How Robust Is Your Fleet Policy? - An Information Bulletin

Jason Stevens, Senior Solicitor in the Crime Department at Hunt and Coombs Solicitors in Peterborough, poses the question all organisations with business drivers should be asking …..

"ELF 'N' SAFETY" is no joke when someone is hurt and the inspector comes to call. We know that the workplace can be dangerous but the workplace is not limited to just the office, factory or site. It includes the road.

Making the effort to employ someone who has passed a driving test and has a clean licence is not enough to defend you or your company if that employee has caused an accident.

There will often be an inquiry, either by the police, the Vehicle and Operators Services Agency or the Health and Safety Executive. The extent of the investigation is often determined by how serious the accident is regarded.

There will often be an inquiry, either by the police, the Vehicle and Operators Services Agency or the Health and Safety Executive. The extent of the investigation is often determined by how serious the accident is regarded.

The inquiry will want to determine the circumstances that caused the accident, in full or in part. You can be assured that the inspector will be very familiar with the requirements under the law and also the common pitfalls an unprepared business may present. Those pitfalls include unsuitable and insufficient risk assessments that are not up-to-date. The police and HSE also have enormous powers to demand information and interviews under The Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.

It is an offence for an employer to impose a work schedule that would require the employee to speed. The employer would be causing or permitting the offence of speeding or perhaps even aiding and abetting the offence. It is no good to try and turn a blind eye to the prospect of a speeding employee if there is a clear, unrealistic work schedule in place at the time.

The work schedule may be issued in utter ignorance of the logistics involved or there may be a financial reward scheme in place that encourages speeding. If individual managers are found to be responsible in part for an incident the penalties range from (often) large fines to imprisonment. Either way, the inquiry will determine if the way in which the employee has been managed has caused or contributed to the offence. It is no defence to say “I didn’t know”.

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