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Managing Vehicle Risk

There is no doubt that road users are the biggest single cause of road crashes and other vehicle-related deaths and injuries. However employers must also ensure that ALL vehicles used for work-related journeys and in the workplace are:

  • Safe.
  • Right for the job.
  • Driven safely.
  • Accessed safely.
  • Regularly maintained, repaired and inspected.

This includes employee's own vehicles that are used for work-related journeys.

This page has the following sections:


Safe vehicles

By law, every employer must:

  • Ensure that work equipment (which includes vehicles) is suitable for its purpose.
  • Take account of the working conditions.
  • Assess the risks to the health and safety of using chosen work equipment.

The specification for a workplace vehicle should include answers to these questions:

'Do your drivers carry out regular vehicle checks? In a recent survey over a third of drivers aged 18-25 have never checked their tread depth.'

  • Does the driver have good all-round visibility?
  • What warning systems (such as horns and lights) are fitted?
  • Are the seat belts and restraints safe and comfortable and do they meet the needs of the job?
  • What safeguards will prevent people from coming into contact with dangerous parts of the vehicle such as power take-offs, chain drives, exposed hot exhaust pipes?
  • Can drivers get in and out safely and easily?
  • What protection is there from bad weather, extremes of temperature, dirt, dust and fumes?
  • Is there a way to prevent injury if the vehicle overturns? For example, roll protection, operator restraints or falling object protection?
  • Is there a way to prevent the vehicle from moving? For example, by applying brakes and removing the keys?
  • Is the vehicle bright enough to be seen?
  • Do the vehicle lights provide enough light for the driver to work?

 

The design of vehicles used on public roads has to meet specific legal standards, set out in the Road Vehicles (Construction and Use) Regulations. The overall standard of vehicles used in workplaces should be at least as good as for public roads. There are some specific supply standards dealing with mobile plant in the workplace (for example, lift trucks).


The right vehicle for the job

Employers must ensure that vehicles can do the job that is required of them. Vehicles should be stable, whatever job they are doing.

The specification when choosing a workplace vehicle should include answers to the following questions:

  • What are the dimensions of the load it will carry (length, height, weight, width)?
  • How will loads be secured?
  • How far will the vehicle travel?
  • What terrain will the vehicle be driven on?
  • In what conditions will the vehicle be used (e.g. in a confined space where perhaps an electric model may be more suitable)?
  • Will it be used in extremes of heat or cold? Will this affect the operation of the vehicle and/or the driver’s ability to control the vehicle?

Inspection, maintenance and repair

By law, every employer must make sure that work equipment is maintained in an efficient state, in efficient working order and in good repair.

Inspection

Daily checks: Drivers should check fluid levels, tyres, lights and indicators at the start of every shift. They will need instruction or training on carrying out appropriate checks and reporting problems. Employers should give drivers a list of daily checks to sign off for their vehicles.

Planned maintenance

Regular preventive maintenance inspections may be based on time or mileage. Each vehicle used whether purchased or hired should come with a handbook giving manufacturer's guidance on regular maintenance.

Planned maintenance helps to prevent failures during use. It should be thorough, regular and frequent enough to meet the manufacturer's guidelines and common sense. Pay special attention to:

  • Brakes.
  • Steering.
  • Tyres.
  • Mirrors and any fittings that allow the driver to see clearly (for example, CCTV cameras).
  • Windscreen washers and wipers.
  • Warning devices (e.g. horns, reversing alarms or lights).
  • Ladders, steps, or walkways.
  • Pipes, pneumatic or hydraulic hoses, rams, outriggers, lifting systems or other moving parts or systems.
  • Specific safety systems (e.g. control interlocks to prevent the vehicle or its equipment from moving unintentionally, racking, securing points for ropes).

Safety precautions when maintaining vehicles

  • Apply brakes.
  • Chock wheels.
  • Start engine with brakes on and in neutral gear.
  • Prop or support raised parts.
  • Use a tyre-cage or other restraining device when inflating tyres on split-rim wheels.
  • Remove tyres from wheels before welding, cutting or heating work begins on a wheel or wheel rim fitted with a tyre, even if the tyre is deflated.
  • Beware of the risk of explosion when draining and repairing fuel tanks, and from battery gases. Never drain or fill fuel tanks when the equipment is hot or in a confined space, or over a pit.
  • Avoid short-circuiting batteries. Charge batteries should be charged in well-ventilated areas. Suitable personal protective equipment should be provided and used for handling battery acid.
  • Make sure that maintenance staff cannot breathe asbestos dust from brake and clutch lining pads.
  • Only allow people who have received the relevant information, instruction and training to do maintenance work.

Retrofitting

Fitting further features to existing vehicles ('retrofitting') needs careful planning and must not significantly weaken the chassis or body structure.

Do not consider drilling holes in the chassis and welding to it without the approval of the original manufacturer.

Retrofitting should also take account of the structure of the vehicle. For example, avoid sensitive points such as fuel tanks or restricting the operation of airbags.

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