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DUTY-OF-CARE: One-fifth of firms have no fleet safety policy

Date: 14 February 2007   |   Author: Nick Gibbs

Companies are still taking a laissez-faire approach to health and safety, according to a new survey of fleets and business drivers published by leasing company Alphabet.

A fifth of companies polled admitted they had no specific fleet safety policy, while over half of all drivers surveyed said they hadn't been asked to sign any paperwork detailing health and safety procedures.

Despite all the fevered talk of corporate responsibility for drivers and their actions while on business, just under half of British companies say they are waiting for the first big prosecution before taking serious action.

Awareness is growing according to the survey. Compared with a similar survey brought out a year before, the percentage of companies who discuss their company car policy annually at board level has risen from 14% to 29%.

Healthy and safety best practice guidelines recommend reviewing policy once a year, but still one in three companies discuss it 'ad hoc', while 16% don't talk about it at all at board level. That figure has come down sharply since 2005 when a third admitted it wasn't brought up.

Half the companies surveyed stopped at policy only, with only one in 10 carrying out a risk assessment as recommended by the Health and Safety Executive.

According to an HSE estimate, some 3500 working drivers have been killed in the UK since the guidelines were first published in 2003. Meanwhile, just 8% of companies could point to driver training - 16 out of 251 companies surveyed - while 10% got their message across in driver meetings.

The survey did reveal that a safety culture was slowly growing in the fleet environment. Of those 'fleet-decision makers' polled, three-quarters thought that other companies were taking their duty of care responsibilities seriously. However, half agreed with the statement that 'organisations make a token gesture to managing road risk but in reality never really check'.