Employees driving in the course of work duties

It’s estimated that up to a third of all road traffic accidents involve a person driving or travelling in the course of their job role. Apart from the pain, suffering and grief that these accidents cause, they have a very substantial impact on the costs, effectiveness and efficiency of a business. We all know that driving carries its own inherent risks, but from a business point of view, careful planning and management can help to reduce them.

Driver handbooks

Where employees drive in the course of their work, employers should consider the potential hazards and assess the risks faced by their workforce while on the road. Once you’ve considered the hazards and risks, and decided how they should be managed, draw up and issue a driver’s handbook or rulebook, so that every member of staff it applies to knows what’s expected of them. Hazards include: • Fatigue and tiredness caused by long driving hours, or long working days • Impact with other vehicles, pedestrians or property • Vehicle overturning • Stress • Distraction caused by a mobile phone and satellite navigation equipment • Bad posture due to an ill-adjusted seat or driving position • Fuel filling There are also some other matters that may need to be considered – sometimes for all journeys and sometimes only for specific journeys – such as: • Is the journey necessary, or could the meeting be held using video conferencing? • Is the weather too adverse to carry out the journey? • Is there a safer more efficient means of transport e.g. train? • Is the vehicle suitable for the task? • Are work schedules realistic? • Does the driver hold the correct licence for the vehicle being driven, and have they received adequate training? • Has sufficient time been allowed for the journey? • Can the journey and the other planned activities be completed in one working day? • Should an overnight stay be taken? • Has the vehicle been properly serviced and is it in good order?

Liability

As an employer, it’s important to remember that you can be liable for road traffic accidents committed by an employee, in a company vehicle or their own, where they have facilitated an offence. For example, this means is that if an employer requires, allows or encourages the use of a defective or overloaded vehicle, an unlicensed driver or long working days, they can be found guilty of an offence along with the driver. Take care to: • Check that all staff who drive vehicles, or ride motorcycles or bicycles, as part of their duties are suitably qualified • Ensure they have the correct licence for the type of vehicle • Keep copies of licences (and CPC cards where required) on file • Check regularly to ensure they’re still legally permitted to drive the vehicle. Make it a requirement for employees to report any changes in the validity of their licence regarding penalty points and disqualification to their manager – who should subsequently check that insurance cover is not compromised. You’re entitled to rely on the valid licence as evidence that the driver has been trained and tested as competent to drive that class of vehicle and are fully aware of the rules set out in the Highway Code. However you should question those skills and reconsider their position if they were often involved in incidents causing injury or damage to vehicles and property. Vehicles used for company business, whether company or privately owned, should be insured for business use and be properly maintained. For private vehicles used on company business, check on a regular basis (at least once every year) that the correct insurance cover is in place and the MOT, if required, is up to date.

Planning and management

Journeys should be planned in advance, using the most appropriate roads for the vehicle. Motorways are suitable for all vehicles being driven by a person who holds a full licence for the type of vehicle being driven; minor roads may be unsuitable for large goods vehicles and passenger service vehicles due to weight restrictions, low bridges, level crossings and narrow carriageways. For long journeys allow extra time for drivers to take rest breaks. Where staff are required to travel to carry out work at one or more places before returning home at the end of the day, employers must ensure that the combined driving hours and job related working hours do not require excessive working hours. In the event of an accident, the employer could be held liable for injuries caused as a result of this excess. If you are in any need of any further advice on staff driving in the course of work duties, Health Assured are here to help. Telephone number 0844 8922 493 Email counsellingadvice@healthassured.co.uk Portal www.healthassuredeap.com

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