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Risk Assessing the Job: Driving the Highway carefully

Workers who drive vehicles as part of their job role are under the same umbrella of Health and Safety Law as workers who don’t drive vehicles as part of their job activities. The applicable law is the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974; this applies to motorcycles, bicycles, vans, trucks, cars, large goods vehicles (LGV’s) and all means of transport involved in work duties. This law states that employers must ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that they do not put their employees under any undue risk. The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999, require employers and employees to manage health and safety. All have duties under road traffic law, i.e the Road Traffic Act and the Road Vehicles (Construction and Use) Regulations. These laws apply to self employed persons as well. In most cases the police do take the lead in investigating road traffic accidents, however, if there has been a serious management failure with regards to driver risk, for example, an employee not qualified to drive a LGV, then the HSE may take enforcement action against the employer. The risks to drivers must be assessed just as comprehensively as the risks to office workers and those not driving in their job. According to the Department of Transport, more than a quarter of all road incidents are as a result of persons driving as part of their work.

All employers and self-employed persons are responsible for assessing the risks in their workplace. Risk assessments for any work related driving activity should be carried out in the same principle way as any other work activity. One of the first things to consider in this type of risk assessment, is to identify the hazards. Firsthand knowledge and feedback from drivers and employees is invaluable here, as they will have gained experience and they may already know the hazards and understand how to manage things in practice. The next thing to consider is who will be harmed, this could be the driver, passengers (including transported animals) or pedestrians. The risks should then be evaluated i.e how likely is it that harm will occur. Everything reasonably practicable must be done to prevent harm, however, all risks cannot be eliminated on the roads. The driver has the responsible for driving safely. However, if he/she is not trained correctly or doesn’t have a permit for a particular type of vehicle, or the load they are carrying is unsafe, or the driver is working nights/shift work with little sleep, then responsibilities fall on the employer. Findings from the risk assessment must be recorded. If there are five or more employees at an organization it is a requirement by law to write down the findings. The risk assessment must be updated as needed, especially as new drivers come on board. Things like introducing new vehicles, equipment and new routes all have to be carefully planned for. Vehicles must be maintained so they are not a driving hazard and records kept of the maintenance works.

 

Sources  hse

 

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