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Keeping It Safe

Ensuring that your employees are safe when out on the job is more than common sense, it’s a legal requirement

The Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act 2007 marked an important change to the management of work-related road safety. Coming into effect from 6 April 2008, it enshrined the duty of care that all employers have to their staff in terms of doing everything possible to ensure they can safely carry out their duties.

Rear corner of a Kia cee'd, showing light and tire

ON THE ROAD

From a driving perspective, the legislation covers a wide range of responsibilities, including whether a vehicle provided is fit for purpose and correctly maintained. In addition, it is the company’s duty to ensure the driver is licensed, insured and not under pressure to complete too many appointments, and therefore drive too far or too fast.

Companies can be found guilty of corporate manslaughter, ‘As a result of serious management failures resulting in a gross breach of duty of care’, according to the Health and Safety Executive.

The key thing from a company’s perspective is that prosecutions will be of the firm itself, rather than individuals, though the directors, board members or other individuals can still be pursued separately under criminal or health and safety law.

Though there haven’t yet been any driving-related prosecutions, several firms have been found guilty under the act, and hit by heavy fines and the corresponding bad publicity and reputational damage that comes with a legal case.

Simple processes that are well-documented and updated can prevent problems, with regular checking of driver licences, vehicle maintenance, MOT and insurance documentation being the first steps. Additionally, it is important to ensure that drivers are aware of their own obligations too, in terms of checking tyres and vehicle wear and tear on a regular basis.

There are many risk management experts in the marketplace that can give more detailed advice on how to ensure your company is safe from prosecution, should the unthinkable happen, but doing the basics right with a clear policy, adhered to, endorsed and enforced by senior management, is a good place to start. See www.hse.gov.uk/ corpmanslaughter/about for details.

GREY FLEET

Ironically, in many ways the biggest danger to a company’s risk management strategy are vehicles not owned by the business at all. Grey fleet is the term given to employees who use their own vehicles for work business.

If a worker is required to use their own car for business, then they are subject to the same regulations as those drivers given a company car. So the business needs to know the vehicle in question is properly insured for business use over and above commuting, that it has been correctly serviced, has a current MOT and the driver has a valid driving licence.

This level of administration, sometimes for drivers who may only occasionally be required to use their car for work, has led to some firms switching to rental cars or pool cars.

A grey fleet is flexible and sometimes a necessary part of business operation, but neglecting it in fleet policy and administration terms could leave a company wide open to scrutiny and prosecution if something untoward occurs while a worker is travelling on a journey while doing their job.