Driving on Business – More than a quarter of all road traffic incidents may involve somebody who is driving as part of their work at the time (Department for Transport figures). Health and safety law applies to work activities on the road in the same way as it does to all work activities and employers need to manage the risks to drivers as part of your health and safety arrangements.
Employers have duties under health and safety law for on-the-road work activities. The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 states you must ensure, so far as reasonably practicable, the health and safety of all employees while at work. You must also ensure that others are not put at risk by your work-related driving activities.
Effective management of work-related road safety helps reduce risk, no matter what size your organisation is. It could also result in, for example:
- fewer injuries to drivers;
- reduced risk of work-related ill health;
- reduced stress and improved morale.
Organisations have a legal duty to put in place suitable arrangements to manage health and safety. This is a wide-ranging requirement, so HSE encourages a common-sense and practical approach. It should be part of the everyday process of running an organisation and part of good management generally.
Businesses should follow a ‘Plan, Do, Check, and Act’ approach, as follows:
- Plan – Describe how you manage health and safety in your organisation and plan to make it happen in practice.
- Do – Prioritise and control your risks, consult your employees and provide training and informationCheck – Measure how you are doing
- Act – Review your performance and learn from your experience
How does your organization stack up when it comes to safety and in particular:
- Safe Driver;
- Safe Vehicle; and
- Safe Journey?
See the guidance and suggestions below:
Are your drivers competent and capable of doing their work in a way that is safe for them and others?
- Do you check the validity of driving licences on recruitment and periodically afterwards?
- What are you doing to make sure your drivers are aware of company policy on work-related road safety and understand what is expected of them?
- Could you use written instructions and guidance, training sessions or group meetings to help you communicate your policy more effectively?
Are your drivers properly trained?
- Do you arrange for drivers to be trained – giving priority to those at highest risk, e.g. those with high annual mileage, poor accident records, or those new to the job?
- Do drivers know how to carry out routine safety checks, such as those on lights, tyres and wheel fixings, and report any faults?
- Do drivers know they must not drive under the influence of drink or drugs?
- Do drivers know they must not use a hand-held mobile phone while driving and that even using a hands-free phone can seriously affect concentration?
- Are your drivers sufficiently fit and healthy to drive safely and not put themselves or others at risk?
- Do you remind drivers that they must satisfy the eyesight and other health requirements of the Highway Code and DVLA?
- Have you told drivers they should not drive while taking medicine that might impair their judgement? If there is any doubt, they should ask their GP.
- Are drivers aware of how dangerous tiredness can be and what to do if they feel sleepy?
Are vehicles fit for the purpose for which they are used?
- Do you investigate, when buying new vehicles, which ones are most suitable for driving and for the health and safety of the public?
- Do you make sure your vehicles have driver aids and other safety devices where appropriate, e.g. reversing alarms, camera systems, proximity sensors?
- Do you ensure privately owned vehicles are not used for work purposes unless they are serviced in line with manufacturers’ recommendations, insured for business use and, where the vehicle is over three years old, have a valid MOT certificate?
Are vehicles maintained in a safe and fit condition?
- Do you ensure daily vehicle checks are carried out?
- Is planned/preventive maintenance carried out in accordance with manufacturers’ recommendations?
- Do you ensure tyres/windscreen wipers are inspected regularly and replaced as necessary?
- Do you have a clear policy that unsafe vehicles should not be driven?
Are you sure that drivers’ health, and possibly safety, is not being put at risk, e.g. from an inappropriate seating position or driving posture?
- Do you take account of ergonomic considerations before buying or leasing new vehicles?
Do you plan routes thoroughly?
- Could you use safer routes which are more appropriate for the type of vehicle doing the journey? Motorways are the safest roads, although minor roads may be fine for cars.
- Can you eliminate or reduce long road journeys by combining with other ways of working or other forms of transport? For example, arrange meetings using conference calls or video links.
- Do you plan routes in consultation with drivers or their representatives, taking account of, for example, the need for rest breaks and access to toilets and washing facilities?
Are work schedules realistic?
- Do you take account of periods when drivers are most likely to feel sleepy when planning work schedules? Sleep-related incidents are most likely between 2 am and 6 am and between 2 pm and 4 pm.
- Do you try to avoid periods of peak traffic flow?
- Do you make allowances for new starters, young workers and trainee drivers?
Do you allow enough time to complete journeys safely?
- Do journey times take account of road types and conditions, and allow for rest breaks? The Highway Code recommends that drivers should take a 15-minute break every two hours.
- Does company policy put drivers under pressure and encourage them to take unnecessary risks, e.g. to exceed safe speeds because of agreed arrival times?
- How do you ensure drivers are not being asked to work an exceptionally long day? Remember that sometimes they will be starting a journey from home.
Do you consider poor weather conditions, such as snow or high winds, when planning journeys?
- Can your journey times and routes be adjusted to take account of poor weather conditions? Where this is possible, is it done?
- Are vehicles properly equipped to operate in poor weather conditions, e.g. are anti-lock brakes or winter tyres fitted and is windscreen washer fluid the correct strength for freezing conditions?
- Do drivers feel pressured to complete journeys where weather conditions are exceptionally difficult and do they know who to contact if they need to cancel a journey?
Health and safety law does not apply to people commuting (i.e. travelling between their home and their usual place of work), unless they are travelling from their home to somewhere which is not their usual place of work.
The key message from the HSE is to have a regime where you Plan, Do, Check and Act. When it comes to business journeys much of the difficulty comes from the ability to and lack of recording of trips.
One option is the use of innovative GPS technology, which aids the maintenance of accurate records in a fraction of the time taken to complete ‘traditional’ paper based or online records. Also, the driver is in control of the data and so ‘Big Brother’ issues associated with off the shelf telematics solutions is also managed. The driver simply hides the detail associated with the private trips but still retains a full audit trail of the business trips to support their claim (see below). Finally the system holds details of the trip reason and ‘friendly’ names etc. making it easier and easier to use.
Soon your business mileage recording could look like this:
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