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Workplace transport: how to avoid fatalities and make your sites safer

In terms of fatal accidents, UK workplaces are far safer than they were. In 2020/21 there were 142 work related deaths (excluding members of the public). 25 of these fatalities were due to being struck by a workplace vehicle.

Workplace transport is also a priority when it comes to enforcement activities from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and Local Authorities.

So, if you have moving vehicles in your workplace – this could be in car parks, loading areas, yards, warehouses, etc – what do you need to do to keep employees and visitors safe, and satisfy the HSE?

The first step is to assess the risks from workplace transport:

  • Think about who might be injured by moving vehicle, where and how. You might find it useful to mark out pedestrian and vehicle movements on a site plan, identifying where they interact.
  • Consider those who might be more at risk – new employees and delivery drivers who are less aware of your operations and possible risks. People with disabilities may require special consideration.
  • Ensure you think about less frequent activities, such as waste skip changing, and one-off activities as these might interact with your day-to-day vehicle and pedestrian movements.
  • Then consider if there is more you need to do to reduce risks further.

There are three elements to consider when making your workplace transport safer.

1. Safe Site

  • Can I plan my workplace to make pedestrians safe?
  • Can I have a one-way system and separate routes for pedestrians and vehicles, with crossing points where pedestrians and traffic meet?
  • Are all areas well-lit and are visual signs clear and in line with the highway code?
  • Is the speed limit safe?
  • Can reversing be avoided and if not, how can I make it as safe as possible?
  • Are loading and unloading carried out in safe areas?
  • Can visitors park in a safe area?

2. Safe Vehicles

  • Are vehicles fit for the purpose they are used for?
  • How can I ensure vehicles are always maintained and in good repair?
  • Can vehicles be provided with reversing aids such as CCTV?
  • Are roll bars fitted and how can I ensure seat belts are worn?

3. Safe Driver

  • How do I ensure my lift truck drivers are trained correctly?
  • Do I need to re-asses lift truck operators and when should this be done?
  • How do I ensure drivers of other vehicles are trained to a similar standard?
  • What do my managers need to know to be able to supervise transport on my site?

There is also the issue of personal protective equipment, which can be used to supplement other control measures. But remember to choose the correct standards of hi-vis and safety footwear.

“There is always a lot to consider when making site transport safe,” Says Ian Dakin, SML Consultant with nearly 20 years of Health and SAfety experience in Logistics, “and even when you have the physical environment right and the safe systems in place, you need to embed the safety behaviours into your culture.”

This is an area SML have expert knowledge and practical experience in. If you need help risk assessing your workplace transport, or designing safety controls, give us a call.

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