Duty of Care – ACAS 2014

Employers have a duty of care to their employees, which means that they should take all steps which are reasonably possible to ensure their health, safety and wellbeing. Demonstrating concern for the physical and mental health of your workers shouldn't just be seen as a legal duty - there's a clear business case, too. It can be a key factor in building trust and reinforcing your commitment to your employees, and can help improve staff retention, boost productivity and pave the way for greater employee engagement.

An employer can be deemed to have breached their duty of care by failing to do everything that was reasonable in the circumstances to keep the employee safe from harm.

Why Investigate accidents/Incidents

Why Investigate accidents/Incidents

  • Ensure compliance with the law (H&S/Road Traffic/Duty of Care)
  • Compliance with Organisation's Policy
  • Gather accurate risk management information
  • Quickly identify trends
  • Aid internal awareness of company safety concerns
  • Reduce avoidable loss
  • Prevent future collisons


Two types of Accident

Reportable Accident

Owing to the presence of a mechanically propelled vehicle on a road or other public place an accident occurs by which personal injury is caused to a person (other than the driver of that vehicle) or damage is caused to:

  • a vehicle (other than that MPV or trailer its drawing)
  • an animal (not in that MPV or trailer its drawing)
  • any other property (on or adjacent to the road

Internal Accident

Any incident that causes injury to a member of the organisaiton's staff or any member of the Public which is on private premises or premises owned or operated by the organisation, or any incident that causes damage to any of the organisation's or other property involving the use of any company vehicle of any description.


Reportable Accident Duties (Driver Duties)

If you are involved in a collision which causes damage or injury to any person, vehicle, animal or property you MUST:


Give your own and the vehicle owners name and address, and the registration number of the vehicle, to anyone having reasonable grounds for requiring them.

If you do not give your name and address at the time of the collision, report it to the police as soon as reasonably practicable, and in any case within 24hrs.   





If any of the above are not complied with they must report the accident to a constable or at a police station as soon as possible and in any case within 24 hours

Failure to comply is an offence for which the driver can be prosecuted

What is the purpose

  • Identify immediate cause
    • Immediate cause may not be the ‘Root’Cause
  • Identify root cause including:
    • Tired/Pressure/Distraction
  • Operational/systemic contributory factors
    • Was there a policy/procedural breach – was this usual practice?
  • Opportunities to prevent recurrence
    • Intervention/Support/Action
  • Personal underlying factors
    • External to work affecting behaviour/Performance
  • Papers need to be submitted with reports at the earliest opportunity to enable early intervention/follow up review by Insurer – Delays cost money

  • It is important to accurately identify immediate cause where possible – we need to know the circumstances
  • Driver Interview
    • May be multiple dependent upon circumstances
  • Behavioural Complication –
    • Was there a policy/procedural breach – was this usual practice?
    • Opportunities to prevent recurrence
    • Fatigue
    • Distraction
    • Stress
    • Other contributing factor

Evidence tells us that 90%+ of all collisions are Behavioural based rather than skill based.

  • Driver accounts may need clarification or validation through further investigation
  • Scene visit – If necessary
  • Vehicle inspection
    • look at the damage
    • How does it match up
    • Does the version of events support the identified damage
  • Witness accounts
    • Does witness account match (NB Witnesses can make mistakes – even professional ones)
  • Supplementary interview with driver to clarify/challenge

‘All drivers know what to do… They do not always do what they know’

“The most basic cause that can be reasonably identified and that management has control to fix/influence”

  • If immediate cause identifies our driver was the primary contributor
  • Why did the error occur?
  • Was it basic operating competency?
  • Was it performance factor driven - distraction/stress/fatigue/illness/impairment?
  • Did work practices/management systems contribute?

Management Duty to Act to prevent where possible future recurrences


  • Does drivers account match the damage on the vehicle?
  • Junction/bend/roundabout collisions – advanced warning/road markings
  • Road surface and weather conditions verification
  • Defect alleged?
  • Vehicle condition
  • Visibility fields
  • Submit papers to Insurers as soon as possible – delays cost money

Data Security & Disclosure

  • Everything you do can be required for ANY court process
  • You MUST retain material
  • Where mistakes are identified – what are you doing about it
  • Be prepared as YOU may be in court justifying company actions/response


Failure to act/investigate can be as damning as full investigation.

Police Investigations

  • Fatalities are treated as a crime until otherwise established
  • Procedures require identification of nature of journey
  • If work related Senior Investigating Officer is required to identify if company procedures contributed
  • Investigation protocol with HSE
  • If H&S issues identified - refer to HSE

It is important that any investigation should seek the true root cause of a collision. Very few accidents are caused through lack of training or driving skills and it is much more likely that some other human factor was involved.

Consider what external or internal factors may have contributed to the collision for example pressures at work or home or an unreasonable task set by a supervisor.

Decide what information is required as part of your collision investigation and communicate it effectively to your employees, for example in a drivers handbook, your fleet safety policy or driver theory training.

You can make things simpler by providing a 'crash pack' and disposable camera or advice on using phone cameras that can be easily utilised at the scene of an incident. Make sure the 'crash pack' has a 'bump card' that can be torn off and given to the third party - this should include your full contact details and insurer details. This will help speed up the process and allow insurers to communicate quickly, thereby reducing repair and hire costs as well as injury claims.

Details of any collision should include:

Day, Date, Time, Place.

Make, Model and Registration of all vehicles involved

Journey Purpose

Weather/Environment Conditions

Work Start Time

Exact Location i.e. Junction With (J/W)

Photographs of the scene and any damage to vehicles

A detailed sketch including direction of travel

Details of third parties involved

Details of Witnesses particulalry independent witnesses

Third Party Name and Address and Insurer Details

Note all damage and number of passengers to prevent fraudulent claims

Full details of injured persons

Police in Attendance - Details of Officer/Accident Reference Number

The next important step, particularly for medium to large fleets is to ensure that the information gathered from each collision is put to good use in terms of crash analysis and training outcomes.

Information gathered may help identify certain trends and risks whch can be addressed through small changes in policy and training.

For more information go to:











The Scottish Occupational Road Safety Alliance (SCORSA) - resources or organisations to reduce road risk across all at work driving functions

http://www.scorsa.org.uk/ http://www.scorsa.org.uk/


Road Safety Scotland - For advice and information on all aspects of road safety



Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents RoSPA) -  Access a wide range of safety and road safety resources



Healthy Working Lives – information on a range of safety and health topics for workplaces



Police Scotland -



Go Safe Glasgow -



Transport Scotland – information about the road, rail and ferry networks across Scotland



Drive and Vehicle Licensing Agency – for information on health conditions and licencing