Fleet News

Fleet panel: half of fleets still to read new road safety guidance

WEEKS after the Health and Safety Executive launched ground-breaking guidance spelling out how companies can ensure drivers are safer on the road, half of fleet decision-makers have yet to even read the guidance.

While in some cases pressure of time and illness have been stated, others simply admit they haven't got round to it, or say they didn't even know about the 24-page report.

The guidance, called 'Driving at Work: Managing Work-Related Road Safety', provides a checklist of areas that fleets need to examine to be certain they are meeting their duty of care to employees.

While it is only guidance, with no legal standing, it is backed by a string of laws that could put employers in the dock if they fail in their duty of care to at-work drivers, including those on business in private cars.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) launched the guidance following research which estimated up to one-third of all road traffic accidents involve somebody who is at work at the time. This may account for more than 20 fatalities and 250 serious injuries every week.

An HSE spokesman said: 'This guidance will be particularly helpful to those with responsibility for fleet management and any employer, manager or supervisor with staff who drive or ride a motorcycle or bicycle at work. Risks to those on the road should be assessed in the same way as those in the workplace.

'The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 require employers to carry out a risk assessment and take appropriate action to reduce risks as much as is reasonably practical.'

But exclusive Fleet News research suggests that for thousands of fleets, the safety calls will fall on deaf ears.

The latest figures are certain to be depressing reading for the HSE, which has spent three years preparing the document. Furthermore, it plays into the hands of pundits who claim the only way some fleets will take safety seriously is when a fleet executive ends up in court following a fatal accident for breaching his or her duty of care to drivers.

  • You can see the report via the Useful Stuff section of this site. Click on 'HSE work related road safety document'

    Have you read the new guidance on health and safety, called Driving at Work, from the Health and Safety Executive?

    Yes: 50%
    No: 50%

    'Yes. I have read the new guidance and attended the recent Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents seminar relating to managing occupational road risk, which was excellent. The main problem is the attitude of senior management in adopting these guidelines that will be perceived as more red tape. It will require a test case for the matter to be fully implemented. We should not, however, lose sight of the fact that the law has not changed and that the employer's responsibilities have always been there. There were more than 200 people at this seminar but sadly not many appeared to be fleet managers.'
    Mick Donovan
    Group fleet manager, Bowmer & Kirkland

    'No. I have downloaded it from the internet but I have yet to find the time to read it.'
    A.B, via email

    'No, not yet but I am intending to as soon as possible.'
    D.F, via email

    'We have been for some time actively operating a safety policy. Our vehicles are serviced on a regular schedule and records kept for the life of that vehicle. We do not encourage use of private vehicles except in exceptional circumstances. In our group we have people who have been trained as members of the Institute of Advanced Motorists and are approved as assessors. Finally, we are looking at our driver licence checking system with a view to updating it.'
    Chris Ward
    Transport and ground equipment manager, Channel Express

    'Yes, I have read the HSE guidance. For many years, the Royal National Institute for the Blind (RNIB) has had fleet operations as a standing agenda item for its corporate health and safety advisory group, of which I am now a full member. As a result, fleet policy has incorporated a number of items promoted through the advisory group, including banning the use of mobile phones, driver hours, business use of private vehicles and driver training. A copy of the new guidance has been forwarded to our health and safety manager and we will shortly be going through it.'
    Alan Miles
    Administration & data protection manager, RNIB

    'No. I have not had sufficient time to obtain one.'
    F.N, via email

    'No, I was not aware of its existence, but have now printed a copy from the HSE website and will read it thoroughly.'
    G.H, via email

    'Yes, I have read the HSE's guidance. Previously I had thought we had driver and vehicle safety fairly well buttoned up but going through the guidance using a checklist, it is very clear that there are several areas our company can improve on. I intend to meet with our directors and will set about improving our procedures.' Heather Loveday
    Fleet manager, Cope & Timmins Group

    'Our road risk policy is in the final stages of preparation and due for issue shortly.'
    Brian Middleton
    Fleet manager, Herts County Council

    'I have downloaded the document and have discussed it with my managing director and we shall follow the guidance within the document (and the Risk Management Guide with last week's Fleet News) and write the policy after discussion with drivers.'
    Peter Connah
    Company secretary, Lancaster Partners

    'I am planning to meet with our group risk manager to assess how effectively we are currently addressing the areas raised with existing policies and procedures. Where there are gaps, we will need to decide on the appropriate action.'
    Nigel Trotman

    'It makes interesting reading and will need to be incorporated in to our policy and drivers' handbook. Fortunately we already have about 60% of it in place.'
    P.J.B, via email

    'Finally, we have something concrete! We will be checking our existing policies against it to ensure we are meeting the requirements.'
    Phillippa Caine
    Company secretary, Corgi

    'I have not yet read it. We are committed to managing occupational road risk. This document will further support the procedures we are putting into place.'
    M.E, via email

    'The first thing we will do is consider how to achieve the inevitably complex risk assessments. However, the question we all need to ponder is who should be regarded as 'competent' in this area.'
    Steve Skelly
    Rowley Ashworth

    'We have been planning to do additional checks and this document emphasises the need for those. The guidelines are mostly common sense. It will, however, need a few test cases to determine what is adequate and what is not. Service checking could be particularly onerous if out-sourcing is not a get-out. Everyone seems to be saying use hire cars instead of employee-owned cars (suitably insured), yet one is reliant on the hire company ensuring the cars are properly serviced. Is that good enough? Does one need to check the service record before driving off?'
    D.G, via email

    There are more than 150 decision makers in the Fleet Panel. To join, email fleetnews@emap.com . The panel members who said they had not seen the guidance have been sent a web link so they can log on and study the health and safety document.

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