News | Avoiding vehicle-pedestrian failures

According to Health & Safety Executive (HSE) data, some 70 people are killed and 2,000 seriously injured each year in incidents involving moving vehicles in workplaces.

In the latest damning statistic, a timber firm has been heavily fined after two men walking across a yard were hit by a truck.

Lack of segregation

HSE investigators said the arrangements for segregating vehicles and pedestrians should have been better, since effective precautions weren’t in place for vehicles and pedestrians to move around safely.

The court found:

  • workers were exposed to the ‘risk of harm on a daily basis’
  • the incident was primarily due to the firm’s failure to organise workplace vehicles and pedestrians safely

At the time of the incident there were six to seven lorries, forklift trucks and staff working in the same area. Although the injured men wore high visibility jackets, the driver didn’t seen them due to a ‘massive blind spot’.

The judge said the company fell far short of the required standards to ensure safety. He commented ‘There were serious and systematic failures within the company to address risks to safety’.

Sentence

Palmer Timber Ltd pleaded guilty to breaking the Workplace (Health, Safety & Welfare) Regulations 1992.

It was fined £730,000 and ordered to pay costs of £13,844.

The HSE said reasonably practicable measures should have been in place to allow vehicles and pedestrians to move safely.  

Moving safely   

A significant number of such incidents happen during deliveries and collections when people are at risk from moving vehicles, particularly where HGVs are reversing and lack space.

Three parties are usually involved in delivering goods, the:

  • supplier
  • haulier
  • receiver

It is vital they co-ordinate their activities so that responsibilities are clearly allocated.

Risk assessments and arrangements for moving vehicles should be reviewed. NB: This information must be shared with drivers.

Delivery and/or collection agreements can be via:

  • a formal plan – especially where regular scheduled visits are made
  • an information exchange – when making orders

When exchanging information, it’s important everyone is clear about the type or size of vehicle your site can safely handle.

It can be made compulsory for visiting vehicles above a certain size to have fitted CCTV or other reversing aids, such as additional mirrors or alarms. If a banksman is necessary, it should be clear who’s responsible for providing them (make sure they’re fully trained and competent).

Tips

Everyone needs to be aware of site restrictions and the best approach routes. A provided site plan can show the parking, reception, routes to be taken and loading areas.

Visiting drivers should be told where to park, who to report to, and of the need to wear a high-vis vest. Drivers should also be reminded to use handbrakes – the lack of which has caused many fatalities.

Make sure your site is well lit with sufficient signs and pedestrian segregation in place. If possible, design traffic routes that avoid or reduce the need for reversing.

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