Loading onto vehicles safely

Accident Investigation

A forklift operator working at a landscaping company was killed when the lorry he was loading onto drove away and the lift truck tipped over.

  • The forklift operator was loading pallets of gravel onto an HGV lorry
  • The HGV driver thought he heard the operator tell him to “move off”
  • The lorry pulled forward but the forklift was still loading a pallet at the time
  • The forklift tipped and was dragged 30 feet with the operator trapped inside

The company has since made changes to the way HGVs are loaded. Concrete blocks are put in place to ensure lorries cannot move; HGV drivers hand over their keys to the forklift driver until loading is complete; and the layout of the yard has been changed to create more space.

Read the full story here.

Working with other drivers

Whether the HGV delivery drivers are part of your workforce or are visiting, they must be clear on the procedures for safe loading tasks.

Putting a Safe System of Work into place for loading and unloading vehicles such as lorries will reduce the risk of miscommunication and errors that can lead to accidents like the one outlined above.

For example:

  • Use a key control system – lorry drivers must surrender their keys during the loading process.
  • Provide a waiting area for lorry drivers separate from the loading area – which also reduces the risk of them getting too close to the loading operation as a pedestrian and being hit by a falling load. Ideally allow them to see the lorry being loaded to ensure it is safe (it will be their responsibility once they leave your premises).
  • Physically stop the lorry from moving by placing blocks or chocks in front of the wheel and only removing them when loading is finished.
  • Ensure that traffic routes for vehicles are defined, which clearly marked loading bays.

What can you do?

Regular assessments of your operations will highlight potential dangers and flawed processes. Why not start with a Site Safety Checklist, which helps you identify things like vehicle and load hazards.

There are also a range of Risk Assessment documents available here.

Why not follow the steps in our Safer Site Pro guide? It offers practical resources and tips to enhance on-site safety and encourage best practice. Get started here

You and the law

When thinking about risk assessments, the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 also states:

■ a hazard is anything that may cause harm, such as striking pedestrians, other vehicles and structures; loss of stability; falling loads; falling from the carrier if someone is being lifted; or being crushed;

■ the risk is the chance, high or low, that somebody could be harmed by these and other hazards, together with an indication of how serious the harm could be.

The Approved Code of Practice for fork truck operations — Rider-operated lift trucks: Operator training and safe use (L117) advises:

“Think about the safe movement of lift trucks and loads as part of your overall safety policy for people, plant and equipment. Reduce risks at points where lift trucks might meet other traffic or pedestrians, including areas where lift trucks load and unload other vehicles. This risk assessment should form the basis of a safe system of work, and you should take account of the extra risk when planning lifting operations.”

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