Drivers Can Dent Your Reputation
John McDonald on company cars
FOR employers who rely on meetings at clients’ places of business, having a mobile workforce is absolutely essential. However, with the benefits of employees with their own cars, also comes the liability.
The Health and Safety Executive states that health & safety law applies to driving in exactly the same way as all other work activities, and statistically, driving is the most dangerous business activity that employees can undertake with some 20 people killed and 220 injured every week as a result.
Companies are responsible for all workers while they are driving for business purposes, whether they are in a company car or their own vehicle. This means employers must manage the risks associated with driving within a comprehensive health and safety system.To ensure the risk to your employees is minimised, there are a number of recommended actions that companies should undertake.
n Accountability: The employer is ultimately accountable for ensuring that the cars used are roadworthy and that the employee has sufficient insurance coverage, which means making sure that each vehicle is properly taxed, has a valid MOT, valid insurance for business use and is serviced according to manufacturer recommendations.
n Awareness: Staff awareness is key, which means communicating to the workforce the company’s requirement that an employee’s vehicle is legal, safe and fit for purpose. You can do this as part of the induction process and staff training, as well as through team meetings.
n Safety features: It is also beneficial to have agreed minimum safety features and conditions for use. Seat belts and head restraints are a legal requirement for vehicles, but there are no specific laws for cars to have airbags or ABS brakes. However, you are within your rights as an employer to include these features as a minimum requirement as long as employees that do not have them can use a company vehicle as an alternative.
n Ensuring the is car roadworthy: Minimum conditions for use can include an agreement for drivers to show documentary proof of the roadworthiness of their vehicle and insurance on request, to conduct regular vehicle safety checks and to not carry unsuitable or hazardous loads.
If any employee does suffer a collision while on business, however minor, it is important that you have a procedure in place for them to report it to the company.
n Driving while using a mobile phone: This is a major issue; 39% of car drivers admit to using a mobile phone on the road, rising to 55% of company car drivers. But research indicates that mobile phone users are four times more likely to crash, regardless of whether or not they use a hands-free device.
The law says it is an offence to ‘cause or permit’ a driver to use a mobile phone while driving, which means that as an employer, you can be held liable if your policy requires employees to use a phone on the road.
Even hands-free devices do not completely absolve the issue; the driver can still be charged with ‘failing to have proper control of their vehicle’ while using them in certain circumstances.
Make sure that the dangers associated with mobile phone use are properly communicated in the same manner as other driving risks, and that your mobile phone policy is fully compliant with the law and understood by all parties.
You should also make it clear to staff that your company will co-operate with any police enquiry that results from a crash, including the provision of mobile phone records where requested.
John McDonald is from Tara Management Services www.tmsnorthwest.com
This article has been reproduced from the Contract Flooring Journal website. You can find them at www.contractflooringjournal.co.uk.