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Increased scrutiny of work-related risk urged

Date: 30 November 2011

The Institute of Occupational Safety and Health has stepped up its calls for increased examination of work-related road accidents, calling for them to be included in official Government statistics for industrial accidents.

Under the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulation 1995, from which road accidents are currently specifically excluded, companies are required to report incidents involving employees that result in death, major injury or at least three days off work, or any incident where a member of the public is killed or taken to hospital. IOSH, which produced a report with the Transport Research Laboratory earlier this year into fleet's road-risk strategies, wants to see employers forced to take more responsibility for their workers on the road.

"If the Government insisted work-related road traffic accidents were reported as part of RIDDOR, employers would know more detail about accidents that commonly take place," said IOSH head of policy and public affairs Richard Jones. "We need to do more to improve our management of work-related road risk and prevent accidents. Employers have a moral and legal responsibility to look after their employees every mile of their business trips."

IOSH said around a third of company drivers have an accident every year, and up to a third of UK road traffic accidents are work-related.

"Some of the most common causes of work-related RTAs are distraction, fatigue and time pressure," continued Jones. "Where possible, employers should be encouraging employees to drive less by using technology instead of travelling to meetings, or offering the use of public transport, pairing up with other team members or even staying overnight. Employers expecting employees to drive as part of their job need to assess driver ability, provide good training and be flexible when it comes to travel times."

The IOSH calls echo those of road safety charity the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents from earlier this year, although at the time a Health & Safety Executive spokesman told BusinessCar that the responsibility for establishing the cause of road traffic accidents lies with the police, as it is they who enforce road traffic legislation.

"If I fall down your office stairs and break my leg, you have to report it under RIDDOR, but if I drive a car for your firm and do the same injury then I don't," Nigel Grainger of Fleet Risk Consultants told BusinessCar earlier this year. "Nobody knows how many people died last year driving at work, and we should. RIDDOR specifically excludes vehicles. If it didn't then we would have some idea of the size of the problem."

Paul Barker