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Update your occupational road risk policies

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Traffic jam - Photo Central Audiovisual Library, European Commission

Three in four employers think recent legislation banning the use of handheld mobile phones while driving does not go far enough, according to a new survey.

Three-quarters of health and safety professionals who took part in the Croner Web poll thought that other potentially distracting activities such as eating and drinking, smoking and listening to loud music should also be outlawed.

Under the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974, employers are responsible for the safety of on-the-road employees. Acceptable driving conduct should be stated in the company’s driver handbook and employers that fail to provide such safety guidelines could face problems.

For employees who are required to drive as an essential part of their job, losing their licence or misconduct while driving could be reasonable grounds for dismissal, as long as this is clearly stated in the company policy.

Companies should proactively put occupational road risk policies in place to clear up any doubts and:

  • ensure employees know their legal requirements, such as not using a handheld mobile phone while in control of a vehicle

  • encourage employees to take regular rest breaks while driving (at least every four hours)

  • advise employees to stop for refreshments, as low energy and dehydration may reduce concentration

  • ensure employees are physically able to drive (it is estimated that one in ten drivers can’t see well enough to drive safely)

  • hold regular road safety refresher courses to remind employees of their legal responsibilities

  • ensure employees know the consequences of failing to abide by the company driving policy.

“Although the majority support banning in-car distractions, in reality this would be very difficult to enforce and a ‘sacking for snacking’ policy would be unreasonable. However, employees could be disciplined for not driving safely, and employers who fail to inform employees of this could be held liable for any resulting damage, injury and associated costs,” said Katherine Hunter, health and safety expert at Croner.

“Overall, employers seem to have been quick to enforce the new mobile phone laws across their mobile workforce, with many providing hands-free equipment for employees who are required to use their phone for work,” she added.

Related item
Mobile phone policies

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