Fleet News

Fleets should act now on safety

THE imposition of Health and Safety at Work legislation on the working practices of fleet managers will not happen for at least a year. But there are plenty of measures fleets can be taking now to prepare themselves for that day when an occupational highway code arrives on their desks, backed by the power to fine and imprison fleet managers and company bosses.

While stressing the ease at which existing workplace laws can be applied to fleet management, Rosalind Roberts, head of the policy section at the Health and Safety Executive, said time would be needed for consultation with all the parties which will be represented on the inter-agency task force announced by the Government in its road safety strategy, 'Tomorrow's Roads - Safer for Everyone'. The group will include representatives from the HSE, Trades Union Congress, Vehicle Inspectorate, Association of Chief Police Officers, Driving Standards Agency and - to represent the voice of fleet managers - the Confederation of British Industry.

Roberts forecasts that it will meet first in about six weeks to agree terms of reference and a timetable, followed by the publication of a discussion document and a conference to debate the issue. 'If there is employers' support we would issue an approved code of practice - an occupational highway code - which would touch on the whole range of management and exposure to risk issues,' she said. The code will outline minimum standards by which fleets must operate. In the event of suspected negligence it would be up to the defendant to prove what they were doing was equivalent to the minimum standard or exceeded it.

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