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".

What's the problem?

Every year, about 70 people are killed and 2000 seriously injured in accidents involving vehicles in and around workplaces. A significant number of these occur during deliveries and collections. Unless effective precautions are taken, people are at risk from:

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:

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.4 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:

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:

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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:-

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

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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 Safety10,11 & 12.

Carriers - making collections and deliveries safely

Drivers may be faced with unexpected situations

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.

Further information