Accident · Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 · Health and Safety Regulations · Risk Assessment

Driving up Standards – vehicle safety at work

In the news last week there was an article about an Edinburgh company being fined £12,000 after an employee was crushed between a reversing lorry and a loading bay wall. Luckily, although the injuries sustained were significant, the employee did make a recovery.

Vehicles are consistently one of the most common causes of very serious incidents in the workplace
Vehicles are consistently one of the most common causes of very serious incidents in the workplace

A quick scan of the HSE website has revealed 2 further vehicle crushing incidents and a forklift injury that have been brought to court this month alone.

Vehicles are consistently one of the most common causes of very serious incidents in the workplace. Out of approximately 5,000 annual incidents involving vehicles, 50 result in fatalities. Also, the HSE estimates that up to a third of all road traffic accidents involve people who were driving in connection with their work at the time.

In this post we’re going to look at a simple framework that can be used to identify the hazards and manage the risks associated with workplace transport. The model looks at three key aspects; safe site, safe vehicle, safe driver. Or, if you would like another way to remember these, think of the 3 P’s of:

  • Place (safe site)
  • Plant (safe vehicle)
  • Person (safe driver)
Place (safe site) Plant (safe vehicle) Person (safe driver)
Are traffic routes…Clearly defined?Obstruction free?Well lit?Free of blind spots?Smooth, even surface?Speed restrictions?

One way only?

Segregated from pedestrian areas?

Is the vehicle…The right one for the job?Maintained in good condition?Fitted with reversing alarms?Fitted with mirrors/CCTV to aid visibility?Fitted with a roll over protection system (ROPS) and/or a falling objects protection system (FOPS)?Secured against unauthorised use? Is the driver…Qualified?Not under the influence of alcohol/drugs/medication?Physically fit?Free of relevenat disabilities (epilepsy, vision issues etc.)?Mature and sensible?

In addition to movement-based factors, non-movement-based factors must also be considered. Some examples:

  • Loading/unloading
  • Sheeting/unsheeting
  • Coupling/uncoupling
  • Maintenance
  • Cleaning

When these factors are considered as part of a risk assessment, the standard 5-step risk assessment model can work as follows:

Identify the hazards Decide who could be harmed, and how Evaluate the risk Record the finding and implement the controls Review and update as necessary
Place (safe site)Plant (safe vehicle)Person (safe driver) DriversBanksmenShop/factory floor staffPassers-byVisitors to site Severity (negligible – catastrophic)Likelihood (impossible – certain) Eric Saves PeopleEliminateReduceIsolateControlSafe Systems of WorkPersonal Protective Equipment When the risk assessment is no longer validSomething changes (staff, equipment, procedures, legislation etc.)

By following some simple and straightforward health and safety management practices, reducing the risk of vehicle-based accidents and incidents does not have to be complicated, expensive, or time –consuming.

For more information read: Vehicle Safety at Work on the HSE’s website

If you would like help or advice on how to manage the risks inherent in the operation of vehicles in work, visit our website.

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