Workplace transport

Injury statistics

  • Workplace transport accidents in the food and drink industries are the second highest cause of fatal injury, comprising over 25% of fatal accidents. During the decade between April 2000 - March 2010, 11 workers were fatally injured directly by workplace transport, for example being crushed by a vehicle. A further 10 workers were fatally injured in transport-related accidents such as falling from stationary vehicles or being struck by something falling from the vehicle.
  • Each year over 200 people in food and drink factories are struck by fork lift trucks (FLTs) and other vehicles, frequently resulting in serious injuries.

The main causes of injury are:

  • Struck by vehicle (except FLT): 31%
  • Struck by FLT: 26%
  • Falls from vehicles: 22%
  • Trapped between vehicle and wall: 6%
  • Trapped by overturning FLT; 6%
  • Trapped between two vehicles: 5%

Where a person was struck by a FLT, it was reversing in 28% of cases (21% of cases for other vehicles).

Managing the risk

Priority areas which need to be tackled are:

Pedestrian / vehicle segregation

  • Have safe traffic routes been planned - preferably with one-way systems and pedestrian crossing points?
  • Are vehicles and pedestrians kept apart where possible, both inside and outside buildings?
  • Do vehicles and pedestrians have separate doors into buildings with barriers where required?
  • Are signs in place and speed limits enforced?

Vehicle reversing

  • Can reversing be eliminated or at least reduced?
  • Do vehicles have good all round visibility? Are mirrors and other devices (eg rear view cameras) fitted where required?
  • Is there a need to mark 'reversing areas' so these are clear to drivers and pedestrians?
  • Is there a need for a signaler (banksman) to direct reversing operations? Does the banksman have somewhere safe to stand?

Falls from vehicles

  • On FLTs, are make-shift platforms (eg pallets) used to raise workers on the forks? Fatalities regularly occur from this practice. Only properly constructed cages designed for lifting persons should be used.
  • On grain vehicles, has the need to go on top been eliminated, for example by providing controls at ground level and fitting manual or powered sheeting systems?
  • On tankers, has the need for top access been eliminated, for example by 'bottom filling' and fitting gauges and controls at ground level? Where access to man-lids is required, are access arrangements safe?

Additional transport risks relevant to the food and drink industries

  • Overturning of tipping lorries and trailers - consider alternative non-tipping vehicle options, stabilisers or air suspension dumping during tipping, level and stable ground, driver training for viscous and sticking loads and training drivers not to jump out of a toppling vehicle
  • Tailgate safety on bulk delivery vehicles - deaths have occurred when a slug of viscous material slides down a raised trailer and throws open the latched or unlatched tailgate hitting the driver - consider driver training to stand clear of tailgate, vibratory equipment also dust control by fitting a sock to the grain hatch or dust extraction at bunded hoppers 
  • FLTs falling from loading bays - injuries to FLT drivers occur when the FLT falls down the gap between the loading bay and lorry when it unexpectedly drives off - consider holding the driver's keys until the lorry/trailer doors are locked closed or a solid restraint attaching the rear of the lorry to the loading bay has been removed
  • FLTs on articulated trailers - uncoupled trailers can tip when the FLT moves forward of the trailer legs, also consider if the strength of the trailer floor is sufficient for a loaded FLT
  • Safety in the use of tail lifts - hands and feet can get trapped during raising/lowering the tail lift - consider whether trapping points have been designed out and training given in the safe operation of tail lifts, also consider precautions to prevent roll cages falling from raised tail lifts  
  • Noise levels in cabs - consider and if necessary reduce noise levels in cabs during loading/unloading operations caused by blowers, vacuum pumps etc.

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Updated 2024-02-09