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Section 3 - Vehicle selection and suitability

Check that vehicles are safe and suitable for the work for which they are being used

Have suitable vehicles and attachments been selected for the tasks which are actually undertaken?
Do vehicles have good direct visibility or devices for improving vision where reversing cannot be eliminated and where significant risk still remains eg external and side mirrors; vision aids such as CCTV; sensing device?

It is important that drivers are able to see clearly around their vehicle, to allow them to spot hazards and avoid them.

Vehicles should have large enough windscreens (with wipers where necessary) and external mirrors to provide adequate visibility around the vehicle.

Road-going vehicles are fitted with conventional side mirrors, and it is often worthwhile adding extra mirrors to reduce blind spots for drivers. You should consider if the horns, vehicle lights and reflectors are sufficient for your needs.

Closed-circuit television (CCTV) may be appropriate for some vehicles where the driver cannot see clearly behind or around the vehicle.

Operators need to know how to use the equipment properly, and should be trained in using CCTV systems.

Alarms such as radar and other devices that sense nearby obstructions are increasingly being fitted to vehicles as parking aids.

If your risk assessment identifies reversing alarms as a control measure they should be kept in working order.

Planned maintenance is also needed to help prevent failures during use.  You should pay special attention to:

  • mirrors and any fittings that allow the driver to see clearly (for example, CCTV cameras);
  • the windscreen washers and wipers;
  • any safety critical items such as horns or lights;
  • warning devices (for example, reversing alarms).

Are they provided with horns, lights, reflectors, reversing lights and other safety features as necessary?

It is important that drivers are able to see clearly around their vehicles, to allow them to spot hazards and avoid them.

You should consider fitting a horn, vehicle lights, reflectors, reversing lights and possibly other warning devices (for example, rotating beacons or reversing alarms).

For more information see -

Do they have effective service and parking brakes?

Vehicles should have suitable and effective brakes, both for general service and for parking. 

It is important that drivers do not leave Vehicles unless handbrakes applied, engine off, on level ground and any attachments lowered.

Do they have seats and seatbelts where necessary?

Workplace vehicles should have seats and seat belts (or other restraints where necessary) that are safe and comfortable.

Site operators and employers should make sure that proper information is available on where and how seat restraints and other safety equipment should be used.  This could include signs on safety areas and vehicles, clear floor markings and adequate training.

Drivers should be trained to follow safety procedures, wear proper restraints for their safety, and spot dangers and avoid them.

If an employer has taken reasonable steps to monitor and enforce the wearing of restraints where they are appropriate, drivers who do not wear the restraint (or who carry passengers who do not do so) could be prosecuted.

Are there guards to prevent access to dangerous parts of the vehicles, eg power take-offs, chain drives, exposed exhaust pipes?

There need to be guards on dangerous parts of the vehicle (for example, power take-offs (PTO), chain drives, exposed hot exhaust pipes).

Safety equipment may be needed.  For example, guards or skirting plates may be needed if there is a risk of anything being caught in machinery (such as dock levellers or vehicle tail lifts).

The ‘PTO’ , which shifts power from the road wheels to the tipping pump, should never be used if the vehicle is in gear.

Do drivers have protection against bad weather conditions, or against an unpleasant working environment, ie the cold, dirt, dust, fumes and excessive noise and vibration?

Strong winds can be very dangerous during loading.

Dock shelters and dock houses can help to control loading and unloading conditions.  In these arrangements, a vehicle reverses directly up to an opening in the side of the building, where a weather seal is created around the opened end of his vehicle.

You should take care that these shelters do not create their own trapping or machinery hazards.  People using this equipment should be competent to do so safely.  Anything that creates a seal around the back of a goods vehicle can also reduce the amount of communication that takes place between the delivery driver and site workers, which can introduce additional risk.  This should be recognised in your risk assessment.

Vehicles including FLTs should provide protection for drivers from bad weather, or an inhospitable working environment (for example, very high or low temperatures, dirt, dust, fumes, or excessive noise or vibration) where the risk assessment identifies the need.

Checks to make sure that people can work safely.  For a driver, this is likely to include:

- making sure they know what personal protective equipment they should wear for the task they are going to do, and how they should use it.  Examples might include high-visibility clothing, head protection, a driver restraint, safety boots and equipment to prevent falls.

Is there a safe means of access to and exit from, the cabs and other parts that need to be reached?

Access to mobile plant:

Employers should ensure that workers are not climbing on the structure of the vehicle to access the mast and cab of the fork truck.

Operators should take care during access and egress that they avoid inadvertent operation of the vehicle controls.

For more information see  -

Are surfaces, where people walk on vehicles, slip resistant?

Spilled loads, or anything that falls from a vehicle or anywhere else that could be a danger, should be removed or cleaned up as soon as possible.  Wherever it is practical, site operators should make sure that there are specified places for moveable objects, and that whenever they are being left overnight or for long periods of time, they are kept in their proper place.

Traffic routes must, be kept free from anything that may cause a person to slip, trip or fall.  If vehicles or other obstructions are left blocking traffic ways, or if driving or walking surfaces become littered, slippery or too dirty, they may cause significant risks to health and safety.

Is driver protection against injury in the event of an overturn, and measures in place to prevent the driver being hit by falling objects, provided where necessary?

Common types of vehicle accident at work are people being hit by objects falling from vehicles and vehicle overturns which cause nearly a fifth of all deaths related to workplace transport.

Where appropriate, mobile plant such as lift trucks should have driver protection to prevent injury if the vehicle overturns, and to prevent the driver form being hit by falling objects.  This could include roll protection, operator restraints and falling-object protection. 

The wearing of seat restraints is essential if the effects of overturn incidents are to be mitigated where roll over protection is fitted to vehicles as it keeps the driver in the safety envelope of the vehicle.

Are operators involved or consulted on vehicle selection?

Employers should ask their drivers, supervisors and any other employees at the site (including contractors and, possibly, visiting drivers) for their views on any problems and what could be done to make the vehicle and its operation safer.  Drivers who travel off site should be encouraged to report back with any good practice they see elsewhere.

  • Discussions provide an opportunity for participants to get involved in the decision making process, and contribute their knowledge and opinions on the consultation topic.
  • Health and Safety Policy Statement:
    section on ‘consultation with employees'
  • Your risk assessment:
    ‘asking your employees what they think.’
Updated 2013-12-23