Did you know that the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) estimates that up to a third of road traffic accidents involve somebody who is at work at the time of an accident?
If your organisation provides vehicles for your staff or you expect your employees to drive their own vehicles for work purposes, then your business should have a Driving at Work policy. A robust and thorough Driving at Work policy, that covers all bases, not only ensures that you are looking after the welfare of your employees but it can also significantly reduce your commercial vehicle insurance premiums.
What is Driving for Work?
Driving at Work is the activity of driving on the road for work purposes. It includes the risks posed to workers themselves and to those not at work who may be affected by the work activity, such as pedestrians and other road users.
Commuting to work is not generally classified as Driving for Work, except where the person’s journey starts from their home and they are travelling to a work location, that is not their normal place of work.
What are the risks of Driving at Work?
As an employer or self-employed person, you must, by law, manage the risks that may arise when you or your employees drive for work. Employers should have systems in place to ensure that Driving for Work activities are road safety compliant. Employers cannot directly control conditions on the road, but they can promote and influence safe driving behaviour and actions by their employees.
Who is most at risk from Driving at Work?
The higher profile driving occupations are those where employees spend their entire working day driving. These include occupations such as HGV drivers, delivery drivers and bus drivers.
However, company representatives, maintenance workers and anyone who drives as part of his or her work duties is also at risk from Driving at Work. This even includes staff driving to meetings and events, visiting customers or clients, and driving between sites.
How to develop a Driving at Work policy?
A robust Driving at Work policy should include measures for all employees using vehicles supplied for them, and should also include measures for employees who use their own cars for work purposes.
All Driving at Work policies should include the following:
- Clearly state that the employee must maintain their vehicle in a roadworthy condition, if they are to use their own vehicle for work
- Ensure that if the vehicle is over three years old it has a valid MOT certificate
- Ensure that the employee has a current driving licence
- Ensure that the employee has appropriate insurance with cover for using the vehicle for business use (the employee should present copies of certificates annually, for inspection)
- Ensure that the employee informs their line manager of any changes in circumstances, such as penalty points, changes in insurer or vehicle used, use of any prescription medication, or changes to health that affect their ability to drive safely
Employee drivers should ensure that they:
- Report any vehicle defects to their line manager and never drive defective vehicles
- Are aware of what action needs to be taken in an emergency situation
- Ensure they are physically fit to drive
- Inform their line manager of any health problems or personal circumstances that could make driving hazardous
- Never drive while under the influence of alcohol or drugs
- Remember that some prescription drugs can adversely affect the ability to drive and check with a doctor or pharmacist, before doing so
- Have regular eye tests and ensure that any necessary corrective eyewear is worn
- Avoid using a mobile phone while driving
- Drive within speed limits and to the speed dictated by conditions, which may mean driving at less than the speed limit
- Follow advice on route planning supplied by line management
- Ensure that suitable breaks are included to prevent fatigue and that they are aware that fatigue is more of a problem at certain times of day and when nearing the end of a long journey. (there is an increased likelihood of falling asleep in the afternoon and in the early hours of the morning)
- Allow extra journey time and breaks where required, to allow for bad weather, traffic congestion, etc
- Stay calm and relaxed while driving and try to avoid situations which could lead to stress or road rage
- Plan ahead and consider how, as a driver, they would react in the event of a breakdown or other emergency
How can employers maintain influence over employees when they are Driving for Work?
Although the driver is ultimately responsible for how a vehicle is driven on the road, as an employer you can have a significant influence on the driver and the vehicle. Naturally, you will not have the same degree of direct control over Driving for Work whilst it is being carried out on the road as you would have in the workplace. However, you can act beforehand to ensure that the risks associated with Driving for Work are properly controlled.
Such actions will include:
- Driver selection, vetting and licence checks. For example, ensuring that drivers have the correct licence for the vehicle being driven
- Selecting the safest company vehicles possible and ensuring that they are fit for purpose
- Maintaining company vehicles
- Risk assessing Driving for Work activities
- Providing instruction, training, and information such as a driver’s handbook
- Providing safety and personal protective equipment, for example, high visibility jackets and warning triangles in case of a vehicle breakdown and as appropriate
- Providing suitable safety footwear and weather proof clothing.
- Promoting good driver behaviour amongst staff
- Safe scheduling and planning of journeys so that drivers have enough time to carry out the journey safely
What are the benefits to managing Driving for Work?
Managing Driving for Work has many benefits. It can reduce accidents, lost staff time, insurance premiums, damage to vehicles and operating costs. Other benefits include improved efficiency, morale, and company image.
Safe Driving for Work is good business; it protects your staff and can help to reduce insurance premiums, when considering your commercial vehicle insurance cover.