Employers liable for their employees driving..?

It was a widely reported case last year when a refuse truck in Glasgow crashed and killed six people. The driver was unconscious which caused the lorry to veer out of control. This raised the importance of employers ensuring employees who drive vehicles as part of their day to day work do not have any health matters which would affect their ability to drive safely. The statistics state between 25% and 33% of all road traffic accidents concern a person who was working at the time. (http://www.orsa.org.uk/facts-and-figures/crash-and-casualty-data/)

As an Employer, you have a duty of care not only to employee drivers which may include self-employed and agency drivers, but also to others who may be put at risk by work-related driving activities such as other road users and pedestrians.

Employers have to rely on the employees honesty to disclose any relevant medical history that would affect their ability to drive. Unfortunately, in the Glasgow refuse truck case, the driver had been suffering from fainting episodes since 1976 but this was not known to the company until an inquiry took place.

What can you do to help reduce the risk – well when employing staff that will be required to drive vehicle, you can use Access to Medical Reports Act 1988 to enable you to request a report from a medical practitioner. The medical practitioner (normally a GP) is then obliged to reveal relevant medical information with the individual's consent.

However, you must remember… it is unlawful for a company to ask any job applicant about their disability or health until they have been offered a job!
But, in this scenario, it would be permitted to establish whether the employee is fit to drive and holds an appropriate licence.

For staff who are already employees, employers can carry out regular health assessments to ensure the employees are still fit to drive.

For advice on this and any other employment law issues, Lawgistics members can contact the legal team.

 

Authors: Roxanne Bradley

Published: 13 Apr 2016

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