According to the Department for Transport, more than a quarter of accidents which occur on UK roads involve individuals who are driving for the purpose of their work or employment. Therefore, the UK health and safety initiative in recent years has focused on tightening up on driving at work laws to ensure employees and employers are well protected. The legislation regarding driving at work does not involve individuals commuting to work; it is only applicable if an individual's job description involves them driving at work.
The responsibility of driving at work rests with the employer and the employee who is responsible for driving at work. Both the employer and the employee must be well trained regarding UK health and safety at work legislation, which stipulates the responsibility of those driving at work. Safety is of the utmost importance within the workplace and this extends to driving at work. If, as an employer or as an employee, you want to be compliant with UK health and safety legislation whilst driving at work, training is essential.
UK legislation on driving at work
1) The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974
This Act places responsibility for driving at work upon the employer, and states that the employer has to ensure that they effectively maintain their duty of care for their employees and work associates. Moreover, the employer also must ensure the safety of other individuals who could be affected by the company's work - for example, pedestrians on the route. Employers are responsible for the safety of other road users when their employees are driving at work.
2) The Road Traffic Act 1988
It is the responsibility of the employee who is driving at work to be well educated on the UK Highway Code. This includes all of the driving penalties, and the road markings and signs. The employer must ensure that routes for driving at work comply with the Highway Code; for example, an employer must not ask their employees who are driving at work to exceed speed limits. This Act also states that the employer has the responsibility to check that the employee has all the relevant UK driving license materials.
3) The Workplace Health, Safety and Welfare Regulations 1992
This set of regulations places responsibility upon both the employer and the employee to ensure that the routes that they are taking during their driving at work journey are safe, and are the most effective routes to take. For example, if the route requires an employee to drive into a deserted area late at night on their own, then it is not the safest route possible. The weather and how this might affect the journey should be taken into consideration, especially extreme conditions like snow and ice.
4) The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999
This set of regulations states that the employer has the responsibility to conduct risk assessments for driving at work. These risk assessments must assess whether the employees are fit to drive, whether the car is fit for use on the road, and whether the road route is a sensible and safe journey to take. If there is danger found within the risk assessment, then it is the employer's responsibility to ensure that necessary measures are put into place to protect those employees who are driving at work.
The requirements for an employee driving at work:
Essentially, the employee needs to be an individual who is competent and capable of safely driving at work, to ensure they do not harm either themselves or others. To do this, as an employer you can set the following requirements to analyse your employees by:
- State a level of expertise that your organisation requires an individual to have. For example, if the nature of the job description has a relatively basic driving necessity, then their driving standard will simply have to fit the above health and safety legislation, it does not require vast technical skill.
- Ensure they have all of the correct licensing documents and tests passed.
- Ensure the individual is aware of your organisation's driving at work policy and what is expected of them regarding timing.
- Have you provided induction training for your employees prior to them beginning their role of driving at work?
- Have you got refreshment training in place to ensure you are regularly checking that your drivers are fit and appropriate to continue driving at work?
What is an employee's responsibility when driving at work?
- To prove the correct driving licenses.
- To regularly check the vehicle they are using is roadworthy.
- Awareness of the Highway Code "fitness to drive" requirement, which includes checking they are not too tired to drive, are not under the influence of alcohol or drugs, and are not taking any medication which could affect their ability to drive.
- Checking weather conditions to decide whether this will affect driving and their ability to drive.
- To ensure there are no distractions in the vehicle which could potentially divert the driver's attention, such as a mobile phone.
Which bodies in the UK enforce regulations for driving at work?
When road traffic accidents occur on public roads in the UK, it tends to be the police and the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency which will investigate the incident.
However, the UK Health and Safety Executive will get involved in road traffic accidents if the police have identified that an employer has contributed towards the accident by not complying with health and safety standards regarding driving at work. If this is the case, the management failure will constitute a 'gross breach of a relevant duty of care'. As a result, the organisation responsible for breaching the relevant duty of care could face prosecution under the Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act 2007.
Driving at work risk assessments
Risks and hazards can occur within the workplace at any time, especially whilst employees are driving at work. To identify these risks and protect your employees against them, risk assessments for driving at work are essential. They should include assessing the driver, the vehicle and the route which the driving will take. Where risks occur, they must be sufficiently protected against using control measures.
The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 make it a legal requirement for the employer to conduct a risk assessment for driving at work, and the following steps could be included in this risk assessment:
Analyse the Driver:
- Does the driver have the correct level of expertise in order to drive in the UK?
- Does the driver have the correct UK certification to drive?
- Is the driver fit and healthy, physically and mentally?
- Is the driver capable of carrying out safety checks on the car, such as checking the seatbelts all work correctly before every journey?
- Ensure that the driver is aware that they must not drive under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
Analyse the Vehicle:
- Does your vehicle have safety devices such as reversing alarms and proximity censors?
- Are individuals safe whilst being in the vehicle - for example, have you checked that all of the airbags are fitted and work correctly?
- Is the vehicle safe to carry and transport goods if necessary?
- Have you ensured that the tyres are inspected regularly?
Analyse the driving at work journey:
- Have you planned the safest route possible?
- Have you taken into consideration changes in the weather - for example, snow and ice?
- Has your route taken into account restrictions, such as bridges or tunnels?
- Have you considered whether the journey could incorporate the use of public transport in order to decrease the amount of time the employee is driving for?
If driving at work is in a worker's job description, it is the employer's responsibility to ensure all risks associated with it are effectively reduced and protected by adequate control measures. Training and knowledge of UK health and safety regulations regarding driving at work will ensure it is conducted in the best manner possible.