Every year, there are over 5000 accidents involving transport in the workplace, and sadly, about 50 of these result in people being killed (www.hse.gov.uk/statistics). The main causes of injury are people falling off vehicles, being struck or crushed by them. Even for businesses that do not involve fleets, plant/machinery or other transport within the primary function, workplace transport safety remains relevant as it covers a wide variety of vehicles including cars, vans, large vehicles such as HGV’S, forklift trucks, Plant Machines and tractors.
With the distinct risk of serious injury and death when workplace transport safety is not properly executed, the stakes of getting it right are high. Aside from the human cost of errors, employers could also face corporate manslaughter charges for failures.
What is workplace transport?
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.
Managing workplace transport safety
To manage workplace transport effectively, there are three key areas to consider when carrying out your risk assessment:
- Safe site (design and activity)
- Safe vehicle
- Safe driver
Safe site – design
Every site is different and likely to present different hazards and risks. However, a well-designed and maintained site with suitable segregation of vehicles and people will make workplace transport accidents a alot less likely. The most effective way of ensuring pedestrians and vehicles move safely around a workplace is to provide separate pedestrian and vehicle traffic routes and where possible, implement a one-way system as this will reduce the need for vehicles to reverse, and will help pedestrians and drivers stay safe.
Vehicles used in the workplace should be suitable for the purpose for which they are used and consideration should be given to the working environment in which a specific vehicle will be used and the suitability of that vehicle for the people using it. Vehicles should be maintained in good working order so they remain mechanically sound, and any devices, such as flashing beacons, function properly and vehicles such as lift trucks and those with tail lifts must be thoroughly examined by a competent person and reports kept.
Planned inspections are a vital part of preventive maintenance. These may include daily safety checks carried out by drivers and regular maintenance inspections based on time or mileage.
Drivers should be competent to operate a vehicle safely and receive appropriate information, instruction and training for the vehicle they use and it is particularly important that younger or less experienced drivers are closely monitored following their training to ensure they work safely. Training requirements will depend on an individual’s experience and the training they have previously received, and a risk assessment will help to decide the level and amount of training a person requires. In general, newly recruited drivers have the greatest training needs but there should also be a programme of reassessment for more experienced drivers.
For further information on our guide to workplace transport safety and any other health and safety enquiries, please contact us here.