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Driving for Better Business partner takes ‘Permit to Drive’ message to Labour Party conference

22 August 2008

Employees at the Labour Party now have to qualify for a ‘Permit to Drive’ from managers before they are allowed to use vehicles for business purposes.

The safety-first initiative is part of a drive by the Party to ensure it is meeting its duty of care to staff and to show them that health and safety is not just in the office but also out on the road.

Labour Party work-driving regional officials have been enrolled in the ‘Permit to Drive’ system, which is part of the RiskMaster work-related road safety programme developed by Fleet Support Group, a partner of the Driving for Better Business pogramme.

The announcement adds to a growing number of organisations that have introduced RiskMaster, including Unison, Britain’s giant public sector union, which has a ‘No Unison permit, no Unison driving’ rule.

RiskMaster bosses say that the move by both the Labour Party and Unison, which was announced earlier this year, should act as a great example to other organisations that are yet to take action on work-related road safety.

Logically, they argue, that similar work vehicle road risk management measures must now spread rapidly to other political parties, government departments, local authorities, MPs assistants paid and volunteers, election driving helpers, all UK private business and charities.

To spread the message, Fleet Support Group will be exhibiting at the annual Labour Party Conference in Manchester from September 20-24.

The first phase of the Labour Party programme covers fleet car drivers, but two further phases will extend the scheme further to spouses, partners or children and finally to all general staff who may be required to drive on Party business, either using provided hire vehicles or their own cars.

Obtaining and retaining a ‘Permit’ means each driver and vehicle annually passing a rigid ‘fit for the road’ examination with quarterly online driver declarations about licences and health status - to ensure employers are completely aware of all issues affecting their drivers. Failure to reply can mean withdrawal of a driver’s ‘Permit’.

Typically a ‘Permit to Drive’ is granted following a DVLA licence check, and an online driving ‘test’ that is then used as the basis for any training as highlighted by the assessment, profiling drivers as ‘low’, ‘medium’ or ‘high’ risk. Vehicle maintenance records, insurance details and any data on crashes and motoring offences are also fed into the system.

As information is supplied, it is analysed by the RiskMaster software system, which then point scores a driver’s data. If points rise above a preset level, management is alerted. A driver can qualify for a permit, or a temporary permit, or be denied.

The analysis is a continual process so each driver has a ‘Driver Operating Life Report’ and each driver is simultaneously measured against their employer’s own specific parameters.

Ann-Marie Foster, Labour Party facilities manager, said: “We are showing all our staff that health and safety is not just in the office but extends to driving on the road.

“This investment will enhance the safety of our work-driving employees and is part of our commitment to the safety and welfare of everyone who works for the Labour Party.”

Interest in the RiskMaster system has rocketed in the past few years, especially with the introduction of the new Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act earlier this year, which throws the spotlight on company’s duty of care arrangements in the event of a fatal incident.

Held every autumn, Labour’s Annual Conference is one of the largest political events and political exhibitions in Europe. The conference will be held at Manchester Central (formerly know as GMEX/MICC).

Geoffrey Bray, chairman of Chippenham-based Fleet Support Group, which manages a fleet of more than 50,000 vehicles, said: “The Labour Party has recognised that the driving licence that everybody receives when they pass their driving test is a document which is of little value other than on the day an individual passes their test.

“What we are looking for with ‘Permit to Drive’ is a continuing appraisal of an at-work driver’s approach, attitude and performance in general driving.

“Also, ‘Permit to Drive’ is not a cost, it is an investment. Legislation is increasingly impacting on at-work drivers so employers have a significant responsibility to manage them.

“The decision by the Labour Party to introduce RiskMaster is testament to its understanding of its duty of care to employees who drive for work purposes and its commitment to ensuring it is doing everything in its power to keep them safe on the road.

“By exhibiting at the conference we hope to spread the importance of occupational road risk management to MPs, trade unionists and other Labour Party members.”