Travelling on the road is one of the greatest and most uncontrollable risks workers around the world face each day. In fact, it is estimated that up to a third of all road traffic accidents involve someone who is at work at the time. This may account for over 20 fatalities and 250 serious injuries every week.
Motor vehicle crashes also tend to cost the business more than other claims and result in more missed working days. Often resulting in serious injury, employees miss an average 86 working days compared to the 54 day average, with accidents costing two and a half times more than the average claim.
If your employees drive for work, whether the majority of their time is spent on the road or if they simply drive between appointments, it is your responsibility to ensure they do so safely. But did you know that managing the risks to employees who drive at work requires more than just compliance with road traffic legislation?
The employer’s responsibility
Health and Safety legislation around the world requires employers to take the appropriate steps to ensure the health and safety of their employees and others who may be affected by their work activities. This includes times when they are travelling for work whether in a company vehicle or their own. While road risk can be unpredictable and at times uncontrollable, every employer has the responsibility to take all possible steps to reduce risk and do everything reasonably practicable to protect their employees and those around them.
This means that if an employee suffers and accident on the road that harms them or even a non-employee, the business can be found at fault if the accident could have been prevented through risk management and reduction.
Tips for managing risk
While some businesses already have policies and procedures in place to safeguard road users, many do not. Yet safe driving practices could save lives, reduce the need for road repairs and protect the business from investigation, legal proceedings and insurance payouts. While there may be a lot of different factors to consider, we offer some first step tips to ensure the safety of your employees.
It is estimated that up to 95% of crashes are down to driver error. Understanding the importance of safety and following simple steps can prevent small mistakes that could have catastrophic consequences.
- Introductory training should be given to all employees driving for work which should cover your health and safety policy including what to do if they discover a fault or their vehicle breaks down.
- Anyone operating specialised vehicles such as HGVs, farm and construction vehicles must also have the appropriate training and experience required to carry out their jobs safely.
- Training should also be carried out following crashes or when hazards are identified.
Vehicle maintenance is incredibly important in keeping your employees safe and even a small fault could costs lives. Equally, safety aids and devices can protect your employees from coming into contact with pedestrians and other drivers.
- All vehicles whether owned or rented by the business or the employee, must be serviced, maintained and insured by the business.
- Larger vehicles should be fitted with the latest driver aids and safety devices such as reversing alarms, cameras, proximity sensors and side protection bars to protect cyclists.
- Seat belts, head restraints and airbags must be correctly fitted and in working order.
- Procedures should be put in place for reporting defects and any repairs carried out quickly.
Driving routes are perhaps one of the hardest factors to control particularly if work routes are irregular. However, there are some steps that can be taken to ensure your employees travel on the safest routes.
- Avoid roads where accidents commonly take place if possible and do not pressure employees to take the quickest routes if they could put them at more risk.
- Encourage your employees to report any safety concerns as they know their routes better then anyone. Road or structural damage should be reported to the local council.
- Ensure your drivers are aware of their vehicle height so to avoid overhead restrictions on route.
- Take weather such as snow and heavy rain into consideration and plan alternative routes if necessary.
Fatigue is estimated to cause one in 10 fatal crashes each year, rising to one in five on motorways. Tired drivers kill at least 300 people on UK roads every year, although this figure is expected to be much higher as identifying cause in fatal accidents can be difficult.
- Schedule required rest breaks for drivers travelling long distances
- Give drivers enough time to complete a job or reach an appointment safely and with breaks, taking into consideration time spent travelling from home
- Avoid times where sleep related incidents are most likely (2am-6am and 2pm-4pm)
- Consider overnight stays for employees who have traveled long distances for a job
With an estimated 2,900 casualties a year caused by poor vision, eye checks are incredibly important. Eyesight can deteriorate quickly and without notice so getting regular checks allows drivers to monitor their eyesight and get corrective glasses or contacts to wear while driving.
- Encourage regular eye tests and even consider offering free eye tests as part of your health and safety policy.
In most parts of the world using a mobile phone while driving is now illegal. Mobile phones distract drivers, slowing down reaction times. More than two in five crashes are thought to be caused by driver distraction and using a mobile phone to talk at the wheel, increases the chance of causing an injury or fatality.
- Do not call employees at times when you know they will be driving
- If an employee needs to check in with you or make a call, they must be trained to park safely beforehand
More in-depth guides and advice can be found here;