Health & Safety Executive issues wheeled loader safety alert

The Health & Safety Executive has issued a safety notice on the use of wheeled loading shovels, following nine people being run over in the last four years. Six of these incidents have occurred in the waste and recycling sector, with the remainder involved in wood chip.

Some were due to poor forward visibility, largely caused by larger capacity buckets being fitted to some vehicles. Other incidents were due to reversing.

HSE has issues to notice in order to remind dutyholders and users of the machines of the need to properly assess and manage collision risks with pedestrians.

The scope of the problem

Wheeled loading machinery is used largely in the waste and recycling sector. In recent years, it’s become common practice to fit larger capacity buckets when moving lighter material, allowing more to be carried with each load.

However, forward visibility can be seriously impacted for drivers when larger capacity buckets are fitted, causing blind spots and reducing a driver’s ability to see pedestrians and, to a lesser extent, other vehicles. 

Some manufacturers add ‘visibility slots’ or mesh to the top of a bucket to mitigate the problem, but these have been found to be ineffective in practice.

What can employers do?

Regulation 4 of The Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 (PUWER) requires machinery to be suitable for the purpose it’s used for. This also applied to adapted or modified equipment, e.g. larger buckets.

Before using wheeled loaders (or making changes to them), you should review your workplace transport risk assessments to make sure they’re safe to use in your workplace and in the way that you use them.

You should consider:

  • Site safety – have you properly segregated vehicles and pedestrians on your site? Can you review elements like layout, barriers and one-way systems?
  • Vehicle safety – Assess visibility and how appropriate mirrors are. If machines are modified, such as with larger capacity buckets, ensure they meet essential health and safety requirements of the Supply Machinery (Safety) Regulations. Consider what additional aids can be fitted to a modified vehicle to help drivers and protect pedestrians. Demonstrate you’ve adequately controlled risks through your risk assessment.
  • Driver safety – are your drivers trained and competent to drive the vehicles they use? Does your driver safety training include any adjustments made to the vehicle? Do your non-driving staff understand that drivers may be working with limited visibility and to be extra careful when walking on site?

If you’d like further details on the HSE’s safety notice, you can read more here.

How can Citation help?

If you’ve got any questions about how this safety alert might affect your business, or you’d like some support risk assessing your site, vehicle safety and driver safety, you can call our team of Health &  Safety experts 24/7 on 0345 844 4848.

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