Every year, over 2,500 people are killed in road traffic accidents and another 26,000 are seriously injured. One third of these injuries involve people travelling for work. This means that each week around 16 people are killed and 170 seriously injured, whilst at work, in work related road traffic accidents. As these figures do not include accidents which occur during the commute to and from work they represent a significant commercial and financial burden on businesses. There will be significant business gains and financial savings if the number of accidents can be reduced.
Reductions will also benefit the public purse; with demands on the emergency services and on the National Health Service reduced.
Your first reaction may be that incidents happen due to inattention, and the way people drive. This is not the case. The Road Traffic Acts make employers responsible for a number of offences committed in the course of work related road journeys including;
• Scheduling a journey or giving any direction that it should be completed within a specific time which results in an employee speeding.
• Permitting the use of a vehicle or trailer when its condition, the purpose for which it is being used, the number of passengers or weight, the position or security of the load is such that it involves danger of injury to any person.
• Causing or permitting another person to drive a motor vehicle without a license.
• Leaving a vehicle or trailer at rest on a road in such a position or condition that it involves danger to other road users.
• Causing or permitting a person to use a hand held mobile phone while on the road.
The Health and Safety at Work Act also applies to on-the-road work activities and the risks should be effectively managed within a health and safety management system.
Employers and managers have a number of opportunities to influence road safety outcomes. An assessment of the risks faced by employees in the course of work related journeys will show where these opportunities exist.
Begin by considering the driver – are they competent and capable, do they drive in a way that is safe for them and other people? Is their licence valid for the vehicle they will drive? Are they experienced; do they know how to secure loads? Do they need advanced driver training? For LGV and PSV drivers is their CPD up to date? Are drivers fit to drive, and do LGV and PSV drivers have the appropriate medical checks and certificates?
Then think about the vehicle, even if it is provided by the employee – is it properly maintained and if relevant is it MOT tested? Is the vehicle suitable for the job? Can the driver adjust the seat and controls to obtain a comfortable posture and driving position? Can it legally carry the loads you expect to be carried? Can loads be secured to the Department of Transport’s published standards?
Plan the journey. Choose the right roads; statistically motorways are safer than other roads. Try to avoid peak time journeys. Try to avoid journeys between 2am and 6 am and 2pm- 4pm the hours when most sleep related accidents happen. Allow sufficient time for the journey and instruct drivers to take breaks as set out in the Highway Code. Don’t plan for employees to work extended hours, for example setting out in the early hours to spend a day working on site with a late evening return drive home. Arrange overnight stops if necessary.
Remember to consider the weather. During winter and inclement weather adjust journey times, plan for delays and interrupted journeys.
The benefits to you from managing work-related road safety can be considerable, no matter the size of your business. It will give you better control over costs, such as fuel, insurance premiums, repairs, legal fees and claims from employees and third parties. It will also lead to informed decisions about driver training and vehicle purchase, and help you identify where other improvements might be made.
Businesses that have considered road safety have reported benefits that include:
• A reduction in days lost due to injury.
• A reduction in the amount of investigatory and paper work.
• Lower incidence of work-related ill health.
• Reduced stress and improved morale.
• Less time lost due to work rescheduling.
• Fewer vehicles off the road for repair.
• Reduced running costs through better driving standards.
• Fewer missed orders and business opportunities.
• Improved customer goodwill.
• Less risk to the business from key employees being injured or banned from driving.
If you would like further advice on this subject or information on any aspect of this article do not hesitate to call our 24 Hour Advice Service on 0844 892 2772.