Workplace Transport in the Manufacturing Sector
In this article, Angelica Rutherford-Hacon discusses the topic of workplace transport within the manufacturing sector and how the risks of using it can be managed.
Workplace transport in manufacturing sometimes receives less focus than other health and safety matters, such as guarding machinery. Looking at the Health and Safety Executive Statistics year on year, many fatal and serious injuries occur from overlooked workplace transport arrangements, some occurring in the manufacturing and engineering sectors. I know only too well having been a former HM Specialist Inspector of H&S and an Expert on behalf of the Crown that such avoidable accidents often arrived on my desk to forensically analyse. Such accidents occurred resulting from vehicle/pedestrian collisions and in particular a lack of arrangements to ensure that vehicles and pedestrians could circulate in a safe manner.
As part of the risk assessment process, duty holders should regularly review if their control measures identified in their workplace transport risk assessments and traffic management plans are robust and fit for purpose. In devising such documentation, it is always sensible to split any analysis into three sections to focus on the safe site, safe vehicle, and safe driver. Often, I would find that arrangements and control measures put in place had not been physically tested at the workplace to ensure all potential hazards had been properly identified and control measures implemented.
Areas for scrutiny and consideration should prioritise vehicles and pedestrians segregated by sufficient distance to facilitate them to move past each other safely with good sightlines for both drivers and pedestrians. Good practice comprises the installation of pedestrian routes highlighted by means of yellow line-markings or physical barriers etc. where appropriate, along with suitable crossing points.
Any blind spot areas need to be identified and solutions such as convex mirrors installed to assist both pedestrians and drivers where doors open out onto traffic routes. A typical topic of contention is reversing. Where possible the need for reversing should be eliminated or reduced as low as reasonably practicable. One-way systems can eliminate reversing although this is not always possible. Where banksmen or reversing assistants are utilised these employees should be trained in such matters and use hand signals in accordance with Health and Safety (Safety Signs and Signals) Regulations 1996.
Suitable and sufficient signage in accordance with these regulations also needs to be provided around the yard etc. to warn employees of workplace transport hazards. Often with workplace transport risks lower down the hierarchy of control such as the mandatory wearing of Hi-Viz to facilitate pedestrians being seen more easily by drivers can be implemented, along with checking that lighting levels are appropriate.
Ensuring that the condition and maintenance of all vehicles are properly maintained and their warning devices/mirrors/reversing cameras etc. used at the workplace extends to all vehicles such as company cars, vans, rigid vehicles, articulated lorries, forklift trucks and plant etc.
Competent qualified drivers and their behaviours are important when considering speed limits, the lower the speed limit combined with physical deterrents e.g., speed bumps, CCTV checking and discipline policies, then the greater the chance of speeding will be kept to a minimum and braking distances will be much less and safer. Remember walking speeds for pedestrians are in the order of 3-4 mph. Do you have a drugs and alcohol policy and randomly check your driver’s fitness in accordance with workplace transport policies? Such matters should also be contemplated. There is so much to consider and every workplace will have its own quirky features given the physical layout of traffic routes.
Therefore, it is essential to ensure that your workplace transport arrangements are robust at your manufacturing sites. Here at Finch Consulting, we have experts in workplace transport matters who can assist organisations in all aspects of this topic. We can find solutions tailored to your particular needs, whether it is reviewing your current arrangements and control measures, assisting with enforcement action or just providing you with a second opinion.
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