“Almost a quarter of business leaders with road-going employees are leaving themselves vulnerable to reputational damage, heavy fines and even corporate manslaughter charges.” Big Change and Brake, 2018
When your employees step into a vehicle for a business journey, their method of transport becomes an extension of the workplace. Making you responsible for the driving health and safety of them, their passengers and other road users.
With 500 work-related driving deaths each year, you’d expect this to be a focus for organisations. Yet, one in four employers fails to monitor driver safety.
We uncover the scale of this problem, your employer health and safety liability and how you can meet your employer responsibilities for work-related driving.
Shocking statistics on business driving
Did you know that in 2016 on UK roads:
• 529 people were killed
• 5,269 people were seriously injured
• Almost 40,000 were slightly injured
These are astounding numbers, particularly when you consider that they only relate to business journeys.
Dig deeper and the picture darkens. Research shows that 85% of those killed on UK roads, and almost 70% of casualties, were other road users or passengers of an at-work driver.
With business motorists responsible for a significant proportion of on-road deaths and injuries, you would expect this to be a pressing issue for employers. However, research by workforce management company Big Change and road safety charity Brake, found 22% of employers don’t monitor driver safety. And this problem is worse amongst more mature managers.
Half of older managers fail to conduct risk assessments for driving at work
Nine in ten leaders aged over 55 and with responsibility for company drivers say road safety is an important concern. Yet over half (54%) do nothing to monitor or manage driver behaviour.
Contrast this with business leaders aged 18 to 34 and 94% keep an eye on their drivers. They’re nine times more likely to implement steps like vehicle tracking, license checks and random drug and alcohol testing. As you would expect for people responsible for employer health and safety.
The research also throws up another interesting fact. Chief Executives and Managing Directors are more likely than other employees to have a chequered driving history. Incredibly, more than half of business leaders (51%) have received bans. Raising the possibility that personal attitudes are impacting professional culture.
Your grey fleet poses an additional threat
The risks aren’t confined to company-owned vehicles or company cars. The research also found that one in five businesses make no checks on employees’ own cars - known as the grey fleet - when driven on business.
Considered together, all this information indicates that employers are at serious risk of health and safety breaches and even criminal prosecution.
Employer health and safety responsibilities
The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 means employers have a duty of care for the welfare of employees and other road users. This includes time spent undertaking work-related journeys.
These are defined as any driving involving a work task outside a driver’s commute to and from their usual place of work. That could include trips to another office, a customer site or on a business trip to an exhibition.
And it means you need to monitor how your company-owned, leased, hired or grey fleet vehicles are driven when employees travel for work.
Breach your obligations and you could be charged under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 or even criminally prosecuted. If you’re found guilty, you’ll face a substantial fine and serious reputational damage or possibly even a prison sentence.
Take positive action
There are plenty of ways to tackle this issue including:
• Implementing risk assessments for driving at work
• Setting minimum safety standards for the cars you provide under your company car scheme
• Leasing newer, safer, well-maintained cars for employees to use on business journeys
• Providing employees with car maintenance information (like recommended tyre pressure)
• Training staff on driver and road safety
• Using technology to monitor driving style and providing staff with feedback
• Joining the Leaders for Life campaign to promote safer driving at work
• Ensuring all leaders take their employer health and safety responsibilities for driving seriously
• Helping employees plan their journeys by building in rest breaks and taking account of adverse weather and appropriate routes
• Providing employees with a Car Benefit Scheme which helps individuals into newer, safer and more efficient cars
Employer responsibilities for work-related driving are a serious obligation. By tackling business driver safety, you could avert accidents, prevent misery and protect you and your organisation from legal action.