The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 requires you to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health and safety of all employees while at work.
You also have a responsibility to ensure that others are not put at risk by your work-related driving activities (self-employed people have a similar responsibility to that of employers).
Under the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999, you have a responsibility to manage health and safety effectively. You need to carry out an assessment of the risks to the health and safety of your employees, while they are at work, and to other people who may be affected by their work activities.
The Regulations require you to periodically review your risk assessment so that it remains appropriate. You are required to consult with your employees, and where applicable, their health and safety representatives, on the health and safety issues covered in this guidance.
Health and safety law does not apply to commuting, unless the employee is travelling from their home to a location which is not their usual place of work.
Benefits of managing work-related road safety
The true costs of accidents to organisations are nearly always higher than just the costs of repairs and insurance claims.
The consequences of an accident on the self-employed and small businesses are likely to be proportionately greater than on a larger business with greater resources.
The benefits to you from managing work-related road safety can be considerable, no matter the size of your business.
• It allows you to exercise better control over costs, such as wear and tear and fuel, insurance premiums and legal fees and claims from employees and third parties.
• It also allows you to make informed decisions about matters such as driver training and vehicle purchase, and helps you identify where health and safety improvements can be made.
• Case studies and research have shown that benefits from managing work-related road safety and reducing crashes include:
- fewer days lost due to injury
- reduced risk of work-related ill health
- reduced stress and improved morale
- less need for investigation and paperwork
- less lost time due to work rescheduling
- fewer vehicles off the road for repair
- reduced running costs through better driving standards
- fewer missed orders and business opportunities so reduced risk of losing the
goodwill of customers
- less chance of key employees being banned from driving, eg as a result of points on
Promoting sound health and safety driving practices and a good safety culture at work may well spill over into private driving, which could reduce the chances of staff being injured in a crash outside work.
How to manage work-related road safety?
Work-related road safety can only be effectively managed if it is integrated into your arrangements for managing health and safety at work. You should look at your health and safety systems and consider whether they adequately cover this area of work. The main areas you need to address are, policy, responsibility, organisation, systems and monitoring.
Does your health and safety policy statement cover work-related road safety? Your policy should be written down if you employ five or more people.
Is there top-level commitment to work-related road safety in your organisation and is responsibility clearly defined?
Does the person who is responsible for it have sufficient authority to exert influence and does everyone understand what is expected of them?
Organisation and structure
In larger organisations, your aim is to ensure that you have an integrated organisational structure that allows cooperation across departments with different responsibilities for work-related road safety. In smaller businesses, your aim is to ensure you consider the links between driving activities.
Do you have adequate systems to allow you to manage work-related road safety effectively? For example, are you confident that your vehicles are regularly inspected and serviced in accordance with manufacturers’ recommendations?
Do you monitor performance to ensure that your work-related road safety policy is effective?
Are your employees encouraged to report all work-related road incidents without fear that punitive action will be taken against them? Do you collect sufficient information to allow you to make informed decisions about the effectiveness of existing policy and the need for changes?
Assessing risks on the road
Risk assessments for any work-related driving activity should follow the same principles as risk assessments for any other work activity.
You should bear in mind that failure to properly manage work-related road safety is more likely to endanger other people than a failure to properly manage risks in the workplace.
A risk assessment is nothing more than a careful examination of what at work activities can cause harm to people. It helps you to weigh up whether you have done enough to ensure safe working practices or should do more to prevent harm.
Your risk assessment should be appropriate to the circumstances of your organisation and does not have to be over complex or technical. It should be carried out by a competent person with a practical knowledge of the work activities being assessed. For most small businesses, and the self-employed, the hazards will be easy to identify.
Employers who employ less than five people do not have to record their findings, but they may find it helpful to make some notes. The aim is to make the risk of someone being injured or killed, as low as possible.
Steps to risk assessment
Step 1 - Look for hazards that may result in harm when driving on public roads. Remember to ask your employees, or their representatives, what they think as they will have first hand experience of what happens in practice. You need the views of those who drive extensively, but also get the views of those who only use the roads occasionally. The range of hazards will be wide and the main areas to think about are the driver, the vehicle and the journey.
Step 2 - Decide who might be harmed. In almost all cases this will be the driver, but it might also include passengers, other road users and/or pedestrians. You should also consider whether there are any groups who may be particularly at risk, such as young or newly qualified drivers and those driving long distances.
Step 3 - Evaluate the risk and decide whether existing precautions are adequate or more should be done. You need to consider how likely it is that each hazard will cause harm. This will determine whether or not you need to do more to reduce the risk. It is likely that some risks will remain even after all precautions are taken. What you have to decide for each significant hazard is whether the remaining risk is acceptable.
Ask yourself whether you can eliminate the hazard, eg hold a telephone or videoconference instead of making people travel to a meeting. If not, you should think about how to control the risk, to reduce the possibility of harm, applying the principles set out below.
These should be considered in the following order, if possible:
• Consider whether your policy on the allocation of company cars actively encourages employees to drive rather than consider alternative means of transport. Consider an alternative to driving, eg going at least part of the way by train.
• Try to avoid situations where employees feel under pressure, eg avoid making unrealistic claims about delivery schedules and attendance which may encourage drivers to drive too fast for the conditions, or exceed speed limits.
• Organise maintenance work to reduce the risk of vehicle failure, eg ensure that maintenance schedules are in place and that vehicles are regularly checked by a competent person to ensure they are safe.
• Ensure that drivers and passengers are adequately protected in the event of an incident, eg ensure that seatbelts, and where installed airbags, are correctly fitted, work properly and are used. For those who ride motorcycles and other two-wheeled vehicles, crash helmets and protective clothing should be of the appropriate standard.
• Ensure that company policy covers the important aspects of the Highway Code, such as not exceeding speed limits.
Step 4 - Record your findings. Employers with five or more employees are required to record the significant findings of their risk assessment. If you have fewer than five employees you do not have to write anything down, though it is useful to keep a written record.
You must also tell your employees about what you have done. Your risk assessment must be suitable and sufficient. You need to be able to show that: a proper check was made; you consulted those who might be affected; you dealt with all the obvious hazards.
Step 5 - Review your assessment and revise it if necessary. You will need to monitor and review your assessment to ensure that the risks to those who drive, and others, are suitably controlled.
For this to be effective you need to have a system for gathering, recording and analysing information about road incidents. You should also record details of driver and vehicle history.
You may also need to review your assessment to take account of changing circumstances,
eg the introduction of new routes, new equipment or a change in vehicle specification.
Such a review should seek the views of employees and safety representatives where appointed.
It is good practice to review your assessment from time to time to ensure that precautions are still controlling the risks effectively.
Source: Health and Safety Executive (HSE)