Employer's duty of care on driving
and Safety at Work Act 1974
This act requires you to ensure, so far as
is reasonably practicable, the health and safety of all employees while at work. You have a responsibility to ensure that
others (non emplyees) are not put at risk by your work related activities. Driving while at work is such an activity.
Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999
Under these additional regulations you have
aresponsibility to manage health and safety effectively. You need to carry out an assessment of the risks to health and safety
of your employees, while they are are work, and to other people who may be affected by their work activities. The Regulations
require you to periodically reveiw your risk assessment so that it remains appropriate. You must keep a record of the risk
assessment anyd any measures implemented.
Corporate Manslaughter Act 2007
For the first time, companies and organisations
can be found guilty of corporate manslaughter as a result of serious management failures resulting in gross breach of duty
of care. The act came effect in April 2008.
Prosecutions will be of the corporate body
and not the individuals, but the liability of directors, board members or other individuals under health and safety law or
general criminal law, will be unaffected. Also, the corporate body itself and individuals can still be prosecuted
for seperate health and safety offences.
In determining culpability the jury may consider
the extent to which the evidence shows that there were attitudes, policies, systems or acceptable practices within the
organisation that were likely to encourage failures in respect to existing health and safety legislation or guidanc causing
a gross breach of thier duty of care.
Health and Safety Offences Act 2008
The effect of this Act was primarily
to increase penalties and provide courts with greater powers for those who are found in breach of health and safety legislation.
The new powers came into force in January 2009. The effect of the Act is to:
- Raise the maximum
fine which may be imposed in the lower courts to £20,000 for most health and safety offences;
- Make imprisonmentan option for
more health and safety offences in both the lower and higher courts;
- Make certain offences, which are currently
triable only in lower courts, triable in either the lower or higher courts.
There is other legislation
and requirements which apply to all road users. These are typically heavilyfocused towards the
driver, who will bear the greatest burden of responsibility. The Road Traffic Act and Construction and Use Regulations are
examples. Although these primarilty focus on the driver, under 'cause or permit principles the company should
not either cause or knowingly permit an employee to breach these regulations.
The major risk to organisations now is the increased
potential for successful civil actions against them where it can be proved that the organisation was negligent in its health
and safety obligations and therefore its duty of care, with the prospect of very significant fines or payment compensation.
Put quite simply, the days when you could assume
driving while at work was primarily the responsibility of the driver have long gone.