This blog looks at the risks and control measures that should be considered in relation to employees driving on the organisation’s business. In particular, it the factors related to the driver, journey and vehicle.
The Health and Safety at Work, etc. Act 1974 requires employers to:
The Road Traffic Act 1991 requires employers to not cause or permit their employees to break any road traffic laws.
The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 make risk assessments, including of work-related driving activities, mandatory.
Under the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 (PUWER), employers have a duty to:
PUWER also covers situations where employers allow their employees to provide their own work equipment, eg their own vehicle.
Note: The Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 (PUWER) apply to any motor vehicles not privately owned. However, more specific road traffic legislation does take precedence over these regulations when the vehicles are used on public roads.
The Health and Safety (First-Aid) Regulations 1981 require employers to provide appropriate equipment and facilities for employees if they become ill or are injured at work.
Under the regulations, employees who travel must be provided with adequate first aid cover and employees working alone, in small groups in isolated locations or where access to accident and emergency facilities is difficult must also be catered for.
Under the Road Vehicles (Construction and Use) (Amendment) (No. 4) Regulations 2003, employers have a duty to not cause or permit their employees to use a hand-held mobile phone while driving.
The Road Transport (Working Time) Regulations 2005 limit weekly working time (excluding breaks and periods of availability) and limit the amount of work that can be done at night. Also working time for drivers and crew of HGVs and Passenger Service Vehicles in the road transport sector.
The regulations provide for:
Under the Motor Vehicles (Wearing of Seat Belts) Regulations 1993, as amended, seat belts need to be provided and used as appropriate. In passenger vehicles, the presence of seat belts needs to be brought to the attention of passengers and the passengers need to be made aware of the requirement to use these seat belts when the vehicle is in motion. This requirement does not apply to buses.
Under the Health and Safety at Work, etc. Act 1974 employees must:
Employees must also comply with all Road Traffic Acts and the Highway Code.
Assessing Work-related Road Risk
Before any improvements can be made to the safety of a company’s at-work drivers, it is necessary to identify and understand the hazards faced by drivers.
Employers should carry out a risk assessment for each driver, including employees who:
The assessment should cover three fundamental areas of work-related road safety.
In addition, all aspects of the personal safety of the driver should be considered. This should include any dangers an employee could be exposed to while driving the vehicle and getting into or leaving the vehicle.
The driver assessment should include:
The journey assessment should include:
The route should be planned in advance, and an up-to-date road map should be available in the vehicle so it is not necessary to stop to ask for directions. Ensure the destination, intended route and expected arrival time is known to others.
The assessment of the vehicle should include:
Companies that provide vehicles for driving at work must ensure that they are taxed, insured and MOT tested. As vehicles are supplied for work purposes, they are deemed work equipment under the requirements of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998, and as such they must be regularly maintained and inspected. An MOT certificate is only verification that the vehicle was safe “at the time of the test”, however. It is not a guarantee or confirmation that it will remain safe for another 12 months. The same should be noted in relation to a typical service.
Components of a vehicle can fail owing to excessive wear or material failure. In order to avoid an incident involving component failure, the driver should make periodic checks to identify any potential defects, including the following:
The risk assessment will also identify if there is risk of musculoskeletal injury. This can arise from:
Lone working can present significant risks for those whose work mainly involves driving, eg in the event of a collision or serious incident, there may be no one to summon help.
Employers must determine if the control measures in place adequately control or significantly reduce the risks faced by employees on the road.
The risk assessment will identify the necessity of having a first-aid kit in the vehicle.
The following hierarchy of risk control should be followed.
Other control measures include the following.
It is a criminal offence in the UK to drive any motor vehicle while using a hand-held mobile phone, or to cause or permit another to do so.
The penalties for the use of mobile phones while driving are:
A driver can also be prosecuted for using a hands-free device if they are not in proper control of their vehicle when using the device.
In relation to the use of mobile phones, a person is considered to be driving if the engine of the vehicle they have control of is running. This is true even if the vehicle is stationary. Therefore, the regulations apply when stopped at traffic lights or in a queue of traffic, etc.
A mobile phone is hand-held if it is, or must be, held at some point during the course of making or receiving a call, or performing any other interactive communication function. This includes sending or receiving oral or written messages, sending or receiving still or moving images, or accessing the internet.
Use of Hands-free Equipment
Using hands-free equipment does not contravene the regulations if the driver does not have to hold the phone. Pressing buttons on a phone connected to the dashboard is permitted.
The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) urges employers to adopt the following policy with regard to mobile phone use: “no driver should use a mobile telephone or similar piece of telecommunications equipment (whether hand-held or hands-free) while driving”.
If it is essential for employees to be contacted while driving, company policy should advise the use of voicemail, a message service or call diversion, and to stop regularly — with the engine switched off and the key out of the ignition — to check messages and return calls.
An employer will not be liable for supplying a phone to an employee or for calling an employee who happens to be driving. However, if the employee answers, the employee commits an offence.
Employers must explain to employees about what they are expected to do in terms of driving and phone calls.
Satellite navigation (satnav) systems can help drivers in unfamiliar areas. When used appropriately, they are a useful tool and much safer than frequent stopping to check a paper map, or trying to read a map while driving, and mean drivers are less likely to make late manoeuvres. However, addresses should be entered before the journey is undertaken, and care should also be taken when fitting satnav systems to ensure that they will not obscure the view of the road.
Smoking in Company Vehicles
Smoking is prohibited in all enclosed public places. As enclosed places include company vehicles, drivers are not allowed to smoke if there is a possibility that colleagues might consequently inhale their smoke. Smokers driving company cars, vans and lorries in England could be fined for smoking at the wheel if the vehicle could be handed over to a colleague from work later in the day.
Smoking is permitted in vehicles that are for the sole use of the driver and are not used as a workplace by anyone else, either as a driver or passenger.
Carrying Hazardous Substances
The Carriage of Dangerous Goods and Use of Transportable Pressure Equipment Regulations 2009 require any person involved with dangerous goods by road to receive training in relation to the goods being carried and safety procedures to be carried out in an emergency.
Personal Safety of the Driver
Employees should be advised to consider the following.
To reduce the effects of tiredness on driving, the following should be considered.
Employers could be held liable in the event of an accident where an employee has worked excessive hours.
Adjustment of Seating
Drivers should be trained to adjust their car seats properly.
A suggested sequence of adjustments is as follows.
Time Spent Driving
Although driving time is limited and controlled for goods vehicle drivers by the use of a tachograph, there is at present no official limit to the time drivers of other vehicles spend behind the wheel. Driving for work is therefore considered part of an employee’s working day.
In brief, the Working Time Regulations set a limit of 48 hours’ working time in any 7-day period, and a requirement for a break of at least 20 minutes to be taken in any working period of 4½ hours. Driving time should therefore be considered and adequate breaks allowed for. Driving times should be limited and specified in the organisation’s safety policy (many organisation’s specify that drivers should take a minimum 15-minute break after 3 hours of continuous driving).
The Community Drivers’ Hours and Recording Equipment Regulations 2007 make provisions to:
Driving in Adverse weather Conditions
Driving in adverse weather conditions is dangerous, as the vehicle will not always behave in ways that might be expected. This makes driving tiring and stressful, due to the higher levels of concentration required. Adverse weather conditions include high winds, driving rain, fog, snow and ice.
Drivers are often ill-prepared for driving in these conditions and the following simple safeguards are often overlooked.
Leaving and Returning to a Vehicle
There will obviously be times where the driver has to leave the vehicle to take rest breaks, visit a customer, client or patient or to refuel. The safety of the driver should be considered in these situations, particularly if they are working during the hours of darkness, or in areas with a high incidence of crime or violence.
Note: mobile phones should be switched off in petrol stations.
If the vehicle breaks down, the driver should pull off the road as far as possible and switch the hazard warning lights on. The nearest phone should be used, noting the road name and landmarks to give to the employer’s or owner’s breakdown organisation.
When driving at night, it is advisable to wear light or, ideally, reflective clothing when leaving the vehicle in the event of a breakdown. A reflective warning triangle should also be carried (this is a legal requirement in many European countries) which should be placed 150m behind the vehicle.
Documentation relating to an organisation’s occupational road risk strategy may be required following an accident or fatality involving an employee making a work-related vehicle journey. Examples of records that may be kept include:
Employers are required to provide driver training and education to ensure that drivers are equipped to manage the situations and circumstances likely to be involved in journeys undertaken on the organisation’s business. Drivers should receive training on their duties under the road traffic legislation and drivers’ hours regulations (where applicable).
This training should also include information regarding:
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