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Safe manoeuvring

Key messages

  • Vehicles should have large enough windscreens (with wipers where necessary) and external mirrors to provide an all-round field of vision.
  • Drivers should not place objects where they will impede this vision.
  • assess the risks to the health and safety of using chosen work equipment.
  • Where possible, the need for reversing should be eliminated

Mirrors

As well as conventional side mirrors, it is often worthwhile adding extra mirrors to reduce blind spots for drivers. Side mirrors can allow drivers of larger vehicles to see cyclists and pedestrians alongside their vehicles, and can be effective in improving visibility around the vehicle from the driving position. These mirrors are fitted to larger road-going vehicles as standard.

A clear view

Drivers should not place items in the windscreen area or in the way of mirrors or monitors, where they might impede visibility from the driving position. The area of the windscreen that is kept clear by the wipers should not be obscured, and nor should the side windows. Windows and mirrors will also normally need to be kept clean and in good repair. Dirt or cracks can make windows or mirrors less effective.

Some types of vehicle (such as straddle carriers, large shovel loaders and some large quarry vehicles) often have poor visibility from the cab. Visibility can be poor to the side or front of a vehicle as well as behind, and loads on vehicles can severely limit the visibility from the driving position.

Lift trucks and compact dumper vehicles in particular can have difficulty with forward visibility when they are transporting bulky loads. You should recognise these risks in your risk assessment, and think about ways to minimise them.

Closed-circuit television

Closed-circuit television (CCTV) may help drivers to see clearly behind or around the vehicle. CCTV can cover most blind spots. The cost of fitting CCTV systems has fallen since the technology was first developed, and the systems are more reliable. Companies who have fitted CCTV have found that it can reduce the number of reversing accidents, so the systems usually pay for themselves in a few years.

Colour systems can provide a clearer image where there is little contrast (for example, outside on an overcast day). However, black-and-white systems normally provide a better image in lower light or darkness, and usually come with infra-red, which can be more effective than standard cameras at night.

Monitors should have adjustable contrast, brightness and resolution controls to make them useful in the different light conditions in which they will be used. You may need to use a hood to shield any monitor from glare.

If possible, fit the camera for a CCTV system high up in the middle of the vehicle’s rear (one camera), or in the upper corners (two cameras) This will provide a greater field of vision and a better angle for the driver to judge distance and provide. It also keeps the camera clear of dust and spray, and out of the reach of thieves or vandals.

Limitations of CCTV

Drivers should not be complacent about safety even with CCTV systems installed. They should be trained in proper use of the equipment.

Other systems

Radar is useful as a reversing aid on open sites where the number of unwanted alarms is likely to be low.

Reversing alarms may be drowned out by other noise, or may be so common on a busy site that pedestrians do not take any notice. It can also be hard to know exactly where an alarm is coming from, and people who are less able to hear are also at greater risk. Alarms can also disturb nearby residents.

Using reversing alarms may be appropriate (based on your risk assessment) but might be most effectively used with other measures, such as warning lights.

Updated 2012-03-09