The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) states that every week in the UK around 20 people who are working die in a road traffic accident. The HSE also says that a further 250 people per week suffer driving-related injuries at work.
For many years employers have not taken this issue seriously. Now, however, the HSE and the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents are encouraging employers to address the risks of driving. As part of their strategy, they suggest that employers draw up workplace transport policies.
Risks of Driving at Work
The workers most at risk of accidents are those who spend all or most of their working hours behind the wheel. These include drivers of delivery vehicles, buses and lorries. Other drivers who have a greater than average chance of having accidents are the tens of thousands who rely on vehicles to do their jobs properly. Among such drivers are sales reps, maintenance workers and repair staff.
Driving for Work Laws
Health and Safety law covers driving at work. The Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 obliges employers to look after their employees’ safety, health and welfare at work. The law extends this principle to staff driving on work-related business. The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 gives employers a further duty. They must assess and manage the risks their staff may experience when driving.
There are also a number of Road Traffic Acts. Many of the provisions of these Acts apply to drivers and vehicles. Employers are responsible for ensuring that their drivers and vehicles meet these provisions.
Driving Hours Regulations
The European Union Drivers’ Hours Rules regulate the driving of goods vehicles weighing more than 3.5 tonnes, and certain passenger vehicles. For example, the daily driving limit is 9 hours. Within the rules, however, it’s possible to increase this limit to 10 hours twice a week.
The total weekly driving limit is 56 hours. Over a fortnight, the limit is 90 hours.
For anyone driving internationally, there are rules laid down by the European Agreement Concerning the Work of Crews of Vehicles Engaged in International Road Transport (AETR).
Employers whose drivers carry goods or passengers in countries that fall outside the EU but are part of the AETR scheme must meet these rules. The rest periods, for instance, differ to those given in the standard EU rules.
Benefits of Workplace Driving Policies
Clearly employers have a lot to consider if staff drive as part of their jobs. One way of reducing the risks is to have a driving policy.
Such a policy should contain references to all relevant aspects of the law as outlined here. For those who drive their own vehicle at work, the policy should insist that staff keep their vehicles in a roadworthy state; hold an MOT certificate for vehicles over three years old; have suitable insurance cover; and have an up-to-date driving licence. The policy must also ask staff to report a change in vehicle, or a health issue that may affect safe driving.