Fleet News

Fleet News industry conference 2003: Safety warning for outsourced fleets

FLEETS outsourcing maintenance contracts to third party groups must be extra vigilant when writing health and safety policies, according to David Young, a partner at international law firm Eversheds.

Speaking at the Industry Conference, Young outlined the changing responsibilities faced by fleets following the introduction of the recent Health and Safety Executive (HSE) guidance on work-related road safety and warned of the added responsibility associated with outsourcing.

He said: 'Fleets don't have time to do everything and can delegate tasks to other people. It may make sense for some to outsource maintenance, but a risk assessment of the third party supplier must be completed.'

The HSE guidance provides fleets with advice to follow when implementing a work-related road safety policy, but introducing it in specific fleet policies can bring problems, according to Young.

'There is no problem in the guidance but when applying it to specific businesses, practical questions always arise. We have to make our own judgement. The guidance raises issues but evaluating risk is really tough,' he said.

Having strict policies to meet impending legislation such as a ban on the use of mobile phones while driving is an 'inevitable reality' and although insurance policies cover many fleet incidents, they do not extend to fines, added Young.

'Policies can never pay your fines which is what health and safety breaches amount to. This is a day-to-day reality for fleets and health and safety should be high, if not at the top, of agendas.

'Health and safety breaches by businesses should incur fines that are big enough for the shareholders to take notice,' he said.

Young expects to see changes to work-related safety in future years, but believes fleets need to strive towards improving risk without minimising productivity.

He said: 'Employers have to find ways to manage risks faced today without eroding the competitive edge of business.'

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