New drive to make workplace safer

With 22 people killed in vehicle-related accidents at work last year, the Health and Safety Authority (HSA) has launched a campaign targeting businesses’ transport operations and vehicles at work.

The two-week nationwide inspection and awareness campaign will see HSA inspectors targeting transport and logistics companies, manufacturing premises, waste and recycling facilities, distribution centres, and warehousing centres.

The HSA pointed out that over the last six years, just under half (45%) of all reported work-related fatalities involved vehicles.

“In 2017 alone, 22 people were killed in vehicle-related accidents at work,” it said.

Accident statistics show that the majority of vehicle-related deaths at work occurred during the manoeuvring, reversing or coupling and uncoupling of vehicles.

Approximately 20% of all non-fatal injuries reported to the HSA every year involve vehicles. This accounts for nearly 1,000 injuries from the transport sector alone, resulting in substantial losses to businesses. 

These injuries generally occurred during delivery and collection operations and particularly during the manual handling of loads or as the result of falls from vehicles.

Deirdre Sinnott, senior inspector with the HSA, said the risks can be reduced by focusing on key areas.

“Employers should recognise vehicle accidents as a real threat to their business,” she said. 

They should put in place a vehicle risk management policy that covers all vehicle-related activities in the workplace. This includes not only vehicles operated by employees but also vehicles visiting their premises; for example, routine deliveries and collections.

“It is vital that procedures are developed and put in place to eliminate and control known risks associated with driving for work, loading and unloading, deliveries and collections, parking, reversing and manoeuvring.

"Once these written procedures are in place they should be communicated clearly to all employees, contractors and visiting drivers in the workplace.”

HSA inspectors will also be providing information and making employers aware of resources available to help them reduce the likelihood of accidents involving vehicles in their businesses.

Free, short online courses, aimed at helping employers manage work-related vehicle safety are available on the HSA portal hsalearning.ie.

Freely available guidance and resources on managing priority vehicle risks can be found at loadsafe.ie and at vehiclesatwork.ie.

During the month of May, the HSA is delivering regional Transport and Logistics Safety seminars which are free to attend. To book a place, log onto hsa.ie.

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