Frequently Asked Questions
Definition of work related road safety
What is meant by the term 'work related road safety?
There is no legal definition of 'work related road safety', but it relates to the management of the risks which employees and the self-employed face and create when they are driving, riding or walking on the road in order to do their job. It is often referred to as Managing Occupational Road Risk, at-work road safety or driving for work. These terms are interchangeable.
In the UK, it does not normally include commuting (travelling to and from home and the normal place of work) except where an employee's travel from their home to a work location which is not their normal place of work.
Work-related road safety encompasses risks faced, and created, by people whose job is driving (LGV, PSV drivers etc) as well as the vast majority of the workforce who drive vehicle at some point to do their job, for example, driving to an appointment. This includes people who use their own vehicle for work. It also includes anyone who rides a motorcycle or a bicycle for work, and at-work pedestrians, not just those engaged in activities like road works and vehicle recovery but the vast range of people whose jobs bring them into proximity with moving traffic.
Work-related road safety also links to vehicle safety in the workplace, where around 5,000 accidents, and 50 deaths, a year involve transport in the workplace 1.
Employee Owned Vehicles
Do the rules, policies and procedures that apply to staff who use a company vehicle (for example, a company car or a commercial vehicle) also apply to staff who use their own private vehicle for work purposes? Does the employer have the same legal responsibilities and liabilities? If so, should we insist on them servicing their vehicle annually etc and providing copies of documentation to us?
Yes, employers owe the same duty of care under health and safety law to employees driving their own vehicles as they do to company owned or lease hired vehicles. The law requires them to assess risks and take reasonably practicable precautions. Obviously they need to ensure that vehicles used on company business are fit for purpose (e.g. avoiding delivery of unsecured goods equipment etc in cars) and are in a safe condition, and that the drivers are properly licensed, insured, fit and competent. Work-related journeys also have to be managed in the same way as journeys in a company vehicle.
The test of compliance with these duties is one of 'reasonableness'. If company and lease vehicles are procured and serviced centrally, it is easier for the employer to specify their safety requirements and keep a check on matters such as servicing. If employees use their own vehicles, the employer should certainly remind them that they must comply with road traffic law, have business use on their motor insurance, a valid MoT and that the vehicle should be serviced in accordance with the manufacturer's instructions. They also need to remind all drivers and their line managers about the need for daily and periodic vehicle condition checks.
Managers do not, however, need to tie themselves up in meaningless administration and record keeping, especially where the effort involved is disproportionate to any resulting safety gain. They might, for example, choose to do periodic spot checks, asking to see service records etc and also examine these things if and when they carry out investigations of any accidents/incidents.
Further advice is available in Guidance and Resources.
Written Risk Assessments
We are developing an occupational road risk strategy for our company drivers. Guidance says a risk assessment should be carried out, but should this extend to every vehicle trip? Is it reasonable to ask every driver to fill in a risk assessment pro-forma before each business journey?
There is advice in the HSE/DfT guidance (INDG 382) on how to carry out risk assessment. It is not necessary for drivers to complete a written risk assessment for every journey, but they should plan their routes, including places for rest breaks. If, as is often the case, decisions about these things are in the hands of the driver, he/she needs to be empowered to do dynamic assessment. The aim should be to avoid meaningless bureaucracy and form filling and develop approaches which actually help managers and drivers to make sound decisions about controlling risk.
In general, employers should carry out an adequate and suitable generic assessment of risks for the various kinds of driving task that are undertaken in their organisation (e.g. delivering goods, travelling to meetings, call-outs, emergency response, vehicle recovery operations, courier delivery etc), looking at safety critical features of: journey task; vehicle; and driver/rider - that are likely to increase the chance of crashes happening.
This kind of evaluation can then be used be used to prioritise areas for possible intervention and control options (e.g. from avoiding the journey altogether, by remote communications, for example, to safer journey design, fit for purpose, properly maintained vehicles, to driver training). If the journey is a regular and predictable one, the line manager and driver(s) can build on the generic assessment and work together, for example, to examine routing and timing issues in more detail and fine tune risk controls, linking these to site transport risk assessment, where vehicles are going onto other organisations' premises.
How many accidents are related to people going to and from their place of employment? The infrastructure around places of work must be a key factor as well!
The police now record purpose of journey when investigating reported road accidents. In 2012, 169 people were killed, almost 3,000 people were seriously injured and over 23,000 slightly injured in accidents involving a driver or rider who was commuting to or from work 2.
In comparison, that year, 539 people were killed, over 5,000 people were seriously injured and over 44,000 slightly injured in accidents involving a driver or rider who was driving as part of work.
Although employers' duties of care do impact commuting safety, to the extent that they should not impair an employee's capacity to drive home safely (e.g. by causing undue fatigue, imposing distractions etc), employers can influence commuting risks in various ways: reducing exposure through allowing home working; facilitating use of public transport; organising transport and car sharing; and, of course, providing driver training to improve drivers'/riders' capacity to cope. This links closely with mainstream MORR from a 'business case' angle since the impact on operations etc of an employee road casualty is not really affected by the precise context in which it occurs (it's the same loss).
One major motor manufacturer, for example, was so concerned about the casualty rate among young employees riding motor cycles to work (and in their leisure time) that they set up a motor cycle club on site and engaged ex-police riders to act as instructors and to raise awareness. In its broader sense this sort of approach is characteristic of companies that focus on '24/7 safety', not just for their employees but for relatives and dependants too (an injury to an employee's child, for example is likely to lead to that person being absent from work etc in exactly the same way as if the injury had occurred to them personally).
Do employers' responsibilities for avoiding fatigue relate only to vocational drivers working long hours? Would this not also apply to employees who are required to work long hours, not driving, and then drive home feeling fatigued from work? Should it be made an employer's responsibility, even in these cases, to provide rest facilities for employees who have worked long shifts at the employer's behest?
Also, what would be seen as a maximum working day beyond which one would be considered too tired to safely drive perhaps 1-2 hours home?
The HSE/DfT guide 'Driving at work' (INDG 382) states "Health and safety law does not apply to people commuting (ie travelling between their home and their usual place of work), unless they are travelling from their home to somewhere which is not their usual place of work".
However, there are cases where the boundary between at-work driving and commuting is not so clear cut. For example, Produce Connection was fined £30,000 in April 2006 after one of its workers crashed and died while driving home after a third consecutive shift of nearly 20 hours. The court heard that he was thought to be suffering from "chronic fatigue" and had fallen asleep at the wheel. The firm admitted two breaches of health and safety law in failing to ensure the health of workers and the public. The judge said the firm had failed to monitor the hours employees worked, and ordered it to pay £24,000 costs. The case is thought to be the first of its kind in the UK because the firm admitted breaching health and safety legislation even though their driver died outside working hours. The driver had worked 11 days without a day off prior to his fatal crash, on average for 17 hours a day and only getting three to four hours' sleep a night. Workers were paid by the hour, and a daily note was kept of each worker's working hours, so the court judged that managers had to be aware of the hours worked.
The guiding principle here has to be that employers should periodically review driver fatigue, both during 'at work' driving and during commuting and develop measures to guard against it. They also need to help employees to understand the risks and plan journeys to avoid driver fatigue. It is hard to prescribe a safe maximum but obviously requirements stemming from the Working Time Directive may be relevant. The basic rule is that if the employee feels dangerously fatigued or sleepy they should not drive.
Advice on journey planning and avoiding driver fatigue is available in the Guidance and Resources section of this website.
To what extent is health and safety law enforced in relation to 'at work' driving?
Unfortunately, there is relatively little enforcement of occupational health and safety law in relation to work related road safety.
The HSE/DfT guide, 'Driving at Work' (INDG 382) states that "in most cases, the police will continue to take the lead on investigating road traffic incidents on public roads. HSE will only take enforcement action where the police identify that serious management failures have been a significant contributory factor to the incident".
The police ask questions at the scene of road crashes about whether drivers are at work. When investigating serious road crashes, they follow the Road Death Investigation Manual, which states:
"The HSE should be contacted when the following two criteria apply.
- There is sufficient indication that failures in safety management by the employer have significantly contributed to the incident and
- these failures cannot be addressed by the 'cause and permit' provisions in the road traffic legislation; and
- the risks are foreseeable and beyond the direct control of the driver.
The Health and Safety at Work (HSW) Act has been used on one or two occasions in the past but the main emphasis in the aftermath of road traffic accidents or offences remains enforcement of road traffic law. The vast majority of injuries sustained in accidents on the road during work are not currently reportable by employers under RIDDOR, the Reporting of Injuries Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations, except injuries received during delivery operations, vehicle recovery and loading and unloading. ORSA believes that at work road injuries should be reportable under RIDDOR.
More detail is available in the Law section of this website.
The HSE continue, where necessary, to take enforcement action about site transport offences and details here can be gleaned from their workplace transport campaign website and their enforcement database (w).
It is also worth remembering that employees can claim under ELCI (Employers' Compulsory Liability Insurance) for injuries sustained in 'at work' road crashes.
How Many Occupational Road Accidents?
How confident can RoSPA be about the number of road casualties that are 'work related'?
The police now record journey purpose when they are investigating reported road accidents (although the accuracy of the data about journey purpose is not certain) and various studies over the years have made fairly consistent estimates.
The HSE estimate that "more than a quarter of all road traffic incidents may involve somebody who is driving as part of their work at the time." 3
In 2012, 539 people were killed, 5,231 seriously injured and almost 45,000 slightly injured in collisions involving a driver or rider driving for work. 4
Between 2007 and 2012, 4,726 people were killed, 40,610 seriously injured and over 360,000 injured in work-related road crashes. 5
Therefore, RoSPA is confident that the overall estimate of between a quarter and a third of road crashes being work related is sufficiently robust to be able to give a broad indication of the scale of the problem.
I am the Health and Safety Officer for a local College. I am currently of writing a policy for the use of personal vehicles for business use. One of the main areas of dispute is the area of endorsements. If a driver has endorsements, where do we stand as the employer if they have an accident whilst travelling officially on business? Also would they be able to take other people in their vehicle? I have seen a few policies of other companies where there is a limit to how many points they will accept - mainly 3. Would it be safer to exercise a limit on endorsements? I would be very grateful if you could advise me further.
You need to track licences, and require drivers to inform you if they obtain penalty points on their licence as part of your MORR risk assessment and monitoring. Drivers with points may need further assessment and training, and it certainly makes sense to check the licences of drivers who have penalty points more frequently than other drivers.
Many companies have a graded response with the first three points resulting in a discussion with the line manager about what happened and how it can be avoided in the future. Drivers who obtain further penalty points are demonstrating more persistent bad driving, or have committed a more serious motoring offence. Therefore, other options, such as driver training, a change to their driving task or disciplinary action, may be required. Drivers who continue to gain penalty points after this are demonstrating persistent poor driving, and not responding to the efforts to help them, in which case the employer should consider options such as further, specific training, moving them to non-driving duties or disciplinary action, depending on the circumstances.
Drivers who gain nine points on their licence are close to being disqualified, at which point they will no longer be able to drive; your policy should cover the action that will be taken if this happens, which may include dismissal.
If you act reasonably on what you know you will have a defence in the event of an accident.
Please could you let me know where I stand on this situation at work? I have a company car. The company changes the lease cars every 12,500 miles, roughly every three months. I noticed that I have a nail in my tyre and the company are refusing to pay for this as they feel that the upkeep of the car is my responsibility. There is nothing as far as I know in my contract stating that I am responsible for repairs on the car that weren't my own fault. Are they breaching health and safety at work law by refusing to pay? My job entails driving roughly 200 miles per day.
Company cars are provided under many different arrangements, but the employer's duty of care is the same in general terms, however, the car is supplied, be it a lease car, a company owned vehicle, an occasional hire car, a pool car, a cash option, a 'user chooser' car. Their duties are also the same if an employee uses their own vehicle for work.
The law states that vehicles must be in a roadworthy condition. The employer's duty of care means that, as part of their policy and procedures for managing work related road safety, they must ensure that vehicles are in a fit condition, for example, by arranging for (or ensuring that drivers pay for) regular servicing and ensuring that drivers carry out daily and weekly checks on safety significant points such as lights, tyres, glass, fluids etc.
Where drivers use vehicles under allowance schemes, this usually includes the cost of servicing and repairs. Under many lease hire arrangements the company supplying the vehicles will have service arrangements with named garages to have the work carried out as part of the contract. However, many employers also require employees to pay some element of the excess in insurance claims, often to incentivise the driver to take care of the vehicle, although linking this sort of requirement to 'fault' is often difficult and can lead to arguments about who is responsible. It can also affect patterns of reporting of accidents and incidents, a vital source of information which is important to the employer to enable them to monitor trends in fleet safety performance.
Health and safety law in general terms prohibits an employer from levying charges on an employee for anything done or supplied to enable them to meet their statutory obligations. For example, you cannot charge a worker for the cost of their protective clothing or equipment or their health and safety training. However, where the employee uses safety related work equipment for domestic as well as work purposes, then the employer may be within their rights to levy a charge for part of the cost and such arrangements, where they arise, are usually agreed through negotiation.
In the case of pool cars used only for work, it would be reasonable to say that employers would not be able to make charges for maintenance and repair. The difficulty arises if the vehicle is also used for commuting or for domestic and leisure motoring. Keeping a careful record of when and where damage occurred might be one way of establishing who was responsible for meeting the cost of repairs. It is most unlikely that the health and safety enforcing authorities would want to get involved in this sort of issue. A better course of action would be to establish what is good practice in the fleet industry and to present this as part of an overall business case for managing occupational road risk.
Car drivers driving 7.5 tonne vans
I would appreciate your (without prejudice) comments on the following: A local hospital Trust collects meals from a production unit 5 km away in a 7.5 tonne refrigerated box van fitted with tail lift. Previously it was driven by one of nine 'pool porters' on a roster basis, with 'cover porters' expected to cover absences due to holidays, sickness etc.. There were five serious accidents, including broken toes from the tail lift, driving with the tail lift un-stowed, and driving the vehicle under a reception canopy with insufficient headroom.
The 'Trust' then widened deliveries throughout the Borough and appointed a full time driver. However, managers still regarded driving a 7.5 tonne lorry as the same as driving a car and required 'cover porters' to cover this duty in the driver's absence! A 'cover porter' may be asked to drive this vehicle for one week every twelve months, possibly at a moment's notice, which is I believe an even more dangerous arrangement than the previous one.
What you describe is clearly an unsatisfactory state of affairs and does not reflect good practice nor indeed legal requirements relating to the management of work related road safety. The law permits a car licence holder to drive a vehicle up to 7.5 tonnes but, where those licence holders are employees and are required to drive as part of their work, health and safety law also applies. In this context, it requires the employer to assess the employee's competence in driving this type of vehicle, which is very different from driving a car. This should include risk on the road and when driving around the hospital site.
Assessing competence in relation to health and safety requirements is not simply a question of checking qualifications such as past training or driving licence status. It should also involve checking the ability to drive a large vehicle of this type. There is nothing in health and safety law to prevent porters who hold a car licence from being employed to drive box vans up to 7.5 tonnes, provided they are competent, but it would be far more sensible to require drivers to have a C1 Driving licence, not just a car driving licence. At the very least a competence assessment should involve a licence check (repeated periodically), a check of physical fitness etc, and in this case, a practical assessment of their driving ability in the box van.
Competence assessment should also address familiarity with the type and model of vehicle to be driven. From the incidents you describe, it would seem there could well be a case for additional training. From the site transport safety angle alone it is vital that drivers understand site safety arrangements and are competent in safe manoeuvring, particularly reversing safely in confined spaces.
Skills need to be practised to remain 'live' so there may still be an issue for trained drivers if they only drive certain kinds of vehicle occasionally. These questions should be picked up in the periodic review of risk assessments. They should certainly be picked up if the kind of accidents you described are properly investigated.
It sounds very much as if the Trust could benefit from basic advice on Managing Occupational Road Risk, taking on board, for example, the advice in The HSE/DfT guide, 'Driving at Work' (INDG 382) as well as HSE advice on site transport safety in "Workplace Transport Safety: A Brief Guide (INDG 199).
- Vehicles at Work, HSE, 2014
- "Reported Road Casualties Great Britain, 2012" (Table RAS30037), Department for Transport, 2013
- "Driving at work Managing work-related road safety", HSE (2014)
- "Reported Road Casualties Great Britain 2012", Department for Transport, 2013
- "Strategic Review of the Management of Occupational Road Risk", TRL and UCL, 2014