Standard needed to close gap in occupational road risk management
Businesses would welcome a national standard for the management of work-related road risk, which should include ‘back to basics’ advice on risk-reducing interventions, according to new research by Transport Research Laboratory (TRL).
The study, jointly funded by the Metropolitan Police Service and the Association of Chief Police Officers, is formed from the opinions of various stakeholders in work-related road safety, including trade associations, charities and road safety groups, and fleet managers.
The research was designed to address two key questions: firstly, what might a national standard for the management of work-related road risk look like; and secondly, what role might the Police play in its development and use.
Dr Shaun Helman, who led the research, said: “For some time, we have known that work-related road collisions represent a serious injury burden, with at least around a fifth and perhaps as many as a third of injury road collisions in Great Britain involving someone who is driving for work at the time.
“There is no standard approach to managing this risk and businesses are inundated with a multitude of advice from different suppliers and stakeholders, making it difficult for anyone to be sure what they should be doing.”
TRL found that the management of work-related road risk is widely perceived to be lagging behind the management of health and safety risk in the workplace.
“The general perception is that despite a great deal of effort by some stakeholders and businesses over the last decade, in the majority of organisations work-related road risk is simply not being managed in the way it should be,” said Dr Helman.
The research also highlighted the need for any national standard to be simple, and evidence-based. Suggested ‘baseline’ features for what the standard should require include a simple-to-follow risk management system based on the ‘plan, do, check, act’ model; licence checks for drivers; and the collection of data – for example, incidents and near misses – to monitor performance.
A national standard should also encourage businesses to focus on reducing the extent to which employees are asked to drive when tired, when distracted, or under time pressure. Said Dr Helman: “The wider evidence suggests that fatigue, time pressure and distraction are the key risk factors for work-related driving, so it makes sense to focus on managing these risks first.”
The report recommends that the Police collaborate with other organisations in developing a national standard. It is also proposes that the Police consider ways to ensure that businesses can find out about traffic offences committed by employees, as such data can be used to help understand levels of risk.
Chief Superintendent David Snelling, representing both the Metropolitan Police Service and ACPO Roads Policing Business Area, said a national standard would enable “individuals and companies to do all they can to prevent road-traffic collisions occurring, by understanding what their responsibilities are. For those who deliberately flout safety provisions, a national standard will enable the authorities to take appropriate enforcement action.”
Copies of the report, ‘A gap analysis of work-related road safety in the UK: Working towards a national standard’, is available from the TRL website by clicking here.
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