Driver safety: Are you in control?

Are you up to date on your driver safety responsibilities as an employer?

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and the Department for Transport (DfT) recently published updated guidance on work-related road risk (WRRR) for employers and workers.

The regulator explained that “The gig economy and the increasing use of personal vehicles for work purposes – the so-called ‘grey fleet’ – has created some confusion over where responsibility for legal compliance lies.”

This is a part of Health & Safety law that not all employers are aware of – that the use of personal vehicles can also come under the employer’s responsibility. So, now is the time to refresh your knowledge of your legal responsibilities when it comes to driver safety, to make sure you avoid preventable accidents and costly prosecutions.

The reality of poor driver safety (Source: HSE):

With the current nationwide driver shortages now up to 100,000 vacancies, it is more likely that employers or drivers will take unnecessary risks to meet demand. But this can prove incredibly dangerous.

  • Every week there are around 200 deaths and serious injuries involving people using the road for work
  • An estimated 40,000 people working in occupations such as sales, deliveries or taxi-driving are involved in road traffic collisions every year
  • Company car drivers in the UK are 49% more likely to be involved in traffic collisions, even after correcting for demographic variables and their relatively high mileages
  • Countless other will suffer stress, anxiety and/or minor injuries from unreported incidents.

So, what are your legal responsibilities as an employer?

You must manage Health & Safety risks to workers who drive a vehicle or ride a motorcycle, other powered two-wheeler or bicycle on the road as part of a work activity – this includes employees and anyone engaged to work for you in the gig economy, such as:

  • limb (b) workers (dependent contractors)
  • self-employed people

What are some of the risks?

Risks that can cause harm to the driver or rider, passengers, other road users and/or pedestrians when driving for work include:

  • roadworks, traffic and congestion
  • vehicle condition
  • fatigue and distraction
  • time pressures
  • the weather
  • behaviour of other road users

What happens if you don’t meet your legal responsibilities?

It could be incredibly costly for your business if you don’t make sure you’re meeting Health & Safety law. Prosecutions could lead to significant fines, custodial sentences, driving bans and/or revoked operator licences.

For example, in 2020, a company found guilty of failing to effectively manage fatigue for their employees driving for work was fined £450,000 and ordered to pay £30,000 costs after two men lost their lives in a motorway collision.

How do you protect drivers?

As part of your Health & Safety arrangements, you must take certain measures, including:

  • Complete a risk assessment and implement control measures – the main areas you should look at in your risk assessment are the journey, the driver or rider and the vehicle.
  • Consult your workers – open, two-way communication is important to ensuring everyone is aware of the hazards and how to mitigate them. Our free guide here can help.
  • Plan and manage journeys – to make sure that employees: don’t drive an excessive number of hours, choose the safest route, have access to welfare facilities, check weather conditions, and so on.
  • Report and investigate incidents – implement a reporting system for workers to report all work-related road incidents and near misses. Investigate incidents, monitor performance, make sure your policy is effective and that it has been implemented.
  • Make sure the vehicle is properly maintained – even if it belongs to the employee, you have to make sure that vehicles are fit for purpose.
  • Make sure workers are capable, competent and adequately trained – you must assess the competence and capabilities of drivers who you choose to do your work, and provide them with proper training at no personal expense.

These are just some of the actions you should be taking. Have a look at our transport-specific guides to find out more.

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How we can help

Our Health & Safety experts can help you make sure you’re meeting your legal obligations when it comes to driver safety. From creating Health & Safety policies to completing risk assessments, we have the tools to keep you compliant and keep your drivers safe.

If you’re an existing client of ours, please call 0345 844 4848. If you’re not already a client of ours, please call 0345 844 1111 to find out more.

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