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According to the Health and Safety Executive, every year, there are around 5,000 accidents at work involving transport in the workplace.

The main causes can often be falling off a vehicle, being struck or being crushed by a vehicle. Injuries involving the loading and unloading of vehicles are all too commonplace.

Your employer has a legal obligation to ensure an employee’s safety in the workplace. The employer also has a legal obligation to ensure that an employee, when acting in the course of their employment, is suitably trained and equipped to carry out the tasks in hand. Some of the more important areas which the employer has an obligation to address are detailed below.

Equipment

If you are having to manually handle heavy loads, have the goods been placed into roll cages to avoid having to lift heavier items? Is a forklift truck being used to unload the vehicle/is this possible, or has a pump truck been supplied? The employer has a legal obligation to ensure that the risk of injury is reduced to the lowest possible level and to supply suitable equipment to assist with the loading and unloading of the vehicle. If the equipment is inadequate or defective in some way or has not given adequate training in its use which leads to an accident   then your employer may be in breach of the legal obligations it owes you as an employee. The employer should also ensure that suitable equipment is supplied to enable the employee to access and egress the vehicle.

Personal Protective Equipment

The employer has a duty to supply suitable personal protective equipment. For example, suitable footwear is important when lifting equipment, not just for protecting your feet from injuries, but also to ensure that you have a proper grip. Simple, relatively cheap items which should be supplied at a relatively modest cost include a high-visibility vest, which will assist those who are assisting the employee with unloading the vehicle, particularly when there is low visibility.

Loading a Vehicle

Your employer also has an obligation to provide suitably trained co-workers to assist with the loading and unloading of vehicles where a load is of a particular weight or is cumbersome in nature. We frequently see accidents where a driver has had to unload a vehicle on their own when taking delivery goods. More often than not, this type of accident can be avoided by adequately risk-assessing the nature of the delivery and the goods to be delivered and identifying goods which need to be loaded/unloaded as a two-person lift. The nature of the loading is another important point to consider. The load should be spread as evenly as possible. During loading and unloading, the vehicle may become unstable if the load is not spread evenly. The vehicle should be loaded in such a way so as to allow safe unloading, and a vehicle should never be overloaded as this could cause problems with the stability of the vehicle.

The writer has over 25 years of experience of dealing with accidents involving vehicles in the workplace, including accidents involving the loading and unloading of HGVs and low-loaders, forklift trucks and pump trucks. If you have been injured during the course of your employment due to the circumstances discussed in this article or as a result of any other workplace accident, please feel free to contact the writer, Stuart Biddle, Head of Personal Injury, on telephone number direct dial 0161 930 5129 for a no obligation discussion.