The growing safety issue of Grey Fleet is a legal grey area in Australia. So the question for business owners and employers is ‘do I take a head in the sand approach and hope for the best, or do I look at my Grey Fleet legal risk and make sure I’m keeping my people safe?’ Research being released today can help.
‘Grey Fleet: Legal Implications for Businesses’ looks at the legal status of Grey Fleet in Australia and the legal risks the issue poses for any Australian business that operates Grey Fleet.
The research also examines how Grey Fleet relates to other legal provisions, like Chain of Responsibility and workers’ compensation, that impact the transport industry and includes case studies illustrating some real-world difficulties and issues around Grey Fleet and legal liability.
While Grey Fleet essentially has no legal status in Australian law – no legislation refers to it and the concept has never been tested in court – work health and safety legislation does raise the spectre of an employer being held liable for an employee’s injuries if they were using their own vehicle for work purposes at the time.
“My research suggests that even without any specific legislation it could be the case that if an injured person has enough incentive to bring a claim, there might be a legal basis for them to do so,” explains legal academic and lawyer Associate Professor Tania Leiman, who prepared the research.
“Business owners and operators need to think about how they are relying on employees to use their own vehicle for work purposes.
“Changes in the nature and type of work, increased private ownership of vehicles, and the blurring of issues around ‘are you a full time employee, are you casual, are you a contractor, am I expecting you to use your own vehicle?’ – all of those things have changed the use of vehicles in the context of employment and so these issues arise now more than they probably would have in the past.
“The most important thing to take away from this research is that it helps employers identify potential risks. They need to realise the potential extent of those risks, and they will have to make informed decisions about how they manage those risks.
“This research can help in both assessing and managing the risks Grey Fleet usage might pose for them.”
Grey Fleet is any vehicle used for work not directly provided by the organisation that employs the driver. That includes personal vehicles, all forms of leases and client vehicles, and applies whether workers are reimbursed for expenses associated with work use or not.
Relatively new in Australia, the term Grey Fleet originated in the U.K., where almost half (40%) of work vehicles are Grey Fleet and the estimated size of the Grey Fleet is 14 million vehicles.
No statistics exist for the size of the Australian Grey Fleet but Safe Work Australia statistics on work-related traumatic injury fatalities show two-thirds of worker fatalities involve vehicles; it’s highly likely a significant percentage of those involved Grey Fleet. A vehicle used for work purposes is considered a workplace in Australia and employers are legally obliged to ensure the health and safety of their workers.
You will find ‘Grey Fleet: Legal implications for businesses’ in the related resource pack below: