Monday, 22 October 2012

Workplace Transport Safety

Vehicles in the workplace account for a number of deaths every year, with many more people obtaining injuries too. Even at low speeds, vehicles can damage people, objects and property so making sure your vehicles are used in a safe way can hopefully avoid most of these incidents.
 By law, employers have a general duty to ensure that the health & safety of their employees and members of the public are not put at risk as a result of their day to day work. This duty also applies to your employees, who must look after their own health & safety as well as that of others. Of course, to do this with 100% success, you would not have any vehicles in the business, which is totally counter productive, hence why you often come across the term “reasonably practicable”. This means the cost, time and effort you incur implementing controls must be sensible compared to the gain in safety. For example, locking all your vehicles in garages is cheap to do and increases safety, but the time incurred is then not practicable for you to run the business. 
As with most areas of health & safety, work activities involving vehicles will need to be risk assessed. As an employer, you are required by law to do this, and once done, it will form part of your overall Health & Safety management within the business. Over a period of time such as a week, aim to identify work activities involving vehicles. These could include: 
• Staff arriving into any vehicle yard/car park• Loading and unloading
• Multiple vehicle movement
• Bad weather
• Maintenance
• Arrival and departure
• Clients and visitors to your premises.

You then need to decide the risks and hazards that can be associated with the identifi ed activities. These could include:

• Are customers, workers, etc. kept clear of vehicle routes or do they have to walk across a traffi c route to get into your premises?
• Are your vehicles safe and maintained?
• How are deliveries and collections handled?
• Do you have certain speed restrictions in place in your premises?
• Are safe systems of work in place for any loading or unloading?
• Have you identifi ed potentially safer or less hazardous traffic routes for your vehicles?

This then enables your risk assessment to be formed. You can then monitor it and keep it up to date as and when anything signifi cant changes. Of course, each site will be different and present its own unique hazards. Simple things such as having clear signage or a clearly marked pedestrian route will go a long way to keeping you clear of any incidents. Many companies with a vehicle yard or car park initiate a simple yet effective one way system to design out reversing an awkward vehicle, and those that are unable to do this may take the step of using another person or ‘banksman’ to guide any moving vehicles on or off the premises.

This is also where your employees become a vital part of the jigsaw, and every driver you have, especially any younger or less experienced drivers, should have the need to work in a responsible and safe manner thoroughly explained to them. It is also advisable to have a company traffic management arrangement within your health and safety policy and staff handbooks. Your drivers should be capable of operating any vehicles safely and they should get appropriate training and guidance in the fi rst instance. Cascading responsibility down to your managers is a good way of ensuring that this good practice spreads throughout the business, and it enables more people to check each others competencies to undertake tasks.
With regards to your vehicles within the business, you will need to check the competency of new employees and also continually ensure the competence of existing employees. This can be done through a mentoring or buddy system, or a good training programme for example. Your training requirements can be drawn from your risk assessment, but generally you will fi nd that new employees may have the greatest training needs for their new environment and an ongoing refresher programme is a good system to have. Some good things to have within your training programme are: 
• General vehicle checks to undertake before their use• Safe working procedures
• How to report any risks/accidents/near misses
• If any lone working is to be done
• Potential for disciplinary action if any deliberate breaches occur
• The ability to record any training that is done.

Essentially, all employees, contractors, visitors, etc. must understand their roles and responsibilities within your health & safety management system. Don’t go overboard, but display the correct signage, have up to date risk assessments and establish a robust accident reporting procedure as key elements of your management systems. Encourage good communication amongst your staff and ask them to inform their managers if they find any problems or concerns with your vehicles. Taking these steps and others should help you to reduce the risk element within the business to a manageable level.

Additional Support from Citation plc

Citation clients have the support of its Helpline that can be contacted 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, every day of the year to give advice on handling cases around Employment Law and Health & Safety.
Contact Citation plc on 0845 844 1111 for additional support on this topic.
Citation plc is the industry leading expert in protecting the employer in all aspects of Personnel, Employment Law and Health & Safety.

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