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Your guide to workplace vehicles

Forklift trucks in a warehouse

Any injury that involves being hit by a vehicle is almost certain to be serious and, in many cases, life-threatening.

Every year around 1,500 people are seriously injured in accidents involving a workplace vehicle, with many of these accidents occurring during deliveries and collections.          (Health and Safety Executive, 2013/14).  

In most cases, an accident is caused by:

  • A failure to observe strict safety procedures
  • Lack of manned supervision
  • No separation barriers installed as vehicles enter through different doors
  • No supervisor present to alert drivers as to when it is safe to enter the site.

Twice as many people are struck by vehicles moving forward than reversing and a similar number are trapped by a vehicle or its load collapsing or overturning.          (HSE, 2013/14).

A system for deliveries and collections should be organised and strictly enforced to minimise the risk of harm to all staff working in delivery bays and on lorry routes to and from the premises.

Under The Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992, an employer has a legal responsibility to ensure: "Every workplace shall be organised in such a way that pedestrians and vehicles can circulate in a safe manner."

Drivers or other personnel can be unfairly blamed for accidents that could have been prevented if an employer, site manager or duty holder had put the required safety measures in place. These should include a strict procedure for deliveries and collections, and task-specific movements of vehicles.

Accidents involving a workplace vehicle can leave a victim with devastating injuries, a lifelong disability and an uncertain future for dependants.

Your Legal Friend has over 30 years of experience and an in-depth knowledge of workplace law and serious injury compensation. We can provide you with all the expert guidance you will need to help you make your case and secure the best possible settlement. 

Injuries from workplace vehicles

  • One in eight of all fatal workplace injuries were caused by a vehicle in the workplace
  • 2% of non-fatal workplace injuries were caused by a vehicle in the workplace          (Injury reports – RIDDOR, 2013/14)

What is classed as a workplace vehicle?

A workplace vehicle is defined as any vehicle or piece of mobile equipment used in any work environment. This covers a wide range of vehicles, including:

  • Cars, vans, lorries, forklift or lift trucks
  •  Plant vehicles, such as dumper trucks, lorry loaders, excavators, bulldozers, and overhead moving gantries

Falls from workplace vehicles

Falls from vehicles in the workplace are caused by a number of common reasons, including:

  • Lack of handle grips to assist drivers climbing into and out of lorry cabs
  • Inconsistent heights in the gaps between individual access steps leading to driver’s cab
  • Using inappropriate parts of the vehicle as support
  • Slippery surfaces
  • Uneven ladders or walkways
  • Climbing up on top of loads.

Forklift and pallet trucks

The incorrect or negligent use of a forklift or pallet truck can often cause severe crushing injuries to hands, arms, feet and legs. Lack of training can lead to:

  • Inability to work in a limited space
  • Unsafe manoeuvring, including reversing
  • Crush injuries
  • Dropping loads
  • Mechanical faults.

An employer has a legal duty to provide all employees with a safe work environment or system of work. There is an Approved Code of Practice (ACOP), which sets the minimum standard of basic training that an employee should receive before being allowed to operate individual types of fork lift truck.

Workplace traffic routes

Under the Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992, a ‘traffic route’ is defined as ‘a route for pedestrian traffic, vehicles or both’. The Act also includes any stairs, staircase, fixed ladder, doorway, gateway, loading bay or ramp.

A workplace traffic route for workplace vehicles should:

  • Be suitable for the people and vehicles using it and organised so  that they can both move around safely
  • Be suitable for purpose – not uneven, potholed, sloped or slippery
  • Provide sufficient separation between vehicles and pedestrians where they share a traffic route
  • Pose no risk to the health or safety of people working near a traffic route
  • Be kept free from obstructions or objects that may cause anyone to slip, trip or fall
  • Have appropriate markings and signs where necessary

Separating vehicles and people

Effective ways to keep vehicles separate from pedestrian areas include:

  • Clear markings and signs to set vehicle and pedestrian routes apart
  • Raised kerbs to mark vehicle and pedestrian areas
  • Suitable protective barriers or guard rails, particularly at the entrances and exits to buildings and at the corners of buildings
  • Preventing pedestrians from walking straight onto roads, especially from places where they may not be clearly visible to drivers.

Outside contractors and agency workers

The same health and safety standards apply to agency workers and contractors as to permanent company employees.  An employer or site operator will need to ensure the contractor is given the appropriate health and safety information on:

  • Workplace layout
  • Routes to be used
  • Vehicles and equipment on site
  • Risks from the activities on site and the controls put in place to mitigate these
  • Other people on site, such as other contractors or visiting drivers.

Injury caused by a workplace vehicle - do I have a claim?

Under The Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992, your employer has a legal responsibility and duty of care in the workplace to try to ensure. 

  • All staff and vehicles are separated by barriers or a safe distance
  • The need for a vehicle to reverse is minimised
  • Falls from vehicles are reduced.

If your employer has been negligent and you have suffered an injury as a result, then you may have a claim for compensation.

How Your Legal Friend can help you 

Your Legal Friend has over 30 years of experience in helping clients who have suffered an accident at work.

Our in-depth knowledge of workplace law and injury compensation can provide you with all the expert guidance you will need to help you succeed in making your claim. 

We can:

  • help you with medical treatment, rehabilitation and your return to work
  • ensure care and support services are available for the most serious injuries
  • advise you on how to claim for DWP benefits to help you along the way
  • skilfully manage your compensation claim to include:
    • payment for the pain and suffering caused by your injury
    • any financial losses you’ve incurred already, such as lost wages, travel and medical expenses
    • any expenses you may need in the future.

Talk to us today

For an informal, confidential chat with one of expert personal injury solicitors, call us now on 0808 301 7535 (calls free from landlines and mobiles). Or just complete the 'Start a new claim’ option on the right and we'll call you straight back.