Forty years ago, the world of work was a very different place, with profit often put before people. The priority for business was simply to get the job done, with employee safety often a poor second, or worse. In 1969 around half a million people were killed or injured at work.
Some of us are old enough to recall horrendous examples of incidents and actions that were then considered normal. Normal was not acceptable and this led to the introduction of health and safety at work legislation. These days around one-tenth of the deaths and injuries occur every year compared with prior to 1974. In almost every sphere of our working lives we can see the influences of safety legislation.
There are now 75 per cent fewer deaths on UK roads than 40 years ago. This is a significant reduction but not good enough. Around one third of such incidents still involve someone who was driving for work at the time. Sadly there are four times more road deaths involving business drivers than there are deaths in UK workplaces (around 600 versus 148). And after a long period of sustained improvements in road safety, with falling casualty rates, it seems deaths and injuries are on the rise again.
Happily, more and more companies ‘get it’ and are starting to apply the same methodology to driving risks as they do in the workplace. We simply can’t expect someone passing a driving test in a Micra or a Clio in a quiet rural town to be competent at driving a Sprinter van around central Manchester or London, or reversing in a busy pedestrian area. Can we afford to wait for the driver to injure another road user before recognising that their abilities are wanting? Holding a driving licence is not enough – it is no more than a starting point.
The onus is on every business to proactively identify all risks and to take all positive steps to mitigate such risks before any injuries occur. Both the risks and the remedies are often simple and obvious, yet often ignored.
Responsible and proactive businesses will be able to confirm that such a safety-aware approach quickly leads to a cost-effective outcome with fewer injuries and reduced costs. Some of them have learned the hard way by being subject to drawn-out close scrutiny during collision investigation work after the death of a worker or member of the public on the road.
The law says, “Every employer shall, so far as is reasonably practicable, ensure the health, safety and well-being of employees and the public.” It doesn’t differentiate where that risk occurs. Any of us, whether we are an employer, manager, supervisor or employee, could be prosecuted if our actions are found wanting.
Health and safety rules have saved millions of lives. Safety on the road for at work drivers is as important as safety on the premises so employers must continue to proactively manage occupational road risk.
So ask yourself what it will take to get you to take action. Be proactive, not reactive.
You can now also assess your fleet risk free-of-charge with our quick and easy to use online Fleet Audit which provides guidance on the management of employees who drive on company business, and the vehicles they drive. It covers all aspects of fleet risk management and may include areas of risk you haven’t considered.
For free access to the Fleet Audit click here
Contact Cardinus to discuss your occupational road risk policy by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org