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Is Your Business Ready for Winter Driving Conditions?

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During the Christmas and New Year period it's traditional to have work parties, have a few drinks and unwind after another busy year. But with this comes the increased risk of your employees being over the legal limit for driving your company vehicles.

This puts your drivers at a significant risk of injury. And it also puts your business at risk of lower productivity if your employees are unfit to drive, or pick up a driving ban as a result of being over the legal limit.

As an employer you have a responsibility under The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and Road Transport Law regulations to ensure your drivers are operating within the law and are safe.

Unless your company can demonstrate that you did what was reasonably practicable to prevent an offence being committed, you could be guilty of an offence too.

Drivers can never be certain exactly how alcohol will influence their driving. And they can never be certain exactly how their system will metabolise it. So they can never be certain whether they are over the legal limit or not.

So here are a few things to consider during the festive period to make sure you've done everything you can to ensure the safety of your drivers, maintain the productivity of your business, and avoid costly investigations.

Risk Assessments

Your company should have a risk assessment relating to driver safety. It will help to make sure that all reasonable measures have been taken to ensure your drivers are safe, and employees are fit and able to drive safely.

How does your company assess the risk of drink driving at this time of year? And what measures have you put in place to ensure that your drivers are safe during work journeys?

So if you haven't written a risk assessment yet, it is an important part of ensuring you have taken reasonable practicable measures to ensure your drivers' safety.

If you already have a risk assessment, make sure it's a working document that you review regularly with your whole staff.

Review Your Workplace Alcohol Policy

Making sure your alcohol policy is up-to-date and readily available is really important. It sets out the rules and expectations of your organisation on alcohol use. It leaves less room for misunderstanding and allows you company to clearly outline its stance on alcohol in the workplace.

A policy should clearly outline:

  • Why have a policy
  • Who it applies to
  • Who is responsible for taking action
  • Expected behaviour and rules
  • Disciplinary action to be taken

Raise Awareness

Drink driving offences aren't always as a result of drinking alcohol during work hours. Not all offending drivers are aware they have committed an offence.

In many cases the driver has drank too much alcohol the night before and not allowed it enough time to leave their system before returning to work.

Raising awareness is an effective way of getting the message to your drivers of the implications of driving when under the influence of alcohol. You might consider:

  • Training / Seminars
  • Whole staff policy review
  • Simple posters around the office
  • Email notifications
  • Management training to spot the signs of alcohol abuse

This could be done in a number of ways, but is most effective when it a number of methods have been used.

Screening

Screening is most effective when it is developed alongside your staff with their active and constructive input. It allows you to develop a screening policy as a deterrent rather than a means of catching people.

Its main aim is to reduce the risk to your employees and other road users. However, screening often is used to identify employees who are under the influence of alcohol and prevent serious incidents when driving during work hours.

Alternatives

Especially at this time of year many people go to office parties and let their hair down, either in the evenings or during work hours. So there is always a risk that your employees may either drinking during their lunch, or be in an unfit state to drive during work hours the following day.

Whilst it is difficult to prevent someone from drinking large amounts of alcohol during an evening party, you can make sure there are non-alcoholic alternatives available.

And during work-hours parties, avoid alcohol altogether. Even 1 drink could put your driver over the legal limit and leave both you and your driver potentially open to prosecution.

Take reasonable practicable action

Your employees are adults, and they make their own decisions. So it's nearly impossible to be a 100% certain that your employees are working in-line with your policies.

But make sure that you take reasonable practicable action as we've outline here to ensure your workforce are safe and your business remains productive.

If you need help drafting your policy, or advice on preventing drink driving in your company vehicles, call for a free consultation on 01484 437 400.

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