A vehicle is a workplace and falls under the definition of premises in Section 1 of the OHS Act. ‘Premises’, includes any building, vehicle, vessel or aircraft. This in turn means that all vehicles are not just roadworthy, as required under the road traffic regulations (RTA Section 49 (d)), but safe in every respect.

In the event of incident, the onus is on employers to adopt the following:

  • Disprove negligence – for example, a daily startup checklist is evidence to counter negligence
  • All reasonable precautions have been taken to avoid it – driver training is attention to safety standards
  • This includes the observance of any recognised codes of practice, even those that have not been formally incorporated into statute law – written policies backed by standard operating procedures are a safety antidote that the business leadership must enforce.

  • Case study example

    A driver seatbelt is reported – in writing – to be non-functional where the inertia-reel mechanism has failed. No action is taken to repair the seatbelt. The vehicle is involved in a collision that results in personal injury to the driver who can now institute a claim under the OHS act for safety negligence at a workstation.

    National Road Traffic Act Sec 49 (c) requires an operator to exercise proper control over drivers.

    The top and best practice protocol is zero alcohol within company’s employment conditions. Employers should introduce alcohol testing as part of standard policies and procedures as part of the employment contract.

    In the event of any road crash incident where there is an injury the employer must investigate and report this to the under the OHS Act to the Department of Labour.

    There are three risks to employers:

  • Vicarious liability in terms of civil law
  • Under COIDA (Compensation for Occupational Injuries and Diseases Act 130 of 1993) – where you lose you-change to your indemnity and are sued under the OHS Act
  • Under the OHS Act the CEO can be held liable - the OHS Act is not an issue that rests with the company transport proxy – it goes to the highest level, the managing director.