It’s the law!

Did you know, employers have duties under health and safety legislation for their on-the-road work activities. The Health & Safety at Work Act 1974 (HSW Act 2) states, “You must ensure, so far as reasonably practicable, the health and safety of all employees while at work. You must also ensure that others are not put at risk by your work-related driving activities”. That’s not me saying this, it’s the Health & Safety Executive!

In my experience, driver safety is sadly the poor relation of health and safety in the workplace, often because driving is not viewed as being a risky activity, after all, we all do it. But remember, over a quarter of collisions happen in work’s time, on a work’s journey, so as a responsible employer and one who puts people first, managing driver safety is a must and is a legal obligation too.

Now, here comes the challenge. We want to manage driver risk effectively in the workplace, what do we have to do? How do we do it? Who will do it? So many questions. Let’s explore this in a bit more detail.

Firstly, the mandate must come from the top for two reasons. Firstly the ‘controlling mind’, CEO, MD, business owner, etc., of the company has the authority to introduce practices to manage driver risk and secondly, should a fatality be a result of a work-related RTC, and the company were found guilty of failing in their duty of care, the charge is likely to be Corporate Manslaughter, which almost always results in a custodial sentence. It’s the controlling mind of the company who will face these charges. Incidentally, if a company were to suffer a significant incident, not resulting in a fatality, there is a lesser charge but one that will hit the bottom-line greatly; a fine based on a percentage of the company’s turnover!

So, the controlling mind, gives the mandate required, what then?

Someone needs to take responsibility for driver safety in the business, on behalf of, but supported by, the senior management team. Here are a few of the essential things you need to consider:

  • Records. A system to record all your drivers, the vehicles they drive and everything else that makes up good Driver Risk Management, RTC reporting, training, etc. Here’s a question for you, do you know exactly who drives in your business, even if it’s just an occasional trip?

  • Fitness to drive. Often taken for granted by both drivers and employers. If driving is a significant part of a person’s working day, then you should really engage the services of an Occupational Health professional to carry our driver fitness screening. You’d be amazed to learn just how many drivers have an undiagnosed and unreported DVLA notifiable medical condition.

  • A Risk Assessment. Specifically written for all on-road driving activities.

  • A Driver Safety Policy. More than a one-pager, this needs to be a comprehensive document articulating standards, expectations and control measures to mitigate risk, especially those identified through the Risk Assessment. Do you have one, would it stand up to scrutiny, is it well communicated to staff?

  • Licence checking. Extremely important as since the abolition of the paper counterpart, we no longer know what the driver’s history is, they might be banned, would you know? The only sure way is to conduct a GDPR compliant licence check – do you know how to do this?

  • Driver risk profiling. What we mean by this is that, statistically, a handful of your drivers, may be high risk. You need to identify who they are, why they are high risk and put measure in place to mitigate the risks.

  • Grey fleet management. This is an industry term for people who use their own vehicle for work purposes, not the commute, but driving as part of their work. The law makes no distinction between company vehicles or employee’s own vehicles. You have a duty of care to ensure the vehicle is fit for purpose, serviced in accordance with the manufacturer’s recommendations, is taxed, has an MOT if it needs one and that the driver has business cover on their insurance, you’d be amazed how many don’t!

  • Training. This can be in-class or on-road training and should also include the training of Line Managers. Do your Line Managers know what their responsibilities are for helping the company manage driver risk? After all, they are the people who have direct contact with your driving population. Training should be based on a needs analysis, this way it can be targeted to those that need it and the training tailored to an individual’s needs.

  • Ongoing Driver Risk Management. This is basically bringing your Driver Risk Management programme to life, making driver safety part of the company’s DNA. It involves senior management discussing incidents, lessons learned and to achieve zero harm in the workplace, through an effective communication plan. Most important of all, your programme should be reviewed annually, as a minimum, more frequently if your business is going through significant change or growth.

As you will see, managing driver risk in the workplace is quite an undertaking, but then again, it should be, we owe it to staff, after all, they are a company’s greatest asset and deserve to be kept safe.