Duty Of Care – Driving For Work

There are three types of law that apply to driving for work in Ireland:

  • Road traffic Law
  • Health and safety law
  • EU rules on driver time

You must be complaint if your business fits into one of the following categories

  • Your employees drive company vehicles
  • Your employees have cash allowances for vehicles
  • Your employees use their own vehicles for business purposes
  • You have sub-contractors representing your company on business

All Companies must complete a yearly Corporate Risk Assessment to ensure they are compliant with all the Occupational Road Risk legislation.

ROAD TRAFFIC LAW

The main law governing driving on public roads is the Road traffic Act 1961, plus amendments. The Gardai are responsible for enforcing this law; investigating work related traffic collisions involving injuries and fatalities. They often work with the HSA in a joint investigation.

HEALTH AND SAFETY LAW

The health and safety legislation that applies to general driving for work is the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005 with associated regulations.

Other legislation may apply for example Dangerous Goods Transport by Road and Construction regulations.

Under this act you the company and employer have a duty to protect the health and safety of employees who drive for work. The obligations are as follows;

DUTY OF CARE

You have a duty to provide a safe place of work for your employees, regardless of the type and size of business. Under the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act, a vehicle is defined as a place of work. Your duty involves making sure:

  • Work related Journeys are safe
  • Members of staff are able to drive safely
  • All vehicles and vehicle equipment is fit for use and in a safe and working condition
  • You also have a duty of care to others who may be affected by your employees’ work, which includes all other road users and pedestrians.

EU RULES ON DRIVING

Under these rules you must:

  • Not expect staff to drive under conditions that are unsafe or create an unsafe environment. This will mean that drivers must obey the rules on driving time, breaks and rest periods and that their vehicles should be road worthy and fit for use at all times.
  • Pressure should never put on drivers to complete journeys in a shorter time than needed or use a vehicle that is not properly road worthy.
  • Never enter into contracts involving schedules that put drivers’ safety or the safety of others at risk.

DRIVING FOR WORK

Driving for work includes any person who drives on a road as part of their work either in:

  • A Company vehicle
  • Their own vehicle and receives an allowance from their employee for miles driven.

Commuting to work is not classified as driving for work, except where their journey starts from home and goes to a work location which is not their normal work location.

Driving for work involves a risk not only for a driver, but also for fellow workers and members’ of the public like pedestrians and other road users. As an employer or self –employed person you must by law manage the risks that may arise when you or your employees drive for work. Although employees cannot directly control road conditions they can promote and influence safe driving behaviour amongst their employees.

ONE THIRD of all road collisions involve drivers who are using their vehicle for work. This means around 75 people die in work related road crashes in Ireland each year. Source: HSA 1st March 2010. Further facts given by the RSA

LEGISLATION

Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005 (No.10 of 2005)

This act places a duty on employers to manage and conduct their work activities in such a manner as to ensure the safety, health and welfare of all employees. One of the requirements of the act is that risk assessment is carried out by the employer or person in control of the place of work. Transport hazards that exist in the workplace must be assessed and appropriate action taken to eliminate or reduce the risk factors.

Vehicles are defined as a place of work under the act. Under section 8 of the Act, the employer must ensure so far as reasonably practicable that:

  • Vehicles are designed, provided and maintained in a condition that is safe and without risk to health
  • Safe means of access and egress to and from the vehicle is designed, provided and maintained
  • Systems of work are planned, organised, performed, maintained and revised as appropriate, for example safe systems of work must be available for vehicle loading and unloading activities.
  • Information, instruction, training, and supervision is provided for all employees who operate vehicles in work places.

SAFETY, HEALTH AND WELFARE at WORK (General Application) Regulations 2007 (S.I. 299 of 2007)

Under Part 2 of these regulations, this applicable to fixed workplace premises, employers are required to ensure that pedestrians and vehicles can move in a safe manner and that traffic routes are clearly identified and appropriately dimensioned. Traffic rules for mobile work equipment are also required.

Full legislation is available on  www.irishstatutebook.ie

 

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