ARE YOU DRIVING SAFELY?
OR MORE IMPORTANTLY – ARE YOUR EMPLOYEES DRIVING SAFELY?
Winter is upon us and this usually heralds periods of greater hazards for drivers – longer hours of darkness, sleet, ice and snow, fog etc. We therefore felt it appropriate to do a round up on driving.
The cars, vans or trucks that are often taken for granted are without doubt essential and expensive tools within business. Correct use by drivers and provision by employers of suitable and adequate rules, procedures and assessments etc are essential given the current legal position.
Employers must look at both Employment and Health and Safety matters to fully address this area in their business.
Why is it Important?
The reasons are numerous and varied and we have previously provided information through this update (see below for references) but in summary:
Road Traffic and Heavy Goods Vehicle legislation
Laws prohibiting use of hand held phones
General duty of care under HASAWA 1974
Requirement to have a suitable and sufficient Risk Assessment in place
Requirement to have suitable arrangements in place for managing driving as a work activity
Additionally new Road Safety Act legislation introduced in August 2008 means that any driver who has an accident that results in a death because they are distracted by an avoidable activity could face up to 5 years in prison. The definition of avoidable activity is very wide and can include hand held use of a phone (calls, texts etc), drinking, eating, adjusting Sat Nav, turning to talk to passengers, applying make-up, fiddling with radio/CD player, reading a map etc.
Responding to Case Law
Having a Safe System of Work
A straight forward Driving Policy and reasonable work arrangements and expectations will be vital if employers are to be able to rebut accusations and claims from drivers, enforcing authorities or insurance companies. In particular, employers should not impose workloads that force drivers to rush between appointments or drops, make business calls whilst driving or drive when tired.
Rules for use of vehicles within the Terms and Conditions of Employment / Employee Handbook will also serve to put controls in place. Properly drafted, these will protect employers and employees.
And whilst not wishing to sound like “Listen with Mother”, picking up on the ‘are you sitting comfortably’ theme above, vehicle seating is also an important factor. Employees’ physical stature, back injury history, amount of time behind the wheel etc are all important factors and must be taken into consideration when allocating vehicles from ‘the fleet’. Some flexibility within your policy to vary the make and model of cars issues will therefore be necessary.
All the above is focused on preventing accidents. With a third of road accident deaths believed to occur when driving on company business, it is an important area to address.
All our previous updates are available here
If you have any queries on any of the above then please contact us on 08456 446 006 or email firstname.lastname@example.org