Site-based access to vehicles

Key messages

  • Drivers should be able to get safely and easily to any parts of the vehicle they need to reach.
  • There should be safeguards to prevent drivers reaching dangerous parts of the vehicle.

Workers often have to reach different parts of vehicles. Apart from loading and unloading, workers may need access to parts of vehicles to clean them, trim aggregate loads and manually sheet loads. Workers should not climb around parts of vehicles that are do not support their weight, or do anything that could result in slipping and accidentally activating vehicle controls.

Workplace vehicles should be stable under working conditions and provide a safe way to get into and out of the cab, and any other parts of the vehicle that need to be accessed regularly. Site-based access features include platforms and gantries.


Most platforms are simple drive-through or drive-past. Designs with three fixed sides are sometimes used, but they should be avoided, as vehicles need to reverse to use them.

If you do use a three-sided structure, you can avoid the need for reversing by making the end platform moveable. The vehicle can drive in forwards between the two fixed side platforms, and the end platform can be replaced and secured behind the vehicle. A competent person should check the platform before use.

Drivers need to be able to pull up closely alongside the platform to prevent falls between the side of the vehicle and the edge of the platform.

The disadvantage of platforms is that they are usually of fixed height and width, and cannot be adjusted for use with different sizes of vehicle.


Gantries can be more suitable for a wider range of vehicle sizes.

A gantry is normally a small platform with an overhead beam reaching over the vehicle. A harness system is attached to the beam. The worker stands on the load or vehicle, but is protected by either:

  • a work-restraint, which prevents the worker from approaching a dangerous area such as the edge of the vehicle; or
  • a fall-arrest, which does not prevent a fall, but will make it less serious.

Both the gantry and the harness system need to be strong enough to take the worker's weight if they fall.

Drivers need to be trained to use harness systems properly. If this is 'one-off' work, the worker will need to be supervised while using the equipment.

There needs to be enough platforms or gantries to allow for the largest number of vehicles likely to need them at one time. If there are not enough spaces, drivers might choose to bypass the system to avoid queuing.

Platforms and walking surfaces on gantries should be level, stable and strong, and should provide good walking grip. Both types of structure should be clearly marked to help prevent vehicles from striking them.

Platforms or gantries should not be used if weather conditions are bad enough to threaten the safety of workers.

Platforms and gantries should have a safe way for people to get on to them and down from them. Think, in advance, how any worker who has suffered a fall can be rescued.

Some platforms only help drivers get on to or down from a vehicle. This helps reduce the distance a person is likely to fall, because they land on the platform instead of the ground, making serious injury less likely. They also make falls less likely, because a person does not have to climb around as much.

Platforms benefit from well-constructed and suitably high barriers around them, to prevent people from falling off. It may be suitable to have several rails, to protect people who work when crouched or standing. This is not practical if the driver needs to get on to the vehicle itself.

You can also use platforms and gantries to improve safety during load sheeting.

Stairs, steps and ladders

Stairs can be much more effective than ladders if workers are likely to be carrying something (such as a bag, toolbox, or tools).

Steps should be made of slip-resistant grating or another slip-resistant material with enough space for mud or oil to pass through the grate and away from the walking surface.

Rungs or steps should be level and give plenty of toehold or foothold. Rounded rungs are the least safe, as they become slippery easily and can be uncomfortable to use.

Steps, stairs and ladders should have sound hand and guard rails that are co-ordinated with the footholds, and the lower part should be easy to reach.

Handrails are better than individual handholds, as they can be used without the worker having to remove their hand from the rail.

In some workplaces (for example, landfill sites) gantries and platforms may need to be moved around. A competent person should check the platform before use.

Do not use a platform or gantry if you have any doubt about its suitability.

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Updated 2021-12-14