Health and safety in the road haulage and distribution industries

Do you employ people in general haulage and warehousing, wholesale and retail
distribution, or specialised haulage such as car transport, bulk materials and
bulk liquids? Each of these may have particular hazards but in every industry
where deliveries are made drivers are exposed to significant hazards arising
simply from the day-to-day activities of the job.

An information website of the British Health and Safety Executive is one step
towards helping all employers in road haulage and distribution, especially
those running small and medium-sized businesses, do a better job of ensuring
their employees' health and safety. Although it draws on information from the
haulage and distribution industry, almost everything here will apply to every
operator of commercial vehicles.

Deaths at work

Almost all deaths arise from just four kinds of accident, most often during
loading and unloading or maintenance of vehicles:

  • being struck by a moving vehicle;

  • falling loads;

  • falls from vehicles;

  • collapsing or overturning vehicles.

Issues such as use of handbrakes, safe positioning of drivers during loading
and unloading with fork-lift trucks, propping of vehicles during repair work
and climbing up on vehicles have to be tackled.

Major injuries

Again, most injuries (more than seven out of ten) are due to just four causes:

  • slips and trips;

  • being struck by moving or falling objects;

  • falls from less than 2 m; and

  • manual handling.

Most of these happen to drivers during loading and unloading, though many slips
occur during other work.  

Other reportable injuries

Manual handling and slips and trips account for two-thirds of other reportable
injuries. Addressing these two areas clearly has the greatest potential for
reducing the number of such injuries each year.

Other issues

There are other subjects to consider apart from those causing most of the
accidents, such as workshop safety, display screen equipment and maintenance of
plant and machinery. While these cannot be ignored, they do not contribute to
the bulk of accidents and attention should initially be mainly focussed on the
areas actually causing most harm if the overall picture is to be improved.


Many of these accidents could be prevented by simply examining what actually
goes on in your business, removing and controlling hazards as far as possible
and taking the necessary managerial and supervisory steps to make sure what is
supposed to happen does happen.

This means looking at what people do at work as well as finding out what
controls are needed. The process can be broken down into a number of steps to
help translate theory into practice. This is basically all ‘risk assessment'
and ‘managing safety' are about - no more than a structured approach to solving
a problem and controlling risk.

Do not be put off by the language. A hazard is simply something that can cause
harm. Risk is the chance of anyone suffering harm from a hazard. For example, a
slippery path is a hazard. The more slippery it is and the more people who walk
along it, the greater the risk of someone falling and being injured.

You should focus your efforts on practical control and improvements where
needed, not on lots of paperwork or forms for their own sake. Simple records of
what you have done can help but remember that if risks are not controlled and
things do go wrong, paper alone will not be of any value.

More info

AplusA-online.de - Source: Health and Safety Executive