Fleet News

HSC rejects new fleet safety role

THE Health and Safety Commission (HSC) has stepped back from tough proposals that would see the Health and Safety Executive scrutinise employers' fleet risk management policies and investigate road traffic accidents involving at-work drivers.

The HSC oversees the work of the HSE, and in a confidential letter to Transport Minister David Jamieson, the chair of the HSC Bill Callaghan said the HSE does not have the resource to play an active role in either vehicle accident investigations or road safety enforcement.

The letter, seen by Fleet News, accompanies the HSC's response to the 18 recommendations of the Work-related Road Safety Task Group (WRRSTG).

The HSC accepts the broad principles of the WRRSTG that there is a need for greater focus on the safety of company car, van and truck drivers, and that existing health and safety legislation is adequate to deal with the issue.

But the Commission has shied away from any commitment to investigate road accidents or look into fleet risk management strategies.

'HSE could not accommodate any increase in demands to inspect employers' arrangements for managing occupational road risk, including investigating road traffic accidents, or to engage duty holders more actively within current resource limits,' said Callaghan.

Instead, the HSC accepts only that the HSE could work with police to develop a checklist criteria for police officers to use at the scene of an accident. But the Commission rejects outright any greater involvement of either the HSE or local authorities in police investigations.

'The logistics of responding to road incidents in this way would be extremely difficult and disproportionately resource intensive,' it said. However, the HSC also noted that 'under new operational arrangements for accident investigation, the police are taking more of an interest in employers' responsibilities.'

Callaghan said the HSC may need to reconsider its involvement in road risk enforcement and accident investigation in future, and confirmed that the WRRSTG 'has made clear that there is a need for occupational risk and health and safety management considerations to be more prominent in the Government's Roads Safety strategy.'

The HSC also accepts that employers should be sent a strong message to remind them of their responsibilities, and agrees that road safety measures should be included within corporate health and safety policies.

But it does not expect the HSE or Local Authorities to enforce this, and instead suggests that fleet executives could draw up an industry-wide risk management policy, saying: 'It may be possible to develop best practice guidance based on the management arrangements used by the best fleet managers.'

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