Fork lift trucks are a popular commodity for a lot of businesses, and it is often the case that they are driven in areas where people are working. In recent months we have seen several prosecutions relating to workplace transport and this simply reiterates the importance of ensuring you manage the workplace transport on your site.
- A poultry producer has been fined £866,650 after a forklift truck driver reversed into a yardman. The yardman sustained serious injuries and his left leg had to be amputated above the knee.
- A company was fined £150,000 after a delivery driver was hit by a reversing vehicle as he carried out a pre-use check on his lorry.
- A courier company was fined £120,000 after an agency worker was hit and run over by a forklift truck. The worker sustained injuries to both legs.
- A cast iron bar manufacturer was fined £100,000 after an employee was struck by a forklift truck and sustained a fractured leg.
In all these cases the court has commented on the inadequacy of the risk assessments and safe systems of work in place relating to workplace transport. They could all have been avoided if basic precautions had been put in place.
There are three key areas to consider when assessing the risk on your site:
- safe site (design and activity)
- safe vehicle
- safe driver
The best way to keep people safe is to segregate vehicles and pedestrians. The most effective way to do this is to provide separate pedestrian and vehicle traffic routes. It might be that complete segregation is not possible, so clearly marked pedestrian and vehicle traffic routes using measures such as barriers and signs, would be a suitable alternative.
Reducing vehicle speed is an important part of workplace transport safety. Fixed traffic control measures can reduce vehicle speed and speed limits can also be used, but they need to be appropriate and properly enforced.
Every workplace should have suitable and sufficient lighting.
Around a quarter of all deaths involving vehicles at work occur as a result of reversing so reducing the need for reversing on site is important. Where it is necessary, trained banksmen should be used.
To minimise the risks to those involved in loading and unloading, the loading area should be clear of traffic and people not involved in the activity and segregated from other work areas.
Vehicles used in the workplace should be suitable for the purpose for which they are used. Warning devices should be fitted, so they stand out to pedestrians.
Vehicles should be maintained in good working order, so they remain mechanically sound. Regular inspections play a vital role in this. Drivers should carry out daily checks.
Drivers should be trained, competent and fit to operate a vehicle safely and receive appropriate information, instruction and training for the vehicle they use. Drivers must use all safety features, in particularly seat belts, at all times regardless of the duration of the task. We have seen a number of fatalities involving fork lift trucks due to the driver not wearing a seat belt. If a belt is fitted and not worn the HSE will prosecute on the basis of a failure to manage your employees.
By Rachel Cuff CMIOSH – Risk Consultant