Owner Operator and Logistics Protection – A Guide to HGV Safety

Autos & TrucksTrucks

  • Author Lyall Cresswell
  • Published March 21, 2008
  • Word count 810

With any job, it’s remarkably easy to slip into a routine after you’ve been doing it for months, years and decades. The trouble is that most jobs aren’t as fraught with dangers as working with haulage groupage. And with logistics workers putting in such long hours, the danger of complacency becomes even more real. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to minimise the haulage safety risks every step of the way, from loading-up to delivery – if you make sure this becomes part of your job routine, you are far more likely to avoid joining the statistics as a logistics casualty.

So here are some lorry safety tips for every part of your journey – from loading up to unloading!

Truck Safety at the Depot

  • Larger haulage companies should ensure that pedestrians are kept well away from the truck routes on site, to prevent any serious truck safety mishaps.

  • Minimising your need for reversing is an important lorry safety tip. Having dedicated areas for reversing where pedestrians are kept away, and with reversing alarms, trained marshals or vehicle CCTV to prevent any casualties from the reduced visibility.

  • Even on level surfaces, truck and parking brakes should be used to prevent unexpected movements. Spoken word handbrake warning devices can be installed if this looks like a likely cause of HGV safety slip ups.

Safety on Trucks

According to one source, there were 298 injuries and 1 fatality from falls in the road haulage industry, and roughly two thirds of these were from falling from the freight vehicles themselves. Although much of this is common sense, there are certain HGV safety steps you can take to minimise your risk of a serious fall from the lorry.

  • The first step to increasing lorry safety by reducing falls is incredibly obvious – avoid climbing onto your truck’s trailer if humanly possible! If you’re not at a height, it’s harder to take a dangerous tumble! If it is required, ensure there are steps and handholds!

  • Ensuring your footwear is as slip resistant as possible will offer good support when having to climb to dangerous heights.

  • A haulage worker on top of the vehicle’s trailer should never have their back to the edge if they are within a metre – it’s all too easy for something to happen and make you lose your footing. For similar reasons, walking backwards on top of a trailer is a seriously bad idea.

  • Don’t leap from the top of your trailer or cab, even if it does look like a ‘safe drop’

  • Hand holds on a truck are prone to wear and tear from load bearing – check them regularly to make sure they won’t give way at the worst possible time.

Slips and Trips

Slips and trips account for a fair percentage of haulage safety failures. In 2005/6, there were 442 major injuries, and 1507 workers were out of commission for more than 3 days as a result of slipping.

There are many steps that can be taken to reduce the chances of slipping:

  • Wear gripped footwear, and take extra care around areas that are likely to be slippery – for example, diesel tanks where spilling is a common event.

  • Take special caution when climbing down from the cab to the kerb, as balance is off and visibility is poor

  • When loading and unloading objects, try your hardest to avoid carrying the heavier and larger ones over areas likely to be slippery, as this often obscures the carrier’s view and makes it difficult for them to catch their fall in the event of a trip.

Lifting and Moving Haulage Safety

279 major injuries and 3653 people required over 3 days off as a result of manual handling in the haulage industry. Here are some tips to ensure you don’t face the same kind of agony:

  • If it’s possible to make loads easier to carry, then it’s worth the investment. If a smaller selection of haulage groupage can be carried with handles or hand-holds, then it’s worth investing in them, rather than risking your lorry safety.

  • Mechanical aids can save time as well as you/your workers health! If its financially viable, consider vehicle mounted hydraulic hoists, pallet trucks, scissor lifts or customised trolleys.

  • Roll cages are big contributors to manual handling injuries. Make sure they’re sensibly loaded, well secured in the vehicle and that the pavement you’re travelling across is even and free from potholes and bumps.

Although many of these HGV safety tips are common sense, it never hurts to restate them, especially as many workers have been dealing with haulage groupage so long that it has become routine. The watch words are care and common sense – keep those two at heart and you should easily be able to avoid injury.

Lyall Cresswell is the Managing Director of the Haulage Exchange. The exchange is for the heavy freight and logistics industry and offers haulage groupage for freight companies and owner operators all over the UK.

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