The best business advice, opinion, news and expertise in Greater Manchester and further afield.

Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Guest Blog: Fit for Driving


By Wayne Dunning of ELAS 

For employers that rely on meetings at clients’ respective places of business, having a mobile workforce is absolutely essential. However, with the benefits of employees with their own cars, also comes the liability. The Health and Safety Executive states that health and safety law applies to driving in exactly the same way as all other work activities and, statistically, driving is the most dangerous business activity that employees can undertake with 220 people killed every week as a result .

Companies are responsible for all workers while they are driving for business purposes, whether they are in a company car or their own vehicle. This means employers must manage the risks associated with driving within a comprehensive health and safety system.

In order to ensure the risk to your employees is minimised, there are a number of recommended actions that companies should undertake. The employer is ultimately accountable for ensuring that the cars used are roadworthy and that the employee has sufficient insurance coverage, which means making sure that each vehicle is properly taxed, has a valid MOT, valid insurance for business use and is serviced according to manufacturing recommendations.

Staff awareness is key, which means communicating to the workforce the company’s requirement that an employee’s vehicle is legal, safe and fit for purpose. You can do this as part of the induction process and staff training, as well as through team meetings.

It is also beneficial to have agreed minimum safety features and conditions for use. Seat belts and head restraints are a legal requirement for vehicles, but there are no specific laws for cars to have airbags or ABS brakes.  However, you are within your rights as an employer to include these features as a minimum requirement as long as employees that do not have them can use a company vehicle as an alternative.

The minimum conditions for use can include an agreement for drivers to show documentary proof of the roadworthiness of their vehicle and insurance on request, to conduct regular vehicle safety checks and to not carry unsuitable or hazardous loads. If any employee does suffer a collision while on business, however minor, it is important that you have a procedure in place for them to report it to the company.

A major issue is mobile phone use while driving; 39 per cent of car drivers admit to using a mobile phone on the road, rising to 55 per cent of company car drivers. But research indicates that mobile phone users are four times more likely to crash, regardless of whether or not they use a hands-free device.

The law says it is an offence to ‘cause or permit’ a driver to use a mobile phone while driving, which means that as an employer, you can be held liable if your policy requires employees to use a phone on the road. Even hands-free devices do not completely absolve the issue, as the driver could still be charged with ‘failing to have proper control of their vehicle’ while using them in certain circumstances.

Make sure that the dangers associated with mobile phone use are properly communicated in the same manner as other driving risks, and that your mobile phone policy is fully compliant with the law and understood by all parties. You should also make it clear to staff that your company will co-operate with any police enquiry that results from a crash, including the provision of mobile phone records where requested.

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1 comment:

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