When it comes to workplace transport accidents, loading bays are among the most dangerous areas to work in the UK.

According to the UK’s Health and Safety Executive (HSE), the three most dangerous forms of workplace transport are: the forklift truck, the long goods vehicle (LGV) and the heavy goods vehicle (HGV).

It should therefore come as no surprise that loading or unloading bays, where all three of these vehicles come together – often alongside multiple workers on foot – are a major scene of workplace accidents, serious injuries and deaths.

Every year, HSE statistics show there are over 5,000 accidents involving transport in the workplace, and approximately 50 of these result in death. The main causes of injury are vehicles overturning, or workers falling from or being struck or crushed by vehicles.

These tragedies are often avoidable with the implementation of simple procedural and/ or structural site changes.

A massive 57% of all workers who are injured by forklift trucks were on foot at the time of the accident.

Degloving injuries, where skin is literally peeled off, can occur, and when a forklift truck, for example, collides with human bone, the truck will not just break the bone, it will forcibly shatter it into pieces in such a way that it is often unlikely to be repairable.

Segregating pedestrians from vehicles, preferably by making routes entirely separate, is the most effective way of protecting your employees from workplace transport accidents.

Effective segregation includes keeping vehicles away from pedestrian areas, and vice versa, with clear markings and signs to set vehicle and pedestrian routes apart.

Others measures include raised kerbs and protective barriers or guard rails.

In addition, supervisors should consider:

  • Excluding pedestrians from loading areas where practicable
  • Enforcing speed limits for trucks working near pedestrians
  • Implementing one-way systems to reduce the need for vehicles to reverse
  • Prohibiting the use of mobile phones and personal stereos
  • Using signallers to direct and supervise vehicle movements in loading areas
  • Establishing waiting areas for lorry drivers

Risk assessment

By law, every employer must control the risks in their workplace.

Monitor your loading and unloading activities involving vehicles (including visiting vehicles) over a reasonable period to build up a clear picture of vehicle and pedestrian traffic movements.

Visibility and speed are often important factors in vehicle collisions, so consider the use of loading bay lighting, mirrors, speed humps, rumble strips or implementing an appropriate and consistent speed limit for all vehicles on site.

As an example, Metsä Wood has four sites in the UK specialising in wood processing and production and employing 200 forklift truck operators.

Its improvements have involved fitting LED lights to aid illumination, introducing front and rear blue spotlights on fork lift trucks to warn pedestrians of their approach, implementing a 10mph speed limit and having a training programme.

In a few short months, their incident rate dropped sharply.

The FLTA operates a Safe User Group, a special form of membership for forklift truck end users that includes continual operational support and a help and advice hotline.

FLTA awards for excellence reward innovation

The FLTa’s annual Awards for Excellence shines a spotlight on the most original and imaginative new mechanical handling solutions produced around the world.

This year the Awards showcased some powerful, heavy duty, long load materials handling vehicles suited to the mechanical lifting demands of the timber industry.

The 2016 Award for Innovation was won by Cavaion Baumann UK, which provides Metsä Wood and other timber companies with diesel, LPG and electric sideloaders that handle long and bulky loads from 3 to 50 tonnes.

Its new GX Series Sideloader ‘Archimedes’ Outreach System grabbed the award for its newly patented Archimedes screw, a worm gear outreach system, which helps prevent transverse movements and eliminate unnecessary stresses, increasing lifting accuracy, speed of operations and vehicle lifespan.

Combilift was a finalist in the category for its new patent-pending Straddle Forklift designed to handle a 25-ton truckload of long load in one lift.