Keep death off the roads

Employers who fail to safeguard staff against road accidents while at work
face legal action

Between 800 and 1,000 deaths occur each year in road accidents linked to
work, according to the Government’s Work-related Road Safety Task Group.

The group, set up last year to advise ministers on how best to reduce the
number of road incidents involving people at work, recommends that the HSE publishes
clear guidance for employers on reducing incidents.

This should cover the employer’s duty to manage employees’ safety while at
work on the road, as company car or van drivers, passengers, motor cyclists or
at-work pedestrians.

Police and other road safety bodies need to work more closely together, it
added. This could mean investigating whether accidents are caused by employers
setting unrealistic schedules or requiring drivers to drive while tired or
while using mobile phones.

Richard Dykes, the task group chairman, said that employers need to do more
to assess and take action to reduce risks. Where they fail to do so,
appropriate action should be taken against them.

"We want to change the current situation so that those driving on
business or working on or beside roads have the same health and safety
protection as people working in fixed premises," he said.

Roger Bibbings, occupational safety adviser at the Royal Society for the
Prevention of Accidents, welcomed the report. "Employers already managing
health and safety well will have nothing to fear. Employers who choose to
ignore road safety will be on notice to change their ways or they could end up
in court," he said.

TUC general secretary John Monks said the on-the-road death rate was nearly
three times the number of workers killed in the workplace. "Along with
12,000 serious injuries and 70,000 slight injuries, this adds up to a cost of
£3.7bn to society and £2.7bn to employers. As well as protecting workers,
reducing this toll will benefit business."

Transport minister David Jamieson said the Government would consider the
group’s recommendations.

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