OH&S and Fleet Managed Vehicles

Australian state and territory Occupational Health & Safety (OH&S) legislation was introduced to enforce and improve occupational health and safety in the workplace. The legislation defines a fleet managed vehicle to be a workplace.

Fleet or company managed vehicles represent approximately one third of all motor vehicles on our roads. Employers, employees and contractors have a duty to do everything ‘reasonably practicable’ to protect the health and safety of others in the workplace and also that of non-employees.

Fleet Managers should be aware of their lawful obligation to maintain compliance within OHS legislation when providing or managing motor vehicles for other members of the workforce. However it appears that fleet managers are becoming more negligent and are failing to uphold their legal responsibility to provide adequate ‘Duty of Care’ to fleet vehicle drivers.

A ‘Duty of Care’ is defined by the Industrial Commission in the Work, Health and Safety, Report No. 47, Sept 1995: as follows:

‘Duty of Care’ requires everything ‘reasonably practicable’ to be done to protect the health and safety of others at the workplace. This duty is placed on:

• All employers
• Their employees
• Any others who have an influence on the hazards in a workplace.

The latter includes contractors and those who design, manufacture, import, supply or install plant, equipment or materials used in the workplace.

Whilst the requirements of the law vary to determine ‘Reasonably Practicable’ this must be assessed with the degree of risk in a particular activity or environment and be balanced against time, trouble and cost of taking measures to control risk.

This allows those responsible to meet their duty of care requirements at the lowest possible cost but also usually requires that changes in technology are introduced into the work place where appropriate. The duty holder must show that it was not ‘reasonably practicable’ to do more than what was done or that they have taken ‘reasonable’ precautions and exercised due diligence.

Many reports from accredited road safety organisations confirm that a high percentage of fleet leased or company owned vehicles are not maintained as regularly or are driven with the same degree of caution as owner-driver vehicles. Subsequently these vehicles are more likely to be involved in motor vehicle collisions possibly inflicting injuries to third-parties. Indeed, in their May 2006 journal Volume 88, the VACC (Victoria’s Automobile Chamber of Commerce) quoted ‘the most common mechanism of injury in the workplace was motor vehicle accidents. (71 fatalities – 34% of claims)’

More evidence is emerging to link negligence with fleet managers and they could possibly expect to receive increased reports of defects from authorities and potentially expensive ‘contributing negligence’ suits from drivers who have sustained injuries from vehicles they manage or provide for use.

Full original article was posted at: http://www.ivic.com.au/fleet.htm

Whilst the original article is focused on vehicle maintenance and repairs, the same general points are also relevant to the area of distracted driving, and the need for employers to take appropriate action to ensure a safe and efficient environment relating to employee use of in-vehicle computer devices.

Find out more about the Blank-IT distracted driving solution at: https://www.blank-it.com

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