Martyn Nash, Chairman of vGI Holdings Ltd explores the duty of care employers have for staff both on the road and working from home.
As employers, we have a legal responsibility to protect both our staff and others from harm. Risk assessments identifying hazards and their potential effects are a prerequisite for businesses. In the main, we pride ourselves on being a compliant nation and use best endeavours. This is particularly apparent in bricks and mortar places of work, however, are we all giving the same focus to transport? Not only company supplied vehicles but also privately owned cars being used for business purposes.
There is often a misconception that our responsibility to those in the care of our business begins and ends at the front door. Companies have a duty to ensure that risks staff are exposed to at any time or location whilst undertaking activities on behalf of the business are assessed, managed and the appropriate safety measure put in place.
In 2019 1,752 people were killed in UK road traffic accidents*. A statistic that has remained relatively flat for almost ten years. Of equal concern are the 25,945 (2019) serious injuries from road traffic accidents* at a cost to the UK economy of £16.9bn per year. No injuries or deaths should be accepted, and we should be doing all that we can to eradicate them.
Do your fleets contain the necessary duty of care accessories? There is a first aid kit and fire extinguisher in the workplace but are all vehicles used for business activities correctly equipped? Has a risk assessment specific to the car or vans usage been conducted? Moreover, if a member of your team rents a vehicle, whether at home or away, are you sure that car has the equipment that your risk assessment highlighted? Are you fulfilling your moral responsibility? Are you leaving the business wide open to litigation?
The past fifteen months has seen another drastic change to the way we have worked in the past. Our kitchens, living rooms, bedrooms and even garages have become places of work. Places that our staff undertake work for our business. What percentage of businesses used the same initiative in undertaking risk assessments on our employee’s homes as we did with our business premises? If we were proactive enough to do so, were first aid kits, fire extinguishers and other everyday health and safety equipment supplied?
Ignorance is no excuse in the eye of the law. Being a business owner or leader carries a great deal of pleasure but also responsibility. Responsibility to all stakeholders. Our staff do not only work at Head Office. Let’s consider all work locations and ensure that we are fulfilling our duty of care correctly.