d be happy to make an introduction.