Select Committee on Work and Pensions Fourth Report


  217.  The Parliamentary Advisory Council for Transport Safety (PACTS) told the Committee that one aspect of the changing world of work is that increasing numbers of people are required to be mobile. If employers are to discharge their responsibility to manage health and safety risks to their employees, they have to manage those faced by employees on the road, as well as by those in fixed workplaces. HSE and local authorities, as enforcing authorities, have a duty to ensure that this happens.

  218.  The HSC told us that, based on the assumption that between 25-33 per cent of road traffic incidents might be work-related, the range of fatal injuries is approximately 860-1130 a year.[370] This compares to 226 fatal injuries to workers in the "traditional" workplace.[371] The number of serious injuries due to work-related road traffic incidents is estimated to be between 8980 and 11,870 a year.

  219.  In May 2000, the Government and HSC set up a Work-related Road Safety Task Group to look at what action could be announced within the strategy, signalling Government commitment to see what action can be taken to reduce road traffic incidents connected to work. This group reported in November 2001 and made a number of recommendations for action by HSE.[372]

  220.  In this context, both PACTS and the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) consider it worrying that HSC's recent strategy document neglected to mention work-related road safety.[373] PACTS added that a recent leaflet on health and safety in road haulage 'most bizarrely' contained no references to work-related road safety, focusing entirely on issues such as loading and unloading. HSE has, as recommended by the Task Group, produced guidance on the issue. RoSPA point out that the guidance explicitly states that work-related road safety is not among HSE's current priorities. [374] Prospect is concerned that this guidance is not going to be enforced.[375] In oral evidence, Mr Bill Callaghan, Chair of the HSC said that:[376]

    "To be blunt, if HSE were to engage in a major enforcement and accident investigation role in this area, that would be a major distortion of our resources. We would not be able to do that and meet all the other things that we would like to do in the construction industry, migrant workers and elsewhere."

  221.  On the question of resources, the Work-related Road Safety Task Group found that[377]:

    "This initiative, if given the right level of support, is likely to make a significant contribution to meeting the Government's target on reducing road casualties. But money must be there to pay for preventive action…The Task Group believes that considerable societal savings can be made, dwarfing the added funding to enforcing authorities that might be necessary."

It therefore recommended that the Government and HSC should consider what resources are appropriate to implement these recommendations. Mr Bill Callaghan told us that HSE investigation and enforcement of these incidents would require 460-802 staff years.[378] However, the Minister told us that there was a question of policy as well as resources[379]:

    "It is not an area on which the HSE or the Commission take a lead, it is an area where other organisations have a much greater enforcement role. The police, for example, have greater potential for contact with working drivers and employers, contact that the HSE simply could not match and, therefore, should not be trying to duplicate."

  222.  The Minister also said that it was her view that HSE could not add anything to what was already being done by other agencies.[380] However, the Minister has partly missed the point, which is that the police and HSE have different roles. PACTS points out that the police tend to focus on an individual's level[381] and, as regards injuries, usually become involved after the event. HSE, on the other hand, is responsible for ensuring risk is managed at an organisational level - that is, preventative action before the event. Employers need to assess and manage the risks to their workforce. HSE needs to ensure this happens.

  223.  There would also appear to be a tension between Minister's comments and the conclusions of the Work-related Road Safety Task Group, who said that a consequence of allowing road traffic law to take precedence over health and safety at work legislation meant there had been 'little motivation for employers, or the enforcing authorities, to examine whether a failure in health and safety management systems might have contributed to an incident.'[382] It recommended that 'the various authorities, led by HSE, should develop ways of working to investigate at-work road traffic incidents and take appropriate enforcement action.'[383]

  224.  The Committee recommends that the HSE are provided with the necessary resources to enable them to enforce effectively its existing guidance on work-related road safety, particularly in relation to preventative measures.

  225.  A number of organisations believed that employers should be required to report work-related road incidents under RIDDOR (the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 1995 ). This was also a recommendation of the Task Group, which concluded that it was essential in order to build up a statistical database and use reports to target investigations, would not be too burdensome on individual firms and would help to raise awareness of the issue among employers. [384] The HSC told us that the review of RIDDOR was currently underway and would be looking at reporting of at-work road traffic incidents causing injury. [385] A discussion document is to be issued in 2004.

  226.  The Committee recommends that at-work road traffic incidents should be required to be reported pursuant to RIDDOR.

  227.  A further issue was whether there should be an Approved Code of Practice (failure to comply with which may be taken, in court, as evidence of failure to comply with the legislation). The Work-related Road Safety Task Group recommended that HSE should issue guidance 'as soon as possible' and that the impact of the guidance should be reviewed in Spring 2004, to determine whether to recommend the production of an Approved Code of Practice. In fact the guidance was not published until September 2003.[386] In evidence to the Committee, the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL) called on the HSE to develop an Approved Code of Practice (ACoP) in this area.[387] When asked about this, Mr Bill Callaghan argued that what was needed was 'to get a better knowledge base of what road accidents have a clear work provenance.'[388]

  228.  The Committee recommends that, by 1 October 2005 the HSC/E should carry out a review of the case for an ACoP on work-related road safety, and publish its reasoned conclusions.

370   Volume III (No. 38) Back

371   HSC Health and Safety Statistics Highlights 2002/03. National Statistics Back

372   Work-related Road Safety Task Group (2001), Reducing at-work road traffic incidents, Report to Government and the Health and Safety Commission. HSC, DLTR Back

373   Volume III (Nos. 14 and 24) Back

374   Department for Transport, Health and Safety Executive, Driving at work. Managing Work-related Road Safety Back

375   Volume III (No. 30) Back

376   Volume II (Ev 130 Q499) Back

377   The Work-related Road Safety Task Group (2001), Reducing at-work road traffic incidents. HSC, DLTR, para 77 Back

378   Letter to Committee from Bill Callaghan, 15 June 2004. The figures include a proportion resulting in legal proceedings and are for operational staff time alone. Additional costs would be incurred for accommodation, administrative support, training, travel, subsistence etc Back

379   Volume II (Ev 149, Q575) Back

380   Volume II (Ev 150, Q579) Back

381   Volume III (No. 24) Back

382   The Work-related Road Safety Task Group (2001), Reducing at-work road traffic incidents. HSC, DLTR, para 31 Back

383   The Work-related Road Safety Task Group (2001), Reducing at-work road traffic incidents. HSC, DLTR, recommendation 13. Emphasis added Back

384   The Work-related Road Safety Task Group (2001), Reducing at-work road traffic incidents. HSC, DLTR, recommendation 12, para 61 Back

385   Volume III (No. 38) Back

386   HSE press release. HSE published guidance on work-related road safety. E178/03 - 17 September 2003 Back

387   Volume III (No. 15) Back

388   Volume II (Ev 130,Q499) Back

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