Delivery Vehicles – A New Approach To Safety

Devon and Cornwall county councils are taking part in a new campaign launched by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) to reduce the number of people killed or injured by delivery vehicles in the two counties. Three people died in 2007-08 and 219 people were seriously injured by moving vehicles in their workplace between 2004 and 2008 in the region. To highlight the dangers, the HSE and local authorities are holding safety awareness events for local businesses and are urging lorry drivers to fit reversing aids to vehicles such as CCTV cameras.

A key aspect of transport safety and employers’ legal duties is making sure that sites are safe by keeping vehicles and people apart and segregating them so that both can move around safely. The HSE are encouraging businesses to look at safety measures such as having clearly marked traffic routes, barriers, appropriate crossing points and even speed bumps to control the flow of traffic in confined yards.

The HSE also wants businesses to look very carefully at loading and unloading points. Not only do workers have to dodge the hazards of delivery vehicles in these areas, but they also have to consider the risks presented by fork lift trucks and other problems such as unstable loads in transit. It is here that the majority of these types of accidents take place, often because the workers operating machinery such as fork lift trucks have insufficient safety training or are poorly trained in the operation of these vehicles. The rush to offload delivery vehicles as quickly as possible also tends to lead to ‘corners being cut’ and basic safety protocol being ignored. All of these situations present the opportunity for preventable accidents to happen, and the subsequent compensation claims that result from such injuries.

The HSE is trying to drive home the point that workplaces need clear and easily understood (as well as enforceable) rules and procedures so that everyone working in the vicinity understands exactly what is expected of them. These rules about how vehicles and people move about a confined area move about safely to underpin the physical precautions put in place. The HSE also feels that clear rules need to be put in place as to who exactly can operate machinery such as fork lifts.

It’s not just those offloading delivery vehicles that the HSE is targeting in this campaign. They are also highlighting the dangers to delivery drivers themselves, who, because of the terrain of the region, often find themselves having to manoeuvre large vehicles into very narrow roads and having to attempt difficult reversing procedures. The larger the vehicle, the larger the ‘blindspots’ in the driver’s mirror, and the HSE is trying to highlight the risk of crushing injuries to pedestrians moving around a large reversing vehicle.

And the campaign seems to be working. One large haulage operator in the South West has reported that since they had fitted reversing cameras to their vehicles, the number of traffic collisions that the fleet’s vehicles had been involved in had been cut in half. Not only had it potentially saved lives and reduced injuries, but this one decision to fit cameras had also saved the company a considerable amount of money by reducing insurance premiums, cutting down on compensation claims and reducing the damage to its fleet vehicles.

By highlighting the risks, the HSE and the local authorities have made businesses in the region more aware of the potential hazards faced every day by delivery drivers and personnel. Protecting their safety in what can be a very hazardous environment, where time, profit and a quick ‘turn around’ are of utmost importance, means that businesses can still operate to maximum efficiency without putting their worker’s lives at risk. For that, the HSE is to be applauded and it is hoped that this campaign will gain national recognition over the course of the next few months.

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