The very recent passing away of a driver whilst in Italy has very sadly brought to mind the duty of care a transport business has to its employees. Could and should employers think more carefully about protecting their employees before having to deal with the most unfortunate of situations? This article looks at the Health and Safety environment for the transport sector and the insurance covers available in the market that help businesses protect their people.
Health and Safety
One of the first questions we talk to transport businesses about is how they engage in working with employees on health and safety issues. Transport employees fall into some of the highest risk categories in relation to health and the impact on safety for them and other road users is significant. The Health and Safety at Work Act applies to all employers and the duty it owes to its employees and to others affected by its activities applies to driving in the same way as it does to all other work activities. The introduction of the Corporate Manslaughter Act also means that the police and HSE now have a range of legislation they can use when investigating a company, its senior managers, directors or individual drivers following a serious collision. Sentencing Guidelines for Health and Safety Offences and Corporate Manslaughter implemented from 1st February 2016 have resulted in organisations facing punitive and extensive financial penalties following conviction for Health and Safety Offences. All businesses need to think, plan and adopt work related road safety measures focusing on the drivers themselves, journey planning and vehicle maintenance. If we think here just specifically about drivers then the following would be a good guide to fundamentals a business should adopt.
- Licence – hold a valid and up to date appropriate licence and that any changes are to be immediately notified (DVLA or physical checks).
- Properly trained – including issues such as driving posture.
- Risk assessment – identify high risk drivers (convictions, collision frequency).
- Provided with information that will help them to reduce risk (e.g. sight of, and compliance with, driving policies including mobile phone and satellite navigation equipment use and practical information such as winter driving, recommended tyre pressures etc.
- Fit to drive – including health, fatigue, eyesight, alcohol, drug and medication use.
The duty of care of employers when considering driving risks and how to incorporate this into existing health and safety management systems is often a challenge for businesses. Employers too often think of driving risk as an individual rather than a corporate risk.
Sally Roff – Partner – Head of Safety Health and Environment DAC Beachcroft Claims Ltd
Insurance brokers will help businesses to consider what covers are available in the market. In doing this the senior management of a business are able to make decisions to purchase or not. If we consider specifically the situation of death by natural causes whilst in course of employment then there is no cover for repatriation costs (whether UK or overseas) under a standard commercial motor fleet or employers liability policy. Repatriation costs are normally picked up by employers themselves. There is no obligation from an Employment Law perspective for employers to pick up costs either though this might depend upon contracts of employment and the terms and conditions that apply. This might sound harsh and blunt but it is reality .Outside the EU, certain countries do have legislation which oblige the employer to fund repatriation costs e.g Qatar. Within the EU there is no legislation which requires this to be in place.
Employers need to think about the duty of care they have to employees and this naturally leads to considering Business Travel and Personal Accident covers for employees. If your business includes foreign travel then insurance cover is readily available for Medical and Repatriation covers and economic benefits available in the event of accidental permanent/temporary disablement or death whilst working. Any claim resulting from injury illness or death that arises whilst working or during breaks will be covered. This includes repatriation of a driver who has died of natural causes. Benefit limits up to £10M per person would not be uncommon.
Occupational Accident where a capital sum is paid in the event of accidental permanent disablement or death whilst working, 24 Hour Accident cover or 24 Hour illness covers are also common employee benefit purchases.
Insurance is just a cost and a let’s get it over and done with issue for many businesses UNLESS you have a serious event and then it becomes an essential professional service to rely on. Get it right before the problem manifests itself. Steve Green – Director Anthony Jones Insurance Brokers
Managing your business reputation is generally at the top of the business risk agenda for business leaders. We encourage and help leaders to look at how they might preserve reputation post a serious incident, what insurance covers are available in the market to help look at business risk and enable businesses to make informed decisions. Think very carefully about where you buy insurance from, what you are buying and how you buy it. Buy as much cover as you can afford. Your choice of insurance covers and insurance broker is an important one.