Driver safety is HR issue in avoiding prosecution

Employers could face prosecution if they do not have clear safety policies
protecting staff who drive during office hours, following the release of tough
Health & Safety Commission proposals last week.

As part of a drive to apply more rigorously health and safety laws to
on-the-road work activities, the HSC wants to introduce an accident report form
that enables the police to assess the workload of commercial drivers.

If the reported information shows that the accident was caused by dangerous
driving due to onerous employer demands, then the organisation could face
prosecution. It will also enable the HSC to check on the training and
supervision of the drivers involved.

The HSC report, Tomorrow’s Roads – Safer for Everyone, makes 18 proposals
and is likely to be a key part of the Government’s road safety programme due
for implementation in 2003.

Chris Howell, chief executive of risk audit company Risk Answers, said,
"A big issue is the potential crossover between the contract of employment
and health and safety.

"HR will have to look a lot more closely at what the contract of
employment means and relate it to any changes in the personal circumstances of
the employee, for example, if a person doing high mileage becomes pregnant, or
has a long-standing back condition."

The company estimates that UK businesses lose £2.7bn a year as a consequence
of at-work road accidents. Richard Dykes, chairman of the HSC’s work-related
road safety task group, said, "Research shows that between a third and
half of all road traffic incidents involve someone at work.

"An employer who has employees on the road should apply the same risk
management best practice as they would in all other aspect of the
workplace."

www.hse.gov.uk

By Phil Boucher

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