Driving for work – A Risky Business

The topic at the most recent LCE Breakfast Briefing was Driving for Work – A Risky Business. This was a most well received briefing presented expertly by Deirdre Sinnott McFeat, a senior inspector with the Health and Safety Authority and national programme lead for work related vehicles and transport.

Pictured Left to Right: Deirdre Sinnott McFeat, Senior Inspector with HSA; Ita Leyden, Managing Director of LCE

Deirdre brought put this very important topic into context – you don’t have to be a sales representative or lorry driver to be considered as a person who drives for work – this includes those of us who drive to off-site meetings, who drive to training courses or who travel to other premises to collect supplies. When we drive for work we put ourselves at risk as those who drive for work are more likely to be involved in a road collision – between 2003 and 2013 almost half of the 600 workplace deaths were vehicle related. The most common vehicle related accidents are associated with manual handling when loading and unloading, slip, trips and falls when accessing vehicles and being struck by vehicles.

At least 1/3 of all road traffic accidents are associated with driving for work – with Thursday afternoon being the most dangerous time of the day for driving.

So what can we do – Deirdre suggests that we need to consider both the legal aspects and the moral obligations as an employer.

In relation to the legalities there are 3 sets of related legislation that you must abide by when you are driving for work:

  1. Occupational Health & Safety Law
  2. Road Traffic Law
  3. Road Safety Law

When it comes to an employer’s responsibility, where do you start?

Firstly it is recommended that workplaces put in place a “Driving for work” policy which details what the expectations and rules are for employees who drive for work, regardless of whether you have a set of fleet vehicles or employees use their own private vehicle etc.

Secondly, like any area of work a risk assessment should be carried out taking account fo the risk factors associated with the journey, the driver, and of course the vehicle itself.

Thirdly, make out a list of relevant procedures that are applicable to the workplace e.g. expected behaviours, referring to the rules, disciplinary actions etc.

Ideally it is better to eliminate any driving for work where possible but if an employee needs to travel then it is worth considering a journey planner – planning your route, planning your time in order to avoid congestion, sharing the driving if possible and booking an overnight if necessary.

Choosing the right vehicle for the job is also important. This should be based on suitability for the intended tasks, suitability for the work environment and safety should ALWAYS be a priority.

Some considerations that employers should also take on board include the following:

• Pre vehicle safety checks (especially if employee is using own vehicle and not a fleet car)
• Legal compliance and knowledge
• Speed management
• Awareness and anticipation skills
• Forward planning
• Hazard awareness and avoidance (as simple as listening to the traffic updates on the radio)
• Fuel efficient driving
• Impairment and distractions (policy on mobile phone use)
• Training on driving for work

Business Benefits of implementing procedures on “driving for work”

Fewer collisions, leading to lower insurance premiums and staff/vehicle down time (the average cost of repair for vehicle damage is €1000)
Reduction in vehicle wear and tear
Increase in fuel economy
Reduction in carbon footprint
Enhances your reputation under corporate sociability
Most importantly – your staff get home safely

For more information on this go to www.HSA.ie and for any other health and safety advice contact LCE on 051 364344 or email info@LCE.ie