Managing work-related road safety
Around one third of fatal and serious road traffic incidents will involve somebody who is driving at work. Health and safety law applies to work activities on the road in the same way as it does to all work activities and you need to manage the risks to drivers as part of your health and safety arrangements. Effective management of work-related road safety helps reduce risk, no matter what size your organisation is.
Employers have duties under health and safety law for on-the-road work activities. The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 (HSW Act) states you must ensure, so far as reasonably practicable, the health and safety of all employees while at work. You must also ensure that others are not put at risk by your work-related driving activities.
“So far as reasonably practicable” means balancing the level of risk against the measures needed to control the real risk in terms of money, time or trouble. However, you do not need to take action if it would be grossly disproportionate to the level of risk. The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 require you to manage health and safety effectively.
The Law applies to any employer with employees who drive, or ride a motorcycle or bicycle at work, as well as self-employed people. It also applies to those using their own vehicle for a work-related journey. Employers with large goods vehicles (LGVs) or passenger carrying vehicles (PCVs) may also be subject to specific legal requirements.
The company also have duties under road traffic law, e.g. the Road Traffic Act and the Road Vehicles (Construction and Use) Regulations, which are administered by the police, and other agencies such as the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA). In most cases, the police will continue to take the lead on investigating road traffic incidents on public roads. HSE will usually only take enforcement action where the police identify that serious management failures have been a significant contributory factor to the incident.
If one of your employees is killed, for example while driving for work, and there is evidence that serious management failures resulted in a ‘gross breach of a relevant duty of care’, your company or organisation could be at risk of being prosecuted under the Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act 2007.
Organisations have a legal duty to put in place suitable arrangements to manage health and safety. This is a wide-ranging requirement. It should be part of the everyday process of running an organisation and part of good management generally.