Numerous pieces of legislation in the last twenty years have made it more confusing for employers to know what they are considered responsible for.
Since the Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act 2000, all companies, irrespective of size, are responsible for anyone that drives on behalf of the business.
That includes permanent staff, part-time employees, and agency supplied contractors. They could be driving fleet vehicles or simply driving their own vehicles to and from a business meeting.
As the vehicle is considered part of the workplace, a death would mean a gross breach of the duty of care for an employee. The company would be expected to show the steps that they took to identify all risks associated and how they attempted to possibly avoid the situation.
It is vital that every business should implement a duty of care policy which shows an auditable trail of the processes involved to safeguard employees and that avoids very expensive claims of negligence.
To protect yourself and your employees you will need to consider:
- Monitoring the amount of driving hours
- Planning safest routes
- Ensuring all vehicles used in business hours are suitable, safe and maintained
- Ensuring staff driving these vehicles are fit, healthy and without prohibiting medical conditions
- Prevent the use of mobile phones while driving
- Check all relevant documents to prove the driver and vehicle are suitable to drive
- Create an accurate and up to database of employees, vehicles and maintenance document
- Provide employee training that creates an awareness of health and safety on the road and latest company procedures.
- Provide an up to date company car policy (if applicable)
Before you allow any privately owned car to be used for business, the owner must provide you with:
- A valid MOT certificate for vehicles more than 3 years old
- A copy of their driving licence
- A signed declaration that the vehicle is serviced and maintained to the manufacturers standards
- A copy of a valid insurance certificate including cover for business use
It is vital that you log all incidents that occur and provide an auditable trail that you have considered the risks and have all the necessary documents to protect you against a claim of negligence.
A best practice policy would be to provide each employee with a Duty of Care handbook, highlighting the information they need to provide you. It would also include information on road safety, driver responsibilities, company policy and procedures and a list what to do in case of an accident.