Vehicles are used in many different industries, from buses to cars to forklifts to tractors. They are used to carry goods and equipment to different locations, move workers and to transport the public.
From the smallest taxi cab to the forklift to the large industrial crane to the delivery lorry, workplace vehicles all have their own specific purposes.
Whenever you use a vehicle as part of your job, it is crucial to consider vehicle safety. A vehicle accident is often very serious and there is the possibility of serious injury or even death. Also, the financial loss of damage to vehicles and equipment is very significant. It is the moral and legal responsibility of all employers to protect their employees and members of the public from the relevant dangers of using vehicles in the workplace.
In their construction site safety training courses, managers and supervisors will learn how to perform a risk assessment and identify the specific risks involved in using particular types of vehicles in the workplace. This will involve asking important questions such as, “how are vehicles used?”, “Where do they come in contact with pedestrians?” and “What training is required for employees to be able to drive such vehicles?” They will also learn how to create a custom health and safety plan to ensure the proper use of all workplace vehicles.
Who is at Risk?
It is not just the driver of a vehicle who is at risk. It is also all employees, visitors and contractors within the workplace who could potentially be at risk if measures are not taken to separate vehicles and pedestrians. Also, any members of the public could be at risk when work vehicles are used on the open road.
Follow Good Practices When Using Vehicles at Work
There are a few basic good practices that should be followed when working with vehicles. First of all, the vehicle itself should be regularly maintained and safe. It also should have been designed for its purpose, as it is unsafe to use a vehicle in a way that was not its intended purpose. Regular inspection is crucial and will help to prevent failures during use. Make sure that special attention is paid to the steering, brakes, tyres, mirrors and warning devices such as horns, lights or reversing alarms.
Also, whoever is using the vehicle should have the appropriate license, qualifications and training. This training should be provided by an approved body and should be kept current and updated. Before every shift, a driver should perform an inspection of their vehicle and should check their lights, tyres and indicators. All drivers will need training on how to carry out a thorough check and what to look for, as well as how to report their problems. Some employers give their drivers a check sheet of what to look for, so that they are reminded of every pointer.
When employees are working around highways and vehicles, they should always be wearing high visibility clothing. These employees should be aware of their surroundings and should be instructed on the proper health and safety considerations they need to keep in mind.
Also, risks can be involved when “retrofitting” or modifying a vehicle. Special care should be taken so as not to weaken the body structure or the chassis. When modifying the vehicle, take into consideration the structure of the vehicle and seek the approval of the original manufacturer. Also, avoid sensitive areas on the vehicle, such as fuel tanks.
Safe Manoeuvring Tips
One of the biggest risks of injury or death comes from when a vehicle is being manoeuvred and it accidentally collides with a worker, such as a truck reversing and inadvertently running over an employee. This risk can be avoided by following safe manoeuvring practices, such as the following:
- Never place items in the windscreen area or in the way of the mirrors, as they can decrease visibility.
- Windows and mirrors should always be kept clean and in good repair, so that they will not obscure the driver’s view.
- Understand the visibility limitations of the vehicle (such as blind spots that can’t be seen from the cab) and compensate for them.
- Compact dumper vehicles and lift trucks can have issues with forward visibility when they are transporting large loads. Keep these risks in mind and think of ways to minimise them.
- One of the most dangerous situations is when a vehicle is reversing. If it is possible, avoid reversing at all. However, if the situation requires the vehicle to reverse, someone should have the role of directing the vehicle with approved standard hand signals.
- One way to compensate for blind spots on a vehicle is to use CCTV. Due to improved technology, these systems are cheaper and more reliable than ever before. The amount of accidents that CCTV can prevent will make the cost of the installation worth it.
- If you are using CCTV, the contrast on the monitor should be adjustable so that the driver can compensate for different light conditions. Also, the monitor might need to be shielded from glare. The camera should be fitted high up at the rear of the vehicle, so that it provides a large field of vision, will not be affected by dust and spray and will not be a target for vandals and thieves.
- Some vehicles can also use a radar system to sense when they are about to collide with an object when reversing.
- Reversing alarms can also be used on vehicles, but keep in mind that these alarms do not work for those who are hearing impaired. Also, since these alarms are heard so commonly on work sites, many people have started to tune them out and ignore them.
Driving vehicles in the workplace, whether it is a large tractor or a bus, can be a health and safety risk. Making sure that drivers have the right health and safety training and following the correct procedures means that you will avoid a possible serious accident.