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Workplace Transport Deaths and Injuries Rising

25 March 2008

Norwich Union Risk Services (NURS) claim that workplace transport deaths and injuries are rising because employers are failing to carry out risk assessments and provide proper staff training.

According to the latest figures from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), fatal workplace transport accidents went up by almost a third last year - 50 in 2006/7 compared to 38 in 2005/6. Such incidents also accounted for almost 4,000 major injuries over the past two years in the UK.

NURS highlighted research carried out by the Health and Safety Laboratory (HSL) which showed that over a quarter (28%) of firms had never carried out a risk assessment of their workplace transport operations.

In addition, the HSL study revealed that 26% had failed to provide any training for their workplace transport operators. Employers in agriculture and construction were the worst for not offering training - 65% and 32% respectively.

NURS training and consultancy manager, John Phillips, said there was a "clear link" between this lack of risk assessments and training, and incidents resulting in workplace transport deaths and major injuries.

"There have been numerous prosecutions brought by the HSE recently which could have easily been avoided if proper training had been given and adequate risk assessments carried out," said John.

'Recurring theme'

Once such case involved Silvery Tweed Cereals Ltd of Berwick-uponTweed, which was fined £20,000 and ordered to pay costs of £5,397 at Berwick Magistrates' Court in June last year after one of its workers was left permanently paralysed.

Steven Rogers, aged 29 of Berwick, sustained serious injuries after a "downgrade bin" which he was attempting to empty fell from the forks of a forklift truck and pinned him to the ground.

The company pleaded guilty to breaches of both the Health and Safety at Work Act and the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations. HSE inspectors told the court that the company had failed to ensure that all of their operators received adequate forklift truck training.

"We've seen similar incidents involving delivery drivers, construction vehicles and tractors, all with this recurring theme of unsuitable assessments and training," said John. "Employers need to get their act together to ensure they're complying with the law, and aren't negligently putting people's lives at risk."

He added: "Another common factor in many of these incidents is poor traffic and site management, something which can be improved dramatically through risk assessment and hazard identification."

'Workplace transport' is a generic term describing vehicles or other types of mobile equipment used in a work setting, including on site delivery vehicles - but not on public roads.

NURS is running a new Workplace Transport training course covering a variety of issues including separation of vehicles and pedestrians, vehicle inspections and driver training. Call 0500 55 99 77 or email for more information.