What is Driving at Work?
Health and safety legislation at work applies to all employees and employers, whether they are working in the office or driving regularly for their role. Therefore, it is an employer's legal duty to ensure those employees driving as part of their time at work are compliant and fully protected whilst on the roads. Consequently, it is essential for employers and employees to be well aware of the UK health and safety legislation regarding driving at work, and to ensure that training in this legislation has been conducted before employees take to the roads.
What are the UK regulations regarding driving at work?
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 Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 states that: an employer must ensure that they are not placing an employee or others at risk when conducting work-related driving. This means the employer has a legal duty to assess the risks involved if an employee is driving at work, and ensure that these risks are protected by control measures if necessary.
The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 states that: an employer must conduct a risk assessment regarding driving at work, notably through an assessing risks on the road programme which can be conducted by the employer and the designated health and safety team.
Employers are also expected to comply with the Road Traffic Act and the Road Vehicles (Construction and Use) Regulations. The police and the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency enforce road traffic laws and will monitor whether an employer has provided employees with suitable vehicle in compliance with the Road Vehicles (Construction and Use) Regulations.
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.
In November 2018 Midland Red (South) Limited, a bus company, were fined £2.3 million for a road traffic accident which occurred in Coventry. The driver of the bus, Kailash Chander, had received numerous complaints regarding his driving in the months before the accident. Midland Red (South) Limited were found guilty of negligence regarding complaints filed against one of their drivers, which resulted in the crash occurring in October 2015 due to Chander's inadequate driving.
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.