When thinking about health and safety at work we look to potential hazards that are present in the workplace, but in reality the biggest hazard can actually be out on the road. Keeping a workforce safe should be an employers  top priority. Drivers themselves are not the only individuals that need to be aware of road safety. As an employer or manager you have the responsibility for your staff throughout their working day. This includes when they are out on the road, even if they do so in their own car. Making sure that shift patterns do not affect driver fatigue is just one of the areas employers need to take note of in ensuring their workforce is safe. Under the Management of Health and safety at Work regulations 1999 employers have to make sure that they conform with the management of health and safety effectively. Carrying out risk assessments on employees will be essential while they are at work and to benefit other people who could be affected by their activities. This is especially relevant when it comes to driving for work, as this will be carried out in the public domain. Regulations stipulate that employers/business managers need to periodically review employee risk assessments so that they remain appropriate and up to date.

Smoking in company vehicles

The Smoke-free (Exemptions and Vehicles) Regulations 2007 came into force on 1 July 2007. The position in respect of company vehicles is that:
  • Enclosed vehicles which one or more persons use for work will be no-smoking premises and covered by the ban. The ban applies to cars/vans/lorries at all times if they can be used by one or more persons (as driver or passenger) in the course of paid or voluntary work, regardless of whether they are in the vehicle at the same time;
  • A vehicle is not used at work if it is used primarily for the private purposes of a person who owns it or has a right to use it which is not restricted to a particular journey.Therefore, smoking will be prohibited in all vehicles which are used primarily for business purposes by more than one person. Vehicles used primarily for private purposes or for business purposes only by the driver are exempt and employees can smoke in those vehicles.

Examples

  • A company car used solely by one employee and not used by anyone else for work either as a driver or passenger is exempt and does not need to be smoke free.
  • A privately owned car used occasionally for business purposes is exempt;
  • A car shared by one or more employees but only ever used by one at a time (a pool car) is covered by the ban and must be smoke free at all times;
  • A chauffeur driven car is covered by the ban and must be smoke free at all times;
  • A van used by two employees, one who smokes and another who doesn't is covered by the ban and must be smoke free at all times;
  • A vehicle used by two plus employees all of whom smoke is covered by the ban and must be smoke free at all times;
  • A vehicle that would otherwise be smoke free but which has a roof that can be stowed or removed will not be required to be smoke free when the roof is completely stowed/removed.
All vehicles covered by the ban should display no-smoking signs (the no-smoking symbol at least 70mm in diameter) in each compartment of the vehicle in which people can sit (penalty for non-compliance is a fixed penalty notice of£200 (or £150 if paid within 15 days) or a maximum fine of £1,000 if convicted by a court). The company has a duty to prevent smoking in smoke free vehicles (the penalty for breach is a maximum fine of £2,500 on conviction). Compliance requires the taking of reasonable steps, which might include (in addition to displaying signs):
  • Removing ashtrays;
  • Introducing a smoke free policy;
  • Training of staff to understand the new law and their responsibilities under it (individuals caught can be issued with a fixed penalty notice of £50 (or £30 if paid within15 days) or a maximum fine of £200 on conviction).
For more advice on driving for businesses go to drivingforbetterbusiness.com or visit www.fleetsafe.org
X