Employer responsibility to employees who drive for work highlighted

The Road Safety Authority (RSA), Health & Safety Authority (HSA) and An Garda Síochána have launched a joint TV led campaign to underline the importance of putting proper measures in place to ensure the safety of all employees who drive for work. This includes both professional drivers and those who drive as part of their job.

It is estimated that 1 in 3 road collisions every year involve people who were driving for work at the time of the collision. This means that up to 63 lives could have been lost in work related road collisions in Ireland in 2016.

If an employee is driving for work it is the responsibility of their employer to ensure they have a driving for work policy in place to minimise the risks faced by their employees while on the road. The new campaign directs employers and employees looking for information on mitigating driving for work risks to the website: www.drivingforwork.ie

The RSA says that people who drive for work are 40 per cent more likely than other drivers to be involved in a collision. Employers need to understand that they have a legal and moral responsibility towards employees who drive as part of their job. It is the employer’s responsibility to minimize all safety risks which could affect their employees while they drive for work. I would like to acknowledge all of those employers who have been in contact and have developed and implemented a driving for work policy. They are now seeing the benefits of having a preventative strategy in place to ensure the safety of their staff on the road and the continued success of their business.

The Health and Safety Authority’s position is that all employers are required by health and safety laws to put proper measures in place to protect the safety, health and welfare of all their employees. It is a concern that many Irish businesses who have employees who drive in the course of their work do not have a driving for work policy as part of their health and safety management system. As an employer, if you have employees who drive in the course of their work you have a responsibility to put in place driving for work safety procedures. Employers are also required to provide employees with relevant safety instruction, information, and training to protect their safety, health and welfare. Proactively managing driving for work in your business will help to protect your workforce, and your business.

An Garda Síochána’s message to any employer who does not have a driving for work safety system in place is to “Put one in place as soon as possible”, there is an obligation to do so and the consequences of not having one are too grave for this to be dismissed. At best in the event of a collision, you are risking your reputation as a fair and compliant employer – at worst you could have to live with the guilt of being responsible for someone’s serious injury or even death.

The benefits of implementing a driving for work programme greatly outweigh the costs. Benefits to the business include increased employee loyalty and enhanced public image, reduced likelihood of employee injury or death and subsequent sickness and dependency costs and increased productivity. For every €1 claimed on insurance, arising from work related road incidents, companies may have to pay a further €8 to €36 for uninsured losses.

While drivers are responsible for how they drive, the employer has a duty to the employee to make driving for work as safe as possible. Ultimately, employers have a duty of care to ensure that all work-related journeys are safe, members of staff are able to drive safely, and all vehicles and associated equipment are fit for use. All employees who drive for work should be provided with information, instruction, and proper training to ensure they are aware of the risk in driving for work to encourage them to actively mitigate all risk.

The Health and Safety Authority has developed a free online course on ‘Managing Driving for Work’ in partnership with An Garda Síochána and the Road Safety Authority. The objective of the course is to educate employers about the risks associated with driving for work and how to manage employees, vehicles and work related journeys to prevent collisions on the road. The course can be accessed at www.drivingforwork.ie

Further detail on this campaign can be found here on the RSA’s website, and more information on driving for work can be found at drivingforwork.ie

Automotive Publications Editorial Comment:
This press release was issue by the three state institutions charged with improving safety in this area and it contains no specific reference to the Corporate Manslaughter Bill of 2013 and the Corporate Manslaughter Bill 2016, which is expected to soon become law.
The latter could see negligent company managers face jail time and organisations heavily penalised for accidental deaths, more than a decade after they were first proposed.
The Corporate Manslaughter Bill 2016 recently passed through the Seanad late last year and is at the committee stage before it goes to the Dáil. The bill would create two new offences: ‘Grossly negligent management causing death’ and ‘corporate manslaughter’.
That should focus the minds of those that do not take this matter seriously.