- ManagersPlan loading and unloading to minimise work at height.
Supervise safe systems and use of access equipment.
- Vehicle buyersAvoid the need to work at height by choosing ground based controls.
Insist on slip resistant surfaces.
- WorkersDon't jump off vehicles. Always use steps and handholds.
Follow safe systems of work.
Report missing or damaged equipment.
Access to vehicle
You need to think about how and why people access the vehicle. Access will be needed to the cab, to the load area and to the fifth wheel during normal operations such as loading/unloading and for maintenance or cleaning. Don’t forget access is also needed to specialist equipment such as the upper platform of double-decker trailers and lorry-mounted cranes. Look at how people get on and off the vehicle, especially during loading and unloading.
Get help from the workers who use the vehicle – they know how the job is really done and normally have good ideas about how to make it safer and more efficient.
There are some basic principles for working at height, and they apply equally to working at height on a vehicle. In law, work at height means ‘work in any place where a person could fall a distance likely to cause personal injury if no precautions are taken’. It includes getting on and off a vehicle trailer or climbing into or out of a lorry cab. Although some people might not regard work below average head height as ‘work at height’, the law requires people to consider falls from any height where someone could be injured, including falls from trailers or the tops of vans. In fact, most of the injuries reported to HSE resulting from falls from vehicles are from a fall from below head height. The most common area of the vehicle for people to fall from is the load area, followed by the cab access steps and fifth wheel catwalk – you don’t have to fall far to land hard.
You must think in terms of a hierarchy of controls:
- plan to avoid work at height where you can;
- where you can’t, make sure you use work equipment to prevent falls:
- first choice – vehicle-based systems;
- second choice – on-site systems;
- where the risk of a fall can’t be eliminated, use work equipment to minimise the distance and consequences of a fall;
- always consider measures that protect everyone at risk (eg platforms and guardrails) before measures that only protect the individual (eg safety harness).