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Does your business risk prosecution for the poor management of occupational road risk?

Businesses and individuals may be putting themselves at risk of enforcement action and prosecution by not addressing the issue of road safety.

In 2008, the Health and Safety Executive changed its enforcement policy of the Health and Safety At Work Act 1974. As a result, if they investigate an accident or incident they will consider the entire management chain of the organisation, and the role played by individuals, and prosecute them where appropriate; sometimes alongside or even instead of the organisation itself.

Driving while holding a mobile phone (cell phone use while driving)

Not surprisingly such a change in enforcement policy takes time to find its way through into statistics but since the change in May 2008, over 140 people have been imprisoned with 37 of these occurring during 2014 and 23 so far this year. In addition some 50 persons have been imprisoned for gross negligence manslaughter arising from Health and Safety at Work Act offences. Following the introduction of the Corporate Manslaughter legislation there have also been 11 prosecutions against commercial organisations with more pending.

The Department of Transport estimate that over a quarter of all road traffic accidents involve someone who is driving as part of their work. In a road traffic accident on the highway the police will take the lead on investigating the incident, the Health and Safety Executive will only take over that investigation and prosecute where the police have identified that there are serious management failures that have been a significant contributing factor in the accident itself. Of course, should the management failure be so serious and involve a fatality then the police may well retain the matter to consider prosecution under the corporate manslaughter legislation.

Businesses need to manage the risks to drivers as an integral part of their health and safety arrangements. Health and safety law does not apply when employees are commuting but it does apply if they’re travelling from their home to somewhere which is not their usual base.

Risk assessments should be carried out in the same way as other Health and Safety risks. Policies and procedures should be in place to cover:

  • The driver: competency, fitness, health and training
  • The vehicle: suitability, condition and safety equipment
  • The journey: route scheduling, expectation of the time and distance that employees will travel and fatigue.


Have you done all that is reasonably practicable in regard to the levels of risk to employees in this area? Could you demonstrate that you have effectively managed vehicle related risks?

If you would like any help or have any questions, please get in touch with our Risk Management team on 01302 341 344.


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