Health and Safety at Work Regulations require any business with 5 or more employees to make written assessments of how their business activities could impact employees and others – and this also covers company vehicles…. plus employees’ own vehicles (the so-called grey fleet) which employers don’t always realise they are liable for.
Even if you employ less than five people, you have a legal duty of care to ensure that your firm’s driving activities don’t put drivers or other road users at risk.
Fines for breaching HSE regulations for SMEs start at £250,000 and rise steeply to millions of pounds. A breach can even result in a custodial sentence for an individual manager or directors, so it’s imperative to show active management of your fleet and driver behaviour to reduce risk.
Statistics show occupational driving is the biggest cause of workplace deaths: a double fatality caused by a driver falling asleep at the wheel cost one business £450,000 in fines and £300,000 in costs. The business in question was deemed to have failed to manage fatigue in their driver – the conclusion was that the company was only paying lip service to its written policies.
It gets worse – prosecution under the Corporate Manslaughter and Homicide Act 2007 can lead to fines from £300,000 up to £20M depending on the size of the company.
And even if your business isn’t found to be in breach of health and safety regulations – you could still find your insurance won’t pay out if there are no driver safety checks in place. That means the company itself is liable for claims for compensation – which could be up to £1M in the case of a life-changing injury having been caused.
The key thing to remember is – all this could be avoided.
The ODO/Auriga Fleet peace of mind package
ODO enables businesses and Fleet Managers to stay compliant and deliver on their duty of care with:
efficient record keeping
automated checks and prompts built around well-designed policies and procedures
ongoing assessments as an extra layer of reassurance
online, classroom-based and on the road training.
There’s even a special ‘fit to drive’ app which can be used to check both vehicles and drivers.
As ODO’s legal specialists, we at Auriga Fleet bring in an additional layer of safety as our offer includes the provision of:
HSE required risk assessments
Procedures for companies that don’t have them
Driver policies which are fully compliant
Driver licence checks and analysis of the implications of any prosecutions or points
Advice for both company and driver of potential issues to be addressed
Perhaps the most crucial element of our offer is advising both company and driver when the worst happens – when a road traffic offence has actually been committed. Timing is vital. We can only help if we are involved right at the beginning – when the notice of impending prosecution is received and then we will work hard for your business to establish the facts. We don’t just accept it as an open and shut case. There could be all kinds of mitigating factors around the circumstances, the evidence or the procedure which could invalidate the prosecution. If a driver is prosecuted they will have the employee benefit of 20% discount from our standard fees.
Our advice is designed to protect you the company, and also your driver.
The road ahead: key trends for the broker and fleet management industry
One of the unintended consequences of the coronavirus pandemic is that more people will turn to private vehicles rather than using public transport – which means more traffic on our roads.
This inevitably means more accidents and more traffic offences: it’s estimated that 65% of all company vehicles will be involved in some kind of incident in the next 12 months of which 86% will be collisions.
And this is against a background of increasing prosecution numbers and rising penalties: costs for companies with drivers are already substantial and they’re going to get higher in coming years. Yet in 2018, 79% of companies didn’t even recognise this as a risk area, and many employers still don’t.
Also, more companies will expect drivers to use their own vehicles – the so-called ‘grey fleet’ – and this needs managing just as much as company vehicles.
A dramatic innovation on the horizon is the self-driving electric car. It begs the question: ‘From a legal point of view, who is driving?’ Already there are increasing numbers of cases challenging the definition which currently holds the driver liable. But it would be difficult to blame a vehicle defect because that could still fall foul of ‘Vehicle in dangerous condition offence’ under construction and use regulations 1986 and RTA 1988.
With so much to think about, the complementary services of ODO and Auriga Fleet can provide peace of mind
The increases in penalties mean that companies are very exposed if their driver’s road usage and their driving skills and behaviours are less than exemplary. However, some organisations have achieved remarkable reductions in collisions etc. and associated costs, through adopting relatively simple measures.
ODO offers brokers an easy-to-use system for managing sales or leasing of vehicles and the finance involved as well servicing, MOT and licence checking etc.
This provides significant savings in administration costs and time, but it is only with the added support of Auriga Fleet that the service brings in health and safety and road traffic law compliance – making us the most comprehensive fleet management system available in the UK.
Brokers don’t need to know the fine points of the legislation, because WE do: they just need to know the pitfalls and penalties – and why companies need to be managing their risk on the road.
ODO, together with Auriga Fleet, ensures compliance and offers significant savings – often many thousands of pounds – associated with prosecutions and loss of drivers to say nothing of helping to avoid custodial sentences for drivers and employers alike.
‘ODO – Time to optimise your fleet’