Site-based ways to stop vehicles from moving
- You may need to think about ways to prevent drivers from moving stationary vehicles too early – this is known as a 'driveaway' accident. Driveaways can have serious consequences, especially if lift trucks are involved.
- Vehicles can also 'creep' away from loading bays as loading machines jolt the vehicle.
- Systems to prevent vehicles moving can be built into the design of the vehicle, or be site-based. Relying on vehicle-based methods assumes that the vehicle operators check and maintain them, placing them out of the site operator's direct control.
- Systems that rely on people's actions are less reliable than engineered solutions.
Questions to ask
Your risk assessment should include answers to these questions:
- What is the risk of drivers moving vehicles too early (driveaway)?
- What is the risk of the vehicle moving by itself or being jolted by other equipment? (creep)?
A driveaway is when a driver moves a vehicle too early. Vehicles can also creep away from the edge of the loading bay as machines handling the materials jolt the vehicle when they move between the bay platform and the vehicle. This can cause a large gap, or can lead to a ramp suddenly slipping from the vehicle, causing vehicles or people to fall.
Preventing driveaways or vehicle creep is important to protect people working on or around the vehicle. It is also important to reduce the risk of leaks, spillages or falling loads, especially where dangerous loads are being transferred.
Systems to prevent vehicles from moving can either be built into the design of the vehicle or be site based. Site-based measures could include:
- vehicle or trailer restraints;
- traffic lights, barriers or other 'stop'-type signals;
- various systems for controlling access to vehicle keys or the cab; and
- safe systems of work that make sure the driver is aware of when it is safe to leave.
This section deals with the methods that remain in one workplace and deal with different vehicles as they pass through. The advantage of these systems is that they are directly under the control of the site.
While vehicle-based methods can be effective, relying on them assumes that the vehicle operators check and maintain them. This places them out of the direct control of the site operator. As a result, site operators often need to take their own precautions.
Systems that rely on people's actions are less reliable than engineered solutions.
The simplest way to prevent a vehicle from moving is to place chocks (large wedges of hard material) beneath the wheels. The chocks will resist movement, and should be at least large enough to be noticed by a driver trying to move with them in place. They should also be brightly coloured, to make them visible to drivers and other workers.
Chocks should always be removed when it is time for the vehicle to move away. A safe system of work covering the use of wheel chocks is important, as workers who put them in place or remove them will be in a dangerous place. Drivers should know not to move until they have been signalled that it is safe to do so by a designated person, who should be sure workers are in a safe place before allowing movement. It may be necessary to halt movements of other vehicles (such as delivery vehicles arriving in adjacent bays) while chocks are being put in place or removed.
You can use other methods to restrain the vehicle. Some systems clamp to a part of the vehicle, such as the rear under-run bar. However, larger vehicles are often very powerful, and sometimes simply rip restraint devices from their moorings when they begin to move. Other methods are like advanced versions of chocks that are fixed to the floor of the loading bay.
Some methods force drivers to apply the semi-trailer emergency brakes before they can unlock the gate of the dock shelter. These are effective at preventing driveaways, but be careful that you do not encourage drivers to rely on emergency brakes as a way of keeping a semitrailer stationary – parking brakes should also be applied.
Signals such as traffic lights can be effective, although they do not actually prevent a vehicle from moving without and additional barrier or safe system of work.
A cost-effective way of placing a barrier in front of a vehicle is to arrange a stop sign in a palletised concrete block that is tall enough to be seen from the vehicle cab. Site staff with lifting equipment (for example, a lift truck) can place this in front of the vehicle and then remove it when it is safe for the vehicle to leave. It is important to follow a safe system of work to make sure that anyone moving around in vehicle marshalling areas is safe.
Applying the handbrake and removing the keys are standard measures to make sure that a driver cannot drive the vehicle away too early.
Consider removing the vehicle keys or paperwork, and keeping them away from the driver. Systems like this (sometimes called 'key-safe' or 'custody' systems) usually cost very little and are widely used, often in support of traffic light systems. If you use a key-safe system, the keys should be kept out of reach until it is safe for the vehicle to be moved. A good way of achieving this is by placing them on a hook attached to the back of a loading bay door, where this is possible.
However, many drivers now carry extra keys, as they prefer to remain in control of their vehicle. As a result, some sites do not allow drivers to stay in the vehicle during loading and unloading. Although this is a good way of preventing driveaway accidents, consider the welfare of the driver.
Drivers may have sleeping space or other facilities in their cab. Their welfare and safety, and that of other site and road users, might be better protected by finding an alternative that is as effective at preventing driveaways, especially where drivers may be stopping between long journeys.
If drivers are not allowed in their vehicles, it is important that you provide them with a safe area to wait that allows them to rest properly between driving shifts, especially where they may be waiting for several hours.
Although by law everyone involved in loading a vehicle is responsible for the vehicle being loaded safely, goods drivers in particular need to make sure that their vehicle has been well loaded, because they drive on public roads.
Where drivers need to observe the loading, they will need to be in a safe place to do this. This should be away from danger (for example away from moving vehicles, or places where loads could fall) and should be a clearly marked.
Even where drivers carry extra sets of keys, keysafe systems can help make sure that site workers and visiting drivers communicate about when it is safe to drive away.
Ignition controls (such as keys or fobs) should not be left in the vehicles when they are parked.
Safeguards like these would be especially effective where there may be communication problems (for example, with drivers who do not speak English).