Managing occupational road risk – the risk of asking staff to drive on business – is moving up the critical list of many SMEs, especially those with sign written vehicles whose reputation could be severely damaged if one of their drivers had a serious crash.
Over the past few months, Fleet21 has been taking part in a series of private events around the country with our partners Volvo Car UK and the government backed Driving for Better Business campaign – hosting round table discussions with the British Chambers of Commerce and hand-picked members from key areas of England and Wales.
The purpose of the events was to discuss how aware local employers were of the need to manage this risk under current health and safety at work legislation and what, if anything, they were doing about it. While we were prepared for meeting business owners who weren’t up to speed, we weren’t prepared for the number of lawyers attending who weren’t fully aware of the legal requirements when they drive on business for their firm, and who said their firms weren’t compliant when it came to managing this vital area of workplace safety.
What highlighted this problem was the fact that in order to get to our events, most of the delegates, including the lawyers, had to drive. This was a business meeting and so the drive was a business journey that, if they were using their own car, which many were, required business insurance. As we explained this, it became apparent that many delegates weren’t aware, hadn’t been advised by their employer that they needed business insurance, had never been asked for a copy of their insurance, and had therefore for some time been driving many thousands of miles on company business completely uninsured.
All employers must cover a basic duty of care if they allow any of their staff, including lawyers, to drive on business, even if they’re driving their own car. Whether that be meeting clients and witnesses or driving to court, or even driving to seminars or networking events, common failings include:
- FAILURE to provide comprehensive and robust safe driving policy and guidance
- FAILURE to regularly monitor employee driving licences
- FAILURE to check that staff using their own cars have business insurance
- FAILURE to keep sufficient records of driver checks and training
- FAILURE to communicate effectively with drivers
In the event of one of your lawyers being involved in a serious crash the police and HSE will investigate to find out if these procedures have been carried out. If not, relevant records, policies and procedures can be confiscated in evidence – highly embarrassing, especially if the firm advises clients on Employment Law.
If your firm doesn’t do all of these things, and one of your lawyers was involved in a serious crash, then the driver, the firm and its reputation could all be at significant risk.
If you would like confirmation that your firm is compliant in this area, or would like to discuss how to fill any immediate gaps, please contact me directly.
For more information on employer’s duty of care obligations visit http://www.fleet21.com/duty-of-care/
Director, Client Risk Management at Fleet21