Delivering safely


Do vehicles visit your workplace to deliver or collect goods? Does your business use vehicles to deliver or collect goods from other businesses? If so, this guidance applies to you. Deliveries and collections are essential to business, but can be some of the most dangerous activities you have to deal with. Hazards may include manual handling injuries when loads are moved by hand, health and fire risks if hazardous loads are spilled, and risks from using cranes or other lifting equipment such as lorry loaders. However this guidance deals primarily with the main workplace hazards - those to do with the vehicles involved, and it is often the drivers of those vehicles who are the victims.

Many of these delivery and collection accidents could be prevented if there was better co-operation between the parties involved - this Information Sheet describes how people and organisations involved can co-operate to prevent workplace vehicle accidents.


Risks from driving on the public highway are not covered in this guidance. This guidance has limited application to deliveries and collections at domestic premises where the recipient has no duties under the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974, however companies still need to take reasonable steps to prevent accidents during these deliveries and collections. This guidance is general and does not deal with specific hazards related to particular loads such as chemicals, tank containers etc. Additional guidance is available for "Safe unloading of steel stock".

Key responsibilities

Individuals are often unfairly blamed for accidents which could have been prevented if duty holders had co-operated with one another.

The three key duty holders are:

  • the supplier sending the goods
  • the carrier - the haulier or other company carrying the goods
  • the recipient - the person receiving the goods

A common factor in delivery accidents is the lack of any agreement between supplier, carrier and recipient about "who is responsible for what" in terms of safety. In most work situations the safety of an employee is primarily the responsibility of his or her employer, but in order to deliver or collect goods employees have to visit premises controlled by others. The safety of everyone at these premises, including people visiting the site, is in the hands of the person in charge of the site (the recipient or supplier) as they should control what takes place on site.

Irresponsible employers may use this overlap in responsibilities as an excuse for not doing more to protect those involved in deliveries. This overlap can cause dangerous misunderstandings unless all parties exchange information about the main risks involved, and agree who will do what to control risks.

Duty holders

must assess delivery and collection risks and reduce them as far as reasonably practicable. Current arrangements for preventing vehicle accidents during deliveries and collections should be reviewed in consultation with safety representatives, drivers and employees. Consider what further steps you could take in co-operating to reduce risk. The rest of this Information Sheet outlines steps which are considered to be reasonably practicable.

General principles of good practice

Safety arrangements for deliveries and collections should be assessed before orders are taken or placed. Planning safety precautions reduces the risk of accidents and can also save time and money. For instance, it should prevent deliveries being delayed or sent back because a site can't handle the load or the vehicle carrying it.

Incorporate safety arrangements in order-placing and order-taking documents so that the parties involved have to check that safety arrangements are adequate before authorising a particular delivery or collection. Even if orders are placed or taken at short notice, fax, e-mail and telephone will usually make it easy to agree safety arrangements before the delivery or collection.

The delivery vehicle driver plays a key part in delivery safety, and is often the person injured in delivery or collection accidents - the driver should receive adequate safety information for each delivery or collection beforehand.

The agreement about delivery or collection safety arrangements can take different forms, for instance:

  • Where a recipient regularly receives similar deliveries from a particular supplier or carrier all parties should agree a written delivery plan. If something about a particular delivery may make it unsafe to rely on the usual plan, the delivery should not start until the "special" precautions have been agreed by fax, e-mail or telephone;
  • When recipients, suppliers and carriers deal with each other on a "last-minute, one-off" basis it will usually be reasonably practicable to exchange basic delivery safety information, and agree on the main precautions at the time an order is placed

In some situations other parties may be involved. For instance, a recipient may place an order with a supplier who arranges for a third company to provide the goods, who in turn arranges for a haulier to make the delivery. Such complex arrangements can easily go wrong due to misunderstandings and failures in communication. The dangers of this should be considered before entering into these arrangements. If a delivery accident occurs, all parties in the chain may be asked to show that they took all reasonable steps to co-operate to achieve safety.

The three general principles which suppliers, carriers and recipients should follow are:

  • send out safety information on deliveries and collections to other parties in the delivery chain
  • request safety information on deliveries and collections from other parties in the delivery chain
  • agree a safe delivery plan

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How suppliers, carriers and recipients can co-operate.

By exchanging information as set out in the general principles above.

The main purposes are:-

  • to make expectations clear
  • to ask others in the chain whether they can meet these expectations
  • if expectations cannot be met, to agree what to do. If agreement cannot be reached on how significant safety issues will be dealt with, the delivery or collection should not take place.

All parties involved in deliveries should, so far as reasonably practicable, exchange and agree information to ensure goods can be delivered and collected safely.

In particular consider

  • any restrictions on the type or size of vehicle the site can safely handle eg are visiting lorries required to have CCTV or other reversing aids fitted.
  • any restrictions on when goods should be delivered or collected.
  • best approach routes to the site, especially if nearby one-way systems, low bridges, narrow roads, awkward access etc could cause problems for visiting vehicles
  • a site plan or sketch showing parking, location of reception, route to take through the site, location of (un)loading area etc.
  • where visiting vehicles should park on arrival, where and whom to report to. Generally parking and subsequent (un)loading should be off the road and pavement, well away from members of the public. If articulated vehicles are (un)coupled, drivers should have been instructed on how to park each vehicle type they use, as there can be significant differences and misunderstandings are common. Trailer parking and cab hand brakes should always be used - there have been a number of fatal accidents recently caused by not using these.
  • the (un)loading area should be in a designated, adequately lit area from which people and vehicles not essential for (un)loading are excluded.
  • any procedures the visiting driver needs to follow eg wearing high visibility vest, limits on use of mobile phones, prohibitions on reversing or conditions for reversing such as the use of a banksman.
  • who will be in overall charge of the (un)loading of visiting vehicles
  • what visiting drivers or site staff should do if they are not satisfied with safety arrangements for the delivery or collection (who to report concerns to etc)
  • contact details for the other parties in case of problems
  • what to do if a load appears to have shifted dangerously in transit
  • the point at which the visiting driver will "give permission" for his vehicle to be un)loaded, and how this hand-over will be clearly understood by all. Before this time site staff should keep clear of the vehicle, and after this time the driver should keep clear of the vehicle
  • the method of (un)loading - what equipment is available, what is the capacity of the lifting equipment
  • where the driver should be during the (un)loading of his vehicle. Drivers are often the victims of delivery accidents. It is often unrealistic and sometimes unsafe to expect drivers to stay in their cab throughout (un)loading of their vehicle. A designated safe area for visiting drivers with easy, safe access to toilet and refreshment facilities reduces risks considerably. A safe area may be needed for drivers to observe loading.
  • the delivery vehicle driver should not use a FLT at a delivery site unless this has been agreed in advance and steps taken to ensure that the FLT is well maintained and the site suitable. The driver must also be trained to drive FLTs in accordance with the Approved Code of Practice
  • if access onto the vehicle is likely, how will falls be prevented or fall risks reduced. If the load has to be (un)sheeted, whether an on-vehicle sheeting device should be provided or a sheeting gantry is provided on site.
  • to reduce the need for people to go up onto vehicles or the load itself, all parties should consider removing the need for sheeting whole loads solely for weather protection during transit (eg by using curtain sided vehicles rather than flatbeds, or by shrink-wrapping individual pallets or packs of goods). Shrink-wrapping may also result in cost and time savings eg reduced turnaround times and reduced product wastage through weather damage at the recipients' premises.
  • all parties should set up simple, well understood systems for reporting any vehicle accidents, incidents, near-misses and other safety concerns during deliveries and collections, and exchanging information with the other parties. All should be encouraged to report incidents and concerns and appropriate action taken.
  • where deliveries or collections will take place regularly and special risks are likely, or at sites where visiting vehicles have had problems before it may be necessary for a manager to visit the site before sending further vehicles, to assess in more detail the risks involved and agree precautions
  • are drivers able to understand English or does the plan need to be available in translation, use pictograms where possible

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Suppliers and recipients - organising your site for safe deliveries and collections

You can find detailed advice on controlling workplace vehicle risks in HSE booklet HSG136 Workplace Transport Safety.

Carriers - making collections and deliveries safely

Drivers may be faced with unexpected situations

  • Carriers should train drivers in general safety precautions to take when visiting sites, in particular concerning the risks involved in (un)loading delivery vehicles, and give them clear instructions on what to do if they are not satisfied with the arrangements for ensuring safety at a particular site. Drivers should be authorised to refuse or halt the (un)loading of their vehicle on safety grounds.
  • In addition to training, providing drivers with simple delivery safety checklists may help them check that reasonable precautions have been taken, and help them decide if it is reasonable for them to refuse to continue with a particular delivery or collection.
  • Carriers should ensure that any agency drivers they use are familiar with the carrier's arrangements for delivery safety

What the law requires

Employers have duties under the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 to ensure so far as is reasonably practicable the health and safety at work of their employees and others who may be affected by their work activities (such as drivers). Under the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999, where 2 or more employers share a workplace, even on a temporary basis, they must co-operate with each other to make sure they both comply with their legal duties.

These Regulations also require employers to carry out a risk assessment of the hazards involved and to identify measures needed to comply with Health and Safety legislation.

The Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations 1998 require employers to ensure that all lifting operations are properly planned by a competent person, appropriately supervised and carried out in a safe manner. Lifting equipment needs to be suitable for the use to which it is being put, properly maintained, marked with its safe working load and periodically thoroughly examined and inspected.


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