Norwich Union Risk Services heightens awareness of the dangers of falls from vehicles

Article date: 15 November 2007

Falls from vehicles represent around one third of workplace transport accidents* warns Norwich Union Risk Services (NURS).

The warning comes as the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) launches a campaign to reduce the number of incidents related to "falls from vehicles" with a website dedicated to providing sound risk management advice.

Slips and falls account for over 27% of all cases reported to the HSE and around 35% of those injured have slipped on vehicle parts.*

Steve Palmer, operations manager, motor for NURS, said: "The vast majority of falls from workplace vehicles are the result of slips and trips, during the loading and unloading of vehicles, or working at height where these actions are being supervised.

"It is the site manager's responsibility to oversee activities involving vehicles on workplace premises, whereas the fleet manager is responsible for procurement and vehicle safety features. Both parties should work together when conducting thorough risk assessments in an attempt to reduce the number of falls from vehicles.

"Drivers have an equal part to play in their own health and safety and that of others, by complying with any safe systems of work developed as a result of the employers risk assessment programme. 

"There are several measures that can be taken to reduce the risk of potential accidents related to falls from vehicles," says Palmer:

  • If access to height is unavoidable, then on-vehicle fall prevention systems such as guard railed platforms and harness systems should be introduced
  • Where on-vehicle solutions are not feasible, fleet managers should provide off-vehicle safe access such as fixed or portable platforms/gantries
  • Adequate supervision is key to ensure fall precautions are actually taken. Loading areas, catwalks and platforms should be cleared of any obstruction. Suitable and sufficient numbers of steps to the cab and load area should be in place and any pot-holes or uneven concrete in gangways, must be repaired
  • Employers should provide drivers with non-slip footwear and ensure that it is used
  • Managers need to enforce a "safety first" culture, including basic housekeeping such as keeping vehicles and their working areas clean and tidy. This will help prevent slips, trips and fall injuries to themselves and other workers
  • Drivers should not jump from vehicles and should take their time when climbing up or down from the cab, load area or catwalk, facing the vehicle using handholds where available
  • Before stepping off the vehicle, avoid landing on areas that are of a higher gradient than flat ground level such as banks and high kerbing systems and avoid uneven services
  • Most importantly, beware of other traffic when inspecting, loading or disembarking vehicles and take extra care in damp, wet and freezing weather conditions, which can increase the chance of a fall, slip or trip
  • High visibility vests or jackets should always be worn by drivers when entering or exiting vehicles and again managers need to ensure this happens.

Failure to take the necessary precautions or any actions resulting in the danger of drivers or employees whilst at work could breach the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974**, Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 and the Provisions and Use of Work equipment Regulations 1998.

-ends-

* www.hse.gov.uk/construction/fallscampaign.htm, Autumn 2007

** www.hse.gov.uk/legislation/hswa.htm 

   www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/indg291.pdf    

   www.hse.gov.uk/lau/lacs/90-3.htm

For further information, please contact:
Jo Rosenberg at Staniforth on 0161 919 8014 or Sally Leeman 01603 684 225/07800 699 670.

Notes to editors:

Norwich Union Risk Services
Norwich Union Risk Services is the specialist risk management division of Norwich Union that is dedicated to helping UK businesses manage their risks in an effective way.

They achieve this through their national team of approximately 180 staff which includes:

  • Risk advisers and specialists - Who visit commercial properties across the UK to help identify risks and recommend dynamic and practical risk management solutions for Norwich Union's insured customers.
  • Safety consultants - Who provide expert health, safety and environmental training and consultancy services.

Norwich Union's news releases and a selection of images are available on the Aviva internet press centre at www.aviva.com/media.

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