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Legal: Employee health and safety audits shouldn’t be optional

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Malcolm Maycock, MD of Licence Bureau, looks at audits in the wake of changes to the corporate manslaughter sentencing guidelines.

Recent events have raised the issue of a driver’s health and wellbeing behind the wheel, and more importantly, the steps their employer must take to ensure the medical profile of anyone operating their vehicles is as up-to-date as possible.

It has been said for many years that there may be weaknesses in the system of employees self-reporting any medical issues to their employers. Regardless of severity, this approach could allow an unfit driver to get behind the wheel or operate specialist equipment.

Changes must be made to how fitness-to-drive information, which has been gathered from third parties, can be acted on, whether this is from doctors, police or other third-party providers.

Licence Bureau recommend issuing a regular, bespoke audit to all employees, alongside independent medical examinations. This will ensure any changes to a driver’s health are not overlooked.

Obtaining up-to-date medical information, by cross referencing audits with recent results from medical examinations, could help to stop drivers deliberately misleading their employer. This would help to prevent them from driving when declared medically unfit to do so.

This is also crucially important for non-driving staff. With a certain proportion of ‘grey fleet’ drivers in many businesses, overlooking any medical issues could have serious consequences. Remember, if a member of staff uses their own vehicle to carry out the smallest of tasks without business cover, such as journeys to the post office or shop, the employer remains liable for prosecution should an incident occur.

Although regularly auditing employees may place additional strain on resources, relying entirely on drivers to self-report issues is no longer a suitable means to manage driver health and safety in the workplace. Taking these extra steps to guarantee health and safety in the workplace, as much as is reasonable, could ultimately save lives.

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