H&S is considered by many drivers as an interference, but most of it is not. But understanding what is expected of you in this respect is useful for a driver to know.

Every driver involved in haulage is exposed to significant hazards arising simply from the day-to-day activities of their job.

According to government statistics, every year, several employees are killed and nearly a thousand are seriously injured in the haulage simply by doing their job.

Many more suffered injuries severe enough to keep them off work more than three days. According to the Health and Safety Executive, H&S is seen by many people as too much paperwork, red tape, expense and boring rules and regulations that are difficult to understand and stop you running your business easily.

Even if you don’t think this way, many people in business believe that because they have had few or no accidents all that is needed is basic common sense and that, in any case, most common accidents these days are unavoidable.

Relying on people to use their common sense works fine until something does go wrong. When that means someone gets killed or seriously injured, it can suddenly look a bit of an inadequate approach.

Too many employers live to regret not taking H&S more seriously before an accident, rather than after one of their employees has been badly injured at work.

Controlling H&S risks is not difficult. It can be achieved with a little effort, needn’t cost a lot and doing it right makes good business sense.

If nothing else, there can be benefits from reduced claims for compensation and lower insurance premiums.

Understanding the sorts of things that result in injury and ill health helps you recognise the activities most likely to lead to harm.

Deaths at work

Almost all deaths arise from just four kinds of accident, most often during loading, unloading or maintaining vehicles: They are: being struck by a moving vehicle; falling loads; falls from vehicles and collapsing or overturning vehicles.
Issues such as use of handbrakes, safe positioning of drivers during around fork-lift trucks, propping of vehicles during repair work and climbing on vehicles have to be tackled.

Major injuries

Most injuries (more than seven out of ten) are due to just four causes: They are: slips and trips; being struck by moving or falling objects; falls from less than 2m; and manual handling. Most of these happen during loading, though many slips occur during other work.

Other reportable injuries

Manual handling and slips and trips account for two-thirds of other reportable injuries. Addressing these has the greatest potential for reducing the number of such injuries each year.

Other issues

There are other subjects to consider apart from those causing most of the accidents, such as workshop safety, display screen equipment and maintenance of plant and machinery.

What you need to do

Many accidents a be prevented by examining what actually goes on in your business, removing and controlling hazards as far as possible and taking the necessary steps to make sure what is supposed to happen does happen.
This means looking at what people do at work as well as finding out what controls are needed. You should focus your efforts on practical control and improvements where needed.

Health and safety checklist

Many of the following questions apply to both drivers and others who work at depots and delivery sites. Are you doing enough to make sure that risks at your own site and those your drivers visit are properly controlled?

Workplace transport risks

■ Do drivers have a safe place to wait during loading and unloading and can they get there without passing through areas of vehicle movement?
■ Are security and loading staff made aware of the dangers of moving vehicles?
■ Is reversing minimised? If it is unavoidable, are alternative measures taken, such as use of additional mirrors on vehicles, CCTV or a suitably trained guide?
■ Is therea clear one-way system and are there pedestrian/vehicle routes?
■ Would a driver arriving at a site know where to go, where to park safely and how to make contact with someone at the premises?
■ Do vehicle routes have sharp or blind bends/corners? Are they wide enough and properly maintained? Who plans all this? Who checks all this?
■ Are all FLT drivers trained, certified and regularly monitored?
■ Are all FLTs in good condition?
■ Do all vehicles and trailers have effective parking brakes and are there clear instructions on how and when to apply them?
■ Have you considered alarms that sound if the handbrake is left off?
■ Are all drivers experienced and do you test them to check their competence?
■ Are stabilisers always used when operating lorry-mounted cranes?
■ Do drivers always use trailer parking brakes and not rely on disconnecting the red line?
■ Are tipping vehicle bodies always propped when people work under them or under tilting cabs?

Falls risks

■ Do you know what work at height goes on?
■ Is safe access provided?
■ Are sheeting operations carried out with as little climbing on lorries as possible?
■ Are vehicle transporters fitted with guardrails on the upper deck?
■ Is there an inspection, maintenance and report procedure for all equipment such as ropes, straps, curtains, sheets, nets etc to ensure they are safe to use?
■ Is there safe access to bulk-storage diesel tanks?
■ Are steps fitted for access to the bed of all vehicles and are they used rather than drivers jumping down or climbing up?
■ Are yards well lit, well maintained with an even surface and free of slipping and tripping hazards?
■ Are vehicle, trailer and cab access steps all kept in good condition?

Manual handling risks

■ Have all manual handling tasks been identified and eliminated where possible?
■ For those tasks remaining, have mechanical aids been provided and training carried out?

■ Are there safe means of opening and closing trailer curtains?
■ Are there systems for checking whether a load has shifted in transit and for dealing with bulging loads on curtain-sided vehicles?
■ Are all drivers familiar with safe loading and unloading procedures?
■ Do you and your drivers know what hazards they may be exposed to and what rules they should follow at customer sites?

Legal consequences

Poor control may result in action from HSE or local authorities. Transport risks, falls from height and manual handling are all priority areas for enforcing authorities, and all are common causes of accidents in road haulage. Fines of up to £20,000 can be imposed for breaches of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, with unlimited fines and imprisonment possible if cases are heard in higher courts. Directors
and managers can face prosecution as individuals if their acts or omissions led to the offence.
Remember, revocation of your operating licence is a possibility when offences come to the attention of the Traffic Commissioners.