Company responsibilities for Drivers

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Let us examine – spell out if you wish – a company’s responsibility level for their drivers… who is the “controlling mind” in your company? Where does the buck stop?

The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 requires employers to “take appropriate steps to ensure the health and safety of their employees and others who may be affected by their activities when at work”.

This obviously includes the time or times when they are driving at work, whether in a company vehicle, or indeed a hired or their own car. Although this does not cover commuting (that is travelling to and from the same location on a daily basis, it would include travelling to meetings, site visits, seeing clients. This includes managing the very basic checks that should be done, i.e. Licence Checks and eyesight / fitness to drive checks.

What checks have you as a manager done on your drivers’ licences? Or their Eyesight? Do you know whether they are physically fit to drive? Do you have an over-arching Alcohol or Drug Screening policy? The drugs your employees are taking for perhaps everyday ailments / conditions may render them unable or uninsured to drive your vehicles depending on the insurance cover. If this is your company we are talking about what policies have you got in place as a company – we will talk about the Corporate Manslaughter and Homicde Act later….

The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 states clearly that a risk assessment must take place and it must be reviewed periodically to ensure the risks have not altered. The level of risk does alter in companies, and whilst we cannot eliminate risk, we must manage it (the title of the legislation does clearly indicate we are required to do so?). It states that Employers should consider the risks on the road in the same way they consider the risks inside the Factory / work environment.

What level of repercussion do we expect if we as individuals or companies fall short of these management levels in the public view? What do companies need to do in terms of image to maintain a level of Corporate and Social Responsibility?

The Corporate Manslaughter and Homicide Act 2007 saw various parts of law tied together to make enforcement action easier to deliver in making companies responsible for these issues.

Many years later we are still talking about 5 people per day being killed and 61 people a day being seriously injured on Britains roads. Studies have repeatedly shown around 30-40% of these incidents involved someone driving for work.

Prosecutions have been made under this legislation – Baldwins Crane Hire was prosecuted and convicted in Dec 2015 as a result of the death of Lindsay Easton:

The fine was £700,000, £200,000 costs, plus they had to publicise their own failings on their website.

Sentencing Guidelines were reviewed in early 2016, and if the case had been a few weeks later into court the benchmark we would have been looking at was £2-3m (guidelines use the company turnover as a benchmark for fines.

So the question is where do we start?

Firstly we need to identify what policies we have in place. Any company with more than 5 employees needs a written driving policy. Do you have one?

As an employer how do you check (and when do you recheck) driving licences?

How do you check fitness to drive and eyesight?

What vehicle checks do you have in place? How are these documented and kept?

Am I asking too many questions yet? Email or call me and I will arrange a free telephone or face to face assessment where we can offer you an action plan to sort this area out for you.

Prevention is far better – and cheaper – than sorting out the issues after the fact.

A client called me some years ago. We had met previously and he had taken my card after a chat and we had gone no further. When he called me, it was a result of a member of the public calling him to tell him (the business owner) that one of his drivers had nearly killed her. We immediately arranged to put policies and procedures in place.

What would be your worst fear as an employer with people driving for you?

We also offer a range of Driver CPC courses, First Aid courses, and can provide many other courses / services including Drug and Alcohol Screening, Telematics, tracking and cameras, Health and Safety assessments and training, Forklift and Plant training to name but a few.