Your Legal Responsibilities

Driving at work
Your Legal Resposibilities
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Employer's duty of care on driving for work.
Health 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.