As an evidence-based accident prevention charity, RoSPA’s vision is more lives free from serious accidental injury through the exchange of life-enhancing knowledge and skills. Driving for work is, for many of us, the most hazardous thing we do, and looking at the evidence, RoSPA is clear that organisations should manage driving risk as they would any other risk to their organisation. In the third article in the series, Dr Karen McDonnell, RoSPA’s Occupational Health and Safety Policy Adviser and Head of RoSPA Scotland, discusses further how organisations can manage driving risk.
Let’s begin with D for Data
HSE and Department for Transport (DfT) figures suggest that more than one in four traffic incidents on our roads involves someone driving for work.
Based on DfT figures for Great Britain in 2019, this means that, based on 1,752 deaths in total, more than 438 people are estimated to have died in 2019 in a road accident involving somebody driving as part of their work.
This compares to 111 workers who were killed in accidents in workplaces in 2019/20.
Using police data gathered in 2019, we can estimate that out of the 25,945 road-related serious injuries in total and 125,461 slight injuries in total, more than 6,486 were seriously injured, and more than 31,365 were slightly injured in work-related road accidents.
The reason we still have to talk in terms of estimates of work-related road accidents is that, unlike other serious work-related accidents, they are not reportable to the regulator under the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 1995. In addition, “journey purpose” information is also not collected systematically by the police.
The data certainly begins to tell the story; there is a striking difference between those workers killed in workplace accidents and the estimated number of people killed in a road accident involving someone driving as part of their work.
D is for Dialogue
Over the last year, RoSPA and the Scottish Occupational Road Safety Alliance (ScORSA) have played a part in the revision of HSE INDG 382, which will be relaunched in Autumn 2021 in the form of an interactive website. The conversations around virtual tables have resulted in a site that will provide useful practical advice on the issues associated with driving for work. The beauty of moving from ‘paper’ to a website will enable the inclusion of additional signposts as new topics emerge, which will assist more organisations to begin to manage driving risk as they would any other risk.
The baseline for RoSPA’s work is that “people deserve to be protected”, and quite simply, accidents don’t need to happen. And this is where we believe that managing work-related road safety is not just about protecting workers as drivers or passengers but also (and as much) about protecting the wider public who are in the road environment, particularly vulnerable road users – it is a shared space.
When reading about managing driving risk, OSH practitioners should immediately make the connection to employers’ duties under Section 3 of the HSW Act. Learnt at the outset of careers, it is a requirement of employers and the self-employed to ensure that members of the public are not exposed to risks to their health and safety, and if you employ people who drive for work, your risk is on the road.
Managing the risk holistically and adopting a plan, do, check, act cycle starts at what RoSPA believes is the very beginning. Pause and take a big-picture approach to your organisation’s road transport activities and identify where your greatest risk exposure lies. Where and how can the risk be reduced?
D is for Discourse
Just as work and life have blurred during the pandemic, there is a ‘read-across’ the topics of workplace transport and driving for work. The former has established a practical focus on ‘safe journey, safe vehicle and safe driver’, which organisations understand.
The opportunity now exists for telling the story. As a community, we thrive on information exchange. We understand the words “consultation” and “engagement”, and it is the process associated with these words that will magnify the voice of those killed and seriously injured as a consequence of driving for work.
A RoSPA key issue for many years has been the importance of “learning from safety failure”; building on root cause analysis of accidents and incidents towards proactively tracking relevant key performance indicators. Does your organisation have KPIs relating to driving for work?
The RoSPA vision is to support the development of case studies that assist organisations to engage in continuous improvement around driving for work.
Placing more emphasis on the importance of learning from and periodically reviewing operational experience.
Take the OUCH out of driving for work by owning the issue, understanding your data, and controlling the risk by managing holistically while recognising that it is often the voice of those who have lost their lives that galvanises action. Don’t let it be a familiar voice: these accidents don’t need to happen.
ScORSA is hosting a range of webinars on key topics for members. Membership is free. See: www.scorsa.org.uk