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Fleet managers should not neglect call of duty, warns The Fuelcard Company

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The Fuelcard Company is reminding fleet managers about their ‘Duty of Care’ to contract drivers amid concerns that knowledge of the law is patchy, ahead of World Day for Health and Safety at Work (28th April).

Although awareness of the law regarding permanent employees is reasonably good, the company is concerned that less is known about managers’ responsibilities to temporary drivers which could result in a costly compensation claim in the case of an accident.

Jakes de Kock, sales and marketing director at The Fuelcard Company, said fuel cards could help fleet managers avoid being caught out.

“In the event of an accident, fuel cards can prove to be vital by helping to identify where the blame lies. Monthly reports flag up excessive fuel consumption caused by speeding or reckless driving, which would place responsibility for the accident with the driver. However fleet managers need to be aware that where speeding is due to inappropriate scheduling of appointments by the employer, liability could be joint, meaning both could be prosecuted,” he said.

Fuel management reports can also help identify risky drivers before an accident occurs, allowing fleet managers to provide additional training where needed.

De Kock continued: “For those working within the fleet industry, a vehicle is considered a place of work, therefore fleet managers have a ‘Duty of Care’ to protect their drivers from the risk of injury or death – whether they are a permanent or temporary employee. Therefore fleet managers should be especially careful when drafting in temporary drivers – no matter how short the journey they are making may be - to ensure the right procedures are in place to avoid a hefty compensation pay-out.”

World Day for Health and Safety at Work is a reminder for businesses to implement the correct policies, procedures and “safe systems of work” to reduce work-related risks, including the on the road activities of employees.

De Kock said: “When budgets are already squeezed it is extremely important that fleet managers ensure the correct systems are in place to reduce accident risk and the chance of a hefty compensation bill. It’s important to remember that contract drivers have the same rights as permanent employers, so precautions must be taken to ensure they do not take risks on company time.”

“It’s also vitally important to ensure the vehicle is in good condition as any sign of neglect in maintenance or servicing could also result in the fleet manager being found liable for an accident,” he added.

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