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Workplace transport - risks and hazards

Updated: Mar 7, 2019



If you work in the construction, agricultural or haulage industries, you’re likely to be using heavy vehicles around the workplace. The dangers that these vehicles pose to employees and pedestrians is obvious but it’s not just the big lorries and tractors that are a hazard to those around them. The employer needs to be wary of the risk posed by all workplace transport.

What is workplace transport?

“Workplace transport” means any vehicle or mobile equipment used by employers, employees, contractors or visitors in any work setting. It includes any vehicle used in a work setting; that includes forklift trucks, mobile cranes, mobile plant, large goods vehicles but also vans and cars.

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What does the law say?

Section 2(1) & 3(1) Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 requires "every employer to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health, safety and welfare at work of all his employees." Section 3 (1) includes persons not in his employment who may be affected."

Regulation 3 (of the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999) states:"Every employer shall make a suitable and sufficient assessment of the risks to the health and safety … arising out of or in connection with the conduct by him of his undertaking."

Regulation 17(1) to The Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992 states that “every workplace shall be organised in such a way that pedestrians and vehicles can circulate in a safe manner."


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The consequences

Each year, a significant number of people are killed by accidents involving vehicles in the workplace, and many more are seriously injured.

Of the 144 people killed at work in 2017/18, 26 of them were struck by a moving vehicle.

In 2017, Royal Mail Group was fined £1.6m after a worker acting as yard marshal was seriously injured in a collision with a lorry at a sorting centre in west London.


In 2015, DHL was fined a total of £50,000 and ordered to pay costs of £15,698 after a driver was run over by his own lorry.


In 2018, the operator of a timber supplier in the west Midlands was fined £730,000 after two workers were struck by a vehicle, sustaining serious injuries, in what the HSE described as a "potentially fatal” accident.


In 2016, a fairground company was prosecuted, fined £47,475 and ordered to pay costs of £82,946 after an employee was crushed by an HGV and killed as a funfair was being set up.

In 2018, a farming partnership was fined £100,000 and ordered to pay costs of £7,310 after a farm worker was run over and killed by a tractor in the farmyard.


What are the Employer’s responsibilities?

The question of managing workplace transport is clearly a very serious one, and mishandling it can have catastrophic consequences, both for the business and the employees affected. The employer therefore needs to:

  • assess the site for workplace transport risks,

  • make sure that all rules and regulations in place for the management of workplace transport are enforced and

  • take ‘appropriate action’ if the rules are disregarded.


Who has the responsibility for the site?

Normally, the site operator (or main employer) controls the site and will be responsible for co-ordinating health and safety measures.

Who takes the responsibility for shared premises? Sites where two or more companies share the premises need to co-operate and take all reasonable steps to co-ordinate the measures they take with those of the other companies on site.

Do employees, visitors and contractors have responsibilities?

All employees, visitors and contractors have a legal duty to take care of their own health and safety and others who may be affected. If there’s non-compliance with information, instructions and safety signs in the workplace, action must be taken.

Managing Workplace Transport

The first stage to managing workplace transport involves assessing the risk. This means watching the site at different times of the day and noting the way that vehicles move around, establishing what hazards this creates. Of course, every site is different and will have a range of hazards. Those will include:

  • Pedestrian interface with vehicles

  • Loading, unloading and the securing of loads while in transit

  • Reversing

  • Visibility

  • Parking

  • Public Road or Rail interface

  • Traffic Routes and volume of traffic movements

  • Deliveries, both ad hoc and routine

  • Internal vehicle movements

  • Signs and signals

  • Speed

  • Lifting gear (telehandlers and such like)

  • Contractors


Carrying out a risk assessment means considering all the foreseeable risks on the site. A person who is competent to carry out such assessments will be needed to assess the risks applicable to each site.

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The five steps of a risk assessment

1) Identify hazards, i.e. anything that may cause harm.

2) Decide who may be harmed, and how.

3) Assess the risks and take action.

4) Make a record of the findings.5) Review the risk assessment.


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Improvements

It’s surprising how making small, low cost improvements will often make a big difference, such as:

  • making sure visibility is good – driving round the site to verify if necessary

  • checking lights to make sure they’re in working order

  • filling potholes so vehicles don’t pull out to avoid them

  • ensuring road markings and signs are always clear, and

  • quickly removing obstructions.


A more in-depth look at this subject, written by our H&S Consultant Ed Hodson can be found on the rradarstation.

rradarstation is a resource available through the AXA MLP where policyholders can access rradar’s legal advisory team over the phone or by email and web portal that provides over 1,000 articles, step by step guidance sheets, forms, sample letters and templates to download relating to running a commercial business including commercial issues such as Health and Safety topics.

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