Don’t get driven to distraction | 02 July 09
COMPANIES are being warned to gear up their policies on employees driving at work or face some serious consequences.
Health and safety experts at law firm Ward Hadaway say that while most businesses are up to speed on workplace safety, many neglect proper procedures when it comes to safeguarding staff driving on company business.
As a result, employers could find themselves in hot water if one of their workers is involved in an accident.
James Thompson, partner in the health and safety team at Ward Hadaway, said: “Up to a third of all road accidents involve someone who is working, but employers are often unaware of what policies and procedures they need to have in place to protect staff while they are driving.
“Making sure company vehicles have a valid MOT and that drivers have a valid licence and insurance is not enough when it comes to ensuring you cover your legal responsibilities.
“The law considers the workplace to stretch beyond the boundaries of employers’ premises and the roads certainly are the workplace when you have employees carrying out your business via them.”
So what should companies do?
Firstly, employers should consider all aspects of driving from the suitability of vehicles to the driving ability of employees.
James explained: “You should have risk assessments in place dealing with the types of journey undertaken together with all of the risks which originate from driving.
“Road accidents are not simply the responsibility of the driver in question, but where employers have contributed or even caused the accident through failing to follow basic health and safety guidelines, the consequences for the employer are all too serious.”
Terms of imprisonment and unlimited fines await employers who believe the liability for a road accident rests solely on the employee driving at the time of an accident.
James added: “If you are unsure of where you stand when it comes to protecting your employees while driving at work, it is best to get some professional advice.
“Whilst accidents cannot always be prevented, some of their consequences can.”
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