Fleet News

Duty of care tests aim to help confused fleets

A SERIES of guidelines has been issued to help fleets meet their duty of care to drivers after employers admitted they were confused about what they were expected to do.

Fleets operators are finding it difficult to identify where their responsibilities lie for drivers on the road in company or private vehicles, despite advice published by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) in 2003, called Driving at Work.

Among the areas for confusion are what constitutes at-work driving.

The HSE produced its Driving at Work managing work-related road safety report last September. It said health and safety law should apply equally to 'on-the-road work activities' as to 'all work activities'.

Among companies fielding enquiries from fleets is Fleet News Award-winning driver training firm Peak Performance, which has produced the new guidelines.

Its director of risk management, Les Hammond, said: 'We have had numerous enquiries from companies asking what constitutes at-work driving under the new HSE guidance.'

It has identified three tests (see panel) that it says will define whether a company vehicle is involved in 'on-the-road work activities' and whether fleet managers have a duty of care to the driver. The tests cover areas of importance within the fleet arena – insurance, vehicle provision and health and safety.

'By applying these tests, companies will be able to make a decision as to whether they owe a duty of care to the driver and if the journey is covered by a duty of care,' Hammond said.

Fleets have to agree with all three questions from each test category to ensure they are complying with the HSE advice.

Hammond added: 'If any element of the driving activity can be construed as being at-work then a duty of care exists. Our view is that anyone who drives for work is subject to the Health and Safety at Work Act and adequate provision must be made.

'Whatever the driving activity, companies must be confident they have fully integrated driving into health and safety policies and have assessed their duty of care to the driver in a reasonable and practicable manner.'

Peak Performance says it is not meant to be an exhaustive list and companies must use their own judgement based on their own operating requirements.

Health & Safety test

  • The company has identified and taken responsibility for the competencies of all drivers permitted to use company or other authorised vehicles
  • Driver safety features as an integral element of the company and safety policy
  • The Provision and Use of Work Equipment (PUWER) regulations apply to the provision and operation of company vehicles

    Insurance test

  • The vehicle is insured for all journeys, business, domestic and pleasure, by the company
  • People other than employees, such as spouses, dependents and contractors are also insured
  • Owner-drivers are instructed to provide insurance for business use

    Vehicle provision test

  • The vehicle is provided as part of the remuneration package
  • It is maintained, serviced, and repaired by the company
  • It is used to carry company goods or equipment
  • The vehicle is provided to specifically allow the employee to carry out company business

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