Working at Height – Access to vehicle; protection from a fall
Falls from height remain one of the most common causes of workplace fatalities in the UK. In Great Britain in 2020/2021 there were 35 fatalities, and over 5,000 injuries that caused the injured person to be off work for over 7 days or more. A recent UK prosecution again highlighted the risks of working at height where a driver fell from the bed of their vehicle and was fatally injured.
Many cargo operations involve drivers visiting sites to collect and deliver loads. Such loads should be made safe and secure before the driver leaves. Duty holders need to ensure that this activity can occur safely. In any work at height operation, the aim should always be to remove the need to work at height at all, wherever possible. If a task can be undertaken safely from the ground, then that approach should be adopted. Where a driver requires access to the trailer or top of their vehicle, all of those involved should consider their responsibilities and opportunities to provide safe working. This may include but is not limited to provision and use of equipment to support safe ways of working (e.g. edge protected gantry) as well as procedures, information and training.
We are grateful to Peel Ports for providing details of this incident and to PSS for drawing it to our attention. We acknowledge their commitment to sharing learning to benefit others. If you have similar operations, please share this information with managers, operatives and any potentially affected third parties as appropriate. Please also review any of your relevant operations for similar hazardous conditions, risks, and controls.
Learning content like this is highly valuable as it is based on real-world experience. We encourage everyone with publishable information about incidents to send it to us, so that we can raise awareness across the whole industry. Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org; sharing your insight could save a life or prevent injury.