Management of Work-Related Road Risk

The Health and Safety Act 1974 requires you to ensure, so far as reasonably practicable, the health and safety of all employees while at work. You also have a responsibility to ensure that others are not put at risk by driving for work activities. You therefore need to carry out assessments of the risks to the health and safety of your employees, while they are at work, and to other people who may be affected by their work activities.

Your legal obligations and responsibilities extend to ALL those who drive for work, however frequently or infrequently, and whether they are in a company vehicle, their own car or a hired vehicle. Robust policies and procedures must not only be put in place but also communicated effectively and regularly. Current performance must be measured, relevant and practical improvements need to be implemented and the effects regularly monitored.

Effective management of work-related road risk must start at the top – Proactive engagement and leadership by directors and senior management who will champion the driver risk management programme is essential in building an improved safety culture where lower risk driving is the default rather than the exception.

It is also important to measure your fleet performance so you can identify where the opportunities are to improve your work-related road risk profile, improve efficiency and reduce costs.

  • Take work-related road risk seriously – introduce a policy.
  • Set an example – keep to your own rules.
  • Be consistent – don’t expect staff to break safe driving rules.
  • Demonstrate clear priorities – insist on compliance of contractors with your occupational road risk standards.
  • Recognise good driving – look out for examples.
  • Keep work-related road risk on the agenda – it’s saving you money.
  • An employer is liable for journeys being carried out safely on behalf of his business. This includes journeys to be carried out by sub-contractors, freelancers and agency drivers.
  • Appointing a road risk manager to take charge of managing work-related road risk does not mean that this person has the sole liability. Managing road risk takes teamwork and requires top-level commitment to occupational road safety.
  • An overall management structure for the management of occupational road risk should be drawn up to clearly identify those who have responsibilities for managing occupational road risk; this document should be made widely available in the company.
  • Responsibilities must be clearly defined and must be understood.
  • The person appointed to manage the work-related road risk in a company needs sufficient authority to exert influence and to carry out the responsibilities of the job.
  • The appointed road risk manager must have direct access to the Board or top management to report on these responsibilities.

In many companies the responsibilities for managing work-related road risk are often ill-defined and fragmented. Senior and line managers often assume wrongly that responsibility lies with the transport or fleet manager and are not aware of their responsibilities.

  • Ensure that Board members’ responsibilities are clearly defined and are understood.
  • Ensure that line managers’ responsibilities are clearly defined and are understood.
  • Ensure that line managers have the required knowledge and competence to carry out the roles assigned, particularly with regard to managing occupational road risk.

Adopt a planned approach based on the results of suitable risk assessments to ensure continuous improvement in the management of occupational road risk. Planning should include:

  1. Defining and implementing occupational road risk standards
  2. Identifying and monitoring key performance indicators to quickly pick up performance changes within the company
  3. Setting specific targets for achievement within an allocated time period.

Road risk standards might include:

  • Minimum vehicle safety specifications.
  • Maintenance schedules.
  • Driver fitness standards.
  • Policies on drugs and alcohol.
  • Accident/incident notification, recording and investigation requirements.

Road risk key performance indicators might include:

  • Kilometres/miles per accident.
  • Total accidents per mile driven (by vehicle type, e.g. artic., rigid, car).
  • Shifts/months per accident.
  • Accidents per vehicle or per driver.
  • Average accident cost.
  • Accidents per £100,000 of turnover.

Road risk targets might include:

  • Reductions in fleet accident rates.
  • Elimination of high-risk journeys.
  • Reduction of penalty points on drivers’ licences.
  • Introduction of annual driver assessments.

Identify methods for implementing the plan and for the evaluation of the outcome.

  • A risk assessment is, in principle, a careful examination of the harm that work activities can cause people.
  • It helps you to weigh up whether you have done enough to ensure safe working practices.
  • Your risk assessments should be appropriate to the circumstance of your organisation and do not have to be over complex or technical.
  • As a road risk manager, you will need to risk assess the driver, the journeys and the vehicles.

As the manager responsible for overseeing work-related road risk you should:

  • Provide effective briefings to senior management to win and maintain their commitment to road safety issues.
  • Provide information and guidance to all staff who drive.
  • Ensure adequate supervision of staff who drive by line managers.
  • Ensure the competency of agency drivers is assessed prior to letting them drive for the company.
  • Treat self-employed drivers as part of the company (health and safety rules and responsibilities apply).
  • Ensure that a duty manager is present until all vehicles are back in the yard at the end of the shift.
  • In your communication with staff from all levels of the company, you should particularly stress the risks of:
    • Tailgating.
    • Inappropriate use of speed.
    • Driving whilst being unfit to drive (e.g. through fatigue, (over-the-counter) drugs, illness).
    • Not wearing seatbelts.
    • Use of mobile phones while driving.
  • Monitor your company’s road safety performance and feed the results back into the system to ensure continuous improvement.
  • For pool vehicles, keep records of who uses each vehicle, the date and time of use, with signing in and out procedures for each trip made.
  • Establish active and reactive monitoring:
    • Active monitoring includes arrangements for periodic checking, e.g. through inspections to ensure that work-related road risk management standards are being complied with throughout the organisation.
    • Reactive monitoring involves the investigation of causes of accidents and incidents to identify why substandard performance was not prevented.
  • Analyse this data regularly for trends and patterns; collecting sufficient information allows you to make informed decisions about the effectiveness of existing policy and the need for changes.
  • Publicise and explain trends to managers and staff. Develop and implement road risk initiatives that you think will tackle highlighted trends.
  • Record information about all incidents, whether minor or serious, for journeys driven on behalf of your company.
  • Put a similar reporting procedure in place for reporting significant “near misses” with emphasis in training on how to recognise, analyse and learn from such events.
  • The reason for the “near miss reports” is to learn from situations where an accident almost happened so that real injuries can be prevented. A near miss is an unexpected, unplanned event, which does not result in injury or damage to property or equipment, but had the potential to cause significant harm or damage. Near misses point to problems and possibly to trends which, if not corrected, can result in serious accidents in the future.
  • Encourage your employees to report all near misses and incidents which occur whilst driving for work without fear that punitive action will be taken against them.
  • Regularly review your company’s work-related road risk management performance against agreed standards and stated targets.
  • Establish and maintain a system of planned and systematic audits of your company’s work-related road risk management system to check your policy, organisation and arrangements are effective.
  • The audit plan should identify specific areas to be audited, the frequency of those audits and the responsibilities for auditing specific activities/areas.
  • Establish audit protocols to report audit findings and to track the implementation status of audit recommendations.