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How to help staff stay safe on the roads this winter

Gavin Scarr Hall, Director of Health & Safety - Peninsula

Sobering statistics for 2021 indicate that in the UK, an estimated 27,300 people were killed or seriously injured because of a road traffic accident.

And when you consider all severities of injury, the total number of casualties increases to 127,967.

It’s estimated that up to a third of all RTA’s involve a person who is driving or travelling for work purposes. So that could be up around 42,655 employees per year injured or even killed whilst on duty.

Whilst it’s almost impossible to mitigate all risks associated with driving, there are many reasonable measures employers can, and should, be taking to keep employees who drive for work as safe as possible.

Given that employers have a duty of care to the physical and mental wellbeing of their staff under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, it’s an obligation to carefully plan and manage any hazards.

And this is particularly prevalent right now with winter fast approaching, given incidents on snowy, slushy, or icy roads account for one-quarter (24%) of weather-related traffic accidents.

Gavin Scarr Hall, Director of Health & Safety at Peninsula, shares his advice for employers.

“Firstly, you need to conduct a risk assessment to cover all work-related driving activities, including people who drive to and from meetings, delivery drivers, or goods and HGV drivers. The main areas you should look at in your risk assessment are the journey, the driver or rider, and the vehicle. You should consider:

  • Fatigue and tiredness
  • Stress levels
  • Distraction caused by a mobile phone and satellite navigation equipment
  • Bad posture due to an ill-adjusted seat or driving position
  • Fuel filling
  • Impact with other vehicles, pedestrians, or property
  • Roadworks, traffic, and congestion
  • Vehicle condition
  • Time pressures
  • The weather
  • Behaviour of other road users
  • The risks to lone workers and other vulnerable workers

“And with there being a much higher risk of adverse weather during winter months, the risk assessment should also consider whether the journey is necessary. If so, choose the safest route for each type of vehicle when planning routes.

“Risk assessments should be reviewed on a regular basis or following a significant change, such as a change of vehicle or working hours.

“Next, craft a Driving for Work policy outlining all the duties of the employee while using a company vehicle. These include having a valid driver’s licence, driving safely and responsibly, respecting traffic laws and other road users, and the reporting procedures for accidents and near misses, and vehicle issues.

“It should also document the arrangements for driver training and vehicle maintenance. Remember, all vehicles used for work purposes whether privately owned or owned by the organisation are insured, taxed, and maintained. Failure to do this can result in legal action. Communicate your ‘driving for work’ rules to all relevant employees and workers. It’s usually in the form of a driver safety handbook.

“Check driving licenses on a regular basis – usually annually. Permission to check driving licences must be sought from the drivers and the licences checked using the DVLA website.

“A properly maintained vehicle runs more efficiently, therefore saving money on fuel and repair costs. Plus, as an employer, it’s important to remember that you can be liable for road traffic accidents committed by an employee. So not only is it in the best interest of your staff to mitigate the risks associated with driving, but there’s also sound financial reasoning to do so.”

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