A recent incident involving the tragic murder of a delivery driver in Shrewsbury has sparked discussions regarding the safety measures that employers must undertake for their employees working remotely or on the road.

While managing risks within the confines of an office is relatively straightforward, the responsibilities of employers become more complex when their workforce operates without a fixed workplace.

In the wake of this incident, the safety of employees who work in the field has come into sharp focus. The question arises: How can employers ensure the safety of their employees when they cannot predict every potential scenario they might encounter?

Gavin Scarr Hall, the Health & Safety Director at Peninsula, a leading consultancy in this field, stresses the significance of an employer’s duty of care to their employees, irrespective of the location they are working in.

He states, “An employer’s duty of care and the requirements to ensure the health and safety at work of their employees applies wherever those employees are working.”

What about remote workers’ safety?

This duty extends to various work settings beyond traditional offices. Just as employers have responsibilities for remote workers, they are also accountable for service engineers, home care staff, and individuals who drive as part of their job. Hall notes that while these workers operate without direct supervision, employers must undertake a risk assessment to identify potential hazards and take reasonable steps to mitigate those risks.

“Employees must be adequately trained and fully comprehend their roles and responsibilities, including the do’s and don’ts,” Hall adds. Additionally, employees should be aware of whom to contact for guidance and assistance when facing concerns and uncertainties.

Although criminal offences such as theft, robbery, and targeted attacks fall under the jurisdiction of law enforcement agencies, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) expects employers to evaluate the potential risks of such incidents occurring when employees work away from the company’s premises.

For instance, in the case of delivery drivers frequently transporting high-value goods, employers might be expected to provide emergency alarm systems, protective gear, security-enhanced vehicles, and even escort vehicles. These precautions could significantly enhance the safety of workers who often find themselves working in potentially vulnerable situations.

The recent tragedy underscores the critical importance of ensuring the safety and well-being of employees, even when they operate outside the conventional office environment. The incident serves as a sobering reminder of the need for employers to prioritise robust safety measures for their road-based workforce.

 

 

 

 

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Amelia Brand is the Editor for HRreview, and host of the HR in Review podcast series. With a Master’s degree in Legal and Political Theory, her particular interests within HR include employment law, DE&I, and wellbeing within the workplace. Prior to working with HRreview, Amelia was Sub-Editor of a magazine, and Editor of the Environmental Justice Project at University College London, writing and overseeing articles into UCL’s weekly newsletter. Her previous academic work has focused on philosophy, politics and law, with a special focus on how artificial intelligence will feature in the future.