Driving carries so many risks that it is one of the most dangerous activity employers can ask employees to do. Having a company driving policy and prioritising the safety of your employees and the general public is not a choice but a necessity.
In order to reduce risk of driving accidents, law enforcement and government agencies monitor compliance of these rules:
- Speed Limits
- Rest Periods
- Conditions and Maintenance of the vehicle
- And more
All drivers must confirm they are medically fit when applying for their driving license. Ultimately though, employers have to rely of the drivers honesty in disclosing relevant medical history.
A recent fatal accident inquiry into the Glasgow truck crash which left 6 people dead, heard that the driver was unconscious when his lorry veered out of control. The drivers health was central to this inquiry as the driver had been suffering with fainting episodes since 1976. His employer was unaware of this because the driver had never disclosed it.
Minimising the risk
Firstly, within your company handbook you should have a company driving policy to ensure that your employees understand the terms and conditions surrounding this.
You can use the Access to Medical Reports Act 1988 to access reports from the GP on a prospective or a current employee. Providing that the individual consents, the GP is obliged to tell you the relevant medical information.
Current legislation under the Equality Act 2010 makes it unlawful to ask applicants about their disability or health until they have been offered a job but health questionnaires and occupational health reports that relate to the candidate’s ability to carry out a function that is intrinsic to the job.
You could independently verify any declaration of good health by requiring candidates, whether recruited directly or via an agency, to complete a health checklist that discloses any medical history that might affect their ability to drive. For example, you may ask for a ‘fitness to drive license’ signed off by the individual’s GP. Any job offers would be subject to a satisfactory medical report.
The company can request a medical form from the employee’s GP or a report from occupational health for drivers already employed by the business. As an employer you can also carry out regular health assessments to ensure that employees remain fit to drive, thereby reducing the risk of any relevant condition going unnoticed.
It is crucial to have a balanced approach between occupational health, HR and management towards these responsibilities. To obtain a medical report, you must comply with the Data Protection Act 1998, while the Equality Act 2010 prevents discrimination against potential and/or current employees based on a ‘professional characteristic’ including disability. Where a medical issue raises a question over an individual’s ability to drive, you may be under a duty to make reasonable adjustments if the employee is disabled, including considering whether he or she can be accommodated in a non-driving role if adjustments are not possible to their existing one.
Incorporating medical checks into the recruitment process and enforcing regular health assessments will give companies greater control and certainty that employees are fit to drive. Such action should be approached in a positive manner – not only to support employees but also to ensure, as far as possible, the safety of the public.
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