Today, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), in collaboration with the Department for Transport (DfT), released new guidelines for companies and workers on work-related road risk (WRRR) (7 September 2021). The growing use of personal vehicles for professional reasons – the so-called “grey fleet” – has created some confusion, according to the regulator, over who is responsible for ensuring that legal compliance is maintained.
Driving for work is likely to be the riskiest activity that the majority of workers will engage in during the course of their careers.
- Every week, over 200 people are killed or seriously injured while travelling for work on the road.
- The number of persons injured or killed in road traffic crashes is estimated to be 40,000 each year in occupations such as sales, delivery, and taxi driving.
- Even after adjusting for demographic characteristics and the fact that they travel a lot, company car drivers in the United Kingdom are 49 per cent more likely to be involved in a traffic collision.
- It is estimated that hundreds of thousands of people will be affected by unreported occurrences, which will cause tension, anxiety, and/or small injuries.
Nicola Jaynes, HM Inspector for the HSE’s Transport and Public Services Unit, made the following statement:
“In addition to outlining the legal obligations of employers and people hired to work for them, the Health and Safety at Work Act also specify that they have long-standing obligations to control WRRR. However, the world is shifting, and we wanted to make sure that the guideline reflects these shifts while also remaining relevant for years to come in the meanwhile.
Even companies with sophisticated health and safety standards may fail to evaluate their duties appropriately when driving or riding for professional purposes. Everyone should be able to safely return home from work, whether they are working at a desk or behind the wheel.”
In the event of a prosecution, severe fines and jail sentences, as well as driving prohibitions and/or operator licence termination, could result. Two men died in a road crash in 2020 after their firm was found guilty of failing to manage fatigue among their employees while driving for work appropriately. The company was fined £450,000 and made to pay £30,000 in costs following the accident.
All drivers and riders are individually responsible for their driving behaviour in accordance with applicable road traffic regulations. When driving for work, however, the organisation for which they work bears legal responsibility for the health and safety of their employees on the road. Consider the following examples: ensuring that employees do not drive for excessive hours and maintaining their car correctly, even if the employee owns it. The legislation applies to all workers, including those who ride two-wheeled vehicles such as motorbikes, scooters, and bikes.
The revised guidance was released this week, and it was informed by HSE research that included a literature review, a survey, and interviews with people who operate in the field.
Nicola Jaynes further added:
“It is clear that more has to be done to regulate WRRR, given the horrific amount of injuries and fatalities related to driving for work. It is anticipated that this revised guidance will provide businesses with the information they require to safeguard the safety and well-being of their drivers and riders. Organisations with great safety culture and clear, well-managed policies for driving and riding for work can have a significant effect on the overall roads’ safety.”