Getting from A to B safely - transport and lone working
Transportation is one of the supporting pillars of the UK economy and the risks facing lone workers in the sector do not end with driving long distances across Britain’s road network or operating on the railways. Delivery drivers making home deliveries are exposed to risk at every stop, while long distance HGV drivers may travel through the night or park in isolated areas.
Transportation companies are vital to the success of other businesses. Taking action to understand the health and safety challenges facing your sector is the first step to being a more effective transport company.
The scale of the issue
In 2017, 3.5 million goods vehicles travelled from Great Britain to Europe and in the same year, total motor vehicle traffic in Great Britain reached a new record: 327 billion vehicle miles. That’s enough to get to the sun and back seventeen times. Every year in the UK, there are more than 5000 accidents involving transport on work sites and of those accidents, fifty resulted in deaths.
The Heath and Safety Executive (HSE) estimate that “up to a third of all road traffic accidents involve someone who is at work at the time. This may account for over 20 fatalities and 250 serious injuries every week.” That’s as many as 7300 deaths of workers on the road every year in the UK.
The health and safety statistics for the transport industry speak for themselves: too many workers are being injured, killed or put at risk while driving or working around vehicles, and for lone workers that risk is even greater.
Fatal injuries to members of the public are also a concern: 92 members of the public were killed in 2018 due to accidents relating to work. 32 of these deaths occurred on railways. Ensuring the safety of the public who may be affected by work carried out in the transport sector is also the responsibility of transport organisations and their employees.
The sheer scale and extent of the risk to lone workers and the public in the transportation sector may seem insurmountable but both employers and lone workers can do their part to improve health and safety on the road and in the workplace.
What can lone workers and employers do to improve safety?
The most important place to start for lone workers in the transport sector is to comprehensively identify risk across the organisation. Driving on the roads will always present danger to lone workers but the transport sector also sees risk to staff on-site, during deliveries, when conducting maintenance work or when interacting with the public. Conduct a thorough risk assessment that accounts for risk across the whole transport chain.
Ensure that work vehicles are in full working order and well maintained. A policy and procedure for reporting issues needs to be in place and staff should be encouraged to use them. No worker should be expected to make do with substandard equipment. Be sure that everyone operating and working with vehicles is trained to do so safely.
In Norfolk, a man was crushed to death between a lorry and dumper truck while working on a construction site. In the inquest, it was found that workers on the site were attempting to tow the lorry after it became stuck in mud.
The breaches of health and safety in this case were numerous: the driver of the truck had only previously done so when supervised; they were using a metre-long tow chain instead of a five or six-metre chain; and they should have called for help in retrieving the lorry rather than attempting recovery themselves.
This death was preventable and with proper training and procedures in place, you can help safeguard your staff, whether they are working alone or with others.
On sites with moving vehicles, ensure that all areas where vehicles are operating are clearly marked and delineated. Being struck by a moving vehicle resulted in 30 worker deaths in 2018 - six more than in 2017. More needs to be done across the whole sector to safeguard against these kinds of incidents at work.
Ensure that your lone workers are trained in dealing with the public, BSIA found that 50% of its members thought physical violence was the biggest threat to lone workers, with armed robbery and verbal threats both at 25%. The risks to lone workers in transport, delivery and logistics are varied and your lone working policy and lone working solution need to reflect this.
How Safepoint can help
Safepoint’s lone working solution tracks GPS location in real time - you’ll be able to pinpoint the exact location of an incident. A construction company may discover a traffic blackspot on their worksite or a taxi firm may find that a particular location for pickups results in more violent incidents against lone workers. Data is one of your best tools in avoiding future incident and taking measures to improve lone worker safety.
An Uber Eats delivery driver suffered an acid attack while at work and though he was able to text a delivery driver WhatsApp group for aid, this horrifying attack on a lone worker could have been much worse. As the gig economy and food delivery services develops and expands, so too does our attitude towards health and safety.
The Safepoint lone worker protection app’s time-out alert and manual emergency trigger ensures all your staff can get help, whatever the emergency. If a driver goes off the road and their task times out, you will know about it and can direct emergency services to the location.
If they are in immediate danger, lone workers can trigger a silent alarm to request emergency guardian support. If they are unable to reach their phone - be they unconscious after a road traffic accident or facing difficulties during a delivery - and their task duration expires, the Safepoint portal will alert guardians so appropriate action can be taken.
The transport sector shows no sign of slowing down. Higher demand for goods and services means more vehicles on our roads and rail networks, more deliveries and more lone workers driving through the night or in remote locations. Protecting lone workers in your transportation, logistics or delivery organisation has never been more important.
The Safepoint lone worker solution is simple to use and easily scales with your organisational needs. With realtime GPS data and robust safety tools, you can help ensure proper safety and incident response, wherever your lone workers are in their journey.