Who investigates at-work road deaths?

Workplace fatalities or serious incidents are investigated by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). Employers have to report serious injuries or fatalities at work to the HSE, under the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 2013 (RIDDOR).

The Regulations also require them to report accidents:

  • involving exposure to a substance being conveyed by road;
  • involving loading and unloading of an article or substance (not passengers) on to or off of a vehicle; or
  • where works vehicles and workers (not in vehicles) are engaged in specific work activity (other than travelling) – e.g. hedge cutting, construction, demolition, alteration, repair or maintenance activities – at or alongside public roads.

Road accidents are investigated by the police to see if there has been a breach of the Road Traffic Acts. For example, was the vehicle roadworthy and was the driver speeding?

The investigating road deaths guidance (updated 2013) produced on behalf of the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) by the National Policing Improvement Agency explains how to investigate deaths on the road to police forces.

It advises that where preliminary enquiries indicate that the collision may be work-related and/or that significant management failures may be a contributory factor, the police should notify the HSE. This might apply where:

  • the employer has failed to ensure that drivers are competent and capable of doing their work safely;
  • the employer has ignored obvious signs that a worker is unfit to drive, for example, from the effects of drink or drugs; or
  • vehicles are being used for a purpose for which they were not intended, for example, saloon cars used to transport heavy or bulky goods without appropriate means to secure the load safely.
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