IOSH management of ORR policy position June 2018

Work-related road traffic accidents are a significant cause of preventable death and injury around the world. IOSH believes that more should be done to protect people from the hazards.

The Worldwide Occupational Road Safety Review Project (2007) highlights data suggesting that between a quarter and a third of road fatalities involves someone driving for work and that at least a similar proportion of at-work injuries and fatalities involves vehicles.

The facts

  • The Worldwide Occupational Road Safety Review Project (2007) focused mainly on more developed and motorised nations. It highlighted data suggesting that between a quarter and a third of road fatalities involves someone driving for work and that at least a similar proportion of at-work injuries and fatalities involves vehicles.
  • For example, in Britain, this means workers were potentially involved in a substantial number of the 1,720 reported road deaths and 25,290 people seriously injured in 2016–17.
  • And the UK’s Labour Force Survey (2010) estimates 70,000 to 100,000 non-fatal work-related road traffic accident (RTA) injuries each year, with around 30,000 to 40,000 of these causing over three days’ absence. Currently, work-related RTAs are not reportable under the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations (RIDDOR).
  • In the UK, employers have clear duties under the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 and the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 to manage work-related OSH risks, including their occupational road risks.
  • The part played by sleepiness and tiredness in RTAs, particularly caused by obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA), has been recognised for 30 years. In Britain, there are rules on driver licensing for patients with OSA.
  • Many people drive as part of their work, either full- or part-time, although there is no official estimate of the numbers.
  • The benefits of managing work-related road safety can be considerable, no matter what the size of enterprise.
  • The business consequences of RTAs to self-employed workers and small firms are likely to be proportionately greater than for organisations with more resources.
  • IOSH has funded research into work-related road safety interventions and into under-estimation of the problems due to current data collection (see here and here).
  • Recognising the international nature of road traffic safety management, ISO has produced a management systems standard, ISO 39001.

Our position

As work-related road traffic accidents are a significant cause of preventable death and injury, IOSH believes that more should be done to protect people from the hazards. Employers should ensure that they produce and effectively communicate a policy for the management of work-related road safety with their staff, recognising it as an investment and not a cost.

Road safety policies should cover suitable and properly maintained vehicles; driver suitability, fitness and training; and realistic timescales for journeys, to prevent stress or pressure to take risks. Journeys should be properly planned to avoid undue fatigue and plans reassessed if weather conditions deteriorate. Employers need to control the risks from ‘driver distraction’ and include this in their policy (for example by prohibiting activities like phone-use and eating while driving).

Managers should also consider alternatives to driving, for example train travel or video- and tele-conferencing. And, in addition to road traffic accidents, employees should also be encouraged to inform employers of any serious near-misses on the road, so that lessons can be shared.

In the UK, IOSH has repeatedly called for work-related RTAs to be included as a reporting requirement under RIDDOR since 2001. We also called for an improvement to the statistics collected by the UK Government relating to RTAs and safety (STATS19 system) and have welcomed the 2011 revision to this.

IOSH resources

Guides and online tools:

  • Managing the safety, health and security of mobile workers: an OSH practitioners guide (see p.30)
  • Out of sight, out of mind: top tips for managing OSH in distributed workers (see here)

Consultation responses

Research reports: