It's that time of the year again: Christmas parties are on the calendar and the cold and flu season is just beginning.
Businesses running a fleet of vehicles are already well aware of the dangers that this can bring. Drink and drug driving remains a problem, even under recently implemented legislation and strict enforcement. In the month of December 2013 alone, 7,123 people were caught drink driving and there are 400 arrests made in the UK every month for drug driving related offenses.
In many of those cases, company vehicles have been driven.
Even a small amount of alcohol - well below the legal limit - can hinder the ability to drive safely. It takes several hours for alcohol to disappear from the body, therefore someone who was drinking late the previous evening can still be over the limit whilst on their way to work.
With the above in mind and the time of the year we're approaching, it's important that companies consider a strong drugs and alcohol policy to protect their workforce and the general public.
It's simply vital that the approach taken by management is proactive rather than reactive because if a member of your staff is out on the road with drugs or illegal quantities of alcohol in their system, senior management and business owners could be held liable for any accidents they cause.
The best place to start is to educate employees on an internal policy and the procedures. A policy should ensure, as far as reasonably possible, the health, safety and welfare of all employees - as well as others that could be affected by company operation. A good risk management strategy means that risks to the business have been evaluated to fit in with the current company resources, culture and attitudes.
All staff should have a chance to see it and ask questions. Establishing a consultative forum between management and staff is a good idea as it will help to develop an awareness and training program that encourages staff to always be thinking about the effects their decisions can have.
Those taking prescribed
Drug driving legislation introduced in 2015 includes restrictions on 16 drugs that now carry penalties of a one-year driving ban, a heavy fine and a criminal record and there's also the corporate manslaughter act to think about.
Managers may want to consider a testing procedure. Whoever administers testing procedures must be trained and employees should be made well aware of how and when the tests will be carried out, what will happen if the test is positive, and what happens if they refuse to take it.
Monitoring whatever policies and procedures you do adopt on a frequent basis is paramount in sustaining minimal risk. You can do this by using key performance indicators such as levels of accidents of other incidents can be measured over time.
By keeping information such as the number of tests carried out and why, the number of positive results and so on, the policies and procedures can be amended to suit requirements.
Of course, most of your drivers know the risks of drink driving, and most will never do it, but with the numbers of drivers convicted still too high, and recent changes to drug driving laws, it's important that you're aware of the risks ahead of the festive season!