It goes without saying, that most workers are exposed to risk from vehicles every single day. When employers fail to manage transport risks the consequences can be disastrous. Clearly, serious injuries and even death are probable outcomes from incidents, and the affect and impact this will have on all involved and their families. Consider also the impact on your business from losing contracts, or from large fines, personal injury claims and business interruption. Of course, all incidents will also damage employee morale and reduce their confidence in their employer taking safety responsibilities seriously.

Latest HSE figures show that transport fatalities are responsible for around one fifth of all fatal accidents in the UK workplace, and RIDDOR statistics show an average of 61 transport fatalities each year since 1999, as well as over 2,150 ‘specified injuries’. These injuries are usually serious and life-changing, so it is both a moral and statutory obligation to ensure we manage transport activities in a compliant and safe manner.

Workplace Transport Safety in recent news:

Recently, The Health & Safety Executive investigated and prosecuted Wilson James Ltd., whereby they found there was a failure to identify and manage the risks associated with reversing vehicles.

The Case facts:
Whilst parts of the BBC Worldwide Offices site underwent redevelopment, other areas remained in occupation. Traffic marshals had been employed by the company to assist in vehicle movements across the site.

The accident occurred when a 26-tonne waste lorry was reversing into a loading bay. Tragically, it struck and killed a person employed as a traffic marshal, Mr Kiril Karadzhov.

Wilson James Limited pleaded guilty to a breach of Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 (HSW), was fined £850,000 and instructed to pay £11,750 in costs.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector Fu Lee said: “This tragic incident led to the avoidable death of a young man. This death could easily have been prevented if his employer had acted to identify and manage the risks involved, and to put a safe system of work in place. The dangers associated with reversing vehicles are well known and a wealth of advice and guidance is freely available from HSE and other organisations”.

Essential measures you should be putting in place to avoid a similar tragedy:

  1. Risk assessments are fundamental to begin controlling the risks. Be sure these are site and operational-specific – generic Risk Assessments will not necessarily control risks specific to your site and activities. Always complete Risk Assessments and the resulting Safe Systems of Work in consultation with the employee, train out the information to employees and record accordingly.
  2. Ideally, employers should ensure they adopt a method of eliminating or controlling reversing risks such as one-way systems, or the provision of turning areas. Traffic controllers/marshals should only be used as a last resort when there is no other practicable method, and provided refuge points or safe places to escape to in an emergency.
  3. If employees are made responsible for directing vehicles, we must ensure they are competent to do this. Attending a Traffic Marshall/controller training course is a minimum. However, attending/completing the training doesn’t guarantee competence and employees must monitor traffic activities to ensure that they are putting the theory into practice.
  4. A trained traffic controller/marshal is important, but don’t forget the drivers who form the other side of the equation. Visiting drivers may well be unfamiliar with your site, but when drivers operate unaware of your site rules and without knowing how they must work in conjunction with traffic control then this can prove fatal. How are you communicating this essential information to visiting drivers? Do you provide written information in advance? Ensuring the drivers understand the rules upon their arrival can prevent confusion or poor communication.
  5. High visibility clothing, high viz flags or batons are essential. All such equipment must be periodically checked to ensure it is in a clean and serviceable condition, and spare equipment should always be kept readily available – it may be required at short notice.
  6. Is it possible to install vehicle safety aids such as all-round cameras? It is always worthwhile encouraging the owners of any visiting vehicles to also consider this.

In all discussions we have with individuals and organisations, they all agree that prevention is better than cure. So what do you need to do to prevent incidents which involves traffic movements, especially where pedestrians and vehicles or mobile plant have to access the same areas?

Contact us to find out how we can help you take the next step to HSE compliance and continual improvement.