This article is a simplified guide to the Health and Safety Executive's (HSE) document on preventing falls from vehicles, coded as INDG413(rev1). The document provides advice for workers on how to avoid injuries from falling off vehicles, a common incident that results in over 2000 serious injuries reported to HSE each year. The goal of this guide is to make this vital information more accessible to everyone.
Getting on and off the vehicle
The document provides a list of dos and don'ts when getting on and off a vehicle. Here are the main points:
- Don't jump down from the vehicle as it's bad for your knees and increases the likelihood of falling.
- Always use steps and handholds if provided.
- Take a few seconds to climb down from the cab, load area or catwalk facing the vehicle and use the handhold.
- Report missing or damaged equipment.
- Before stepping off the vehicle, check for uneven surfaces such as potholes or kerbs which may cause you to slip.
Keeping your vehicle safe
It's important to keep your vehicle safe and tidy to prevent falls. Here are some suggestions:
- Carry out pre-use checks on your vehicle, such as checking if any steps or handholds are in good condition.
- Report broken boards and any other objects that could cause a fall.
- Keep the load area tidy by picking up loose ropes, packaging, etc.
- Check that the straps are safely stored on curtainsiders to prevent tripping.
- Clean up spills and dirt such as diesel or mud on the catwalk or load area to prevent slipping.
- On refrigerated vehicles, check the floor conditions for ice or water and follow any systems in place for reducing the amount of water produced.
How you can work safely
The document provides several tips on how workers can work safely on vehicles:
- Wear well-fitting, slip-resistant safety footwear when working on vehicles.
- Keep the soles of your footwear clean to reduce the risk of slipping.
- Follow safe systems of work for loading and unloading vehicles.
- Make sure you have been trained in and follow the company’s safe ways of working if you have to use equipment such as tail-lifts or lorry loader cranes.
- Use safe ways of getting on or off the vehicle when carrying out maintenance above ground level, for example by using gantries or tower scaffolds.
- Look at what other companies do – if you see a good idea suggest it to your safety adviser or supervisor.
What your employer should do
The HSE document also outlines what employers should do to prevent falls from vehicles:
- Plan loading and unloading to avoid the need to work at height on the vehicle.
- Ask for good, well-designed access when purchasing vehicles.
- Retro-fit equipment if necessary.
- Provide protective equipment such as slip-resistant safety footwear.
- Keep equipment in good order.
- Respond to ideas for preventing falls from vehicles.
- Make sure supervisors check how people are getting on and off vehicles.
Preventing falls from vehicles is a serious matter that requires the attention of both workers and employers. By following the advice in the HSE document INDG413(rev1), we can all contribute to making workplaces safer. Remember, safety is everyone's responsibility.