A Safety Bill was announced that aims to make transport operators and employers more responsible for the safety of their workers and the travelling public. Details of the proposals will not appear until next year, but although Government sources have hinted the fleet industry will be affected by part of the legislation to be introduced, corporate manslaughter will not be included.
The Bill will cover travel by road, air and sea, with a particular focus on rail safety after a series of rail crashes that have put train operators in the public eye.
Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott said: 'There have been a number of disturbing safety issues raised in recent years, both among the travelling public and in the workplace. This Bill should go a long way to making life safer for both workers and travellers.'
David Faithful, a partner with Amery-Parkes Solicitors, warned current legislation could still lead to manslaughter charges if fleet managers were proved to be ignoring the safety of their drivers.
RAC Business Services is calling on fleets to act as though the legislation was already in place in their approach to fleet safety. RAC head of risk management Allen Bewley said: 'Those companies that do not adopt the right safety policies will be leaving themselves extremely vulnerable. For too many companies' training stops at the shop floor, yet statistics show those employees who conduct their business away from the workplace are often those most at risk.'
RAC statistics show that, on average, 34% of company vehicles are, at any one time, operating below acceptable maintenance or safety standards while more than 95% of road accidents involve an element of human error.