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RoSPA calls for full scrutiny of work-related road injuries

Date: 03 May 2011   |   Author:

The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents has called for all work-related road crashes that involve the need for medical intervention or a visit to A&E to be fully investigated and recorded.

The Health and Safety Executive last week closed its three-month consultation into changes to workplace accident reporting under the current Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous occurrences Regulations (RIDDOR), with proposals focusing on changes to the period an employee would have to be off work before employers need to report a work-related incident.

Road accidents involving at-work drivers are currently specifically excluded from the RIDDOR regulations, but RoSPA wants to see that changed. "Employers should be required to investigate and keep internal records of all injuries requiring A&E attendance or medical intervention, including injury from work-related road crashes," said the organisation's statement. "Record-keeping would need to be proportionate and not unduly burdensome but records would need to be made available to enforcing authorities if required."

RoSPA occupational safety advisor Roger Bibbings told BusinessCar: "We'll continue to make the case that road-related injuries should be included. But the HSE in its reduced state [following cutbacks] is even less likely to now."

The HSE told BusinessCar that the police are responsible for enforcing road traffic law. "The purpose of RIDDOR is to collect information which enables the health and safety-enforcing authorities to select incidents for investigation and possible enforcement action, and to provide statistical data for them to target and plan the application of resources," said a spokesperson. "As road traffic legislation is enforced by the police and not health and safety-enforcing authorities, the majority of road traffic accidents are not reportable under RIDDOR. Rather they are reported to the police who, along with other emergency services, will be the first to respond.

"Where the police find that there have been more serious management failings that led to the road traffic incident, then they will liaise with HSE to look at wider action to deal with this."

"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," said Nigel Grainger of Fleet Risk Consultants. "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."

Road safety experts estimate that a third of the deaths of UK roads are connected to at-work drivers, potentially putting the death toll at around 1000 people per year.

Car fleet operators' association ACFO has discussed the issue of RIDDOR covering road accidents at local and national level, with a range of opinions. "We would promote best practice, which probably leans towards reporting as the only sure way of levelling the playing field," said ACFO board member Stewart Whyte. "It is plainly best practice for management to be aware of accidents formally through regulation or informally through good structural set-up." Whyte's concern was that any regulation should include all forms of business travel, including grey fleet and rental, rather than just aiming at company vehicles.

RoSPA's Bibbings accepted that the HSE is unlikely to accede to the association's calls, and advocated putting the emphasis back onto fleets doing the maximum possible. "We want to shift the focus back onto what companies should be doing in terms of record-keeping and investigations."

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