17th December 2013
Up to an estimated third of all road traffic accidents involve “somebody who is at work at the time” and may account for over 20 fatalities and 250 serious injuries every week, say the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) in their ‘Driving At Work’ publication.
Drivers of company vehicles have, according to some statistics, a road accident rate which is to 50 per cent higher than the private motorist and could also account for a greater proportion of traffic accident claims.
In addition to the UK’s 465,000 licensed HGV drivers (Department of Transport Vehicle Licensing Statistics, Great Britain: Q2 2012), accident compensation claims can also be made by bus / coach drivers and other public transport employees, company vehicle drivers and even teaching staff on a school field trip.
According to the HSE, some employers mistakenly assume that all that is required to ensure the safety of their employees, and others when they are on the road is for their company vehicles to have a valid MOT certificate and their drivers to hold a valid licence.
However, as with all activities in the workplace, reduction of potential risk means that health and safety law must also be applied to when employees are working ‘on the road.’
Also, companies who operate large goods vehicles (LGV) or passenger service vehicles (PSV) may also be subject to further legislative requirements. A crucial example is the application of medical standards to distinguish between holders of ordinary driving licence (Group 1) and heavy goods vehicle (HSV) and public service vehicle (PSV) licence holders (Group 2).
For most company driving work, a standard equivalent to Group 1 is mostly applicable but in some cases, a more exacting standard may be required, for example when working at night, operating large, heavy vehicles, working in a particularly demanding environment or moving highly toxic or even explosive materials.
A driver’s fitness for operating a particular type of vehicle must also be evaluated individually to “match the requirements of the driving task with the fitness and abilities of the driver.”
A high proportion of accidents on the road are caused by failure to comply with safety standards designed to reduce driver risk arising from excessive tiredness, inadequate training and substandard driving. Other causes can relate to inadequate vehicle maintenance leading to subsequent faulty vehicle running.
Under the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 19742 employers are required, so far as is reasonably practicable, to ensure the health and safety of all employees while at work. There is also a responsibility to ensure that others are not put at risk by work-related driving activities.