Work zone awareness – site vehicle safety
Early April marked the beginning of Work Zone Awareness week, an initiative that holds a lot of weight given the number of preventable accidents that still occur despite our knowledge of construction site risks.
The Health and Safety Executive reports that there are on average around seven deaths and 93 serious injuries every year caused by accidents involving a worker and either a vehicle or mobile equipment.
On a typical construction site you may find any one or all of the following:
- Lift trucks
- Site dumpers
With planning and good site management, these vehicles and plant shouldn’t have to present a danger to those operating or working around them.
Here are some of the ways the Health and Safety Executive advise on managing the risks:
Reducing the number of vehicles
Think of how chaotic a busy car park can be. Imagine a similar scenario without the level tarmac, bigger vehicles, and ongoing construction work and you get an idea of how a chaotic environment can become dangerous.
Planning to ensure that only vehicles that are needed at any one time otherwise remain off site can help minimise the chaos and the risks.
- If there are vehicles making material or other deliveries, have a designated area which doesn’t involve them having the cross the site unless necessary.
- Have a control system in place to ensure all vehicle access is monitored.
- Create a separate car park for your workforce’s own vehicles that is removed from the site.
Only people qualified to operate or even signal should do so. You can ensure this competency at the hiring stage whether you’re recruiting permanent staff or contractors, and keeping all training up to date to facilitate safer operations.
Have a strict policy in place around accessing vehicles, and monitor their use to prevent any workers who are inexperienced from taking the wheel or control panel.
Manoeuvre around the risks
The Health and Safety Executive reports that reversing accidents account for nearly a quarter of all deaths involving vehicles at work. You can reduce the risk drastically by taking the need to reverse out of the equation altogether, by establishing one-way systems, or even installing a turning circle.
Hi-visibility clothing for pedestrians on site, reversing alarms (if this is unavoidable), appointed signallers, mirrors and well-lit routes will all contribute to the overall visibility of those on the ground and behind the wheel.