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While there's no one-size-fits-all safety solution, a few fundamental fixes could considerably reduce risk across your business.
Map out traffic flow
Every site has a unique layout and it's every employer's responsibility to identify their own transport patterns, space constraints and safety requirements. Begin with a simple observation exercise, assessing the movement of vehicles, forklift trucks, cars and pedestrians throughout your workplace. Then carry out a more formal risk assessment covering traffic routes and their inherent hazards, such as junctions, gradients and potential collision points.
Separate vehicles and pedestrians
As far as is practicable, keep moving vehicles and forklift trucks away from workers and site visitors. Isolate pedestrian walkways with physical boundaries, such as protective barriers or rails, and safeguard vehicle routes with appropriate signage, speed limits and designated loading/unloading areas.
Banish stock blind spots
As well as presenting a crushing hazard, overloaded racking systems can create perilous blind spots. Stock should never impede views or traffic flow, so follow the relevant HSE guidelines for your industry and consider installing ceiling-mounted safety mirrors to improve visibility.
Go above and beyond
Even with solid transport safety measures in place, it's vital to recognise when temporary support measures such as barriers and cones are needed. Staging a public event? Planning construction work? A supplementary risk assessment will help pinpoint additional requirements.
According to the British Safety Council, around 1,300 UK employees are seriously injured each year as a result of forklift accidents. Stacking is a recurrent risk area, so ensure workers are properly trained on correct methods of pallet placement and removal.
Block offloading areas
Where possible, establish segregated loading and unloading areas that allow drivers to easily manoeuvre. Nearly a quarter of all transport-related workplace deaths happen while vehicles are reversing, so eliminate the need by implementing one-way systems.
Light the way
In a bustling work environment, staff can tune out traditional sound-based warning systems like back-up beepers. Blue spot technology -- which projects a bright blue LED light in the path of a moving forklift -- alerts pedestrians and other vehicles to approaching traffic.
Create safe zones for drivers
Structure your site to ensure hazard-free delivery and collection of goods. Purpose-built safe areas keep drivers and other workers protected during loading and unloading. Similarly, clear signage, speed limits and one-way systems keep traffic flowing in predictable patterns.
Insist on safety
Some safety measures are simply non-negotiable. Seatbelts should be standard, along with correct licences for varying vehicle types. Workers should never drive under the influence of alcohol, drugs or prescription medication that may cause drowsiness, and mobile phones are always safest stowed in the glove compartment.
Author: John Southall, Managing Director at Southalls
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