The risks associated with allowing employees to freely walk on foot through areas used by work vehicles are readily apparent, and there is a large amount of guidance available for employers on how these risks can be effectively managed.
However many employers are still choosing to put the health and safety of their employees at risk by failing to put adequate safety precautions in place to segregate pedestrians and vehicles.
Unfortunately, these failings all too often result in serious and life-changing injuries to employees, and sometimes even fatalities.
In one case recently reported by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), a worker at a waste recycling site received serious injuries after coming into contact with a telehandler.
He was working walking along the roadway between the warehouse and sorting shed when he was run over by a reversing telehandler. He sustained multiple fractures including four breaks to his left leg.
An investigation by the HSE found that measures in place to protect employees on foot from the risks associated with moving vehicles were inadequate. In particular, there was a lack of physical measures, like pedestrian walkways, while the management arrangements in place were not sufficient to control vehicle movements.
The company pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2 (1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 and was fined £35,000 and ordered to pay £1,852 in costs.
“The fatal injury rate in the waste industry is around 15 times greater than the all industry average and the biggest cause is workplace transport,” commented HSE inspector Chris Lucas.
“This incident could so easily have resulted in yet another death and could have been prevented by the company implementing simple measures, such as the pedestrian walkways which it put in place afterwards,” he added. “This should serve as a lesson to others in the waste industry about how they should effectively control workplace transport risks to prevent others being seriously injured or killed.”
In another incident investigated by the HSE, a worker tragically lost her life after being crushed between two vehicles
She worked for a skip hire company and had been trying to remove some overhanging waste when she was fatally crushed between her lorry and the bucket of a shovel loader while it was being loaded.
Again, the HSE found that the company had failed to implement and follow systems and site rules for loading operations at the site, which resulted in a failure to suitably segregate pedestrians and vehicles.
“This was a tragic and wholly avoidable incident, caused by the failure to ensure that basic site controls and rules were being managed and enforced, such that pedestrians were not at risk from these large vehicles working in the area,” said HSE Inspector Mark Austin, speaking after the hearing.
If you have been injured at work and would like to find out more about claiming compensation then contact our specialist personal injury lawyers today.