Every year, a significant number of people are killed or seriously injured by accidents involving vehicles in the workplace. In the waste sector specifically, pedestrians being struck by moving vehicles account for 30% of all sector fatalities in 2020. There are particular challenges faced by the waste industry with regard to managing the flow of vehicles and pedestrians at the site – especially in tipping and sorting areas and while marshalling or banking vehicles and mobile plants.
As far as possible, it is important to keep moving vehicles and mobile plants away from pedestrians. Think about how your site is organised and how staff navigate to work stations either from the site gates or from changing rooms, offices and break areas. If possible make sure that these routes are kept separate from areas where vehicles are operating. If the main bulk of traffic movement occurs in a central yard and tipping area route the pedestrian traffic to picking lines and work stations along the periphery of the site. You might find that there are underutilised routes here intended for fire escape with access doors leading into work areas – these routes should be clearly marked (e.g. line painted). If pedestrian traffic must cross a vehicle access route then consider a line painted pedestrian crossing and additional signage. There will be some areas where site staff must share the same space as vehicles and mobile plants e.g. marshalling vehicles in and out of a tipping bay or tipping area and then while floor sorting a tipped load ready for the shredder. It is imperative that the pedestrian and the vehicle are kept well separated here two. Make sure that both the pedestrian and any site staff operating mobile plant understand to keep at least 2m between themselves where this distance can not be maintained for periods of time then the vehicles should be brought to a stop. Provide a hard barriered safe zone for your floor sorter / banksman to stand in between tasks – this should be situated away from the main vehicles’ movement e.g. in the corner of a warehouse. Finally, when customers tip into an open area or a bay that is open to site vehicle movement, all vehicle / mobile plant movement in that area should cease if they are required to exit their van or lorry to tip a load. Where possible consider line marking tipping zones or reorganising the site to allow customers to tip in a segregated area away from site vehicles of mobile plant.
Nearly a quarter of all deaths involving vehicles at work occur while vehicles are reversing. Many reversing accidents that don’t result in injury, cause costly damage to machinery, equipment and buildings.
The simplest way of preventing reversing accidents is to make reversing unnecessary. A one-way system with drive-through tipping areas will achieve this.
On sites where this is not possible:
- Special reversing areas should be clearly defined and drivers directed to this area with signage.
- Staff who do not need to be in reversing areas should keep well clear.
- All vehicles fitted with reversing alarms or flashing warning lights should be properly maintained to make sure they are always in working order.
- Physical stops, such as barriers or buffers are a good way to prevent large vehicles from reversing beyond certain points.
3. BANKSMAN/ WATCHMAN
In many cases a trained signaller (called a banksman) will be needed to keep the reversing area free of customers and other staff and to guide drivers. Signallers are always at risk because they must work close to moving vehicles. Only properly trained signallers should be used and if a driver loses sight of a signaller they should stop the vehicle immediately.
A signaller should:
- use a clear system of signalling, agreed with the driver before starting.
- be visible to drivers at all times (be seen in the driver’s mirrors).
- stand in a safe position where they can guide the reversing vehicle without being in its way wearing highly visible clothing, such as reflective or fluorescent vests.
If the reversing space is suitable, and the driver is familiar with the site, then a watchman may be sufficient to ensure other pedestrians remain clear of the area.
It is important for both ambient lighting levels in your merchant and vehicle-specific lighting to be adequate for maneuvering, loading and unloading, taking into account changing seasons.
Properly used signage can improve customer and staff safety and that of visiting drivers.
- Direct visiting drivers towards safe loading/unloading areas and towards one-way systems.
- Provide a site speed limit to slow traffic movement.
6. MAINTENANCE OF VEHICLES
Delivery vehicles and forklift trucks should be subject to regular maintenance so they remain mechanically sound. It is also important that daily pre-use checks are conducted.
7. TRAINING AND FITNESS TO DRIVE
Every driver needs to carry a licence for the particular type of vehicle to be driven. Drivers should never be under the influence of alcohol or drugs (including prescription medication) that may cause drowsiness. Drivers should never operate a mobile phone or any other portable audio device whilst driving.
8. TIME SEPARATION
Transport safety at your merchant will vary depending on time of day and season. In addition to physical separation of moving vehicles and pedestrians, consideration should also be given to time separation i.e. restricting deliveries, loading, unloading and forklift truck maneuvers to the quietest times, where possible.
At Southalls, we have spent over a decade working with many waste/recycling sites across the UK, advising on-site safety and drafting risk assessments to cover key H&S hazards. For further advice on health and safety solutions, please book your complimentary call with the specialist below.