August 24, 2015

Steering safety in the right direction

Every year, there are over 5000 accidents involving transport in the workplace.

About 50 of these result in people being killed, according to HSE statistics. The main causes of injury are people falling off vehicles, or being struck or crushed by them.

Workplace transport is any activity involving vehicles used in a workplace. Vehicles driven on public roads are excluded, except where the vehicle is being loaded or unloaded on a public road adjacent to a workplace.

We often take traffic movement around our work premises for granted with no particular cause for concern or preventive measure in place.

However, the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 places a general duty on all employers to ensure so far as is reasonably practicable, the health, safety and welfare at work of all their employees.

Employers also have a similar general duty towards persons not in their employment that may be affected by what they do.

Employees themselves have duties under this Act to take reasonable care for the health and safety of themselves and of others who may be affected by their acts and omissions at work. They must also co-operate with their employer so far as is necessary to enable any statutory duties to be complied with.

Risk assessment is the cornerstone of effective management and traffic management is no different.

The risks to the health and safety of employees to which they are exposed while at work must be identified and brought to their attention.

In relation to transport it is vital that all activities have been adequately assessed and control measures put in place to identify and reduce risks.

Failure to comply with the duties laid down in the Health and Safety at Work Act and/or any specific regulation made under it can give rise to unlimited fines and/or a prison sentence.

As previously mentioned, workplace transport is responsible for a considerable number of accidents and deaths every year

Case Study

An 18 tonne lorry that was trying to reverse into the store’s delivery yard struck a pedestrian. She suffered serious injuries to both legs and to her right arm. Her left leg later had to be amputated.

The following text is offered to advise on potential traffic hazards in the workplace.  This list is not exhaustive and it may be that your workplace has other hazards that have to be considered..

The three key areas to consider when conducting a workplace transport risk assessment are:

Site safety:

  • Because they are likely to be unfamiliar with the workplace, keep visitors and other non-familiar people away from vehicular traffic.
  • Can you provide separate pedestrian and vehicle traffic?  If no, pedestrian and traffic routes must be clearly marked and entrances and exits should be separate.  The use of signs that follow the Highway Code are recommended.
  • The use of barriers should be considered at crossing points.
  • Initiating a one way traffic system will reduce the need for drivers to reverse vehicles, which is a main contributor to workplace traffic accidents.  When vehicles have to be reversed, install reversing alarms and flashing beacons and always use a banksman.
  • Visibility; consider things such as installing mirrors at blind bends.
  • Speed; consider having low speed restrictions in place, enforced by speed humps, rumble strips etc..
  • Any parking areas provided for vehicles must be clearly marked and parking outwith these areas must be discouraged.
  • Loading/unloading areas should be clear of traffic and people not involved in the process
  • To avoid overturning, traffic routes should avoid uneven surfaces and sharp bends

Vehicle safety

  • Vehicles must be suitable for the purpose they are being used for.
  • Vehicles being used predominantly indoors should not give of dangerous emissions e.g. use battery powered vehicles.
  • Make vehicles as conspicuous as possible by using flashing beacons, reversing alarms and choosing brightly coloured vehicles.
  • Vehicles must be maintained in good working order by competent people and records kept of this.  Daily safety checks by drivers to an agreed checklist should be a mandatory part of work activities.

Driver safety

  • Drivers must be competent to operate the vehicles the use.  This includes formal training with refresher training as recommended by professional bodies.  All training should be kept in an employee’s personnel file.  Fork Lift Truck operators require specialist training including refresher training at regular intervals.
  • Drivers must be fit to operate the vehicles they use and the DVLA should be consulted for up to date information on this.
  • Make sure that if you use contractors that they are properly qualified to operate the vehicles you expect them to use.

If you need further Health & Safety advice, you can contact us or take a look at our employer resources.

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About the author

Eamon Griffin