25th February 2019
How not to manage reversing HGVs….
In a recent interesting case, a manufacturing company has been prosecuted by the HSE in connection with a vehicle collision, even though no workers were injured.
A visiting tanker collided with a fork lift truck (FLT) at the premises of a manufacturing company. At the time of the accident the tanker was reversing into the discharge bay at the site. Luckily no one was injured during the incident but it still came to the HSE’s attention and resulted in an investigation.
HSE Inspectors visited the site and found that there were insufficient measures in place to control workplace transport activities, especially reversing vehicles. Further to this, the HSE identified that the company did not have sufficient safety measures in place to segregate reversing vehicles or pedestrians. There were site rules in place which stated that reversing manoeuvres were to be supervised, but they were not being enforced. Given that workplace transport remains one of the leading causes of fatal accidents, HSE decided to prosecute the business who pleaded guilty to breaching the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 and was fined £60,000.
There is no point having policies and procedures in place if they are not going to be enforced. Management must enforce site rules, e.g. supervision of reversing vehicles, use of Banksmen, one-way systems, speed restriction, the wearing of high visibility clothing, etc. at all times in order for them to be effective.
If you have CCTV make use of it to monitor the safety of vehicles and pedestrians. Make a point of regularly checking your recordings, as well as using it to investigate accidents, ensure you take action and keep records of such when any non-conformances have been identified.
What could they have done better?
The easiest way to avoid accidents with reversing HGVs is to put a stop to it completely, e.g. with a one-way system. Where this is impossible however, always use a trained banksman to supervise and control the procedure.
The banksman’s duties are not particularly complicated but they can be dangerous if not carried out by a competent individual. Anyone carrying out the task must be suitably trained, including appropriate instruction and guidance where to stand, what hand signals to use and how to clear the route. A banksman must wear high visibility clothing and be able to see the driver at all times.
All drivers visiting the site must be made to sign in on arrival and be informed to stop movement immediately if they lose sight of your banksman.
Ensure that wherever possible vehicles and pedestrians are segregated with physical measures. As a manufacturer receiving regular deliveries by HGVs and with both fork lift trucks and pedestrians on site, it was clearly unacceptable for the company not to control the risks of vehicle movements. If you could be in a similar position, review your workplace transport arrangements.