One of the Health and Safety Executives (HSE) “focus on” topics is workplace transport safety. The HSE is concerned that employers are not taking this issue seriously enough and have introduced it as a ‘hot topic’ for enforcement.
Workplace transport incidents account for over 5000 accidents every year of which about 50 of these result in people being killed. The main causes of accidents commonly involve people falling off vehicles, being hit or run over by vehicles such as forklift trucks, cars, lorries, vans and grounds-maintenance equipment. Managers, workers and even members of the public can be at risk when vehicles are moving in the workplace, be it a builders’ suppliers, warehouse, or general manufacturing premises.
Guidance on controlling risks associated with workplace transport has been produced by the HSE which is entitled ‘Workplace Transport Safety – A Brief Guide’ (INDG199 rev2) and is divided into three main key areas:
- Safe site (design and activity)
- Safe vehicle
- Safe driver
Controlling the risks associated with vehicles is of paramount importance and stems from the formulation of a robust risk assessment. Think about whether there is an easier, safer way of doing the job. Your risk assessment must consider all workplace transport activities such as loading and unloading. It will help if you:
Look carefully at all the vehicles and people moving round your workplace
- Mark the traffic and pedestrian movements on a plan so you can see where pedestrians and vehicles interact
- Identify improvements that will reduce the contact between pedestrians and vehicles
- Remember to include less frequent tasks, eg waste skip changes
- Make sure you consider delivery drivers as they are particularly vulnerable
Every workplace must be safe for the people and vehicles using it and workplace traffic routes must be suitable for the people and vehicles using them. Where vehicles and pedestrians share a traffic route, there must be enough separation between them.
- Plan your workplace so that pedestrians are safe from vehicles
- Provide a one-way system if reasonably practicable
- Provide separate routes for pedestrians and vehicles where possible
- Avoid reversing wherever possible
- Provide appropriate crossing points where pedestrians and traffic meet
- Use ‘Highway Code’ signs to indicate vehicle routes, speed limits, pedestrian crossings etc.
- Make sure lighting is adequate where people and vehicles are working
- Make sure road surfaces are firm and even
- Make sure there are safe areas for loading and unloading
- Try to provide separate car parking for visitors as they may not know your site
It should be ensured that:
- Vehicles are suitable for the purpose for which they are used
- Vehicles are maintained in good repair, particularly the braking system, steering, tyres, lights, mirrors and specific safety systems
- The need for people to climb up on vehicles where possible is eliminated, e.g. by providing gauges and controls that are accessible from ground level
- The risk of falling is reduced when people have to climb onto a vehicle or trailer by providing well-constructed ladders, non-slip walkways and guard rails where possible
- Provide reversing aids such as CCTV where appropriate
- Fit rollover protective structures and use seat belts where fitted
Drivers should be competent to operate a vehicle safely and receive appropriate information, instruction and training for the vehicle they use. The drivers training requirements will depend on their experience and the training they have previously received. Your risk assessment should help decide the level and amount of training a person requires.
Therefore it should be ensured that:
- Lift truck operators have received appropriate training
- Lift truck operators are reassessed at regular intervals, e.g. every three to five years, or when new risks arise such as changes to working practices etc.
- Drivers of other vehicles are trained to a similar standard.
- It is ensured that all drivers are supervised (including those visiting the site).