Road Safety for Employers – The Essentials
Road safety can encompass many different things depending on who the safety concerns and who is actually responsible for that safety. For example, road safety could mean driving tips for those who must commute into work during heavy traffic, or it could mean safety for those who have to drive as part of their job. It could be personal tips on things like how to keep a safe speed in certain areas or navigate road blocks and work barriers, or it could be the legal obligations of an employer to provide for the safety of their employees who are driving under any context.
This article will deal with the latter definition of road safety and all that this entails. If you are an employer and have employees who drive in any capacity as part of their job, then there is certainly a body of health and safety advice that it is important for you to defer to. Of course, the precise legal requirements that you, as an employer, will have to fulfil depend on a few factors, including:
- Local and national regulations that you must conform to wherever you are
- Safety specific to the environment in which your employees are driving
- The nature of the work and the nature of the driving that your employees do.
- The types of vehicles they are driving (there is a big different between lorries and forklifts, for instance)
- Any further situation-specific best practices that can improve the safety of your employees.
When it comes to road safety at work – or, in fact, road safety anywhere – it is always wise to go above and beyond to properly account for any unexpected circumstances. After an accident happens, we enter a whole new world of compensation, possible legal disputes and, of course, a hit to your workforce if an employee (or worse, employees) have to take the time off. It is far better to be safe than sorry.
As mentioned, there are potentially many different scenarios which could potentially involve employees of yours driving as some part of their job. These situations can be divided into those in which the employees use their own cars and those in which you, the employer, provide a fleet for them to use. You can probably think of examples where your business will maintain a fleet of vehicles. A taxi company would probably be the most well-known example, but there are literally countless others. Many businesses offer company cars and many also have specialised vehicles for employees to use such as forklifts for a warehouse company, lorries for a haulage company, or even hearses for a funeral director.
In such cases, it is all about maintaining your fleet effectively. This means regular check-ups of the vehicles to ensure they are roadworthy, but also advice or even strict regulations given out to the drivers to ensure that they use each vehicle properly and do not compromise its (and their) safety.
Driver regulations could potentially include any of the following:
- Responsibility to drive safely and to follow all normal driving safety regulations. For example, you could maintain a vehicle fleet in perfect working order, but if a driver refuses to wear a seatbelt, then this is a safety hazard which is out of your control. Be sure that company regulations mandate the use of seatbelt, if only to cover yourself legally.
- The maintenance of a safe level of fuel and the responsibility for replenishing it.
- Responsibility for any damage to the vehicle caused by reckless driving.
In other words, it is important to make sure that you meet all your obligations. Nevertheless, it is also important that each driver is aware of what their obligations are. This is something to have watertight from the very off.
Write a Road Risk Policy
Moreover, in the interests of keeping everything crystal clear and keeping everybody up to speed (no pun intended) about what the risks are and where the responsibility lies, writing a road risk policy is always advised. As well as making the risks clear, a good road risk policy will also effectively outline your obligations and ensure that, where things like insurance and stockholder peace of mind is concerned, you have everything accounted (as well as the available funds to cover any accidents).
A good road risk policy should:
- be created in close consultation with managers, employees themselves, trade unions, and any relevant external organisations
- lead with a clear outlining of your company’s commitment to road safety with the ultimate aim of preventing death and injury
- include details about how you will ensure the safety of your drivers and safety within the work setting where they will be driving
- the details of the company insurance policies offered to drivers or anyone at risk of road-related accidents at work
- make clear that the company is committed to regular risk assessments
- be dynamic (not static) and sensitive to changes in the road safety landscape (for example, the introduction of electric vehicles or the possibility of different conditions in new work sites)
- set targets, normally involving a reduction of road safety-related incidents over a particular period of time. Or, if you have a clean sheet on that front, a target to keep it that way
- be kept concise and written in plain English.
Always Enforce and Follow General Road Safety Tips
If you defer to the above advice and follow it close, you will be well on your way to creating a road safety-optimised working environment where everyone is clear about the risks, rights and responsibilities involved. However, it is also wise to simply make clear the age-old road safety and driving tips that every driver should have learned during their driving test. To finish, here is a rundown of that advice:
- Always wear a seatbelt
- Regularly check oil and radiator coolant
- Be on the lookout for strange noises and vibrations (especially those that were not there before)
- Take blind corners carefully
- Drive carefully in adverse weather
- Follow all road signage and traffic lights
- Keep a clear and clean windscreen
- Pack road repair essentials (spare tyre, breakdown equipment etc.).
Involving fast moving hunks of metal carrying all manner of things and people, the road is one of the most important places to get safety right. And given the rates of accidents which are currently common – as well as all the legal liability you have for your employees – road safety in the workplace is perhaps even more important to get right.