What's the problem?
Vehicle overturns cause nearly a fifth of all deaths in Vehicles at Work accidents. Forklift trucks, compact dumpers, tipper lorries and tractors are all especially prone to overturning.
It is the duty of people responsible for a workplace to identify risks and to avoid them. It is the responsibility of workers to work safely. The following guidelines will help you stay safe, and meet your legal obligations.
- There are many reasons vehicles overturn. They include:
- Travelling on slopes that are too steep.
- Going over slippery surfaces (such as oil or grease patches).
- Going over soft or uneven ground.
- Going over curbs, steps or other edges.
- Being overloaded or unevenly loaded.
- Going too fast, especially around corners.
- Not being suitable for the task.
- Carrying loads at a dangerous height (e.g. with a lift truck load fully raised).
- There is a legal requirement for most vehicles to have an ROPS (Roll-Over Protection System - such as rollcages or rollbars) and seat restraints fitted if there is a risk of them overturning.
- An ROPS can reduce the risk of injury if a vehicle overturns, but are not effective unless the driver is also wearing a suitable restraint (e.g. a seat belt). Drivers have been killed when vehicles fitted with an ROPS and restraints overturned, because they were not wearing the safety belt provided.
- A vehicle must not be used in a way that might cause it to overturn, including being driven over unsuitable ground.
- Drivers should be trained to follow safety procedures, wear proper seat restraints, spot hazards and avoid them.
- Site operators and employers should make sure that they give their employees enough information on the use of seat restraints and any other safety equipment they provide, including when to use them. This could include signs on safety areas and/or vehicles, clear floor markings, and training.
- Site operators and employers must make sure that workers are wearing seat belts when necessary, and are not taking risks that could cause vehicles to overturn.
- The following procedures will help to avoid vehicles
- Vehicles should only be driven over the surfaces they are designed for.
- Suitable routes for regular vehicle movements should be planned out, avoiding steep slopes, uneven or slippery surfaces, curbs and sharp turns.
- Vehicles should be driven at a suitable speed for the task, load, ground conditions and vehicle.
- Vehicles must NEVER be overloaded. Overloaded vehicles can become unstable, difficult to steer and be less able to brake
- Loads should be evenly distributed across the whole vehicle and must be secure.
- Loads must be carried in a lowered position wherever possible.
- Loads must only be carried by suitable vehicles.
- Speed limits must be considered and set where necessary, speed limits must be enforced.
- Speed humps are NOT recommended, as they are an overturning hazard themselves.
- In many situations, the seat belt/restraint is simply to prevent the driver trying to jump off an overturning vehicle. If a vehicle begins to topple over, the driver should brace him/herself against the back of the driver's seat and hold firmly on a secure part inside the cab. The driver should never try to jump out of a vehicle that is falling over.