Employers across Ireland have been urged to make road safety a ‘critical part’ of their business plans at a European conference organised by the European Transport Safety Council, the Road Safety Authority, the Health and Safety Authority and Garda Síochána.
Addressing the conference at Croke Park, Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Mr. Paschal Donohoe said:
“Employers play a critical role in keeping our roads safe. They also have legal responsibilities to provide staff with a safe working environment, both in the office and on the road. This means ensuring employees who drive as part of their work, are equipped with the skills and training to make them safer drivers.
“Companies that do this really see the benefits, including reduced insurance premiums, lower fuel costs, less absenteeism, greater staff satisfaction and most importantly, safe employees. I would urge every employer, regardless of how big or small your staff numbers, to put in place safe driving for work policies as a matter of urgency.”
A report published last month by the European Transport Safety Council (ETSC) found that Ireland was one of 12 EU member states that reported a rise in road deaths last year.
Antonio Avenoso, Executive Director of ETSC said: “2014 was a bad year for road safety. The figures demonstrate that no country can rest on its laurels: we need constant vigilance and policies that evolve to tackle new challenges.
“Ireland has been a road safety champion, having cut annual deaths in half since 2001, but more effort will be needed to make sure deaths continue to decline in the long term.
“Road crashes are the biggest cause of death at work, and one in three collisions is work-related – so clearly businesses, large and small, have an important role to play. We welcome the efforts made by organisations in Ireland to improve road safety as well as the commitment of the Road Safety Authority and the Health and Safety Authority to helping businesses tackle the issue.”
Ms. Moyagh Murdock, Chief Executive, Road Safety Authority speaking at the conference said: “There are clear signs this year that the economy is beginning to pick up, and this is particularly obvious in the increased number of vehicles on our roads. However, with more vehicles comes a greater risk of collisions. Driving is one of the most dangerous activities we engage in on a daily basis. As individuals, we need to take responsibility for how we use the roads – but employers also have a critical role to play in protecting their staff who drive for work. So if you employ two people or 500 people and some of your staff drive as part of their job, you have a responsibility to provide them with a safe working environment, both in the office and on the road. Making road safety a core part of your business not only reduces the risk of death and injury to your staff, it also protects you and your reputation, makes good business sense and ultimately benefits the bottom line.”
Martin O’Halloran, Chief Executive, Health and Safety Authority said: “Businesses often cite cost and time as the main barriers to implementing driving for work policies and procedures for their employees. Yet we know that every year, up to a third of all collisions on our roads may involve someone who drives as part of their job. It is an employer’s legal responsibility to manage risks that employees face and create in the course of driving for work. Business owners, managers and supervisors need to understand how managing these risks will not only benefit their employees and other road users, but also benefit the bottom line through cost savings.”
Superintendent Con O’Donohue, An Garda Síochána, spoke at the conference about driving for work from a policing perspective, “Last year, we estimate that as 23% of injury collisions on our roads involved someone who was working. This is particularly worrying for An Garda Síochána and all of the agencies working in road safety.
He added, “Employers and employees need to be mindful of their legal duty of care and this extends to any journey undertaken as part of work. I urge employers to ensure safe driving for work practices amongst their employees and not to put employees under pressure to meet deadlines or demands, or take or make calls while driving, all of which would result in increased risk to the employee and other road users.”