Managing the risk of employees who drive for work – tick the box or business benefit?
The Health and Safety Executive’s own website states “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 includes the time when they are driving or riding at work, whether this is in a company or hired vehicle, or in the employee’s own vehicle.
There will always be risks associated with driving. Although these cannot be completely controlled, an employer has a responsibility to take all reasonable steps to manage these risks and do everything reasonably practicable to protect people from harm in the same way as they would in the workplace.”
The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 builds on this “every employer to carry out an assessment of the risks to the health and safety of their employees, or themselves, while they are at work, and to other people who may be affected by their work activities. This includes any driving activity on the road. The regulations require the risk assessment to be reviewed periodically to ensure it remains valid. Employers should consider the risks to employees on the road in the same way as for those in a workplace.”
Employees also have responsibilities too, such as not knowingly doing anything that may put themselves or others, including members of the public, at risk. They also have the responsibility for checking the roadworthiness and ensuring the proper operation of the vehicle they drive. This includes hire cars and private vehicles, regardless of ownership.
For clarity, health and safety law does not apply to drivers commuting to work, unless the employee is travelling from their home to a location that is not their usual place of work.
Does H&S legislation cover business drivers using their own private cars?
100% yes; ‘grey fleet’ drivers are included. It’s clear that the ownership or type of vehicle is not relevant, it’s the activity of ‘driving for work’ that is important.
In addition, the driver has responsibilities such as a full, current and valid driving licence, appropriate insurance, valid Vehicle Tax, valid MoT (if appropriate), a valid V5 ownership document and evidence of servicing in line with manufacturer’s recommendations.
How does a fleet identify its higher risk drivers?
It’s well-established that drivers who have crashes are generally at higher risk exposure than other drivers. As a result, many organisations use accident management information to identify those drivers who need additional training.
Saying that, if crash details are not known, the number of points on a licence can also be a good guide to a driver’s risk exposure but the number of points doesn’t give the whole story either. At DriveTech, we believe the best way to identify high risk drivers is a formal assessment – either online or on-road. Online is quick, inexpensive and available 24/7, while on-road takes more time, needs more organising and is more expensive, but it is face-to-face.
Online driver training or in-car training?
Online training is particularly good for gaining knowledge and new skills, and is available 24/7. On-road training can additionally challenge a driver’s beliefs on what is safe, and provide practical instruction in a real-world environment. Even low risk exposure drivers can improve their Highway Code knowledge which is as an output of an online assessment.
Are you ‘selling’ the benefits of driver training to your employees?
Our experience shows that most drivers think they are above average drivers, and therefore are often initially reluctant to engage with occupational road risk programmes. It’s absolutely vital that the organisation answers the ‘what’s in it for me?’ question and this also needs to be aligned with their culture. Bearing in mind the phrase, ‘the top sets the tone’, active sponsorship of the programme by the leadership team is mandatory and they themselves must practice what they preach. Driving is a life skill and reducing the risk for family and passengers is often a great incentive.
Are you getting measureable business benefits?
Our experience is that many fleets adopt a risk management programme for compliance purposes, not business ROI. If fleets do take a long-term, more strategic view, as opposed to a tactical ‘risk the box’ approach, real benefits can be gained either in a reduction in accidents per million miles, fuel consumption or fleet running costs. We encourage organisations to ‘measure what you want to manage’ so the risk management programmes can be seen to have a direct benefit to the bottom line.
Head of Marketing