A five figure sum was recently awarded as injury compensation to a delivery driver who suffered head and shoulder injuries following a fall from a work vehicle not fitted with ‘grab’ handles.
When attempting to step down from the cab of a seven-tonne van at the delivery depot, the driver lost his footing and was unable stop himself from falling backwards onto the concrete ground. Unlike other company fleet vehicles he had driven during his ten years working at the same company, there were no safety handles fitted.
The driver, aged 66, was struck in the head by a metal bar as he fell, which required hospital attention to stop the bleeding and stitches to the wound. Surgery was also needed for an injury to his shoulder, which failed to fully heal despite physiotherapy treatment and also meant the driver was no longer able to return to work.
During subsequent investigations the firm initially denied that safety handles were necessary to be fitted to the vehicle. However, it was argued that the handles help drivers to safely and securely enter and leave their cabs and would have prevented the extensive, long term injuries suffered by the claimant.
Under the Health and Safety at Work Etc Act 1974 (HSAW), the two sets of regulations most applicable to falls from vehicles are the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 and the Work at Heights Regulations 2005.
The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 places a duty on employers to assess the potential risks of company operations and, in conjunction with the requirements of HSAW, “to reduce the risks to as low a level as is reasonably practicable.”
Employers are also required to determine where there are risks of falls (from height) from vehicles, which may include, “Accessing and leaving the driver’s cab.”