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TASK GROUP SEEKS VIEWS ON AT-WORK ROAD SAFETY

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With new indications that a third of all road crashes may involve someone who is at work at the time, the first dis...
With new indications that a third of all road crashes may involve someone who is at work at the time, the first discussion document to seek the public's views on at-work road safety is being issued today by the independent work-related road safety task group.
The document is seeking views on whether at-work road risk - driving or working on or by roads - should be managed by employers inthe same way as other occupational health and safety risks and whether there should be a specific test for occupational drivers.
The discussion document, Preventing at-work road traffic incidents, sets out what a road risk management approach might encompass. It seeks comments about how best to encourage employers to put measures in place and what advice they might need. It also recognises that a balance has to be struck between the responsibility on employers to manage road risk and the duties on drivers and those working on or
near roads to do so safely.
Richard Dykes, task group chair and group managing director, Mail Services, the Post Office, said: 'The estimate that up to a thousand people die on the roads in incidents that are connected to work is startling. This discussion document is an essential way for the Task Group to gather views on how at-work road safety can be improved.
'Members on the task group believe there is a strong social and moral case for action and sound business reasons for employers to do more. While we need to find out more about causes, the figures tell us we must explore what can be done by employers and others to prevent road traffic accidents happening in the first place.'
As part of the implementation of the government's road safety strategy Tomorrow's Roads safer for everyone, the independent task group, with wide representation from all with an interest in both health and safety and road safety, was asked by ministers and the health and safety commission to propose ways in which at-work road
traffic incidents might be reduced.
Independent research was commissioned by HSE on behalf of the Task Group to quantify the number of at-work road traffic incidents. Drawing on established sources of information for example the Office of National Statistics data of road traffic deaths, and developing innovative lines of enquiry such as a specially commissioned Police Survey, the researchers concluded that between 25% and 33+% of all serious road traffic incidents involve someone at work at the time.
Causation of, and responsibility for, the incidents remained uncertain. Further work continues to identify these and a report of the findings will be published.
The discussion period lasts until 25 May. Responses will be analyzed to help in the development of recommendations the Task Group will include in its report to government and the Health and Safety Commission later this year. A conference for key players in the industry is also to be held in London on 5 April 2001.
Those wishing to comment on the proposals should write to The Task Group Secretariat, Health and Safety Executive, SPDA2, 5SW,Rose Court, 2 Southwark Bridge, London, SE1 9HS. Telephone 020 7717 6841/6340/6059, e-mail: spd.work.roadsafety@hse.gsi.gov.uk
Copies of Preventing at-work road traffic incidents, DDE16 can be requested online at www.hsebooks.co.ukor are available from HSE Books, PO Box 1999, Sudbury, Suffolk, CO10 2WA, tel: 01787-881165 or fax: 01787-313995). A copy is also available on line at www.hse.gov.uk/disdocs.
Notes
1. At-work road traffic casualties include those people driving for work purposes, passengers in vehicles on business, those working on or by roads and members of the public involved in incidents involving work vehicles.
2. The business strategy group were commissioned by HSE on behalf of the task group to 'identify sources of statistics relating to at-work road traffic accidents and, thereby, to quantify the number and seriousness of these incidents and begin to identify the key factors that appear to be involved'.
The sources used for the research were: ONS data of road traffic deaths, a specially commissioned police survey, Fleet Insurance Claims, a study of accidents in Cambridgeshire, Fleet Risk Management data and Research Reports published by TRL and Academic Institutions. Further work continues to identify causation factors. When completed, a report of the findings will be published.
3. The terms of reference for the group are to:
* establish (or signal what further work is required to establish) accurate casualty and incident statistics for work-related activities on or near roads;
* establish (or signal what further work is required to establish) the main causes and methods of preventing work-related road traffic incidents;
* promote a public debate on best practice in relation to preventing work-related road traffic incidents;
* agree minimum health and safety management standards for employers, the self-employed and others for work-related journeys and other work activities on the highway;
* propose if possible non-legislative mechanisms for dovetailing road traffic law with health and safety at work law;
* propose mechanisms for effective liaison between those who enforce road traffic law and those who enforce health and safety at work law.
4. It has been government policy that health and safety at work legislation should not be pursued where there is more specific and detailed law enforced by another authority. HSE's policy has been generally not to apply health and safety legislation to work-related road journeys, road design etc as it considered the safety implications of these matters were adequately protected by road traffic law, and its enforcement.
Following a review of this policy, it was found that that was an enforcement gap in relation to employers' duties to manage the road safety implications of some work-related road journeys. HSE concluded that it wanted to do more in this area of risk but in partnership with others.
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