If you are in a job where you drive a vehicle, it is essential that you are aware of vehicle operational safety. A vehicle can be dangerous if it is not operated properly, which is why it is crucial to make sure that you have the right training and that you are following accepted health and safety practices - in order to preserve the well-being of everyone in the workplace and the surrounding public.
Many workplaces have not invested in vehicle or road safety courses for their employees, which has resulted in raised workplace risks and has also allowed a number of serious accidents and even deaths to occur. It is essential that everyone who works around industrial equipment and vehicles receive not just basic training but full safety courses that instruct on the safety of the driver. Employers are morally obligated to provide this training, in order to protect the health and well-being of everyone on the job. Also, it is the duty of the employer or supervisor to ensure that the vehicles that are used in the workplace are right for the job, safe and regularly inspected, repaired and maintained.
Loading and Unloading Vehicles
One of the most dangerous situations regarding vehicles in the workplace can be when the vehicle is being loaded or unloaded. Heavy loads, moving vehicles and working at height can often lead to serious injuries or even death.
When you are loading and unloading a vehicle, make sure that the area is clear of other traffic, pedestrians and people who are not involved in the work. Also, watch out for overhead electrical wires and make sure that there is no chance of machinery or loads touching them. It is also important that vehicles and trailers are parked on firm and level ground, so that stability can be maintained.
The loads should be secured or arranged so that they don’t slide around. Sometimes racking might be necessary to help stability. Heavy moving loads are dangerous, so safety equipment should be considered. Guards or skirting plates can be necessary if there is a risk of anything being caught in the machinery. Also, it is very important to make sure that the brakes of the trailer or vehicle are applied and all of the stabilisers are used – in order to make the vehicle as stable as possible.
Also, never overload a vehicle. This will make the vehicle difficult to steer, harder to stop and more unstable. The load should always be secured to the vehicle and it is important to make sure that they cannot fall off.
Driving Away Too Early
It is also very important to ensure that the driver operating the vehicle doesn’t accidentally drive away too early while the vehicle is being loaded or unloaded. This sometimes occurs and it can be very dangerous, especially for those who are loading and unloading the vehicle. Sometimes the use of vehicle or trailer restraints might need to be used. Or, another solution is that the supervisor in charge of loading and unloading can hold onto the keys of the vehicle until the work is completed and the vehicle is safe to be moved. This avoids any confusion or communication problems.
More Vehicle Health and Safety Tips
What other factors should you keep in mind when you are ensuring the health and safety of vehicle operators in your workplace? Here are some important vehicle safety tips that you should keep in mind:
- Make sure that the vehicle is always in good condition. Any vehicle used in the workplace should be regularly inspected and should be maintained if any repair issues arise.
- Before driving, all workers should do a walk around inspection of the vehicle, checking for any damage, obstacles, leaks or other safety concerns.
- A vehicle should always have a windscreen that is large enough and external mirrors, so that it can offer an all-round field of vision. This will prevent “blind spots” which can result in accidents.
- Whenever possible, the need to reverse the vehicle should be eliminated if possible - as reversing can be one of the most dangerous situations.
- Drivers should not have any objects in the vehicle that will impede their vision.
- Drivers should absolutely never operate a vehicle if they are under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
- Sleep deprivation can also have a negative effect on concentration and co-ordination and can make it dangerous to operate a vehicle. Supervisors should make sure that worker’s schedules are not too overloaded and that they have time to sleep between shifts in order to avoid being overtired while driving.
Using Closed Circuit Television
Sometimes closed circuit television can be installed on a vehicle, which can help drivers to see clearly behind their vehicles. This can be a great way to cover blind spots and make sure that the driver can see everything around them. Although it will cost a little bit to install the CCTV, many companies find that it pays for itself due to reduced accidents. The camera should be fitted as high as possible in the middle of the rear of the vehicle. This will make for a greater field of vision and a better angle for the driver to judge distance. However, keep in mind that when the driver leaves a dark area and enters a light area, the video camera might take a minute or two to adjust to the brightness, during which time the driver will have reduced visibility behind them.