Investigating officers are being given clearer guidelines on whether to call in the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) if their findings lead them to believe that failures in safety management by employers have ‘significantly contributed’ to the accident.
The extra guidance stating when the HSE should be contacted by police after an accident will be provided as an extra appendix in a rewritten Road Death Investigation Manual (RDIM), which outlines procedures that police officers must follow when dealing with road deaths.
In its basic form, police will even call on the HSE to investigate a company’s procedures if they believe the driver involved in the accident was not given proper guidance on what to do in the event of a vehicle breakdown.
Unroadworthy vehicles also form a major part of the latest guidance, meaning fleet executives should ensure their drivers’ cars are properly maintained.
Diarmuid Fahy, fleet risk manager at ING Car Lease, said: ‘The most significant feature contained within this annex to the RDIM is the instruction to involve the HSE following a road incident, where failures in safety management have been identified.
‘This new vigilance on the part of police to assess potential negligence has huge implications for businesses that may find themselves being investigated following a fatal accident.
‘Typically, companies that rely on employees to insure and maintain their own cars for business use are more open to serious investigation from the police and HSE, in the wake of an incident. We are urging fleets to ensure they can demonstrate that all drivers are properly insured, licenced and trained now, before they face investigation.’
Some fleet experts believe the extra clarity is mainly aimed at forces which do not currently follow the manual’s recommendations when investigating accidents and are not sure of when the HSE should be contacted.
The HSE was unavailable for comment as Fleet News went to press.