As an Industry in 2017, Lets think about Work Related Road Risk?
Statistics show 1760 people are killed on our road each year and 30% of those deaths involve a driver ‘at work’. Some 200 employees are killed or seriously injured (KSI) every week whilst driving for work and total workplace fatalities for all sectors in the year ending March 2016 totalled 144 (of which 43 were in the Construction Sector).
Those working in the UK’s Construction Sector have a near unique position when it comes to how drivers drive and the effect of poor driving. Our people work on the highways and motorways as part of their construction day/night job but they also have responsibility for safely delivering plant and materials, driving colleagues in minibuses or driving themselves between sites and offices. It is a responsibility undertaken by tens of thousands every day and without doubt, the most high-risk activity undertaken consistently and repeatedly.
There is therefore at least a 4 times multiplier between the two, yet the Health and Safety Executives are not tasked to investigate work-related road deaths. There are of course Accident Investigation Branches for Air, Sea and Rail – AAIB / MAIB /RAIB – where total casualties are much lower than on the roads albeit concentrated in more catastrophic, high profile incidents such as Zeebrugge / Hatfield or Shoreham. Inexplicably road accidents for some reason do not warrant the same IB treatment and stretched Police forces are tasked with that workload in addition to crime, terrorism and their many other responsibilities.
Companies and people who have experienced the loss of a colleague or have seen the devastating impact of life-changing injuries are receptive to prevention measures. Increasingly, vehicle safety features and technologies are available to assist drivers. However, the non-mechanical component sitting behind the driving wheel is prone to not delivering reliably and consistently. Performance can be impaired by many factors – fatigue, lack of skill and knowledge, poor observation and anticipation, drugs or alcohol consumption, health and eyesight, stress and distraction – factors not dissimilar to other workplace accidents in fact.
So why do many companies not treat driving for work with the same degree of rigour as other work tasks? Where are risk assessments and method statements? How many of us conduct journey planning in a formal context which could stand the scrutiny of a fatal Road Accident Investigation under the ACPO Handbook. In most corporates, much closer attention is paid to train or plane travel than by car because it involves invoiced expenditure/travel warrants.
It is time for much greater attention to be paid to WRRR by the Government, the HSE, Corporates and of course drivers themselves. As you pass the next serious RTA commit yourself to doing something to prevent it being you or a member of your family/ friends network.