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Injuries From Vehicles In the Workplace Reach Tipping Point?

Forklift truck
17th December 2013
As the busiest season of the year for deliveries begins in earnest, the risk of a serious injury related to a vehicle in the workplace is sure to increase. Incidents involving heavy items falling from a vehicle when the back doors are opened or the canvas sheeting is unfastened can often be everyday occurrences, yet are a cause of major non-fatal injuries and often find their way onto accident claims.

According to RIDDOR (Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations) a total of 205 accidents involving moving vehicles was reported between 2011 and 2012.

However, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), state that during the same period, nearly 500 (or 2 per cent - RIDDOR) of non-fatal injuries involving workplace vehicles were reported, a quarter of which, were classified as major incidents.

Inevitably, some industries where vehicles are in heavy use can potentially pose more of a serious risk than other sectors. The three specified occupations with the highest number of vehicle injuries were elementary storage occupations (530 non-fatal injuries) refuse and salvage occupations (93) and large goods vehicle drivers (91).

Between 2011 and 2012, water supply, sewerage and waste management was the most risk prone industry sector, with the highest rates of vehicle injury (51.1 per 100 000 employees) involving 41 major injuries, a further 66 ‘over-3-day’ injuries and 3, which were fatal.

While Transport and Storage recorded 46.3 per 100 000 employee injuries, the total number of vehicle injuries was nearly 550. Wholesale and Retail fared better with only 10.8 per 100 000 employee injuries but still registering nearly 120 vehicle injuries. Construction registered the least number of injuries with 8.8 per 100 000 employee injuries compared to 114 actual vehicle injuries.

It’s estimated that as many as 4 in 10 of accidents involve heavy duty tipper lorries in a workplace environment when protective tarpaulins are removed and the loose contents (chippings, aggregate, waste, etc) are exposed and in uncontrolled movement as they are deposited on site.

According to the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974, employers must ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the wellbeing of their staff members within the workplace.

Risk assessment and accident prevention should involve essential examination of the lorry contents to determine safe vehicle load, provision of suitable equipment for cover removal or application, checking whether drivers or other staff need to access the top of the vehicle and ensuring the workforce is sufficiently trained and competent to carry out the necessary duties.