The below artice is an extract from the latest issue of Health and Safety at Work magazine and is written by RoSPA Fleet Safety Consultant John Greenhough…
‘I keep six honest serving-men
(They taught me all I knew);
Their names are What and Why and When
And How and Where and Who’
(Rudyard Kipling ‘The Elephant’s Child’)
For me this poem embodies all the elements that a good health and safety practitioner needs in their toolbox to create an armour and shield to protect against a breach of legislation or to defend against a claim in the courts. But it goes deeper than that – these are the questions that a business needs to ask of itself to improve compliance, increase profitability, reduce absence and retain valuable staff.
Managing Occupational Road Risk (MORR) is relevant to any business whose employees drive for a work-related purpose, regardless of the nature or status of the organisation. For the majority there will be a need for some of their workers to travel for company business e.g. client/customer visits, multi-site operations etc. Looking beyond the legal and moral duty of care, there is also the reputational damage that a failure of that duty will create for the individuals concerned and the operation as a whole.
When people consider the results of incidents on the road it is often the fatalities and the serious injuries that are conjured up. RIDDOR, which requires the reporting of work-related incidents on site, does not require the same reporting for road-related incidents (i.e. on the public highway). In 2017 the STATS 19 form (produced from reported incidents investigated by the police) detailed 1,793 road deaths.
Department for Transport (DfT) figures suggest the number of drivers who were killed as a direct result of driving for work is 30per cent (DfT 2014), which would suggest nearly 540 work-related driver fatalities annually. Given that the number of fatalities on the road has remained reasonably consistent since 2012 it is clear that a statement made by the HSE several years ago, that “for the majority of people, the most dangerous thing they do while at work is drive on the public highway”, is as valid today as it was then.
The HSE, in its revised version of guidance INDG382, makes reference to the primary areas of road risk to manage as being:
- The driver
- The vehicle
- The journey
From experience, many businesses fail in their duty of care when driving is not seen as an occupational risk. Rather, it is merely seen as a consequence of the activity of the business, where the individual has a licence that allows them to drive thereby absolving the directors and senior managers of any further involvement.
This is more prevalent when the business is not directly involved in ‘transport’, an industry that usually has many controls in place to ensure safety is seen as a priority. But even here, the ‘good’ practices that are in place are often not migrated to other aspects of the business, or not employed by those senior personnel who should be seen to be setting good examples, e.g. recorded vehicle checks as part of the HGV policy are not employed by company car drivers, working hours for the ‘professional’ drivers are strictly adhered to and monitored where a tachograph is necessary, but often ignored where there is no such requirement.
Or the MD takes an approach whereby they consider the rules to be for others and not for them.
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