Should employers be responsible for at-work road safety?

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With new indications that a third of all road crashes may involve someone who is at work at the time, the first discussion document to seek the public's views on at-work road safety has been issued by the Work-related Road Safety Task Group.

The document is seeking views on whether at-work road risk - driving or working on or by roads - should be managed by employers in the same way as other occupational health and safety risks and whether there should be a specific test for occupational drivers.

The Discussion Document, Preventing at-work road traffic incidents, sets out what a road risk management approach might encompass. It seeks comments about how best to encourage employers to put measures in place and what advice they might need. It also recognises that a balance has to be struck between the responsibility on employers to manage road risk and the duties on drivers and those working on or near roads to do so safely.

Richard Dykes, Task Group chair and Group Managing Director, Mail Services, the Post Office, said: "The estimate that up to a thousand people die on the roads in incidents that are connected to work is startling. This Discussion Document is an essential way for the Task Group to gather views on how at-work road safety can be improved.

"Members on the Task Group believe there is a strong social and moral case for action and sound business reasons for employers to do more. While we need to find out more about causes, the figures tell us we must explore what can be done by employers and others to prevent road traffic accidents happening in the first place."

As part of the implementation of the Government's Road safety strategy Tomorrow's Roads safer for everyone, the independent Task Group, with wide representation from all with an interest in both health and safety and road safety, was asked by Ministers and the Health and Safety Commission to propose ways in which at-work road traffic incidents might be reduced.

Independent research was commissioned by HSE on behalf of the Task Group to quantify the number of at-work road traffic incidents. Drawing on established sources of information for example the Office of National Statistics data of road traffic deaths, and developing innovative lines of enquiry such as a specially commissioned Police Survey, the researchers concluded that between 25% and 33+% of all serious road traffic incidents involve someone at work at the time. Causation of, and responsibility for, the incidents remained uncertain. Further work continues to identify these and a report of the findings will be published.

The discussion period lasts until 25 May. Responses will be analyzed to help in the development of recommendations the Task Group will include in its report to Government and the Health and Safety Commission later this year. A conference for key players in the industry is also to be held in London on 5 April 2001.

Those wishing to comment on the proposals should write to

The Task Group Secretariat,
Health and Safety Executive, SPDA2, 5SW,
Rose Court,
2 Southwark Bridge,
London,
SE1 9HS.

Copies of Preventing at-work road traffic incidents, DDE16 can be
requested online at http://www.hsebooks.co.uk
or are available from
HSE Books,
PO Box 1999,
Sudbury,
Suffolk,
CO10 2WA,

tel: 01787-881165
fax: 01787-313995.

A copy is also available on line at
www.hse.gov.uk/disdocs/dde16.htm

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