Road crashes are a leading cause of worker fatalities

27 Oct 2017

Deirdre Sinnott of the Road Safety Authority explains how driving for work can be one of the greatest safety risks.

Up to 40% of all road deaths in EU work-related. Road crashes are the world’s leading non-medical cause of death and serious injury.

The cost to employers arising from work related road collisions is estimated to run into hundreds of millions of Euros in Ireland alone.

Driving for work involves a risk not only for drivers, but also for fellow workers and members of the public, such as pedestrians and other road users who share the road space.

People who drive for work have a higher collision rate than the general driving population, even after their higher mileages are taken into account.

As well as being devastating to those involved, road collisions have massive financial, reputational and legal implications for organisations. Given that driving is the most high risk activity that most employees engage in, managing the risks associated with it is a fundamental part of an employer’s legal and moral duty of care towards its employees. It is essential that organisations have a strong safety culture, supported and promoted from the top down, with relevant policies and procedures in place and followed.

As an employer or self-employed person, you have a legal duty to manage the risks that employees face (and create for others) when they drive for work. Businesses, employees and the community all benefit from safe driving for work. You should have systems in place to make sure that employees comply with your driving for work policies. Employers cannot directly control road or weather conditions, but they can influence the way their employees act and behave on the road.

There are three key reasons why it is vital to manage your company’s fleet safety:

Moral and social responsibility

As a manager responsible for company vehicles, it is vital that you understand the potential impact of poor fleet safety on drivers, road users and the public. If a driver is involved in a collision, it may harm their physical and emotional wellbeing; lead to lost working time, cause distress to colleagues and affect staff morale. If someone is killed or seriously injured, the devastating effects on co-workers, families and communities are immeasurable.

The Business Benefits

Managing Driving for work is not just about protecting people, it is also good for business.

Complying with your legal requirements will help you achieve:

  • reduction in road collisions,
  • fewer employee injuries,
  • less absenteeism,
  • lower maintenance costs,
  • lower vehicle repair costs,
  • lower insurance premiums,
  • improved compliance with legislation, and
  • lower fuel costs.

Managers need to understand that spending money on driving for work risk management can yield a substantial return on investment.

For example, if you examine financial losses incurred by the company from collisions, or create scenarios to demonstrate potential financial losses, such as repair and fuel bills, insurance premiums, average insurance claims, and sick leave. Consider the amount of revenue your company would need to generate to cover the cost of road collisions and injuries.

A recent case study from the ESB shows clearly shows the substantial return on investments from investing in fleet risk management. They have demonstrated substantial reductions in incidents involving vehicles, repair costs and staff costs.

Legal compliance

The Safety Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005 states categorically that senior management have ultimate responsibility for ensuring the required safety standards, and that it is management’s responsibility to ensure work related road safety management practices are established.

Health and Safety law applies to driving for work in the same way as for all work activities. As an employer, you should have a safety management system in place for managing all work related risks. Driving for work risks should be managed as part of this system. You must also make sure your employees are:

  • legally entitled to drive the vehicle they are using,
  • using a vehicle that is safe and roadworthy,
  • trained, competent and fit to drive their vehicle safely, and
  • using their vehicle safely.

While drivers are responsible for how they drive, you are responsible for putting procedures in place that make sure your employees drive for work safely at all times.

The laws that require safe driving for work in Ireland include:

  • Road Traffic Acts and associated regulations: relating to vehicles, driver licensing, driving offences, insurance, rules of the road and speed limits;
  • Road Transport Acts and associated regulations: relating to road haulage and road passenger transport operations, transport managers professional driver hours; European Communities (Road Transport) (Organisation of Working Time of Persons Performing Mobile Road Transport Activities) Regulations 2012: relating to working time of mobile road transport
  • workers; and
  • Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005 and associated regulations: relating to work activities, workplaces, work equipment and worker protection.

These laws are not just there to protect people; they are also good for business. Complying with these legal requirements will help you achieve:

A Safe Systems approach to managing driving for work

Your business has a legal duty to manage health and safety at work. This is a wide-ranging requirement: it should be part of the everyday work process and part of good management generally.

First, you should look at your current health and safety procedures. Do they cover your responsibilities as an employer for driving for work? Remember, you need to have a suitable driving for work management programme as part of your overall system for managing health and safety at work in your business.

There are five key steps that you should include in your programme for managing driving for work:

For detailed guidance on how to manage Driving for work within your business go to:

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