Jan 10thJohn Bassett
With the focus on Health & Safety (and in particular Working at Height) forever creeping up the average truck operator's risk assessment agenda `Biglorryblog` has been impressed by recent efforts being taken to stop a driver become a 'free fall guy'---especially off the back of a rigid. Having successfully developed its removable, easy-to-erect from ground-level tensioned post and wire system for Ainscough Crane Hire's STGO trailers, Tinsely Special Products has been indundated with calls from operators of smaller vehicles wanting a similar system. And this is what they've come up with. You can read all about it in the next 'Safety First' feature by yours truly in a forthcoming edition of Commercial Motor. In addition to being easy-to-assemble you can leave an opening for a forklift on either side of the load platform whilst still keeping the wires tensioned around the rest of the body. It can be fitted to big rigids too and regular 2.5m wide trailers.
According to the Health and Safety Executive
(HSE) – the most common area of a vehicle for people to fall from is the load area. And for drivers who regularly climb up onto a flat trailer or rigid truck with a flatbed body – the risks are obvious. The ‘unfenced’ nature of a flat means it’s easy to go over the side: one unguarded step backward and you’re in free-fall. Indeed, the HSE information leaflet Preventing slips, trips and falls from vehicles insists: “Workers should never have their back to the edge of the trailer if they’re within one metre of it.
You should never walk backwards on a trailer.”Unfortunately, most drivers end up on the back of a truck or trailer out of necessity, usually when directing loading or unloading, or when securing a load. However, the HSE is adamant that when there’s no alternative to working at height, operators must make sure they use work equipment to prevent falls. And where the risk of a fall can’t be eliminated, it adds: “Use work equipment to minimise the distance and consequences of a fall.” In particular it says: “…always consider measures that protect everyone at risk (e.g. platforms and guardrails) before measures that only protect the individual (e.g. a
safety harness).” In other words, you should aim to prevent a fall, not mitigate one.The Work at Height Regulations 2005 apply to everyone working at height where there is a risk of a fall liable to cause personal injury. The regulations place duties on “employers, the self-employed, and any person who controls the work of others (e.g. facilities managers or building owners who may contract others to work at height) to the extent they control the work”. Poor control may result in action from the HSE or local authorities. Fines of up to £20,000 can be imposed for breaches of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974, with unlimited fines and possibly imprisonment if cases are heard in higher courts. Directors and managers can also face prosecution as individuals if their acts or omissions led to the offence. HSE and local authority inspectors will look closely at all work activities that cause most harm – so acting to control such risks will help you avoid falling foul of the law. The HSE also says: “Revocation of your operator’s licence is also a possibility when health and safety offences come to the attention of the Traffic Commissioner.”
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