Fleet News

News analysis: Guidelines may help police probe at-work accidents

POLICE officers are to be provided with a series of guidelines on how to investigate companies whose employees have been involved in a road accident while driving for work.

It is one of a new series of measures discussed by UK road safety executives with Transport Minister David Jamieson.

The proposal builds on a recommendation made in previous reports that health and safety and road safety enforcing authorities should develop a co-ordinate approach to investigate at-work road traffic incidents.

Jamieson met with some of the most senior figures in fleet including representatives from the Department for Transport (DfT), the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA), the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), Department of Health, the Parliamentary Advisory Council on Transport Safety (PACTS) and the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).

The Association of Chief Police Officers was also represented and it was revealed that the HSE and ACPO chairman Richard Brunstrom had produced a paper to take forward the recommendations for improving fleet safety.

The paper proposes the creation of an ACPO/HSE project group to develop ‘more effective enforcement arrangements integrating road safety and health and safety legislation in police investigation and prevention of work related road traffic incidents’.

Minutes from the meeting say: ‘Developing a holistic approach to law enforcement and joined-up working between enforcing authorities makes clear sense in the effective use of public resource.’

It adds: ‘As primary enforcers on the road and the first to the scene of road traffic incidents, police officers are pivotal to more effective application of the law be it road safety law or health and safety law as it applies on the road.

‘Police involvement with other offences such as speeding and drink-driving means that forces are also well placed to instigate proactive, preventative action in line with modern policing principals.’

The project group aims to issue guidelines for police officers dealing with work related road safety issues, issue criteria for police officers to identify ‘management failings’ and develop a toolkit of possible follow up action to ‘underpin investigations and strengthen the police preventative role’.

Sharan Bains, head of policy on work-related road safety at the HSE, explained at the meeting how the HSE is keen to promote work-related road safety. She said that the HSE and ACPO want to build on the current protocol between HSE and the police but want to ‘avoid any burden on police resources’.

‘They are looking at how work-related road safety can be integrated into day to day roads policing,’ the minutes say.

ROSPA head of road safety Kevin Clinton said he would like to see a standing committee co-ordinate and progress work in the Dykes report.

Quoting Clinton, the minutes say: ‘Good work is already being done but there is a danger that it may become fragmented if there is not a body to draw the various strands of work related road safety together, to share information and monitor progress.’

Paul Sellers, of the Trades Union Congress (TUC), said he would like to see the Health and Safety at Work Act extended to people driving at work.

He welcomed the guidance produced by the HSE but would like to see it given more authority. He would like to see risk management by employers become part of the new EC Directive on driving tests, which is about reducing risks on the road, the minutes say.

It adds that Jamieson welcomed a suggestion by Sellers that the TUC would play its role in ‘spreading good practice’ among unions.

Rob Gifford, of the Parliamentary Advisory Council on Transport Safety, also called for a champion to be appointed to work on work-related road safety.

The minutes say: ‘There is a real desire among businesses to address the problem and mentioned a well-attended conference organised by Fleet News. Gifford would like to see a national grouping on work related road safety to maintain the momentum.’

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