What are the risks?
Every year, there are over 5000 incidents involving transport in the workplace and, tragically, around 50 of these result in people being killed. Estimates suggest that up to one-third of all road traffic accidents involve someone who is at work at the time (www.hse.gov.uk/statistics).
Vehicles at work
Accidents involving workplace vehicles and other equipment is one of the top fatal risks identified in the construction industry.
Over the last five years there have been 217 fatal incidents on UK construction sites, 10 percent of which were due to workers being struck by moving vehicles. There were also many more major injuries and near misses during this period involving people plant interface with the potential for fatal injury.
Exclusion zones are defined locations to prohibit the entry of personnel into danger areas; an area into which unauthorized people are not allowed to go for reasons of safety or security.
Exclusion zones are not always identical in appearance – they can be a nightline reflective flag, solid fencing or a barrier. However, in each instance, they have a highly functional purpose. This includes, but is not limited to:
- allowing a high-risk activity to proceed
- to act as a barrier around a trench of 1.5 metres or deeper
Exclusion zones are absolutely essential to everybody’s safety. They can be created as part of a Safe Work Method Statement (SWMS) to allow a high‐risk activity to proceed such as the operation of mobile plant.
Exclusion zones can also be part of your Site Traffic Management Plan.
Exclusion Zone Risk Assessment
When risk assessing any exclusion zones, it is important to consider the following:
- how likely is someone to enter your work area?
- who should be in control?
- who is best positioned to have control?
- how is the authority delegated/given?
- is the person able to assume responsibility of authority?
- ability to resolve issues?
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Employers have a legal duty to ensure that the health and safety of their employees, contractors and members of the public are not put at risk as a result of the work they do.
Employees and the self-employed also have a duty to look after their own health and safety and that of anyone who might be affected by their work.
To manage the risks from workplace transport effectively, you need to consider three key areas:
- safe site
- safe vehicle
- safe driver
Some Dos and Don'ts
- Keep people and vehicles apart
- Have clear site rules and enforce them
- Anchor loads securely to the vehicle chassis
- Avoid the need to work at height on vehicles
- Operate vehicles unless you are authorised to do so
Exclusion zones are absolutely essential to everybody’s safety.
- To avoid any injury, separation of people and equipment must be at the forefront on any effective exclusion zone
- The greater the strength of separation the greater the control and the less likelihood of an incident occurring
- Post signage including detours required
- Lock all entry points not being used
- Listen up at your start‐ups and tool box talks so you know where the exclusion zones are on your site
- Never interfere with signage or barriers. You could put another worker’s life at risk. If you need to gain access into an exclusion zone, find the site safety manager first before entering.
- If you see anything unsafe about an exclusion zone, stop work. Tell your safety manager and get it fixed
- You know what it’s like. Sometimes you get a member of the public come into an exclusion zone like this. Stop them and safely escort them off the site
- When operating mobile plant, stop work if your exclusion zone is breached
- When you’re working around exclusion zones, think safe, work safe, go home safe