Duty of care: driving home the eyecare message

Research released today by Specsavers Corporate Eyecare reveals that employers have an awareness of their responsibilities when it comes to employees who drive for work. The figures also show, however, that more needs to be done to increase employer understanding.

Duty of care

It is the areas that come under an employer’s duty of care that perhaps still cause the most confusion regarding driver safety. To gauge employers’ overall understanding, Specsavers Corporate Eyecare asked over 120 heads of companies, representing over 99,000 employees, what they thought came under their duty of care as employers. Of those surveyed:

  • 82% believe ensuring all drivers have a full and current driving licence comes under their duty of care.
  • 79% believe ensuring all company cars are taxed, insured and maintained, comes under their duty of care.
  • With 70% believing this for employees’ own cars, used for work purposes.

In fact, as all work activities come under an employer’s duty of care, they have a responsibility for all of these areas.

Positive moves

An encouraging and perhaps surprising 74% of the employers surveyed stated they believe ensuring an employee has adequate eyesight for driving, is part of their duty of care as an employer.

Suzanne Randall, corporate account manager for Specsavers Corporate Eyecare, says: ‘We have been working hard to convey the message that employers must take responsibility for their drivers. This must include not only checking documents and maintaining vehicles but also ensuring that employees themselves are fit to drive and have adequate eyesight. Even taking our communication efforts into account, we were pleasantly surprised by how many employers now understand that drivers’ eyesight comes under their duty of care.’

The law

Indeed, the HSE makes it clear that employers have a responsibility for their drivers. The Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 “requires employers to take appropriate steps to ensure the health and safety of their employees and others who may be affected by their activities when at work. This includes the time when they are driving or riding at work, whether this is in a company or hired vehicle, or in the employee’s own vehicle.”1

Areas of concern

While these figures are very positive, they still leave 8% of the employers surveyed who believe they have no duty of care whatsoever when it comes to employees who drive for work purposes. This may seem a fairly low percentage but, if this is in any way representative of the number of employees across the UK, it is a significant and greatly concerning figure. Even the other encouraging figures leave a worrying 18% of employers surveyed not taking responsibility for checking drivers’ licences, 21% not looking after company cars and 30% taking no responsibility for checking the taxing, insuring and maintenance of their grey fleet. Added to this, over a quarter (27%) of employers surveyed believe an employee using their own car to drive to a work-related meeting, does not come under their responsibility at all.

Perhaps most worryingly, over a quarter (26%) still do not believe it is their responsibility to check their employees can see clearly to drive.

Action required

Suzanne Randall comments: ‘While 74% of the employers surveyed believe it comes under their responsibility to check driver eyesight is a hugely positive figure, it still leaves over a quarter of employers not aware of their full responsibility. We will not be content until 100% of employers know it is their responsibility to ensure that their drivers are fully fit to drive. Being able to read a number plate from 20 meters on the day of the driving test remains the main check of a driver’s vision. We feel the employer can go further and play a significant role in ensuring their driver's continue to have the required standards of vision. We are here to support them in doing so and hope that we will continue to see a rise in employers understanding of the advantages that could be seen by them, their organisation and their employees.’

The research took place among over 120 heads of companies with a remit including driver management, health and safety or HR. The survey was carried out on behalf of Specsavers Corporate Eyecare by eMedia in November 2014.

Visit www.specsavers.co.uk/corporate

1. http://www.hse.gov.uk/roadsafety/employers.htm