Safety and Driving for Work
What’s the most dangerous activity an employer can ask their employees to do? If the answer hadn’t been given away by the title of this post, who would have guessed driving?
Statistics show that one in four road traffic accidents happens to somebody who is driving for work. It’s therefore crucial for employers to concentrate on ways that they can make sure their drivers do so safely. Drawing up and implementing policies, processes and procedures can make sure that drivers are as safe as possible.
Ensuring fitness to drive
When a driver applies to the DVLA for a licence, they have to meet the relevant medical standards. There are more stringent rules in place for fleet drivers, depending on the size and weight of the vehicle and the amount of time spent driving.
If there is a medical condition that will affect the driver’s ability to drive safely, it should be disclosed, but that disclosure is a self-declaration, which means that the employer is relying on the honesty of the driver.
Faced with this, employers need to take steps to protect both themselves and the public in the event that one of their drivers has been less than forthcoming with their medical history.
One weapon in the employer’s armoury is the Access to Medical Reports Act 1988. This allows an employer to make a request to a medical practitioner, usually a GP, for a medical report on an employee who
has been employed;
is seeking to be employed.
There is an obligation on the medical practitioner to reveal the employee’s medical information if it is relevant to the role in question.
Employers should bear in mind the requirements of the Data Protection Act 1998, which says that personal information obtained should be used for a specific purpose, adequate, relevant and not excessive and stored securely.
It’s also important for employers to keep in mind the Equality Act 2010, which prevents discrimination based on protected characteristics, one of which is disability. If a decision on a candidate’s appointment is made on the basis of a disclosed medical condition, the employer needs to be sure that they have acted in such a way that no accusation of discrimination can be made or sustained.
Now that we’ve covered the issue of fitness to drive, there are several other areas that need to be attended to.
Before taking on any candidate for a driving role, the employer should make sure that they have drawn up and implemented a driving policy and that there is a risk assessment in place for all driving-related activities.
If the employee is using a company vehicle, a check should be made to ensure that all documentation, including MOT, road tax and insurance is present and correct. The employee’s licence should be checked for things like age, penalty points and restrictions on the class of vehicle that can be driven.
The employee should be asked to log on to the government website https://www.gov.uk/view-driving-licence so that the employer can check that they are not banned or have penalty points that can affect their ability to drive.
The employer should have one person in the organisation who is the nominated member of staff in charge of all tasks and data connected to work-related driving.
All company-owned vehicles should have, in their emergency pack, a reflective triangle, first aid kit, eye wash, torch (of the wind-up variety to avoid problems with lack of batteries) and blanket – thermal if possible.
Employers should initiate training programmes on areas such as emergencies, accidents, breakdown and unexpected delays to ensure that their staff are prepared if things do not go according to plan.
Before driving employees begin their day, they should complete a mandatory vehicle fitness checklist to ensure that the vehicle is safe to use.
Employers should implement a routine of vehicle maintenance in accordance with manufacturer recommendations to ensure that any problems are quickly identified and remedied before they become expensive and possibly life-threatening. In the event that anything happens to the vehicle or its driver, the employer will be able to show that all possible efforts were made to ensure vehicle safety.
To augment the regular maintenance routine, spot checks should be carried out to make sure that nothing has happened to affect the vehicle’s roadworthiness.
Whilst drivers only need the standard driving licence, it is often a good idea for employers to offer advanced driver training. This can help reduce risk to employees who drive, as it will help them to improve their driving, give them greater awareness of other road users and conditions and reduce the likelihood of them being involved in an accident. It can also lead to a reduction in insurance premiums, less lost production time, reduced repair bills and fewer missed deadlines.
As well as checks on the vehicle, employers should also monitor the health and well-being of the employee who will be driving it. This should be done with an approach of support and concern for their safety.
The position of the law on the use of mobile phones is well-known but if there is a likelihood of employees taking or making calls, the employer should provide hands-free kits. They should also consider including in the Driving for Work policy a requirement that drivers pull over to take a call.
Since drivers will be using their vehicles day-in, day-out, they are an invaluable source of information on faults and mechanical developments with the vehicle. They should be encouraged to regularly report on the state of their vehicle.
Finally, it is very important that any policy, procedure or process that is implemented should be monitored to ensure that it continues to function properly. An unmonitored policy, process or procedure can quickly be rendered obsolete by changes in circumstances, personnel or working environment.